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Société des Missions Africaines – Province d'Irlande

McDONNELL James né le 12 avril 1895 à Lissavolen
dans le diocèse d’Ardagh (Irlande)
membre de la SMA le 15 novembre 1916
prêtre le 29 juin 1919
décédé le 22 août 1944

1919-1944 Wilton
1919-1925, professeur
1925-1930, directeur
1930-1937, supérieur
1937-1944, professeur
1944 nommé en Egypte, meurt avant de partir

décédé à Newry, Irlande, le 22 août 1944,
à l’âge de 49 ans


Le père James Joseph McDONNELL (1895 - 1944)

A Newry (Irlande), le 22 août 1944, retour à Dieu du père James Mac Donnell, à l'âge de 49 ans.

James Mac Donnell naquit à Lissavolen House, près d'Athlone, dans le diocèse d'Ardagh (Irlande), en 1895. Il fit ses études à Wilton et à Blackrock Road. Il fit le serment en 1916 et fut ordonné prêtre en juin 1919.

Le père Mac Donnell fut désigné pour l'enseignement. C'était un homme d'une intelligence supérieure, un homme de caractère très bien doué. Il fut professeur, directeur et même supérieur (1931-1937) de l'école apostolique de Wilton, de 1919 à 1944. Excellent professeur, il fut aussi et en même temps un "merveilleux étudiant" à l'université de Cork. Il fut maître es arts avec une thèse de lettres sur la langue gaélique et reçut le diplôme supérieur en éducation. Cette thèse, où il obtint la mention "très bien", fut hautement appréciée. Sa spécialité était vraiment la langue irlandaise.

Sa grande ambition était de partir en mission. Sa santé ne lui permettait pas d'aller en Afrique noire. En 1944, le père Mac Donnell fut nommé pour l'Egypte. Il ne devait pas partir, car, au cours même de ses ardents préparatifs, il tomba malade et finalement mourut, lors d'une visite d'adieu à des parents, près de Newry.


Father James Joseph McDONNELL (1895 - 1944)

James McDonnell was born in Lissavolen house, near Athlone, in the diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, on 12 April 1895. He died in Corry Square nursing home, Newry, on 23 August 1944.

James was educated in the colleges of the Society. He received his secondary education at St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork (1910 1914), and his philosophical and theological formation in the Society's seminary at Blackrock Road, Cork. He was admitted to membership of the Society on 15 November 1916 and was ordained a priest on 29 June 1919. The ordaining prelate was Bishop John O'Gorman C.S.Sp., vicar apostolic of Sierra Leone, and the ceremony took place in St. Joseph's church, adjoining the seminary at Blackrock Road. He was one of a group of five ordained on that day.

James was ordained seven years after the erection of the Irish Province of the Society, at a time when the Province had only 32 active members, but when its commitments were rapidly increasing. There were two mission fields to be staffed, in Liberia and Western Nigeria, the latter entrusted to the care of the Province in 1918. On the home front there was the work of promotion and administration and, above all, the work of student formation. Numbers entering the Society's two apostolic schools, at Ballinafad and Wilton, were growing from year to year. The major seminary at Blackrock Road could no longer cater for the number of seminarians, leading to the opening of a new novitiate and house of philosophy at Kilcolgan in 1918. For all these colleges good teachers were in short supply. So also were priests with an aptitude for formation work. During his student days James had shown qualities which made him an obvious choice for such a ministry and he was to spend all his active life as a priest attached to the Society's colleges in Ireland. The fact that he was delicate, also inclined his superiors towards keeping him in Ireland, although his greatest ambition was to serve in Africa.

Immediately after ordination James was assigned to the apostolic school at Wilton. He joined a staff led by Michael Rowan and which included Harry Baker, Joseph Butler, Pat Harmon and William Porter. There were sixty pupils in the school which provided preparation for the leaving certificate in a three year cycle. James taught Irish, English and history. In 1923 James was appointed to the major seminary at Blackrock, now an exclusively theological seminary, where he taught canon law and Church history to the thirty five students. After a year he returned to the Wilton staff remaining there for a further twenty years. During this long period he served for a time as dean of students, in charge of discipline (1925 1929), and for six years (1931 1937) as superior. He was also to combine these arduous duties with a distinguished academic career at U.C.C. James took his B.A. degree with honours in September 1935. A year later he was awarded a Masters degree, on the basis of a thesis on the Irish language (a subject in which he excelled). He also took a higher diploma in education, awarded in June 1937.

As already mentioned, James was persistent in his wish to go overseas and eventually, in 1944, he received an appointment from his superiors to the vicariate of the Nile Delta, in Egypt. The Irish Province had taken responsibility for staffing the vicariate's English language schools in 1935 and by 1944 had charge of three secondary schools in Choubra, Heliopolis and Alexandria. James was an ideal choice for Egypt, where his skills as an educator would have been put to good use. However he was never to reach his mission. Falling ill during a last visit to relatives near Newry, he was admitted to the Corry Square nursing home, where he died of heart failure. He was a cousin of Martin McDonnell who was ordained for the Society in 1934 and worked in northern Nigeria until his death in 1990. James' sister joined the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity in Dublin, taking the name Philomena.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.