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Société des Missions Africaines –Province d'Irlande

GRANT John né le 17 juillet 1914 à Belfast
dans le diocèse de Down & Connor, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 30 juin 1935
prêtre le 18 décembre 1938
décédé le 24 août 1963

1939-1961 missionnaire au Nigeria
archidiocèse de Kaduna
1961-1963 en paroisse en Floride, USA

décédé à Belfast, Irlande, le 24 août 1963,
à l'âge de 49 ans


Father John Patrick GRANT (1914 - 1963)

John Grant was born in Belfast (his address was 18 Deanby Gardens, Cliftonville), in the diocese of Down and Connor, on 17 July 1914. He died at St. John's nursing home, Belfast, on 24 August 1963.

John (Johnny) studied at St. Patrick's C.B.S., Belfast (1926 1929), at the Salesian college, Macclesfield, England (1929 1930), and at the Salesian college, Oxford (1930 1932). He matriculated in 1932. Deciding to become a missionary, he came to the S.M.A.'s novitiate and house of philosophy at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, in the autumn of 1933. John was admitted as a member of the Society on 30 June 1935. He received his theological formation in the major seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down, being ordained a priest by Bishop Edward Mulhern of Dromore diocese, at St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, on 18 December 1938. He was one of a group of eleven ordained on that day.

After ordination John returned to Dromantine for six months to complete his theology course. He was then appointed to the prefecture of Kaduna, in northern Nigeria. This prefecture had been established in 1934 under the leadership of Thomas P. Hughes. On John's arrival, in October 1939, he was posted to Zaria district. The central station of Zaria had been founded in 1918 under the patronage of Christ the King. In the year John came to Zaria there was a catholic community of 1,300 members and 400 catechumens many of them Igbo immigrants from the east who had come northwards with the railway. After nine months, during which John was introduced to the missionary life and learned the Hausa language, he was posted to Kontagora, in Niger Province. This station, situated in a rural district, had been pioneered in 1937 by Robert Stitt, with a view to developing the Church among the indigenous animist population. In June 1941 John was transferred to the great town of Kano where Muslim influence was paramount.

John went to Ireland on his first home leave in October 1943. His return to Nigeria was delayed because of the war, however he eventually reached his mission in May 1945. He spent the first year of his second tour of duty in Minna, a town situated on the railway line. The principal station of Minna had been founded in 1932/1933 by Robert Stitt, although it had been first visited by missionaries in 1918 and was later an outstation of Kaduna. When John came to Minna there was a catholic community of about 800 members with 80 catechumens, 7 catechists, 4 elementary schools, and eight secondary stations. Although Igbo members were in the majority the number of indigenous members was steadily increasing. In May 1946 John was posted to the elementary teacher training college at Guni. Six months later he was appointed to Argungu, a rural mission in Sokoto state, some 500 miles from Kaduna, where evangelisation of the indigenous animist population was the priority.

In May 1947 John was appointed superior of Kaduna mission and also supervisor of schools. The latter post was one of considerable responsibility, placing him, under the prefect, in charge of all catholic schools and their teachers. It also required him to deal with the government education department from which vital subventions for schools and colleges were obtained. John became supervisor at a time of great expansion in the work of education. The post war Labour government in England made large subsidies available for the construction and management of secondary schools, as well as training colleges and elementary schools. It was imperative that the education supervisor should be able to obtain these subsidies and then to administer them to the satisfaction of government. This required the production of feasible plans and the maintenance of high standards in the schools. It also involved thousands of miles of travel every year throughout the length and breadth of the prefecture.

When John returned from his next home leave, in October 1949, he was re appointed supervisor of schools, residing in Kaduna, and spending the whole of his third tour of duty at this work. In the last year of this tour, 1953, the prefecture was erected as a diocese, under the leadership of John McCarthy. Three years later Kaduna became an archdiocese. In March 1954, when John next returned to Nigeria, he was placed in charge of Guni district, which had been opened as a mission in 1941, as part of the ongoing drive to root the Church among the indigenous population. John spent two years at Guni, going on home leave in June 1956. During his next tour (1957 1959) he ministered in Kontagora, Zaria, Mabushi and Kaduna.

John was invalided home in 1961 and after a brief convalescence no longer able to return to the tropics he took up pastoral work in the diocese of St. Augustine, Florida. However after nine months (in March 1963) his health deteriorated and he was hospitalised at Englewood, New Jersey. The diagnosis was not encouraging and he returned to die in Ireland.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.