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Société des Missions Africaines –Province d'Irlande

CONNOLLY Donal Paul né le 10 septembre 1940 à Holles
dans le diocèse de Dublin, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 25 juin 1959
prêtre le 20 décembre 1965
décédé le 30 mai 1989

1966-1968 missionnaire dans le diocèse de Ondo, Nigeria

1969-1982 collège Saint-Brendan, Australie, professeur
1982-1989 Bicton, hôpital Saint-Joseph, Australie
aumônier

décédé à Bicton, Australie, le 30 mai 1989;
à l'âge de 48 ans


Father Donal Paul CONNOLLY (1940 - 1989)

Donal Connolly was born at Holles St. Dublin, into Our Lady, Star of the Sea parish, in the archdiocese of Dublin (the home address was at 54 Wilfield Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin), on l0 September 1940. He died in St. Joseph's hospital, Bicton, Western Australia, on 30 May 1989.

Donal was baptised in St. Andrews church, Westland Row and received his primary education at Star of the Sea school, Sandymount. He received his secondary education from the Christian Brothers, at the O'Connell schools, Dublin (1953 1958). Donal came to the Society's 'spiritual year', or year of probation, at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, in the autumn of 1958. He studied geology, chemistry and philosophy at U.C.C., from 1959 to 1962, residing in the Society house at Wilton. In 1962 he was awarded a B.Sc. degree. Donal studied theology in the Society's major seminary at Dromantine, Co Down, between 1962 1966. He was admitted as a member of the Society on 25 June 1959 and was ordained a priest in St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, by Bishop Eugene O'Doherty of Dromore diocese, on 20 December 1965. He was one of a group of seventeen ordained on that day.

After ordination Donal returned to Dromantine to complete his theological course. He was then appointed to Nigeria which was in the grip of civil war. Donal was assigned to the diocese of Ondo, in the Western State, a region not directly affected by the war at that time but where, like most parts of Nigeria, the situation was volatile and there was considerable unrest and disruption. It was a period of particular tension for the missionaries, everywhere. Ondo diocese had been erected in 1950 under the leadership of Thomas P. Hughes. It had an area of 6,000 square miles and a population of over 1.5 million, of which 6% were Catholic. When Donal arrived in Nigeria, in October 1966, he was appointed to the tyrocinium at Ibadan. There with seven young colleagues he studied the Yoruba language and customs, and pastoral theology, under the guidance of Bart McCarthy. He also undertook supervised pastoral work in the Ibadan area. Having completed his tyrocinium, William Richard Field (who had succeeded Bishop Hughes in 1958) posted Donal to the staff of the Sacred Heart minor seminary at Akure, where Hugh McLoughlin was superior. At the end of the academic year Donal went on leave to Ireland. He returned to Akure at a time when the civil war had spilled over into parts of the diocese. Nonetheless there was no question of abandoning the work. Donal, however, began to experience symptoms of stress and although he was determined to complete his tour of duty, his doctors ordered him home in December 1968. After treatment in Ireland he made a good recovery, but was declared no longer fit to return to the tropics.

Donal's return to Ireland came four years after the Province had taken charge of a secondary college and parish in Perth, Western Australia, with a view to establishing a branch of the Society in that country. In June 1969 the Provincial, Lawrence Carr, asked Donal to join the staff of the college, which was named after St. Brendan and located at York Street, Hilton (Beaconsfield). Elisha O'Shea, the founder principal, welcomed Donal to St. Brendan's in August. Donal settled down quickly in his new environment, the 'regional superior' reporting that he had 'taken an immediate interest in gardening'. Donal's arrival coincided with the building of two new science laboratories. Elisha O'Shea reported that he had: 'practically put him (Donal) in charge of the new building and he is delighted as he has many original ideas of his own', adding: 'we get on very well together. He is a fine science teacher'. The science laboratories were completed in June 1970. Donal remained on the teaching staff of St. Brendan's (from 1974 he taught religion as well as science) until 1982. Occasionally he had to struggle with his health, but throughout these years he was a key member of the staff and his students always got excellent results.

Donal was keenly interested in medical matters and especially in pastoral care of the sick. In 1982 he retired from teaching and became chaplain to St. Joseph's hospital, Bicton, Perth. In January 1988 he was diagnosed as having cancer. Three months later, after he was informed that there was no hope, he wrote to his Provincial: 'Being a hospital chaplain has its advantages ... I have become familiar with illness and this has helped me to face the reality of my own death.' Donal's response to his approaching death was inspirational to all who came into contact with him. He came back to Ireland in the summer of 1988 knowing he would be returning to die in Australia. During his visit he bid his final farewell to his family and friends, spending many happy hours with his colleagues in Blackrock Road who were struck by his cheerfulness. Donal was admitted to St. Joseph's hospital for the last time on 30 April 1989. He continued to say Mass in his room until the last week of his life. He was 47 years old when he went to meet his Maker. The chief celebrant at his funeral Mass was Most Rev. William Foley, archbishop of Perth.

He is buried in the S.M.A. plot, Freemantle, Western Australia.