Société des Missions Africaines - Province d’Irlande

CANTILLON John Anthony né le 13 juin 1921 à Cork
dans le diocèse de Cork, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 1er juillet 1945
prêtre le 14 juin 1949
décédé le 1er juin 1997

1949-1950 Blackrock Road, Cork, études
1951-1954 archidiocèse de Lagos, Nigeria
1955-1959 préfecture d’Ibadan, Nigeria
1960-1977 diocèse d’Ibadan, Nigeria
1978-1989 archidiocèse de New York, USA
1989-1991 diocèses de Ross et de Cork, Irlande
1991-1996 Wilton, Cork, retiré
1996-1997 Cork, maison Saint-Luc, retiré

décédé à Cork, Irlande, le 1er juin 1997
à l’âge de 75 ans

Father John Anthony (Sean) CANTILLON (1921 - 1997)

John Anthony (Sean) Cantillon was born in Cork (the family address was 21 Dunbar St.) in the parish of St. Finbarr's South, on 13 June 1921. He died in St. Luke's home, Mahon, Blackrock, Cork, on 1 June 1997.

John (Sean) attended the Cork technical school, studying mechanics. However in 1942, with a view to becoming a priest, he attended a private secondary school (Central college) for a year, after which he matriculated. Sean entered the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy at Kilcolgan, Go Galway, in September 1943. Two years later he was promoted to the Society's major seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down. Sean was received as a member of the Society on 1 July 1945. He was ordained a priest in St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, Co Down, by Bishop Eugene O'Doherty of Dromore diocese, on 14 June 1949. He was one of a group of seven ordained on that day.

After ordination Sean spent a year in Cork, residing at Blackrock Road, during which he returned to the Cork technical school, studying building construction. He was then appointed to the archdiocese of Lagos, in south western Nigeria. Sean's first appointment was to St. Theresa's minor seminary, Oke Are, Ibadan, where he was posted as Rector???. This seminary provided secondary education for seminarians drawn from several jurisdictions in south-west and western Nigeria. Located on a hill overlooking the city, Oke-Are was the site of the first Catholic mission in Ibadan, founded in 1895 under the patronage of St. Augustine. In 1953 the Ibadan region was detached from the Lagos jurisdiction and erected as a prefecture apostolic under the leadership of Richard Finn. The establishment of the prefecture (which was erected as diocese in 1958) coincided with an era of great opportunity for the Church in Nigeria. In the aftermath of the world war greater government resources were being made available for the development of secondary schools, colleges and hospitals. Large numbers of young people who had received primary education in the mission schools were now clamouring for post primary education. The pioneering work of the early missionaries in towns and villages was now beginning to bear fruit in the emergence of vibrant Church communities seeking leadership and stimulation, and most anxious to participate in all aspects of Church life.

Sean was a valued member of the Ibadan staff serving Bishop Finn and his successor Bishop Felix Alaba Adeosin Job (who became bishop of the diocese in 1971) until his retirement from Africa in 1977. Sean was one of those entrusted with building projects in the early years of the prefecture, putting to good use the experience and qualifications which he had gained in the Cork technical school. But Sean was also to the forefront in the pastoral ministry founding and serving for many years as parish priest of St. Michael's Yemetu (1964-1971). Earlier he ministered in Mokola parish and was a chaplain to the University hospital. He spent time too in Oke Offa parish. In 1970 he took up the additional duty of chaplain to the Nigerian army in Ibadan, a post which soon became full time. He served faithfully in this capacity until the time of his retirement when he was the only expatriate army chaplain.

Between May 1978-May 1989 Sean ministered in the archdiocese of New York, serving in the Church of the Visitation, the Bronx where there was a large Irish community. His last appointment was as curate in the parish of Tracton, in the diocese of Cork, serving there until July 1991, after which he retired to Wilton. In January 1996 Sean was admitted to the Regional hospital, Cork, where he was diagnosed as suffering from Alzheimer's illness. Then, after a period in St. Finbarr's hospital, he was transferred to St. Luke's home, Mahon, Blackrock.

An extract from the homily preached at Sean's funeral in St. Joseph's college, Wilton gives something of the flavour of the man. 'Those who worked with him in Ibadan, described him as "a great worker", "highly efficient", "very hospitable", "very tasty around the house", "gifted with his hands", " a dedicated pastoral man". As chaplain in the university hospital he was loved by staff and patients alike. Here he was renowned for his dedication and was noted for the fact that every single ward of this large hospital was visited by Sean at least twice each week.' On 1 July 1997 the parishioners of St. Michael's church, Yemetu, Ibadan, held a Mass for the repose of Sean's soul, at which Archbishop Job preached. In his homily he described Sean (who had taught him in Oke Are seminary) as a fine teacher (especially of mathematics), a great pastor, and a superb sportsman. In this latter respect he remarked that Sean was mainly responsible for training the late Tesilimi Balogun, a renowned footballer of his time. Sean was indeed a noted sportsman, soccer being his favourite past-time. In his youth he was a key member of the Morton Villa and later the Dunbar Celtic soccer clubs in Cork. In Ibadan he was a regular in an expatriate team that contained quite a number of rated Lebanese players; and he represented Ibadan in the Governor's Cup on more than one occasion. Surprisingly for a small man, he was noted as a brilliant centre half.

Sean was very proud of his Cork roots and deeply attached to his family. Particularly during his years of retirement he was able to enjoy the company of his family and especially his sister Breda (O'Callaghan) who, with her husband, Sean, were constantly by his side. During his stay in St. Lukes they visited him every second day, bringing his favourite delicacy of jelly and custard and two mikado biscuits. It was very clear that Sean really relished their visits. Also, it was noted by everyone at the time of his death, how easily he crossed all the generation barriers and was beloved of his nieces and nephews.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.