Société des Missions Africaines – Province d'Irlande

EGAN Thomas né le 13 août 1925
dans le diocèse d'Achonry, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 1er juillet 1947
prêtre le 13 juin 1951
décédé le 3 mai 2006

1951-1964 missionnaire au Liberia, Monrovia
1964-1965 Blackrock Road, Cork, 
animation missionnaire
1965-1966 Kilcogan, formation
1967-1969 Blackrock Road, Cork 
1969-1998 Dublin, animation missionnaire
1998-2006 Blackrock Road, Cork, retiré

décédé à Cork, Irlande, le 3 mai 2006
à l’âge de 80 ans

Father Thomas EGAN (1925 - 2006)

Thomas Egan was born at Cloonacool, Tubbercurry, Co Sligo, in the diocese of Achonry, on 13 August 1925.
He died in the South Infirmary, Cork, on the morning of 3 May 2006.

Thomas (Tom) was the eldest in a family of two boys and three girls born to Michael and Mary (nee Cambell) Egan, who farmed at Mullaun, Cloonacool, near Tubbercurry. Tom received his primary schooling locally, at St. Michael’s national school, before commencing his secondary studies at St. Nathy’s College (the diocesan minor seminary), Ballaghadereen, Co Mayo, in 1939. In the autumn of 1943, deciding to become a missionary priest, he entered the Society’s senior secondary college at Wilton where, in the following year, he took his leaving certificate and matriculated. He spent an extra year at Wilton from which he attended the first Arts course at University College Cork. In September 1945 he was admitted to the Society’s novitiate and house of philosophy, at Kilcolgan, Co Galway. During his two years at Kilcolgan he attended lectures in philosophy and education at University College Galway, acquiring an Arts degree in 1947. Tom commenced his theological studies in the Society’s major seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down, in the autumn of 1947. He was first received as a member of the society on 1st July 1947 and as a permanent member on 12th June 1950. Tom’s ordination to priesthood by Bishop Eugene O'Doherty of Dromore diocese, took place in St. Catherine's church (the Dominican church), Newry, on 13 June 1951. Society ordinations were usually held in St. Colman's cathedral but were transferred to St. Catherine's on this occasion because of renovations. Tom was one of a group of ten ordained on that day.

After ordination Tom was appointed to the vicariate apostolic of Monrovia, in the republic of Liberia. This 'Black' republic, founded in the early 1820's by emancipated slaves from the U.S.A., had been the scene of the first modern mission to West Africa in l842. In 1906, having made little progress over the years, the mission was entrusted to the SMA It was given to the newly-formed Irish Province of the Society as its first mission in l9l2. When Tom came to Liberia the mission consisted of two jurisdictions, the vicariate of Monrovia and the prefecture of Cape Palmas. Tom was to serve in Liberia between December 1951 until March 1964. His first missionary tour of duty was spent in Bassa, a mission some 70 miles east of Monrovia, Liberia’s capital. The remaining years of his ministry were spent in Monrovia, principally on the staff of St. Patrick’s High School, Liberia’s first Catholic secondary college. He also assisted in the duties of the Internunciature which was headed by the vicar apostolic, Bishop John Collins. Indeed such was Tom’s promise in the diplomatic field that Bishop Collins had him sent for a short period of training to Rome. Tom’s aptitude for this work was to stand him in good stead all through his life, and particularly in the marathon course of his promotional work on behalf of the Society conducted later in his career.

Tom’s health was never robust and after thirteen years in Liberia he fell ill. During his recuperation he served a brief appointment to the promotion team in Blackrock Road, and then was posted as Director of Students to the Society’s novitiate at Kilcolgan. A little over a year later, in November 1966, he again fell ill. He spent his convalescence at Blackrock Road where he assisted in various administrative tasks, principally in the ‘Main Office’. In March 1969 he was sufficiently strong to be posted to the Province’s Dublin house, at Wellington Road, where he took charge of the Family Vocations Crusade for the Leinster region, and also did recruitment work. During the early months of 1971 Tom was again invalided and unable to work. However by July of that year he had recovered sufficiently to be able to resume his responsibilities in Leinster. Tom was to work for the next twenty-seven years promoting the Society in the Leinster region. In 1998 he retired from the active ministry, spending his last years in the Province’s motherhouse at Blackrock Road. On 26th February 2006 Tom suffered a stroke and during the next week or so his life ebbed peacefully away.

During his years in Dublin Tom became a legend, not only in the district where he lived, but among the thousands of Dubliners who crossed his path in the course of his work. The homilist at his requiem Mass summed up the secret of Tom’s success as follows. ‘The key to his ability to generate so much support for the SMA and esteem for its work, included the following ingredients: sheer repetitive hard work; meticulous attention to detail; regular and sustained contact with benefactors; his wonderful innate gift of charm; interest in all happenings within family and extended family, especially around examination times; attendance at hospitals and funerals; and finally, judicious and lengthy use of the telephone. And holding all these ingredients together was an unfailing courtesy and respect shown at all times.

Although naturally quite and retiring Tom had a gift of eloquence which on appropriate occasions was displayed to great effect. One occasion, eagerly anticipated by his colleagues, was the annual promotion meeting – where he was accepted as the uncrowned ‘Dean’ of the promotional team. On these occasions he would deliver an inspiring address praising the labours of his fellow-workers and exhorting them to even greater efforts in the coming year. Eloquence aside, Tom lived frugally devoting all his energies to his work. A colleague recalled at the time of his death how even in times of sickness Tom would lie on his bed with a battered portable typewriter on his chest typing letters of esteem, condolence or comfort to whomsoever had a need at that time.

He is buried in Wilton Cemetery.