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Société des Missions Africaines – Province d’Irlande

WARD Edward né en 1905 à Lurgahamba
dans le diocèse de Clogher, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 7 juillet 1926
prêtre en 1930
décédé le 22 avril 1942

missionnaire pendant 5 ans au Nigeria

décédé à Cork, Irlande, le 22 avril 1942,
à l’âge de 37 ans


(biographie en anglais à la suite)

Le père Edward WARD (1905 - 1942)

A Cork, le 22 avril 1942, retour à Dieu du père Edward Ward, à l'âge de 37 ans.

Né à Lurgahamba, dans le diocèse de Clogher (Irlande), en 1905, Edward Ward commença ses études dans son diocèse et entra au noviciat de Kilcogan en 1924. Ayant émis le serment en 1926, il était ordonné prêtre en 1930. Il partit pour le vicariat de la Côte du Bénin, qui venait d'être confié à la province d'Irlande. Le père Ward y fut un missionnaire actif et zélé, malgré une petite santé. Sa parfaite connaissance de la langue et de la mentalité des Noirs l'aida beaucoup dans son ministère. En 1935, le jeune missionnaire "si bien doué" fut envoyé à l'Université de Washington où il fut tout de suite très estimé pour ses talents et pour sa science. Il passa brillamment le doctorat en anthropologie et en sociologie. Sur les vives instances de ses supérieurs, il accepta un professorat à Dromantine. Le Seigneur ne lui permit pas d'œuvrer beaucoup en ce grand séminaire, car il tomba bientôt malade. Les livres du père Ward sur les "Yoruba" resteront classiques dans leur genre.

Malade, il se retira à la maison du Bon-Secours pour nos père malades à Cork. C'est là que le Seigneur vint le chercher dans sa 37ème année.


Father Edward WARD (1905 - 1942)

Edward Ward was born in Lurgahamba, Ballybay, Co Monaghan, in the diocese of Clogher, on 13 November 1905. He died at the Bon Secours home, Cork, on 22 April 1942.

Edward (Eddie) studied at St. Macartan's diocesan college, Monaghan, completing his secondary education there before entering the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy, at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, in 1924. He studied theology in the Society's seminary at Dromantine, Co Down, between 1926 1930. He was received as a member of the Society on 7 July 1926 and was ordained a priest by Bishop Edward Mulhern of Dromore diocese, at St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, on 8 June 1930. He was one of a group of ten ordained on that day.

After ordination Eddie was appointed to the vicariate of the Bight of Benin, in south western Nigeria, which had just been confided to the Irish Province of the Society, with the appointment of Francis O'Rourke as vicar apostolic. On his arrival in Nigeria, in October 1930, Eddie was assigned to Ondo district, north east of Lagos, where Pat Hurst was superior. A residential mission had been first founded in Ondo in 1916, under the patronage of St. Matthew. When Eddie took up his post, there was a Catholic community of 1,300 members and 800 catechumens, attached to the central station of Ondo and its 31 outstations. Ambrose O'Haire was the 'first assistant' priest of the district. In 1934 Eddie was appointed mission superior of Ondo district, with Florence McCarthy as his assistant. In addition to Ondo district, they also administered Okitipupa district, which had been founded in 1926. Okitipupa had a Catholic community of some 400 members and 200 catechumens, located in the central station and its nineteen outstations. Although he had poor health, with a tendency towards tuberculosis, Eddie proved an energetic missionary. His great charm of manner and cheerful disposition matched to a sharp intelligence also made him a most successful missionary. He attained proficiency in the local language and also took a deep interest in Yoruba culture. In 1935 this gifted missionary was sent to the Catholic university in Washington D.C., to study in the graduate school of arts and sciences. Three years later, in September 1938, he graduated with M.A. and D. Ph. degrees in anthropology and sociology.

After his return from America Eddie was invalided with tuberculosis. After treatment he went to convalesce with his mother and brother at Ballybay. In January 1939 he was sufficiently well to be posted to Dromantine where, at the time, there were 66 seminarians studying theology. Martin Lavelle was superior and professor of dogmatic theology. Other members of staff included John Cadogan, James Flanagan and Thomas Hughes. Edward was appointed professor of pastoral theology and also confessor to the students. Within a short time of his arrival, however, he fell ill once more, and had to cease his teaching. In September 1940 he was able to resume teaching. Shortly before completing the first term that year he wrote to Stephen Harrington, the Irish Provincial, about his work and state of health. 'Pastoral theology is important. I will teach a course on Catholic action after Christmas. I want to get into the work gradually. I think you would approve of this. A breakdown would spoil everything, for I am looking to the future. So next term I will take Catholic action and next year with God's help I will be in full swing. I am feeling fine. Catholic action should be helpful. At least it will open their eyes to what is being done in lands less Catholic than this. And I may be able to work out a plan for applying it to the missions'. In another letter he proposed taking the senior class 'for an intensive course in anthropology', a proposal which was accepted by the Provincial. In February 1941 Eddie was able to report that 'the class in cultural anthropology is going along fine'. However in March 1941 he fell ill and had to go home for rest. Later in the month he was admitted to the Mater hospital in Dublin where an X Ray revealed that a second lung hand was now infected. For the last month of his life Eddie was hospitalised in Cork.

Eddie was in his 37th year when he died. A small, unpretentious man, he was an individual with intellectual interests and a mind to match. His published study entitled Yoruba Marriage Customs (1937) won considerable acclaim, as did his monograph, 'The Yoruba Husband Wife Code' (1938), which reviewers described as a unique and masterly study of the subject.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.