Société des Missions Africaines – Province d’Irlande

RICE Edward né le 9 août 1911 à Belfast
dans le diocèse de Down & Connor, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 2 juillet 1933
prêtre le 20 juin 1937
décédé le 5 août 1972

1937-1942 vicariat du Bénin, Nigeria
1943-1949 aumônier dans la RAF
1949-1953 vicariat de Lagos, Nigeria
1954-1960 Lagos, secrétaire de l’éducation
1960-1964 secrétaire régional de l’éducation, Nigeria
1964-1967 archidiocèse de Lagos
1967-1972 diocèse de Down & Connor, en paroisse

décédé à Bangor, Irlande, le 5 août 1972,
à l’âge de 61 ans

Father Edward Joseph RICE (1911 - 1972)

Edward Rice was born in Belfast (the family address was 51 Tyrone Street), in the parish of St. Columcille, in the diocese of Down and Connor, on 9 August 1911. He died in Bangor, Co Down, on 5 August 1972.

Edward (Ned) studied at the Sacred Heart college, Ballinafad, Co Mayo (1927 28) and St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork (1928 1931) before joining the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy, at Kilcolgan, in the autumn of 1931. He studied theology in the Society's seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down. He was received as a member of the Society on 2 July 1933 and was ordained a priest by Bishop Edward Mulhern of Dromore diocese, at St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, on 20 June 1937. He was one of two ordained on that day; the other ordinand was Daniel Watson. The other members of the group were ordained the previous December.

After ordination Ned was appointed to the vicariate of the Bight of Benin in south western Nigeria. This vicariate, erected in 1870, extended over much of south western Nigeria, including Lagos and its hinterland, Ijebu country, Ibadan, Oyo, Ondo, Ilorin, and Ekiti country. Ned arrived during a crisis in the Nigerian mission. A number of Fathers had died of yellow fever in Jos prefecture and Europeans throughout Nigeria, were urged by the medical authorities to go to Lagos for inoculation against this disease, or else to go to England for the injection. The serum used in Lagos was 'live' and those inoculated had to be quarantined for some weeks before being released. Two Fathers who were inoculated, Frs. Murphy and Rolt, died shortly after receiving the serum and although the medical authorities denied there was any connection, many felt that the inoculation was unsafe. Ned was in Lagos for the burials of both Fathers (in December 1937 and March 1938). He was also one of those who took the inoculation and was quarantined in Yaba.

Ned's first appointment, given to him by Francis O'Rourke, the vicar apostolic, was to Abeokuta, capital of the Egbas. Here, under the guidance of Tom Deeley, the superior, he was introduced to the missionary life, studied the Yoruba language, learned about local culture and undertook supervised pastoral work. After four months Ned was transferred to the staff of St. Gregory's college, Ikoyi, Nigeria's first catholic secondary school which had been founded in 1928. Tom Bunyan was principal, and the staff included Harry Sheppard, Peter Moore and Patrick M. Kelly. There were 170 pupils in the school and 50 students in a teacher training department attached to the college. Ned returned to Ireland on his first home leave in December 1941. In July 1942 Ned wrote to the Provincial, Stephen Harrington, requesting permission to become a R.A.F. chaplain. A year later, he went to London to commence this work, serving with the R.A.F. in various bases in England until he was demobilised in April 1949. In October of the same year he returned to Nigeria to what was now the 'vicariate of Lagos' (erected in 1943 after a division of the old jurisdiction. In April 1950 the jurisdiction was erected as the archdiocese of Lagos). On his arrival, the vicar apostolic, Leo Hale Taylor, posted Ned to Ibonwon district, where he was assisted by Justin McCarthy. Ibonwon station had been founded in 1901 under the patronage of the Immaculate Conception. The district, which included Ibonwon and twelve secondary stations, had a catholic community of 2,300 members and 400 catechumens.

On his return from his next home leave, in March 1954, Ned was appointed to the key position of archdiocesan education secretary, based first at Ibadan and later at Lagos. In this capacity he was responsible for the jurisdictions schools, for the appointment of teachers, the maintenance of standards, the quality of the physical plant, the acquisition of new sites and, not least, for liaising with the government education department from which annual subventions were sought. From 1960 1964 he was education secretary for the western region of Nigeria, residing in Ibadan. For the remaining years of his ministry in Nigeria Ned was parish priest of Immaculate Conception parish, Ibonwon. After his retirement from Africa, in June 1967, Ned worked in the pastoral ministry in the diocese of Down and Connor, assisting in the parish of Bangor.

Ned was education secretary at a time when the Church's education programme was rapidly expanding. During this vital period he was responsible for the supervision of education throughout the Lagos archdiocese and later throughout the other suffragan dioceses in western Nigeria. He dealt with the many complex problems and challenges with assurance. Ned was one of the great personalities of the Province's Belfast confreres, who made such a signal contribution to the evangelisation of Nigeria. He was a man of vision and tact, who could deal with the most intractable situations with imagination and diplomacy. He had a good singing voice and is especially remembered as a good host. In his younger days he was a fine soccer player. Ned was also a frequent contributor to the Province's magazine, The African Missionary. Written while teaching in St. Gregory's, 'No More Latin, No More Bench' describes a visit to Oro (200 miles from Lagos) for school holidays. In 'Sky Piloting', written in 1949, he wrote about his experiences as a wartime R.A.F. chaplain. 'Ill met by Moonlight', is an account of a trip to Epe outstation by canoe, written in 1951 when he was stationed in Ibonwon. He wrote again about the Waterside out stations in 1953. 'Snakes Alive', an incident describing the appearance of a snake during a convent Holy Hour was written in the same year. Ned wrote with style and with humour.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.