Société des Missions Africaines

CONNAUGHTON William né le 15 août 1853 à Ballymore
dans le diocèse de Meath (Irlande)
membre de la SMA le 10 juin 1881
prêtre le 25 décembre 1883
décédé le 13 avril 1887

1883-1885 quêteur aux Etats-Unis
1885-1887 missionnaire au Nigeria, Lagos

décédé à Lagos, Nigeria, le 13 avril 1887,
à l’âge de 33 ans

(biographie en anglais à la suite)

Le père William CONNAUGTON (1953 - 1887)

A Lagos (Nigeria), le 13 avril 1887, retour à Dieu du père William Connaugton, à l'âge de 33 ans.

William Connaugton naquit dans le diocèse de Meath, à Ballymore, en Irlande, le 15 août 1853. Il fit ses études à Cork et à Lyon et fut ordonné prêtre à Noël 1883. Il accompagna le père Merlini qui quêtait aux Etats-Unis, puis, revenu en Europe en octobre 1885, il partait pour la Côte du Bénin. Il fut chargé des écoles à Lagos et eut pas mal de discussions avec les protestants. Grande fut la surprise du père Planque en apprenant la mort du jeune père. Certes, il n'était pas très solide, mais trois jours auparavant, le père Planque avait reçu une lettre qui ne laissait rien supposer.

Father William CONNAUGHTON 1853 - 1887

William Connaughton was born at Ballymore, in the diocese of Meath, on 15 August 1853. He died in Lagos, Nigeria, on 13 April 1887.

We know very little about William's family background and about his early studies. He received most of his secondary education in Dublin but we do not know the location, or whether he was attached to a religious institute. He completed his secondary studies in Cork, where it is probable that he attended the Society's apostolic school opened in April 1877 by Francois Devoucoux, first S.M.A. superior, at 'Lough View', on the Old Youghal Road and transferred to a larger house, 'Elm Grove', Mayfield, in October 1877. We know that on 24 September 1879, at the age of 26 years, he came to the Society's seminary at Cours Gambetta, Lyon, France, accompanied by two Irishmen, Jeremiah Moran and James Hennebery. Jeremiah Moran had been a pupil in the 'Lough View' school and had been recruited by James O'Haire, an alumnus of All Hallows seminary, who introduced the Society to Ireland in 1876. James Hennebery had received his secondary school in the apostolic school at Clermond Ferand. It is likely that it was Fr. O'Haire who recruited William.

William was received as a member of the Society on 10 June 1881, and was ordained a priest in the seminary chapel at Lyon during Christmas, 1883. The exact date is difficult to establish with certainty, but there is a record that he was ordained on 22 December. After ordination William accompanied Ferdinando Merlini to America where they raised funds on behalf of the Society. Then, returning to Europe in October 1885, he set out for the vicariate of the Bight of Benin, a vast jurisdiction covering Dahomey, and much of modern Nigeria (the south, west and parts of the north). Correspondence from the vicariate records that William was entrusted with care of the schools of Lagos and had many discussions with the Protestants already there. 'The schools of Lagos', were in fact the schools of Holy Cross cathedral mission, of which there were three, one of them a 'grammar' school or intermediate school, which equipped students to teach in elementary schools. The 'grammar' school in Lagos was later to develop into Nigeria's first secondary school, St. Gregory's college, opened in 1928.

Augustin Planque, the Superior General, had news of William's premature death in May 1887 but hoped it was not well founded. However three days later he received a letter from Africa which left him in no doubt. We have very little further information on William. We learn from one account that he was 'a delicate, sensitive man, young for his age'. There is a letter in the Generalate archives at Rome which describes his life and death in Lagos. 'This dear confrère came to the coast some seventeen months ago and rendered great service to the Lagos mission. He was placed in charge of the "grammar school" and the pupils there loved him greatly. Despite his five hours daily in class, he would preach almost every Sunday at Mass. He was never troubled by fever, yet the very first attack carried him off. On Wednesday of Holy Week he felt ill and went to bed. His conditioned worsened and he was taken to hospital where the doctor did everything possible. On the following Tuesday (Easter Week) at eight o'clock in the morning, he gave up his soul to God having received the Last Sacraments. He died calmly and in full possession of his faculties. He was an excellent confrère and his going is a great loss to us.'

William is buried in Lagos, Nigeria.