Société des Missions Africaines – Province d’Irlande

OSULLIVAN Denis né le 27 décembre 1877 à Valentia Island
dans le diocèse de Kerry, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 25 septembre 1898
prêtre en 1900
décédé le 2 avril 1942

1900-1903 missionnaire au Liberia
1904 missionnaire en Egypte
1905-1942 missionnaire aux USA

décédé à Natchez, USA, le 2 avril 1942,
à l’âge de 65 ans

(biographie en anglais à la suite)

Le père Denis O'SULLIVAN (1877 - 1942)

A Natchez (U.S.A.), le 2 avril 1942, retour à Dieu du père Denis O'Sullivan, à l'âge de 65 ans.

Né en 1877 dans le diocèse de Kerry (Irlande), Denis O'Sullivan fit ses études à Cork et fit le serment en 1898. L'année suivante, il partait pour le grand séminaire de Choubrah où il fut ordonné prêtre en décembre 1900. Nommé quêteur en Amérique, il y travailla quelques années. En 1909, il partait pour la préfecture du Liberia. Revenu en 1912, il reprit sa charge de quêteur au profit de la nouvelle province d'Irlande. Nommé en Egypte en 1914, il n'y restera que peu de temps. C'est la guerre et les esprits s'échauffent vite. Le père O'Sullivan partit pour les Etats-Unis où il travaillera jusqu'à sa mort au diocèse de Natchez.

Father Denis O'SULLIVAN (1877 - 1942)

Denis O'Sullivan was born in Valentia Island, in the diocese of Kerry, on 26 December 1877. He died in Ocean Springs, Natchez, U.S.A., on 2 April 1942.

Denis ('Kerry') O'Sullivan studied in the Society's apostolic college at Wilton, Cork. He commenced his ecclesiastical studies in Lyon, France, on 18 September 1896. Admitted to the Society as a member on 25 September 1898, he went to St. Louis college, Tantah, near Cairo (Egypt), to teach English. St. Louis was a 'French' college, with some 120 pupils who received tuition through the medium of French. However there was an increasing clamour among the people for English, because this was required for entrance into government service, and was becoming increasingly the language of commerce. Irish S.M.A. priests and students were assigned to St. Louis to meet these demands. Later 'English' colleges (with tuition through the medium of English) were established in Heliopolis and Choubra. While teaching in the college, Denis completed his theological formation in the Society's seminary at Choubra. He was ordained a priest in the chapel adjoining the seminary on 22 December 1900. The ordaining prelate was Bishop Gaudenzio Bonfigli.

After ordination Denis remained on in Egypt, teaching in St. Louis college. In July 1905 he was nominated to gather funds for the Society in the U.S.A. and conducted this work from bases at Haverstraw, New York and Savannah. In March 1908, Denis was assigned to the prefecture of Liberia, scene of the first modern mission to West Africa in 1842. Liberia had proved a difficult mission field. That first attempt to establish the Church, pioneered by Edward Barron, from Philadelphia diocese, and a band of missionaries from Francois Libermann's Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, collapsed after two years; two subsequent attempts, by the Holy Ghost Fathers and the Montfortist Fathers, to establish a missionary presence had foundered, respectively in 1888 and 1904.

In 1906 the mission was entrusted to the S.M.A. and Stephen Kyne was nominated prefect apostolic. Denis joined a missionary team of five members - Joseph Butler, Joseph Schermesser, Jean-Marie Cessou and Pierre Garcia, which had charge of two mission stations: one a small procure at Monrovia and the other a substantial station in the town of Kekru, about a day's walk north of Monrovia (20-25 kilometres). Denis took up residence at Kekru, among the Gola tribe, where the Society had been given a 150 acres site for a school and mission by the Liberian Legislature. He soon came to realise that prospects in Kekru were poor. The town was largely Moslem and antagonistic to the Church and the school which the missionaries opened was patronised only by a handful of children. In February 1910 a new station was opened at Kakata, situated within a 60 kilometre radius of Monrovia, among the Kpessis tribe. Denis was appointed to this mission. However in August 1911 ill-health and the effects of the climate necessitated his withdraw from the mission.

After a period of convalescence in Ireland Denis was appointed to raise funds in the U.S.A. for the Irish Province which was in the process of formation. Denis set sail for America in April 1912, a month before the Province was formally erected. For the next two years he visited dioceses throughout the U.S. preaching in parishes, wherever he was allowed, and taking up collections on behalf of the Society. In March 1914 he returned to Egypt, to St. Louis college, his old alma mater, where the teaching of English was now well established and where there were almost 400 pupils on the rolls. Eighteen months later found him back in the U.S.A., in the diocese of Natchez where Bishop John E. Gunn assigned him to Vicksburg, as assistant at St. Paul's Church. From 1918 193l he ministered as pastor of Bassfield, Mississippi, and subsequently, from 193l 1938, as pastor of the Sacred Heart Church, Biloxi, Mississippi. From 1938 1942, in semi retirement because of poor health, he was attached to Our Lady of the Gulf Church, Bay, St. Louis. Finally, in February 1942 he was assigned temporarily to the charge of Ocean Springs during the illness of the pastor, Fr. Holland. He died in the confessional at Ocean Springs.

He is buried in Natchez, U.S.A.