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Société des Missions Africaines –Province d'Irlande

MURPHY William né le 5 février 1909 à Cork
dans le diocèse de Cork, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 3 juillet 1928
prêtre le 12 juin 1932
décédé le 6 octobre 1971

1932-1946 missionnaire au Nigeria
1932-1942, vicariat du Bénin
1943-1946, diocèse de Ondo-Ilorin
1946-1947 animation en Irlande
1947-1971 missionnaire au Nigeria
1947-1960, diocèse de Ondo-Ilorin
1960-1968, diocèse d’Ilorin
1968, diocèse de Lagos
1969-1971, diocèse d’Ijebu-Ode

décédé à Ijebu-Ode, Nigeria, le 6 octobre 1971,
à l'âge de 62 ans


Father William Finbarr MURPHY (1909 - 1971)

William Murphy was born in the North parish of the diocese of Cork (the family home was in Seminary Buildings, Blackpool, Cork city), on 5 February 1909. He died in Ijebu Ode, Western Nigeria, on 6 October 1971.

William (Liam) was educated in the colleges of the Society. He studied in the Sacred Heart college, Ballinafad, Co Mayo (1922-1923) and in St. Joseph's college Wilton, Cork (1923-1926). He joined the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy, at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, in September 1926. Liam became a member of the Society on 3 July 1928. He was ordained a priest by Bishop Edward Mulhern of Dromore diocese, at St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, on 12 June 1932. He was one of a group of eight ordained on that day.

When Liam arrived in Nigeria in October 1932 the vicar apostolic, Bishop Francis O'Rourke, appointed him to Ijebu-Ode where Patrick Dorr was superior. Liam spent the next two years ministering in Ijebu-Ode and its 17 secondary stations, where he also learned to speak the Yoruba language fluently. He was then assigned to the largest district in the vicariate, the cathedral 'parish' of Holy Cross, which was the first residential mission in Nigeria, established in 1868. Liam joined a staff of five missionaries headed by Patrick Hurst. In November 1936 Liam came to Ireland on his first home leave. When he returned to Nigeria, in October 1937, he was appointed to Lagos district where he was posted superior of Yaba station. This was the 'fourth principal station' of the district, which had been opened a year before. In 1939 Leo Taylor, who had just succeeded Francis O'Rourke as bishop, appointed Liam to the district of Ilorin, in the north-east of the vicariate. Ilorin was a recently-established station, founded in 1930, with its principal station at Oro. Now an experienced missionary, Liam was appointed superior at Oro. His assistant priest was a Nigerian, Julius Sadicu. Liam spent the last six months of his second tour of duty in Ondo district, returning to Ireland in January 1942. Liam's voyage back to Nigeria in July 1943 almost ended in disaster. He was a passenger on board the ill-fated troopship liner, the S.S.California, which was bombed and sunk four days out to sea with considerable loss of life. Rescued by the corvette, Moyola, Liam and the other missionaries on board (over 30) disembarked at Casablanca.

Liam's return to Nigeria coincided with the erection of the Ondo and Ilorin districts as a separate jurisdiction, the vicariate of Ondo-Ilorin, under the leadership of Bishop Thomas Hughes. The area of the jurisdiction was 25,950 square miles, with a population of 915,000 of which approximately 350,000 were animists, 300,000 Muslims, and 250,000 Christians of various denominations. The great majority of the inhabitants belonged to the Yoruba tribe, but there were also large numbers of Hausa and Fulani in Ilorin province, and Igbos, Irhobos and Ijaws in Ondo province. Liam was posted as superior of the principal station of Akure (the seat of the vicariate). The Church was still in its infancy in this region. For example, in Akure, the number of catholic marriages for 1944 (perhaps the best index of progress) was a meagre three.

In December 1945 Liam contracted severe dysentery and was hospitalised in Kaduna. Making a partial recovery he was invalided home to Ireland. He remained in Ireland until August 1947, convalescing and then assisting in the work of promotion at Blackrock Road. On his return to Nigeria Liam was appointed superior of Oka district. In April 1950 the vicariate was erected as the diocese of Ondo. Liam remained on in Oka until February 1953 when he was appointed parish priest of Ado Ekiti (St. George's parish). In 1958 he served as deputy 'regional superior', for the Lagos, Ondo, Ilorin and Ibadan jurisdictions, based in St. Leo's, Challenge, Ibadan. He had particular responsibility for the 'tyrocinium', the preparatory course for newly-arrived missionaries during which they learned local languages, studied local culture and undertook supervised pastoral work.

In 1960 the Ilorin district of Ondo diocese was erected as a separate prefecture under the leadership of William Mahony. Liam was assigned to the new jurisdiction's staff and appointed superior of Oro mission. One of the special tasks entrusted to him was the exploration of south eastern region of the prefecture with a view to locating sites for future missions. On his return from his next leave, in February 1965 Liam was appointed to Offa parish where he was given responsibility for schools. In October 1968 Liam transferred to the archdiocese of Lagos. A year later he was assigned to the staff of a new diocese, that of Ijebu-Ode, not far from Lagos. It was here, where he commenced his missionary career, that he died.

Liam spent almost four decades in Africa. He served in many mission stations and under many bishops, including two Nigerians, (Archbishop Aggey of Lagos and Bishop Anthony Sanusi of Ijebu-Ode). Liam was much loved by his confreres, while his deep knowledge of the Yoruba language and obvious affection for all things African, endeared him to the people. Blessed with a beautiful singing voice, his presence was always a joy at liturgical functions and social gatherings. Liam was the older brother of Stephen Murphy, S.M.A.

He is buried in the cemetery at Ijebu Ode, Western Nigeria.