Société des Missions Africaines – Province d’Irlande

McKENNA Patrick né le 16 novembre 1893 à Crossmaglen
dans le diocèse d’Armagh, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 13 novembre 1917
prêtre le 13 juin 1920
décédé le 28 mai 1972

1920-1926 Wilton, professeur, puis directeur
1926-1928 Dromantine, professeur
1928-1945 missionnaire au Liberia
1945-1946 Blackrock Road, Cork, supérieur
1946-1948 Ballinafad, directeur
1948-1952 Dromantine, directeur spirituel
1952-1953 Dromantine, aide économe
1953-1972 Rostrevor, aumônier des sœurs nda

décédé à Newry, Irlande, le 28 mai 1972,
à l’âge de 79 ans

Father Patrick McKENNA (1893 - 1972)

Patrick McKenna was born in Cregganduff, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, in the archdiocese of Armagh, on 16 November 1893. He died in the St. John of God hospital, Newry, Co Down, on 28 May 1972.

Paddy studied at the Sacred Heart college, Ballinafad, Co Mayo (191l 1912) and St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork (1912 1915), before entering St. Joseph's seminary, Blackrock Road, Cork, in September 1915. He completed his philosophical and theological training four years later. Paddy was received as a member of the Society on 13 November 1917 and was ordained a priest on 13 June 1920. He was one of a group of ten ordained on that day. The ordination took place in St. Joseph's church, adjoining the seminary at Blackrock Road, and the ordaining prelate was Bishop William J. Miller O.M.I., vicar apostolic of the Transvaal.

Paddy was ordained eight years after the formation of the Irish Province of the Society. This was a time when the Province had less than 50 members and numerous commitments. Not only was there the prefecture of Liberia to be staffed, but there were commitments too in Nigeria and Egypt. On the home front, not only had the Province to be administered, funds to be raised, missions promoted, the sick to be tended, but the many students who were now flocking to Society's colleges had to be given a good missionary formation. Paddy had shown an aptitude for scholarship as a student. He was also prudent and wise beyond his years and was noted as a 'spiritual' man. It was perhaps inevitable that after ordination he would be kept at home for formation work in the colleges.

His first appointment was to the secondary school at Wilton where he served as 'spiritual director' between 1921 1926. He also taught Latin and English to the leaving certificate students. He joined a staff led by Michael Rowan, which gave formation to some 60 students preparing for their leaving certificate in a three year cycle. By 1925 there were almost 50 theologians in the major seminary at Blackrock Road, which was extremely over crowded. A decision was taken at the Provincial Assembly of that year to transfer the seminary to a more appropriate location and this happened in September 1926 when the seminary moved to a fine spacious house with extensive lands at Dromantine, Co Down. Paddy was appointed to the staff at Dromantine, which was led by William Butler, who had been Provincial between 1918 1925. Fr. Butler taught pastoral theology, Martin Lavelle taught dogmatic theology and sacred scripture, while Paddy taught canon law, Church music and Church history.

In 1928 Paddy's desire to go to Africa was fulfilled when he was assigned to the prefecture of Liberia. He reached his mission in November of the same year. Mgr. Jean Ogé, the prefect apostolic, posted Paddy to the Kru coast mission, where the Church in Liberia had been first properly established in the second decade of the century. Paddy was appointed to Grand Cess district where he was introduced to the missionary life by Michael Cummins. After six months Paddy was transferred to Bassa district, a coastal region some 70 miles east of Monrovia, which had been founded by Michael McEniry in 1929. Paddy's superior in Bassa, was his namesake, Patrick McKenna from Fermanagh. Together they ministered to a Catholic community of 100 members and 50 catechumens, visited the four outstations, and supervised the catechist training school (The Institute of Marie Theresa Ledochowska) where there were a dozen students. In 1932 Paddy became superior of Bassa district, with John Kennedy as his assistant. A year later, in October 1933, he returned to Ireland on home leave.

Paddy's second tour of duty in Liberia, prolonged because of the world war, lasted almost eleven years (1934 1945). It was the longest tour of any member of the Province with one exception (William Lumley who served continuously in Jos between 1934 1952). Paddy spent the first four years in Monrovia district, where he was nominated superior. Three unsuccessful attempts had been made to establish a Catholic presence in Monrovia during the 19th century. The S.M.A., under Stephen Kyne (first prefect of Liberia) had made a new attempt in 1906, but the mission had to be closed shortly afterwards. Monrovia was re opened by Mgr Jean Ogé, in 1921, but progress was painfully slow. Monrovia was the capital of Liberia and also the home of the ruling Americo Liberian ruling elite. Protestant denominations and sects predominated, many of which were virulently anti Catholic. Paddy and his assistants ministered to some 600 Catholics (mainly indigenous Liberians, immigrants from the Kru Coast) based in Monrovia and its six outstations. In 1939 Paddy returned to his old mission of Bassa where he served as superior for the next five years. He spent the last year of his tour back in Monrovia.

When Paddy returned to Ireland in January 1945 he had a well earned rest and then took up an appointment as superior of the S.M.A. house at Blackrock Road. After a year, with the election of a new Provincial administration, he was posted to Ballinafad, the Society's intermediate college, as director of students. In 1948 he was assigned to Dromantine as 'spiritual director' and also took charge of the Mass register and the gardens. Next, in September 1953 he took up a chaplaincy with the O.L.A. sisters in their beautifully situated convent at Rostrevor, Co. Down. In March 1954 Paddy suffered a serious cardiac attack and was taken to the St John of God hospital, Newry. He was discharged in May 1954 but had to enter St. John's nursing home Belfast for a period before resuming his chaplaincy at Rostrevor. Paddy celebrated his golden jubilee of priesthood on 13 June 1970.

Paddy used to play the violin and loved music. He was known as 'Red Paddy', to distinguish him from his namesake, 'Black Paddy' McKenna. In many of his letters he signed himself 'Patrick McKenna, Junior'. He was older brother of Brother Michael McKenna, S.M.A., and had a brother, James, a priest in New Orleans. Paddy was a genial man with a winning smile. He had a keen interest in Irish and philosophy .

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.