Société des Missions Africaines –Province d'Irlande

McGAHAN Gerard né le 21 mai 1923 à Coalisland
dans le diocèse d'Armagh, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 1er juillet 1943
prêtre le 18 juin 1947
décédé le 13 juin 1984

1947-1949 Rome, étude supérieures
1949-1952 Kilcogan, professeur
1952-1953 Dromantine, professeur
1953-1957 Kilcogan, professeur
1957-1972 Dromantine, professeur
1972-1973 Dublin, études
1973-1984 Dromantine
1973-1977, supérieur
1977-1982, malade
1982-1984, promotion

décédé à Dromantine, Irlande, le 13 juin 1984,
à l'âge de 61 ans

Father Gerard Augustine McGAHAN (1923 - 1984)

Gerard McGahan was born in Coalisland, Co Tyrone (his home address was 'Brackaville House', Coalisland), in the diocese of Armagh, on 21 May 1923. He died in his sleep in the S.M.A. house at Dromantine, Co Down, on 13 June 1984.

Gerard (Gerry) studied at St. Colman's college, Violet Hill, Newry, from 1935 1941 before entering the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy, at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, in the autumn of 1941. Two years later, on 1 July 1943, he was admitted to membership of the Society. He studied theology in the major seminary at Dromantine and was ordained a priest by Bishop Eugene O'Doherty of Dromore diocese, at St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, on 18 June 1947. He was one of a group of sixteen ordained on that day.

Gerry had a distinguished academic record as a student and it came as no surprise when, after his ordination, he was sent for further studies, being appointed to study theology in Rome. In September 1947 he enrolled at the Gregorian University, living in the Society's headquarters at Via de Gracchi. In June 1949 he was awarded a licentiate in theology (S.T.L.). It was intended that he should continue on in Rome to study for a doctorate, however ill-health intervened and he was compelled to return to Ireland.

After a period of convalescence Gerry took up a teaching post in Kilcolgan. He joined a staff led by John Levins, with Maurice Kelly as master of the thirty-six novices. Michael Quigley, Martin Farrington and Gerry were the principal teachers, Gerry teaching education and sacred music and assisting Fr. Quigley in philosophy. When Fr. Quigley fell ill early in 1952 Gerry took over sociology and politics. In June 1952 the Provincial Council appointed Gerry to the diocese of Benin City, in mid-western Nigeria. He was due to leave Ireland after a departure ceremony at Blackrock Road on October 5th. However the pressure of such a heavy teaching commitment in Kilcolgan finally took its toll and Gerry's fragile health broke down. His superiors decided to postpone his appointment to Africa and in November 1952 Gerry went to Dromantine to convalesce and to be near his mother who was seriously ill.

However Gerry's health failed to improve and early in 1953 he was hospitalised in Belfast. It was clear now to his superiors that his constitution would be unable to withstand the rigours of the tropics and Gerry was re-assigned to Kilcolgan, taking up his posting in September 1953. Gerry spent the next four years as professor of English, Latin and plain chant. In 1957 he was posted to the major seminary (at Dromantine) where he joined a staff led by Lawrence Carr. The other members of the academic faculty were Robert Molloy and Alfred Glynn and there were some sixty seminarians in formation. Gerry was to spend the next sixteen years in Dromantine, teaching moral theology and sacred music. With the transfer of the Society's seminarians from Dromantine to St. Patrick's college, Maynooth, Co Kildare, in 1972, Gerry was permitted to take a well-earned 'sabbatical year'. He spent the year at Trinity College, Dublin, where he studied psychology. He then returned to Dromantine as house superior. Gerry was invalided in Dromantine between 1977 1982. Subsequently he worked in the promotion office there. While he was in failing health for some years, with respiratory problems, he died unexpectedly, in his sleep.

Gerry was a man of refined and gentle manner, talented in many ways, a good teacher, a good producer of plays and a trained musician. Lacking the health necessary for Africa he gave invaluable service on the home front. A very diligent and painstaking professor of moral theology, he held that important chair at a critical period - from eight years before the Second Vatican Council until seven years after the Council. Gerry responded to the challenges of this period with courage, thoroughness and imagination. His balanced assessment of the changes in theology was deeply appreciated by his students. So also were the detailed notes which Gerry painstakingly produced, sitting late into the night at his typewriter, supplying copies to all using the cumbersome 'stencil machine'. Gerry was also an excellent teacher and conductor of plain chant; regularly he enhanced the ordination liturgy with his playing on the Newry cathedral organ, with lasting memories of his 'Trumpet Voluntary' march as the procession of the newly-ordained made its way down the aisle and out into the world.

Also, under his baton, the seminary choir in Dromantine impressed in the several Sunday morning Masses broadcast live for B.B.C. radio. Society students who, over the years, received tuition in singing, even those who performed without much enthusiasm in his 'non-singers choir', remember Gerry's persistence and incredible patience. Later, in Africa, many of them came to realise the value of this training. Gerry was widely known within the Society because of his long association with formation. In the final analysis it was the manner in which he lived his life, his gentleness, his consideration, his dedication, his tolerance, which was his most influential lesson to those who were privileged to be his students.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.