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Société des Missions Africaines - Province d’Irlande

carrol kevin né le 5 juin 1920 à Liverpool
dans le diocèse de Liverpool, Grande-Bretagne
membre de la SMA le 29 juin 1938
prêtre le 13 décembre 1942
décédé le 12 janvier 1993

1943-1946 archidiocèse de Cape Coast, Ghana

1947-1950 préfecture de Ondo Ilorin, Nigeria
1950-1953 diocèse de Ondo, Nigeria
1954-1969 archidiocèse de Lagos, Nigeria
1969-1976 diocèse de Makurdi, Nigeria
1976-1993 diocèse d’Ilorin, Nigeria

décédé à Ibadan, Nigeria, le 12 janvier 1993
à l’âge de 72 ans


Father Kevin Francis CARROLL (1920 1993)

Kevin Carroll was born in Liverpool, England, in the parish of St. Alexander's, in the archdiocese of Liverpool, on 5 June 1920. He died in the S.M.A. regional house, Ibadan, Nigeria, on Tuesday, 12 January 1993.

Eldest of a family of four boys and four girls, Kevin received his secondary education at St. Edward's school, Liverpool (1931-1936). His contact with the S.M.A. came through Joseph Crawford S.M.A., who had served in the Liberian mission field. He was a friend of Kevin's parents. Knowing that Kevin was interested in ornithology, Fr. Crawford presented him with a number of books on the subject and they became close friends. Having matriculated Kevin decided to follow Fr. Crawford's footsteps and to become a missionary priest. He joined the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, in September 1936. Two years later he commenced his theological formation in the Society's seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down. Kevin was received as a member of the Society on 14 June 1941. He was ordained a priest, by Bishop Edward Mulhern of Dromore diocese, in the college chapel at Dromantine, on 13 December 1942. Normally class ordinations took place in Newry cathedral, however restrictions on wartime travel led to a dispersal of the ordinations in 1942. Members of Kevin's class from the west were ordained in the chapel of Moyne Park seminary, Tuam, while those from the south were ordained in the cathedral at Skibbereen. Ordained with Kevin were Lawrence Carr and Leo McNeill.

After ordination Kevin was appointed to the vicariate of the Gold Coast (Ghana). He reached his mission in March 1943, joining the staff of St. Augustine's college, Ghana's first catholic secondary school, which had been founded at Cape Coast in 1936. Kevin taught English, history and religious knowledge. He also took a keen interest in arts and crafts and encouraged his students to develop their skills. At the Provincial Assembly of 1946 Patrick Martin Kelly was elected Provincial superior. This appointment was to have profound implications for Kevin's missionary career. Dr. Kelly was an ardent advocate of local arts, crafts and industries and, before he became Provincial, had already carried out a number of experiments in Ibusa (western Nigeria) where he had been stationed. As Provincial he decided to initiate 'the Oye-Ekiti scheme', which was to be based on his unique philosophy of missionary education. To spearhead the scheme he selected a handful of confrères, one of which was Kevin, who he withdrew from the Gold Coast and assigned to the prefecture of Ondo-Ilorin, in Nigeria (where the scheme was to be located). An account of Kevin's part in the scheme will be given later. On the closure of the scheme in October 1953, Kevin was transferred to Lagos archdiocese. In 1969 he was appointed to Makurdi diocese, serving there until 1976 when he returned to Ilorin diocese. He remained a member of the Ilorin diocesan staff until the time of his death. In addition to his missionary appointments Kevin's outstanding talents were frequently invoked by the Society and the Irish missionary Church. For example he was an observer at the Provincial and General Assemblies of 1968. He was chairman of a special commission set up by the Irish Missionary Union to research an Irish Missionary institute (1970-1971). He served on the preparatory commission for the General Assembly of 1973. He was a delegate to the General Assembly of 1978. And he was frequently involved in Society renewal courses. But, most of all, it was his work in inculturating the Gospel which will be remembered. In this respect his contribution was outstanding and unique and won for him an international reputation.

Kevin's obituary in the African Missionary, written by a colleague who worked with him in Ilorin, records: 'For fifty years Kevin concentrated his talents and skills - and they were many - on a single objective: to inculturate Christ into the lives and religions of the people he felt privileged to serve, the people of Africa. His utter single-mindedness could, at times, be gently abrasive but he had been called by God for His work and, like all prophets, proclaimed His message, welcome or unwelcome... Kevin mastered the languages of his people; was the first in Nigeria to use indigenous composers for sacred music, local carvers to produce acceptable Church art and local weavers to make liturgical vestments. Every talent given him was used to proclaim Christ'.

Another colleague who knew him well wrote the following appraisal of Kevin's life and work: 'Kevin's interest in African art went back to his childhood days when he used visit the museum in Liverpool where he was always struck by the African carvings. In the Gold Coast (Ghana) he got interested in the local Fanti language, learned about pattern weaving from a native Ashanti craftsman and organised local carvers to teach simple carving of objects like spoons, bowls and stools. This interest in local culture was extended over the years to include brass work, bead and leather work, native architecture and music. During the course of his busy missionary career Kevin also found time to produce two very important books on African culture: Yoruba Religious Carving - subtitled 'Pagan and Christians Sculpture in Nigeria and Dahomey' (1967), and Architectures of Nigeria (1992). The first of these books describes the "Oye Ekiti Scheme" in the course of which - with his confrère, Sean O'Mahony - the available sources of skill were identified and the carvers and weavers, bead and leather workers, organised in a new and purposeful way. Kevin's next quarter century made him master (in addition to Yoruba) the Hausa, Kamberi and Tiv tongues - and led to the publication of his Architectures of Nigeria'.

Kevin died aged seventy-two on the eve of the celebration of the golden jubilee of his ordination to priesthood. He was the elder brother of Patrick J. Carroll who was ordained for the Society in 1947, and served in Nigeria, Liberia and the Philippines.

He is buried in the grounds of St. Theresa's minor seminary, Oke Are, Ibadan, Nigeria.