Société des Missions Africaines – Province d’Irlande

né le 1er mars 1910 à Clonlee
dans le diocèse de Clonfert, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 2 juillet 1930
prêtre le 10 juin 1934
décédé le 5 octobre 1937

1934-1937 mission de Jos, Nigeria

décédé à Jos, Nigeria, le 5 octobre 1937,
à l’âge de 27 ans


Le père Anthony O'DWYER (1910 - 1937)

A Jos (Nigeria), le 5 octobre 1937, retour à Dieu du père Anthony O'Dwyer, à l'âge de 27 ans.

Anthony O'Dwyer naquit à Clonlee, dans le diocèse de Clonfert, en Irlande, en 1910. Il fit ses études aux Missions Africaines. Admis dans le Société par le serment en 1930, il fut ordonné prêtre en 1934. Le père O'Dwyer partit pour le préfecture de Jos, au nord du Nigeria.

Il fut nommé à Shendam et prit en charge l'école normale des catéchistes, école qu'il sut rendre florissante. Il mourut de la fièvre jaune.

Father Anthony O'DWYER (1910 - 1937)

Anthony O'Dwyer was born at Clonlee, Co Galway, in the present Abbey-Duniry parish of the diocese of Clonfert, on 1 March 1910. He died in Jos hospital, northern Nigeria, of yellow fever, on 5 October 1937.

Anthony (Tony) was educated at St. Joseph's college, Ballinasloe, Co Galway (1924 1925) and St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork (1925 1928). He went to the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy at Kilcolgan, Co Galway in the autumn of 1928, taking his oath of membership there on 2 July 1930. He studied theology in the Society's seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down, and was ordained a priest, along with sixteen colleagues, by Bishop Edward Mulhern of Dromore diocese, at St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, on 10 June 1934. Tony was the second member of his family to become a missionary, his brother joining the Maynooth Mission to China.

After ordination, in October 1934, Tony was assigned to the prefecture of Jos, in northern Nigeria. This prefecture had been erected in 1934 and was staffed mainly by a handful of young Irish priests under the leadership of William Lumley. At that time most of the Christians in the prefecture were immigrants from the east who had come north along with the railway line. Anxious for the long term success of his mission, Mgr. Lumley changed the emphasis of the apostolate, maintaining pastoral care of the immigrants, but now vigorously reaching out also to the indigenous population. Tony's first appointment was to the principal station of Jos where Mick Harrison was superior. This was the largest station in the prefecture with almost 1,000 catholic members, 150 catechumens and 25 outstations. When Tony had adapted to his new environment and become proficient in the local language he was appointed to supervise a catechist training school in the ancient town of Shendam, site of the first catholic mission to the north in 1907. The catechists, chosen from the indigenous population, would be in the front line in the new policy of evangelisation. Exactly three years after his arrival in Nigeria Tony fell victim to yellow fever.

The circumstances of Tony's death, in which another confrere, John Marren, was also to perish, were particularly tragic. Hastening from Shendam to the assistance of Fr. Marren and Pat McAnally, the resident priests at Kwande mission, both of whom had contracted yellow fever, he himself caught the disease and died later in Jos hospital. In the days before his own death, while Fr. McAnally lay fighting for his life , Tony had to make the coffin with Philip the catechist, dig the grave and conduct the funeral service for John Marren. An account of the circumstances of his death is given in a poignant letter from Michael Flynn, the 'visitor' or Society representative, to Stephen Harrington, the Provincial at Cork. The letter, dated 6 October 1937, contains two postscripts added as new information came to hand. "God's holy Will be Done! Two of our priests are gone to heaven. Fr. Marren died at Kwande on Wednesday night, Sept. 29th (sic) and Fr. Anthony O'Dwyer died at Jos today... I am awaiting the sad details of their deaths...Pity the parents and friends of the two deceased priests. The Good God will console them as they are martyrs... Sure in a country like this one is suddenly called before His God ... Being alone here tonight I feel sad for my two deceased confreres they were 'ideal confreres'.

' P.S. The chief commissioner, Kaduna, and resident officer, Jos, visited here today cause of deaths according to the resident: yellow fever. Fr. McAnally got it, but is now over the crisis, in Jos hospital. He will be well in a week ...'

'P.S. Fr. O'Dwyer attended Frs. Marren and McAnally at Kwande both were down with fever at the same time. Fr. Marren died at Kwande on Tuesday night at 10 p.m. September 28th received all the sacraments very little pain most peaceful death. Fr. O'Dwyer made the coffin and dug his grave doctor arrived at Kwande the day of Fr. Marren's burial, Sept. 29th. Present at burial were Fr. O'Dwyer and the doctor. Fr. McAnally was in bed during the burial. The doctor ordered Fr. O'Dwyer to return to Shendam from Kwande on Sept. 30th. It appears that Fr. O'Dwyer got a severe wetting while trekking to Shendam he had to swim a river. He fell sick at Shendam on Friday October lst... Sickness: probably yellow fever. Came to Jos hospital on Monday October 4th. Died on Tuesday night at 9. p.m. October 5th...' Tony was anointed by Peter Bennett, who was ordained six months after him (in December 1934), and died on 1 December 1996.

Pat McAnally survived to become one of the longest-serving missionaries of the Irish Province. In December 1995 he celebrated 60 years of priesthood in Manchester, England. He attributes his survival to the self-sacrifice of Tony Dwyer and the other priests, doctors and nurses who looked after him, and to the large doses of aspirin which he took at the height of his fever. The loss of Tony Dwyer and John Marren, just as they were beginning their missionary lives, was an immense blow to the mission, to the Society and to their families. Today Kwande district is home to three parishes, Kwande, Namu and Bakin Ciyawa, each with its own resident priest, parish house and church.

He is buried in Jos, northern Nigeria.