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Société des Missions Africaines –Province d'Irlande

HOLTON Michael né le 5 décembre 1914 à Carrick on Suir
dans le diocèse de Waterford, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 1er juillet 1934
prêtre le 19 décembre 1937
décédé le 19 septembre 1973

1938-1947 missionnaire au Nigeria, vicariat de Lagos
1947-1950 Malade, soins en Irlande
1950-1951 diocèse de Cardiff, travail pastoral
1951-1953 Royal Air Force, aumônier
1953-1958 diocèse de Northampton, travail pastoral
1959-1960 diocèse de Dunkeld, travail pastoral
1960-? diocèse de Saint-Augustin, Floride
?-1973 Romford, Essex, en famille

décédé à Romford, Grande-Bretagne, le 19 septembre 1973,
à l'âge de 58 ans


Father Michael Henry Thomas HOLTON (1914 - 1973)

Michael Holton was born at Carrick on Suir, Co Tipperary, in the diocese of Waterford and Lismore, on 5 December 1914. At the time he came to the Society his family address was 4, Rathealy Road, Fermoy, Co Cork. He died, following coronary thrombosis, with his family at Romford, Essex, England, on 19 September 1973.

Michael studied at St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork (1929 1932). He went to the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, in 1932, and from 1934 studied theology in the major seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down. He became a member of the Society on 1 July 1934 and was ordained a priest by Bishop Edward Mulhern of Dromore diocese, at St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, on 19 December 1937. He was one of a group of fifteen ordained on that day.

After ordination Michael returned to Dromantine for six months to complete his theology course. He was then appointed to the vicariate of the Bight of Benin, in south western Nigeria. On arrival, in October 1938, he was appointed to Abeokuta where, under the guidance of Jim Young (the superior) he studied Yoruba, learned about Yoruba culture and undertook supervised pastoral work. After four months Michael passed his language examination and received faculties to hear confessions. He was then posted to St. Theresa's inter vicarial seminary, at Oke Ake, Ibadan. This institution provided secondary education for 23 seminarians from jurisdictions in the south west, west and even in the north of Nigeria. After two years in Oke Are Michael was transferred to Holy Cross 'cathedral' mission, Lagos, the oldest station in Nigeria, founded in 1868. Michael went to Ireland on his first home leave in June 1943. In the same year the Ondo Ilorin district of the vicariate was detached and erected as a separate jurisdiction. The remaining territory was renamed: the vicariate of Lagos.

Michael returned to Nigeria in January 1945, taking up a post in Holy Cross. In the Spring of 1947 he developed cerebral malaria (malignant tertian malaria with cerebral manifestations) and was sent back to Europe accompanied by some confreres going home on leave. On 17 March he arrived in a very debilitated and confused state at the S.M.A. procure in Ullett Road, Sefton Park, Liverpool (a house of transit for missionaries en route to, or returning from, Africa) and was immediately taken to Smithdown Road hospital. Tom John Hughes, superior in Ullet Road, sent a telegram to the Provincial stating that the doctors were not hopeful for a recovery. Three days later a slight improvement was recorded and by the end of the month Michael was out of danger. Later he was transferred to Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (a department of the Liverpool Royal Infirmary), from which he was discharged early in May.

At the time of Michael's discharge the consultant who had attended him notified the Provincial that Michael was physically unfit for further service in the tropics. Michael returned to Ireland taking up residence in the S.M.A. house at Blackrock Road. After a lengthy period of convalescence, in April 1950, feeling fit once more for work, he went to England taking up a pastoral appointment in Brigend, in the diocese of Cardiff. Six months later, with a recurrence of his ill health, he returned to Blackrock Road. In August 1951 Michael took up a chaplaincy with the R.A.F. serving at Cosford, Staffordshire and at West Kirby, Wirral (Cheshire). In April 1954 he relinquished this chaplaincy due to sickness and went to reside at Ullet Road where he did part time pastoral work. Between September 1953 and November 1958 Michael ministered in the diocese of Northampton, serving in Ely, Norwich, Newmarket and as chaplain to St. Theresa's Carmelite convent, Waterbeady. Then, after some temporary work in Manchester, he took up an appointment in Dunkeld diocese, serving at Struan Road, Perth.

Michael suffered all his life from the debilitating effects of the cerebral malaria which he had contracted in Nigeria. This accounts for the many changes of ministry and location in the years after his return from Africa as he sought an apostolate which would accommodate his poor health. Eventually, in December 1960, he went to the diocese of St. Augustine, Florida, U.S.A., serving in the Church of the Assumption, Jacksonville, but after some years, again finding the work too trying, he was compelled to abandon his ministry. Subsequently he had little contact with the Society but it is known that he went to live with his sister in Romford, Essex, where he died. Michael's aunt and two sisters were religious with the Sisters of Mercy in Essex, England (Mary Agnes, Stanislaus and Mary Angela).

He is buried Romford, Essex, England.