Société des Missions Africaines –Province d'Irlande

CULLIGAN Patrick né le 23 octobre 1907 à Ennis
dans le diocèse de Killaloe, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 30 juin 1935
prêtre le 18 décembre 1938
décédé le 26 mai 1971

1939-1943 missionnaire en Gold Coast

collège Saint-Augustin
1943-1946 aumônier militaire
1947-1959 missionnaire au Ghana
secrétaire de l’éducation
1959-1971 archidiocèse de Lagos

décédé à Abeokuta, Nigeria, le 26 mai 1971
à l'âge de 64 ans

Father Patrick Remi CULLIGAN (1907 - 1971)

Patrick Culligan was born in Ennis, Co Clare, in the parish of Inch and Kilmaley, in the diocese of Killaloe, on 23 October 1907. He died at Abeokuta, Nigeria, as a result of an accident, on 26 May 197l.

Patrick (Pat) received his secondary education in the Christian Brothers juniorate at St. Joseph's, Baldoyle, Dublin, before entering the Christian Brothers novitiate at St. Mary's, Marino, on 25th September 1922. Pat took simple temporary vows in that congregation on 25th December 1924. He renewed those vows annually until 1932. During those years he taught in Mayo and Dublin and was principal of Tuam C.B.S. from 1929 1933. In September 1933 he joined the S.M.A. novitiate and house of philosophy, at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, completing his theological training in the Society's major seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down. He received his oath of membership on 30 June 1935 and was ordained a priest by Bishop Edward Mulhern of Dromore diocese, at St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, on 18 December 1938. He was one of a group of eleven ordained on that day.

Pat returned to Dromantine after his ordination to complete his theological formation. He was then appointed to the Gold Coast mission (Ghana), where the Province had important responsibilities in the area of Catholic education. Pat was assigned to the staff of St. Augustine's college, Cape Coast, Ghana's first Catholic secondary college, founded in 1936 by Maurice Kelly. Pat joined a staff led by Mick Scully, which gave secondary education to some 100 pupils and teacher training to 80 candidate teachers. In April 1940 Pat applied for an army chaplaincy, with the support of his bishop, William Porter. Bishop Porter reported to the Irish Provincial that 'Fr. Culligan's going will make a big change in the college as he has been taking subjects which it will not be easy for anyone else to teach. Among the many subjects which Pat taught was art. He was also the principal teacher in the training department attached to St. Augustine's, lecturing on education theory and practice and supervising the young candidate teachers. Pat decided to seek a change from teaching in 1940 because he was greatly over burdened with work, having 25 class periods each week as well as many extra duties. In fact he was to remain on at St. Augustine's until June 1942, when his application was accepted and he was appointed chaplain to the armed forces stationed at Accra. Subsequently he was to serve with the West African Brigade in India and Burma, until he retired from the services in June 1946.

Pat returned to the Gold Coast in June 1947, where William Porter appointed him education secretary (residing at Cape Coast), responsible for the ever expanding network of schools, for the appointment of teachers, the maintenance of standards, the quality of the physical plant, the acquisition of new sites and, not least, for liaising with the government education department from which annual subventions were sought. With the erection of the hierarchy in the Gold Coast in 1950, Pat was appointed secretary general of education for the entire country (responsible for the archdiocese of Cape Coast, and the dioceses of Keta and Kumasi), residing in Accra. Pat exercised this important and influential post with skill and resourcefulness, making a unique contribution to the building up of Catholic education in modern Ghana.

With the appointment of an African Father to succeed him (a member of the White Fathers) in 1959 part of the timely Africanisation of senior appointments which was taking place in all walks of life Pat asked for a complete change. He had been living virtually alone since 1947 and expressed a wish to have greater contact with his confrères. Archbishop Porter (he was succeeded by John Kodwo Amissah as archbishop in December 1959), was most understanding and supported Pat's request. His superiors in Ireland appointed Pat to the archdiocese of Lagos, in south western Nigeria. Sailing to Lagos on the M.V. Apapa, Pat reached his destination on 30 August 1959. Archbishop Leo Taylor welcomed him and gave him an appointment to Holy Cross cathedral parish, the oldest mission in Nigeria, established in 1868. After a month Pat was posted to Abeokuta district where, after five months, he was nominated parish priest and superior. Six months later Archbishop Taylor was looking for a new secretary and he selected Pat for this important post. He also took on the post of archdiocesan procurator, in charge of financial administration. Pat came to Ireland on home leave in March 1963. On his return to Lagos six months later he was re appointed to Holy Cross as administrator of the cathedral. However his health gave cause for concern and he spent the last few years of his life as chaplain to the Sacred Heart hospital, Abeokuta, founded at the turn of the century by the legendary self taught French missionary doctor, Fr. Jean Marie Coquard. Pat died in Abeokuta, as a result of a fall while inspecting repair work on the old hospital buildings.

A classmate penned the following tribute to Pat from his hospital bed:
Our Lives were cast together
Through college years till ordination day.
Then Ghana claimed him
As Christ's Ambassador.
Some years went by
Before the crossing of our paths again
Upon the Burma Road;
But now he's gone to wear the crown
He laboured for so manfully
My own small cross seems lighter far
That Pat still lead the way

He is buried in the grounds of the leper compound attached to the Sacred Heart hospital, Abeokuta, Nigeria.