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Société des Missions Africaines - Province d’Irlande
Le Père Edward Joseph DONOVAN

 donovan  né le 23 mai 1921 à Cork
dans le diocèse de Cork, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 1er juillet 1941
prêtre le 19 décembre 1944
décédé le 4 décembre 2002
 

1946-1950 vicariat de Ondo-Ilorin, Nigeria
1951-1967 diocèse de Ondo, Nigeria
1969-1996 archidiocèse de Perth, Australie,
supérieur et curé de la paroisse
du Christ Roi à Beaconsfield
1996-2002 Perth, Australie, retiré
2002 Blackrock Road, Cork, retiré

décédé à Cork, Irlande, le 4 décembre 2002
à l’âge de 81 ans

Father Edward Joseph DONOVAN (1921 - 2002)

Edward Donovan was born in Cork city, in the parish of St. Finbarr’s West, in the diocese of Cork, on 23 May 1921. He died in St. Theresa’s Nursing Unit, Blackrock Road, Cork, on 4 December 2002.

Edward (known as Edd in the family and Ned in the Society) was the son of Edward and Hannah (nee Kelleher) Donovan who lived at 9 St. Patrick’s Terrace, Magazine Road, Cork. Edward senior worked in the Corporation offices. Ned received his secondary education with the Christian Brothers, first at Sullivan’s Quay (1934-37) and then in the North Monastery (1937-1939). On completing his leaving certificate he entered the Society’s novitiate and house of philosophy at Kilcolgan, Co Galway. Two years later, in the autumn of 1941, he was promoted to the major seminary, at Dromantine, Newry, Co Down. Ned was first received as a member of the Society on 1 July 1941. He was ordained a priest by Bishop Eugene O'Doherty of Dromore diocese, at St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, on 17 December 1944. He was one of a group of seventeen ordained on that day. He celebrated his first Mass in the Poor Clare Convent, Cork, near his home.

After ordination Ned returned to Dromantine to complete his theological course. He was then appointed to the Vicariate of Ondo-Ilorin, in Nigeria. Difficulty in obtaining a sea passage delayed his departure but, eventually, in June 1946 he sailed on a Polish ship for his mission. He was to work in this jurisdiction, which became the diocese of Ondo in 1950, until 1968. During this period he was based in many stations, including Owo, Oka, Okitipupa , Ushi, Ondo town and Ikare. Over the years he gained a reputation for his attentiveness and generosity to the concerns of the younger confreres. His contribution to the infrastructure of the Church in Ondo was significant. He built the first maternity hospital and the first girl’s secondary school, both staffed and managed by the Sisters of St. Louis. He was also instrumental in bringing out lay graduates to work in the education and medical fields. His contribution to the people of Nigeria was honoured by his installation as a chief of the town of Ondo in 1955. This was more than a ceremonial position. As ‘Obasanmeghan’ to the King of Ondo Ned was given the privilege, on the death of the incumbent King, of housing the new King until the palace was ready. Fortunately he never had to perform this function. Ned’s leaving of Nigeria was painful. It came as a result of a falling-out with the bishop over his administration of Ikare parish, at a time when relations between the Irish SMA authorities and the Irish SMA bishops in Nigeria were uneasy.

In 1962 it was decided to establish the Society in Australia. It was hoped that in time Australia would become a source of missionaries for Africa. The mission was located in Perth, Western Australia, where the Archbishop was Dr. Prendiville, a former pupil of St. Brendan's college, Killarney. The Society was given a parish on Lefroy Road, Beaconsfield. To this was attached a primary school and the Society was also charged with founding a secondary college. The latter, located at York Street, Hilton, Beaconsfield, was opened in February 1964 and within a short space of time developed a reputation for the excellence of its tuition and the quality of its ethos. It was to assist in the parish that Ned was appointed when he came to Australia in January 1969. A year later he was elected Society Superior (responsible for the spiritual and temporal welfare of his colleagues), while in 1975 he also became substantive parish priest in Beaconsfield. In this latter capacity he concentrated on improving the church by supervising extensions and also rebuilt the primary school (Christ the King), adding on a weatherboard hall. In the schools his knowledge of rugby football – he had been a member of the famed Cork Constitution club during his youth – was put to good use. Helping migrants assimilate into Australia was another arm of his pastorate. He was a founding member of the Fremantle Migrant Centre and arranged the first teacher for non-English speaking children at the Beaconsfield school in 1975 which culminated in the opening of Fremantle’s first pre-school language centre in the following year. He also opened the first library for migrant school children. In 1991 his work for emigrants was officially recognised when he was selected for the Australia Day Citizen Award presented on 25 January of that year by the Mayor of Fremantle. As Society superior Ned’s tradition of hospitality and kindness to his confreres – forged first in Nigeria – soon became established. Moreover he also developed a keen interest in the growth of the SMA Foundations. He paid visits to the Foundations in India and the Philippines and gave them generous financial support. Diaries of his visits are retained in the Archives of the Irish Province in Cork. In 1994 he also visited Nigeria and was astounded at the progress of the Church in the region where he had worked over 25 years earlier.

In January 1995 Ned retired as parish priest but remained on as Society superior, residing in the SMA house at York Street, Beaconsfield. Some months after a hip operation, in May 1996, he retired from his superiorship. Four years later, in increasing ill-health, he went to live in the Italian Village Nursing home. Finally, in June 2002, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease he was brought back to Ireland where he took up residence in St. Theresa’s Nursing unit. He was to die some six months later.

Ned made his mark wherever he went. Good with people, strong-willed and with considerable practical intelligence he got things done. In his later years he struggled with an addictive illness and this blunted his effectiveness to an extent. The loss of his mind in his last year was sad to behold. However he left behind him a legacy of almost 60 years of faithful service to the missionary priesthood.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.