Société des Missions Africaines - Province d’Irlande

O SHEA Elisha né le 27 octobre 1927 à Tralee
dans le diocèse de Kerry, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 1er juillet 1947
prêtre le 13 juin 1951
décédé le 19 novembre 1994

1951-1954 Wilton, études
1954-1963 diocèse de Benin City, Nigeria
1964-1973 collège Saint-Brendan, Beaconsfield, Australie
1973-1989 diocèse de Sunyani, Ghana
1990-1994 diocèses de Perth et de Bunbury, Australie
1994 Tralee, comté de Kerry, retiré

décédé à Tralee, Irlande, le 19 novembre 1994
à l’âge de 67 ans

Father Elisha Christopher O'SHEA (1927 - 1994)

Elisha O'Shea was born in Tralee (his address was 40 Rock Street), in the diocese of Kerry, on 27 October 1927. He died at his sister's residence, in St. John's Park, Tralee, on 19 November 1994.

Elisha was educated at the Christian Brothers school, Tralee (1940-1945). After matriculation, in September 1945, he entered the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy at Kilcolgan, Co Galway. Elisha commenced his theological formation in the Society's seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down, in September 1947. He was received as a member of the Society on 1 July 1947. He was ordained a priest, by Bishop Eugene O'Doherty of Dromore diocese, in St. Catherine's church (the Dominican church), Newry, on 13 June 1951. Society ordinations were usually held in St. Colman's cathedral but were transferred to St. Catherine's on this occasion because of renovations to the cathedral. Elisha was one of a group of ten ordained on that day.

After ordination Elisha was appointed to study at U.C.C., residing in St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork. In 1954 he was awarded an honours degree in science (B.Sc.). In the autumn of that year he set sail for Africa, assigned to the diocese of Benin City in western Nigeria. He served in this diocese until 1963, spending most of his years teaching science in catholic secondary schools. His first appointment was to St. Peter Claver's school, Aghalokpe, where Mick Scully was principal. When Elisha came to Aghalokpe there were 100 students. In 1957 Elisha went to Annunciation college, Irrua, where he succeeded Mick O'Keeffe as principal. Two years later he was appointed to the staff of Notre Dame college, Ozoro, in the heart of Izoko country. Finally, between 1962-1964 he taught at St. Vincent's college, Okwagbe, which had been established by Michael John Foley. Not only did Elisha teach but he was also responsible for building and equipping new science laboratories in all of these schools.

In January 1964 Elisha was assigned to the Society's mission in Australia, which was situated in the archdiocese of Perth and whose bishop was Dr. Prendiville, a former pupil of St. Brendan's college in Killarney. Elisha was founder and headmaster of St. Brendan's college, Hilton Park, Beaconsfield, Perth, Western Australia, a school which within a short space of time developed a reputation for the excellence of its tuition and the quality of its ethos. In 1973 Elisha handed over his principalship of St. Brendan's to a catholic layman and returned to Africa. He was to serve in the diocese of Sunyasi, Ghana, until 1989, apart from the academic year 1979-1980 when he took sabbatical leave (receiving a M.A. degree in theology from the Angelicum University in Rome). During his fourteen years in Ghana he founded Our Lady of Apostles girls' secondary school, Kenyasi, and Middle schools in Mim parish. In August 1989 Elisha visited Australia and the Philippines. In Australia he attended the silver jubilee celebrations of St. Brendan's college where he received a heroes welcome. In February 1991 he returned to Australia where he took up a pastoral post in Bunbury diocese (100 miles south of Perth), serving as pastor of St. Augustine's parish, Pinjarra, Kojonup, Western Australia. Elisha suffered a heart attack in April 1993 and received bypass surgery in the Perth Royal hospital. He retired to Tralee in August 1994. Elisha died in his sleep in the house of his sister Mrs Kathleen Dowling.

In the funeral homily at Elisha's Requiem Mass, the Provincial, John Quinlan (a fellow-Tralee man), recorded the following tribute: 'A cursory glance at Fr. Elisha's missionary life clearly indicates that it was a life that was devoted to bringing the Gospel of Jesus into the lives of those who had never heard it. It was a life which created no headlines around the world but it was a life that made headlines in his family's life and in the life of the S.M.A. God knows better than anybody the headlines that characterised Fr. Elisha's life. His work was about the work of Jesus who lived and died for the benefit of us all.' Elisha was a widely-read man, interested particularly in history and theology. He was a talented conversationalist and always a genial host. He was a brother of Fr. Damien O'Shea, of the St. John of God congregation.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.