Société des Missions Africaines – Province d'Irlande

 mcgirr  Le Père Patrick James McGIRR
né le 22 janvier 1893 à Rarogan, Ballygawley
dans l'archidiocèse d’Armagh, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 6 novembre 1921
prêtre le 14 juin 1924
décédé le 20 décembre 1962

1924-1928 Kilcogan, économe
1928-1950 missionnaire au Liberia
1950-1962 Blackrock Road, Cork
membre du staff de la maison provinciale

décédé à Cork, Irlande, le 20 décembre 1962,
à l’âge de 69 ans

(biographie en anglais à la suite)

Le père Patrick James McGIRR (1893 - 1962)

A Cork (Irlande), le 20 décembre 1962, retour à Dieu du père Patrick Mac Girr, à l'âge de 69 ans

Patrick James Mac Girr naquit dans le diocèse d'Armagh en 1893. Il fit le serment en 1921 et fut ordonné prêtre en 1924. De faible santé, le père Mac Girr fut placé comme économe à Kilcogan. En 1928, il obtint de partir en mission. Il eut alors un ministère ininterrompu de 22 ans au Liberia. Il y connut le président Tubmann, alors jeune avocat "travaillant ferme pour percer" et ils restèrent jusqu'au bout de solides amis.

En 1950, sa mauvaise santé ne lui permit plus de retourner en mission, et il fut attaché à la maison provinciale de Cork.

Le père Mac Girr avait le don de laisser une impression extraordinaire et durable chez les personnes qu'il rencontrait. Il savait "de son petit sourire" et par ses plaisanteries communiquer la joie et la bonne humeur.

Les confrères de la Société pourraient demander la grâce d'imiter la manière avec laquelle le père Mac Girr prit si doucement les misères de la vie. La grâce aussi de le suivre dans la pratique cachée, sans prétentions, active, soigneuse du moindre détail, portant un vif intérêt à tous ceux qu'il rencontrait, écoutant avec bienveillance les peines d'autrui, capable de communiquer son calme irrésistible en n'importe quelle situation tragique.

Cet "humble de cœur" avait un représentant personnel du président de la République à ses funérailles.

Father Patrick James McGIRR (1893 - 1962)

Patrick McGirr was born in Rarogan, Ballygawley, Co Tyrone, in the archdiocese of Armagh, on 22 January 1893. He died in the Bon Secours hospital, Cork, on 20 December 1962.

Patrick (Pat) studied with the Cistercians, at Mount Melleray seminary, Co Waterford, between 1914 1918. He came to the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, in the autumn of 1918. He belonged to the first class to train in that house. Two years later he went to the Society's theological seminary at Blackrock Road, Cork. Pat was received as a member of the Society on 6 November 1921 and was ordained a priest by Bishop Daniel Cohalan of Cork diocese, in St. Joseph's church, Blackrock Road, on 14 June 1924. He was one of a group of eleven ordained on that day.

After ordination Pat's superiors were anxious about his health and appointed him to Kilcolgan as bursar. Pat gradually grew stronger and eventually, in 1928, he obtained clearance from his doctors and his superiors to go to Africa. Pat was appointed to Liberia, a challenging mission, which had defeated the best efforts of missionaries for over half a century before the S.M.A. put down roots there in 1906. Liberia was the original 'whiteman's grave', a poor country with a deadly climate, colonised by freed slaves from the U.S.A. early in the 19th century. By the time Pat set foot in Liberia it was clear that although major problems remained to be confronted and although the staff suffered continual depletion through illness, the mission was likely to survive. Pat was to minister in Liberia for 22 years, playing a vital role in consolidating the gains already made and in pioneering new developments.

When Pat arrived in Liberia, in October 1928, the prefect apostolic, Jean Ogé, appointed him to the town of Betu, to assist Denis Horgan. Betu was situated on the Kru Coast, where in the early years of the century catholic missionaries had defended the indigenous population from oppressive Americo-Liberian rule. A little later, when the first world war prevented the Krus from following their traditional calling as sailors and when famine struck the region, the missionaries again came to the rescue, organising the importation of vital food aid from Sierra Leone. The Krus were deeply grateful to the missionaries and subsequently the Kru Coast was to become the cradle of Liberian Catholicism. During his first tour of duty Pat also served in the towns of Grand Cess and Cape Palmas, both on the Kru Coast.

In April 1934, some months after the death of Mgr. Ogé, the prefecture of Liberia was elevated to the status of a vicariate apostolic, and John Collins was appointed bishop. When Pat returned from his first home leave, in the same year, he was appointed to the Interior which Bishop Collins was anxious to open up to the Church. Pat most of his second tour of duty (1934-1938) in the two principal stations of the interior, namely Sannequellie and Gbarnga. He spent the last months at Kekru, north of Monrovia, which was the first mission established by the S.M.A. in 1906. His third tour (1940-1946) began with an appointment to Bassa, a town perhaps 70 miles east of Monrovia. In June 1944 he was assigned once more to Sannequellie where the Church was making good progress. Pat's final tour was interrupted by illness (Asthma) which necessitated his return to Ireland in August 1950. After a period of convalescence at Blackrock Road, in April 1953 Pat took up temporary duty with the Franciscan Brothers, at Annaghdown, in Tuam archdiocese; later he ministered in Cummer parish, until July 1954. Pat then returned to Blackrock Road assisting in the main promotion office until the year of his death.

Pat was to become a life long friend of President William Tubman whom he first met as a young lawyer in Cape Palmas. In future years this friendship was to contribute significantly to the progress of the Church, when both agencies Church and Government combined to establish badly-needed educational facilities. It was a token of the esteem in which he was held that a personal representative of President Tubman attended his funeral at Wilton.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery