Société des Missions Africaines –Province d'Irlande

PRENDERGAST John né le 2 juin 1878 à Thomastown
dans le diocèse d'Ossory, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 18 décembre 1903
prêtre le 26 juillet 1905
décédé le 4 avril 1945

1905-1912 missionnaire en Egypte, Tanta, professeur
1912-1921 aumônier militaire au Caire
1921-1926 Liverpool, procureur
1926-1936 Dromantine, économe
1937 missionnaire en Egypte
1938 passe à la Province US (fondée en 1941)
économe provincial

décédé à Tenafly, USA, le 4 avril 1945,
à l'âge de 67 ans

(biographie en anglais à la suite)

Père John PRENDERGAST (1878 - 1945)

A Tenafly (U.S.A.), le 4 avril 1945, retour à Dieu du père John Prendergast, à l'âge de 67 ans.

John Prendergast naquit à Thomastown, dans le diocèse d'Ossory (Irlande), en 1878. Il fit ses études à Cork et à Choubrah où il fut ordonné prêtre en 1905. Il resta en Egypte, d'abord professeur à Tanta, puis aumônier militaire de 1912 à 1921. On avait remarqué depuis longtemps ses aptitudes pour l'économat et les choses matérielles, ainsi que son caractère sérieux et pratique. En 1921, on mit à profit ses qualités et le père Prendergast fut nommé procureur à Liverpool. En 1926, il passait au grand séminaire de Dromantine comme économe. Il y resta 10 ans. Après un court séjour en Egypte, il passait en 1938 à la province d'Amérique (fondée définitivement en 1941) et en devenait l'économe provincial. Celui que ses confrères avaient surnommé "le vieux grognard de l'Empire", tant il était réticent, avait au fond un vrai bon cœur que l'on savait reconnaître lorsqu'on allait au-delà de la première impression. Le père apporta toujours un grand soin à l'entretien de ce dont il était chargé.

Father John PRENDERGAST (1878 - 1945)

John Prendergast was born at Ruppa, Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, Ireland, in the diocese of Ossory, on June 2, 1878. He died at Mercy hospital, in Bibb county, Macon, Georgia, USA, on April 4, l945

John completed his secondary studies in the Society's apostolic college at Wilton, Cork (l898 l90l). He then went to the Society's major seminary, at Cours Gambetta, Lyon, France, for his ecclesiastical studies, arriving there in October l90l. The following year he went to Egypt to complete his formation in the Society's seminary at Choubra and to teach English in St. Louis College, Tantah (l902 l905). He was received as a member of the Society on December 18, 1903 and was ordained a priest in the seminary chapel on July 26, 1905 by Archbishop Aurelio Briante of Cyrene. He had received his deaconate the previous day.

After ordination John remained on in Egypt, teaching in St. Louis College, where tuition was through the medium of French. Jean-Marie Chabert, later Superior General of the Society, was principal and Irish members of staff included Michael Collins, Maurice Slattery, and Pat O'Herlihy. In 1912 John became a military chaplain serving throughout the First World War in Cairo. John was a very practical person and a capable administrator. These qualities were put to good use by the Society when in l921 he was nominated procurator of the SMA house at Ullett Road, Sefton Park, Liverpool. This involved catering for the needs of Society members en route to or returning from, Africa.

In l926 John was appointed bursar in the Province's major seminary which had been just transferred from Blackrock Road, Cork, to Dromantine, Co Down. He spent ten years at this post, during which he played an important part in remodelling the neglected Italio-Renaissance styled mansion for use as a modern seminary. He also helped to restore the neglected 'pleasure gardens' of the estate to their original splendour. In 1936 John's superiors asked him to return to Egypt. Two years earlier Bishop Jules Girard of the Nile Delta vicariate had expanded the Catholic presence in the province of Galioubieh, in the Cairo region. He had founded a new principal station, the mission of Saint George, Choubra, which opened its doors on September 1, 1934. Formerly this had been part of the old mission of Saint Mark the Evangelist, founded in 1894. Bishop Girard also established a secondary college in this new station; inevitably called St. George's College (its complete name was 'St. George's English college', located at 8 Midan El-Afdal). Justin Adrian from Strasbourg was first superior of the new station while Patrick Christal was director of the college where tuition was through the medium of English. In August 1936 the Irish Province took over responsibility for the Society's 'English' schools in the vicariate and John was appointed superior. The second of the two 'English' schools was opened in the same year at Heliopolis. The Irish Provincial, Stephen Harrington, informed the Generalate that 'He (John) knows Egyptian conditions very well and is thoroughly versed in administration and, though he is a real loss to our seminary (Dromantine), we are placing him in this new work. John reached Egypt in September accompanied by four Irish colleagues, bringing the total number of members under his superiorship to eight. John took up residence in St. George's mission, Choubra. Teaching in the adjacent college were his compatriots, Pat Christal, Tom Donoghue, Frank Cardiff and Vincent Moore.

In June 1938 Ignatius Lissner, founder of the Society's works in the USA, stopped off at Cork on his way back to America after a meeting with the General Council in Rome where he had been given permission to prepare for the erection of an American Province of the Society. While in Cork he asked Stephen Harrington for personnel to help him with the preparations and in particular for a suitable procurator for the pro-Province. Although his health was giving some cause for concern, John agreed to take on this onerous task. His exceptional qualities as an administrator made him an ideal choice for this work. He arrived in America in June 1939, and immediately took up his new post in the pro-Province's headquarters at Tenafly, New Jersey. When the Province was erected in 1941 he was appointed Provincial procurator, a task which he acquitted with distinction. He subsequently worked in a number of the Province's parishes in the southern states of the USA. His last appointment was to St. Peter Claver's parish, Macon, Georgia, where he was pastor. This mission had been founded in 1913, to serve African-Americans. In March 1945 John fell ill with a cardiac problem and went into hospital for surgery. He died following a heart attack.

He is buried in the SMA. plot at the cathedral cemetery, Savannah, Georgia, USA.