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Société des Missions Africaines – Province d'Irlande

MORAN Jeremiah né en 1859 à Ballinree
dans le diocèse de Killaloe, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 10 juin 1881
prêtre le 28 juillet 1884
décédé le 7 août 1887

1884-1887 missionnaire au vicariat du Dahomey
1884-1885, Agoué
1885-1887, Adangbé, puis Atakpamé
il meurt empoisonné

décédé à Atakpamé, Togo, le 7 août 1887,
à l’âge de 28 ans


Le père Jeremiah MORAN (1859 - 1887)

A Atakpamé (Togo), le 7 août 1887, retour à Dieu du père Jeremiah Moran, à l'âge de 28 ans.

Jeremiah Moran naquit à Ballinree, dans le diocèse de Killaloe (Irlande), en 1859. Il fit ses études à Cork et à Lyon, où il arrivait en 1879. Il fit le serment en juin 1881 et fut ordonné prêtre en juillet 1884. Au mois de septembre suivant, le père Moran partait pour la préfecture du Dahomey.

Nommé à Agoué, il se met à apprendre le gengbé, au lieu du portugais, car, disait-il, "les trois quarts de la préfecture étant habités par des gens ou mina, sans savoir leur langue, nous ne pourrons jamais établir une mission sérieuse parmi eux."

En décembre 1885, le père Moran part avec le père Beauquis sous la conduite des pères Ménager et Baudin pour fonder Adangbé, où ils s'établissent. Il est désigné comme supérieur de cette mission dédiée à l'Immaculée Conception. Les missionnaires ne réussissent pas à s'implanter à Adangbé et ils s'en vont jusqu'à Atakpamé. La fondation là aussi s'avère difficile, mais les pères Moran et Beauquis y restent. Là, les deux missionnaires sont empoisonnés le samedi saint (samedi 24 avril) 1886. A l'aide de vomitif, ils réussissent à éliminer le poison. Le père Beauquis sera vite guéri, mais le père Moran restera longtemps malade. A peu près remis, le père Moran redescend à Agoué, pour se reposer auprès de ses confrères et pour "faire ses provisions".

Au retour, les ennuis et les difficultés avec les chefs locaux redoublent. Les chefs convoitent les provisions et imposent de fortes amendes aux missionnaires. Les féticheurs sont de plus en plus jaloux de l'ascendant des pères sur la population.. En décembre, le père Beauquis redescend à la côte, pendant que le père Moran resté seul essaie de calmer les envies et les jalousies par des cadeaux. En janvier, 1887, le père Lecron, nouveau supérieur de la préfecture, vient avec le père Beauquis et les provisions. Le père Lecron, d'une douceur rare, met de la joie et du bonheur à la mission, donne d'excellents conseils pour patienter avec les autorités et calme ces autorités. Après le départ du père Lecron, les missionnaires d'Atakpamé vivent quelques mois dans le calme. Un terrain est même acquis sur la colline et on prépare les matériaux pour les constructions. Les pères continuent à soigner les malades et acquièrent de plus en plus une grande réputation.

Cela ne fait pas l'affaire des "bokonons" et des féticheurs qui décident la mort des pères. Ceux-ci sont empoisonnés par le poison versé dans le vin de palme qu'ils ont l'habitude d'acheter chaque jour. Les vomitifs réussissent pour le père Beauquis qui est transporté à peu près inconscient à la côte, mais ils n'ont aucun résultat sur le père Moran qui meurt dans d'atroces souffrances.

Atakpamé et les villages environnants assistèrent à ses funérailles. Le corps était porté par les deux fils de l'ancien roi, celui qui avait reçu les missionnaires et qui était mort pour cela.

La mission d'Atakpamé fut rouverte en 1900 et les pères du Verbe divin réussiront à retrouver les ossements du père Moran et à leur donner une sépulture convenable.


Father Jeremiah MORAN (1859 - 1887)

Jeremiah Moran was born in Ballinree, Toomevara, Co Tipperary, in the diocese of Killaloe, during 1859 (a search of baptismal records yielded no additional information as to date of birth). He died at Atakpamé, Togo, as a result of poisoning, on 7 August 1887.

One of four children born to Daniel Moran and his wife Rebecca (Hayes), Jeremiah was among a small number of Irish students recruited to the Society by James O'Haire (an alumnus of All Hallows seminary who introduced the Society to Ireland in 1876/1877). One must assume that he had already received some secondary education, for he spent only one year in the Society's apostolic school. Jeremiah was one of the first group of students in this institution which was opened by Francois Devoucoux, first S.M.A. superior in Ireland, at 'Lough View', on the Old Youghal Road, Cork, on 22 September 1878. On 24 September 1879 Jeremiah entered the Society's seminary, at Cours Gambetta, Lyon, France, to commence his study of philosophy and theology. Travelling with him to Lyon were two other young Irishmen, William Connaughton and James Hennebery. Jeremiah was admitted to membership of the Society at Lyon, on 10 June 1881, and was ordained a priest in the seminary chapel at Lyon, on 26 July 1884. The name of the ordaining prelate is unknown.

Two months later, without having the chance to visit home or meet his mother, Jeremiah left for the prefecture of Dahomey, then an immense jurisdiction encompassing much of the West Coast of Africa. After spending some time in the principal station of Agoué (situated in Togoland), Jeremiah and Aimé Beauquis, guided by Ernest Menager (the prefect apostolic) and Noel Baudin, set out in December 1885, to found a mission at Adangbé. They arrived safely and the two priests established themselves there, Jeremiah becoming the superior of this mission which was dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. However after a while it became clear that the Fathers were unwanted and that the mission would never succeed. So Jeremiah and his companion left Adangbé and moved on to Atakpamé, an important town further into the hinterland. There too they experienced opposition but this time, seeing better prospects, they decided to remain. Eventually on 24 April 1886, on Holy Saturday, both missionaries were poisoned. With the aid of an antidote they succeeded in expelling the toxic substance from their stomachs, although Jeremiah was to remain sick for a considerable time. Eventually he was sufficiently recovered to go (with his companion) to Agoué where he completed his convalescence and gathered equipment.

On his return to Atakpamé the difficulties with the local chiefs were redoubled. The chiefs coveted the provisions which the missionaries had brought, imposing large taxes, while the fetishers (the local religious leaders) became increasingly jealous of the missionaries' growing influence. In December 1886 Fr. Beauquis went down to the Coast, while Jeremiah remained behind doing everything in his power to combat jealousy and envy giving presents to the chiefs. In January 1887 Fr. Joseph Lecron, the new superior of the prefecture, came with Fr. Beauquis, bearing a fresh consignment of provisions for the mission. Fr. Lecron advised the Fathers on ways and means of dealing with the delicate situation in which they were now living and after his departure the missionaries experienced a period of relative calm. A plot of land was obtained on top of a hill and they prepared material for the construction of a church and mission residence. They also continued to tend the sick, gaining a high reputation among the ordinary people. However early in August 1887 the fetishers made a second attempt on the lives of the missionaries, one of their number secreting poison in the palm wine which they were accustomed to purchase each day. The antidote applied succeeded for Fr. Beauquis who was carried in a barely conscious condition to the Coast; but it had no effect on Jeremiah who lingered for several days before dying in great agony. Jeremiah was buried by the people of Atakpamé and neighbouring villages, carried to his grave by two sons of the King (named Abassa) who had first received the missionaries into the district and had been poisoned, evidently, for this act some months later.

The mission was re opened in 1900 by a group of German Divine Word missionaries. One of their first actions was to take Jeremiah's remains (buried at the foot of a tree) and give them a Christian burial. They carried his remains to the southern gate of the town where they laid them to rest in a brick lined grave. Thus was begun the Christian cemetery of the town. Jeremiah was the first S.M.A. priest to work in Togo and the first priest to die there. One hundred years later the Church in Togo, now among the strongest in West Africa, decided to mark the centenary of Jeremiah's death with a week of prayer and celebration (which included priestly ordinations) culminating in solemn requiem Mass followed by a re burial of Jeremiah's remains in the new cathedral at Atakpamé. When the bishop and civil authorities assisted at the re opening of Jeremiah's tomb they carried with them a coffin, but no bodily remains were found. The only objects found in the grave were a belt buckle and the mouldering pieces of his missionary cross. The 'reburial' took place exactly 100 years to the day after Jeremiah's lonely death on 7 August 1887. Jeremiah Moran had a sister, Katie, who became a religious Sister Thecla O.L.A. and served on the same mission. He had another sister, Kathleen and two brothers, Daniel and William.

He is buried in Atakpamé, Togo, West Africa.