Société des Missions Africaines - Province d’Irlande

O CONNOR Daniel né le 18 septembre 1929
dans le diocèse de Cork, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 30 juin 1949
prêtre le 17 juin 1953
décédé le 28 août 2002

1953-1956 Wilton, Cork, études
1956-1957 université de Cambridge, Angleterre, études
1957-1992 diocèse d’Ibadan, Nigeria
1992-1999 Blackrock Road, Cork, vice supérieur
1999-2002 Blackrock Road, Cork, retiré

décédé à Cork, Irlande, le 28 août 2002
à l’âge de 72 ans

Father. Daniel J. (Doney) O'CONNOR (1929 - 2002)

Daniel O'Connell was born at 28 Ninety-eight Street, Cork City, in the parish of St. Finbarr's West, in the diocese of Cork, on 18 September 1929.
He died in St. Theresa's Nursing Unit, SMA House, Blackrock Road, Cork, on 28 August 2002.
Daniel (Donal) O'Connor was one of a family of four boys and four girls born to Patrick and Hannah (nee Foley). Donal received his secondary education at the Christian Brothers School in Wellington Road, receiving an honours leaving certificate in 1947. He then entered the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy at Kilcolgan, Co Galway. In the autumn of 1949 he was promoted to the Society's theological seminary, at Dromantine, Newry, Co Down. Donal was first received as a member of the Society on 30 June 1949. He was ordained a priest in St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, by Bishop Eugene O'Doherty of Dromore, on 17 June 1953. He was one of a group of eleven ordained on that day.
Donal was ordained at a time when the education apostolate was assuming great importance in Nigeria and the Gold Coast (now Ghana). Since the end of the second world war SMA missionary bishops had been urging the Society's administrators in Ireland to send suitable students to university because graduates were needed to staff the growing number of state-aided secondary schools. It was against this background that, after his ordination, Donal who had a good academic record, was sent to University College Cork (residing in Wilton) to study for an Arts degree. Three years later, in 1956, he qualified with an honours degree and went on to Cambridge where he acquired a Diploma in Education at the end of the following year. Equipped for a teaching ministry Donal was now appointed to the Prefecture of Ibadan, in south-western Nigeria, sailing from Liverpool on the m.v. Accra on 17 October 1957.
Donal was to remain in Africa almost continuously until June 1991. In all he did twenty tours of duty. He spent his first seven tours - 1957-1970 - on the staff of St. Theresa's minor seminary at Oke Are, Ibadan, a secondary institution which supplied candidates for the various jurisdictions in west and southern Nigeria. During his years in Oke Are he not only taught but also served as superior for several years. His students remember Donal as an excellent teacher and counsellor, compassionate and caring 'because he understood people not only with his head but also with his heart'. After his long service in St. Theresa's Donal was appointed tutor in a new Secondary School, St. Patrick's, located in the Orita Bashorun district of Ibadan. In 1982, while still teaching, he began exploring the possibility of establishing a parish in the vicinity of the school. He celebrated the first Mass with this infant parish community in 1983 in the sitting room of his house with a congregation of six. Ten years later the community had grown like the proverbial mustard seed and he was chief celebrant of the first Mass in a fine new parish church named after St. Patrick
In 1991 Donal developed cardiac problems and returned to Ireland for by-pass surgery. He returned to Nigeria in 1992 to hand over his affairs and bid farewell to the people he had loved and served so well. Donal then was appointed vice superior of the SMA community at Blackrock Road. He held this position until 1999 when ill-health forced him to retire. As superior he was known for his gentleness and courtesy. For a short period after his retirement he continued to say Mass for various religious communities such as the OLA sisters, the Ursulines and the Franciscan missionaries of St. Joseph. But by the close of 2000 his health had sharply deteriorated and he reluctantly had to discontinue these activities. Donal was fully aware of his deterioration and faced the future of diminishing mental faculties and disorientation with courage and patience.
In Nigeria Donal loved to smoke his pipe each evening after his day's work was done, one of the few indulgences in his life, which he had to abandon in 1991. He was also a lover of Cork city and, during his vacations from Africa, loved nothing better than to walk the streets and to dream dreams about architectural possibilities. He told this writer that he had conceived a plan which would require the demolition of all buildings on the west side of Cork's Grand Parade and the creation there of plaza to compare with anything on offer in the great cities of Italy. Coming from the city's south-side, Donal was a lifelong supporter of St. Finbarr's hurling and football club of which his uncle - a fearless man who played barefooted, known on the field as 'Minimin' - was a founder member. Donal was close to his family in Cork. His brother, Finbarr, had spent some time as a student with the Society. His brother Sean was a Professor and vice-President of U.C.C. Another brother, Gerard, had died in 1953. And he had four sisters on whom he doted.
In his homily at Donal' s requiem Mass, the Provincial captured something of the style of the man when he said: 'All during his 35 years in Africa Donal was a sower of the Gospel. He carried on a youth ministry in his own personal style. He was always readily available to students who wanted to consult him. He was a good listener, totally non¬judgemental of people, a man of conviction and wisdom. He did not waste words.'
An obituary published in Ibadan's Catholic newspaper, The Independent, retained in the archives of the Irish Province, giving the verdict of those Donal served in Nigeria, concluded with the following tribute: ‘Fr. D.J. O’Connor was humble, kind, patient and approachable… He loved us and with his understanding spirit could help most parishioners solve their emotional and spiritual problems. He was prudent in spending and lived frugally. His style of administration was open and accountable. My his gentle soul rest in perfect peace.’

He is buried in Wilton Cemetery.