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Société des Missions Africaines – Province d’Irlande

CAREW Patrick né le 14 janvier 1913 à Carrick on Suir
dans le diocèse de Waterford, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 1er juillet 1934
prêtre le 19 décembre 1937
décédé le 25 mai 1973

1938-1943 diocèse de Lagos
1945-1948 diocèse de Onde Ilorin
1950-1973 archidiocèse de Lagos

décédé à Abeokuta, Nigeria, le 25 mai 1973,
à l’âge de 60 ans


Father Joseph Patrick CAREW (1913 - 1973)

Joseph Carew was born in Carrick on Suir, Co Tipperary, in the parish of St. Nicholas, in the diocese of Waterford and Lismore, on 14 January 1913. He died in the Sacred Heart hospital, Abeokuta, Nigeria, on 25 May 1973.

Joseph (Joe) studied at the Sacred Heart college, Ballinafad, Co Mayo and St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork, matriculating in 1932. Two years later, on 1 July 1934, having completed his novitiate and philosophical studies in Kilcolgan, Co Galway, he was received into the Society. He completed his theological training in the major seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down, and was ordained a priest by Bishop Edward Mulhern of Dromore diocese, on 19 December 1937, in St. Colman's cathedral, Newry. He was one of a group of fifteen ordained on that day.

After ordination Joe returned to Dromantine for six months to complete his theological course and then, in October 1938, he sailed for the vicariate of the Bight of Benin, in south western Nigeria. The vicar apostolic, Bishop Francis O'Rourke, died on the very day of Joe's arrival at Lagos, on 28th October. The pro vicar, Philip Corish, assigned Joe to Oshogbo mission, where Pat McKay was superior. There he studied Yoruba and was introduced to the missionary pastorate. After six months, having passed his Yoruba examination and having received faculties to hear confessions, Joe was transferred to the staff of St. Theresa's inter vicarial minor seminary, at Oke Are, Ibadan. Joe suffered a lot of illness both in Oshogbo and Oke Are and for a while the pro vicar feared that he might have to be sent home. However he gradually adapted to his new environment and in fact was to spend almost 35 years in the tropics. In June 1939 Leo Hale Taylor succeeded as vicar apostolic of the Bight of Benin vicariate (renamed in 1943 the vicariate of Lagos). He posted Joe to Topo island, near Badagry where, in addition to a mission, the vicariate had a coconut plantation (it produced the 'cash crop', copra, used for cosmetics and soap), a boys boarding school, a convent and orphanage. John Reddington, later bishop of Jos, was Joe's superior in Topo.

Joe went to Ireland on his first home leave in June 1943. Due back a year later, he fell sick, and his return to Nigeria was delayed until November 1945. In May 1943 the Ondo and Ilorin districts of the Lagos jurisdiction had been detached and erected as a separate jurisdiction, called the vicariate of Ondo Ilorin. Thomas P. Hughes was bishop of the new vicariate and on Joe's return to Nigeria he was appointed to Bishop Hughes' staff. He spent the next three years as superior of Ado Ekiti district, assisted by Michael Conway and Anthony Oguntuyi, a Nigerian priest. Ado Ekiti mission had been founded in 1914 under the patronage of St. Patrick. Today it is the seat of Ekiti diocese.

When Joe came to Ado there was a Catholic community of 5,000 members and 1,500 catechumens, spread out over the central station (Ado) and its 17 outstations. In April 1950 the Ondo Ilorin jurisdiction was erected as the diocese of Ondo. Joe was due to return to Nigeria after his second home leave, in September 1948, but he fell ill and was a patient in the tropical ward of the Royal Infirmary, Liverpool for some time. He was able to return in February 1950, when he was re assigned to his original jurisdiction, which was erected as the archdiocese of Lagos a few weeks after his arrival. Archbishop Taylor appointed him to his old mission at Topo, where Tom Deeley was superior and the second assistant priest was Tom Devane. Joe was to serve in the archdiocese until the time of his death in 1973, for a further six tours of duty. He spent these years ministering in St. Michael's, Lafiaji; St. Leo's teacher training college, Abeokuta; St. Paul's, Ebute Metta; the Sacred Heart church, Badagry; and the Regina Mundi church, Mushin.

Joe's death was unexpected. He was making a good recovery in Mushin, Lagos, after hospitalisation in Oke Offa hospital, Ibadan, and was preparing to return to Ireland, when he fell ill and had to be hospitalised. He died from heart failure, brought on by chronic bronchitis. His remains now rest in Badagry, overlooking Topo island across the creeks, where he had laboured for many years. Throughout his years of continuous service on the missions, he was cheerful and affable, a man who won praise without seeking it. Joe was a musician, playing the bagpipes. He also had a great love of the Irish language. A colleague who worked closely with him wrote the following account of Joe on learning of his death: 'Though not blessed with a robust constitution and suffering frequently from the African fevers, Father Joe was ever cheerful, ready to joke, and willing to fill any post. He had a special love for the African people, and many of them will never forget the friendly and genial manner of this good pastor who did not spare himself in their interests. He took a special joy in carrying out the liturgy and ceremonies to the full, and in his station, the administration of the sacraments, processions, and special feasts were always emphasised with due decorum. His death leaves a void not easily filled.'

He is buried in grounds of the mission compound at Badagry, Nigeria.