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Société des Missions Africaines –Province d'Irlande

ROCHE Michael né le 4 juillet 1912 à Parke, Irishtown
dans l'archidiocèse de Tuam, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 19 juin 1937
prêtre le 19 décembre 1937
décédé le 29 octobre 1946

1938-1943 missionnaire au Ghana, Cape Coast
1945-1946 missionnaire au Nigeria
vicariat de Ondo Ilorin

décédé à Akure, Nigeria, le 29 octobre 1946,
à l'âge de 34 ans


Le père Michael ROCHE (1912 - 1946)

A Akure (Nigeria), le 29 octobre 1946), retour à Dieu du père Michael Roche, à l'âge de 34 ans.

Michael Roche naquit dans le diocèse de Tuam, en Irlande, en 1912. Il fit ses études aux Missions Africaines, le serment en 1934 et reçut l'ordination sacerdotale en 1937.

Le père Roche fut d'abord nommé au vicariat de la Côte-de-l'Or et désigné pour le collège Saint-Augustin, à Cape-Coast. Rentré en Irlande en 1943, il fut alors désigné pour le vicariat d'Ondo-Ilorin, au Nigeria.

Il mourut victime de la fièvre.


Father Michael ROCHE (1912 - 1946)

Michael Roche was born at Parke, Irishtown, near Claremorris, Co Mayo, in the archdiocese of Tuam, on 4 July 1912. He died of typhoid fever in Akure, Western Nigeria, on 29 October 1946.

Michael was educated in the Irish houses of the Society. He studied at the Sacred Heart college, Ballinafad, Co Mayo (1928 1929), and at St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork (1929 1932). He entered the novitiate and house of philosophy, at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, in the autumn of 1932 and two years later, on 1 July 1934, he was admitted to membership of the Society. Michael studied theology in the Society's seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down, between 1934 1938. He 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 was appointed to the vicariate of the Gold Coast (Ghana), a mission first entrusted to the Society in 1879. When in 1926 the mission became the responsibility of the Dutch Province, priests of the Irish Province retained their already long established connection with educational development in the region. In 1936 Maurice B. Kelly became founder principal of St. Augustine's college, Cape Coast, the first catholic secondary school in the Gold Coast. It was to St. Augustine's that Michael was appointed on his arrival in Africa. He joined a staff which included five missionaries, and whose superior was Michael Scully. At the time there were approximately 100 students in the secondary college and some 80 students in a teacher training department attached to St. Augustine's. Michael served in the college from 1938 1943.

On his return to Ireland for his regular leave in 1943 Michael was assigned to the vicariate of Ondo Ilorin, in Nigeria, a new jurisdiction carved out from the old vicariate of the Bight of Benin and entrusted to Bishop Thomas Hughes. Because of the world war, it took almost two years before Michael could obtain a passage out to his new mission. There he joined a small but intrepid band of Irish priests and sisters who were to lay the foundations for the flourishing dioceses of Ondo, Ekiti and Ilorin. Michael was appointed to the district of Akure. The principal station of Akure had been founded in 1924 under the patronage of the Sacred Heart. In 1946 it had four secondary stations, a catholic membership of 500, and over 200 catechumens. There was also a teacher training college attached to the mission, which provided teachers for the vicariate's expanding elementary school network. Michael, with his wide experience of the classroom in St. Augustine's, was appointed to the training college.

Unfortunately his time in the vicariate was to be short. Within the space of two years he fell victim to typhoid fever. Valentine Barnicle, the 'visitor' (responsible to the Provincial for the spiritual and temporal welfare of his confreres) described the circumstances of Michael's death and burial. 'Michael first fell ill on 21 September and it was believed that he was suffering from Malaria. The Medical Officer decided to keep him under observation for a day or two in his own house. However he got worse and typhoid was diagnosed. The Fathers in turn stayed with him at night and he had, in addition, two African nurses day and night, as well as Sister Donatus O.L.A. His death was very edifying, the calm and peaceful exit of the soul. I had the intention of having the burial at Ado-Ekiti being more or less the geographical centre of the vicariate. The people of Akure, however, headed by the king, made such strong representations for having him buried at Akure that I thought it wise to agree with them.' Michael was a quiet, shy, priest, with deep reserves of strength. His loss to the Ondo mission was a severe blow.

He is buried in Akure, Nigeria.