Société des Missions Africaines – Province d’Irlande

 lacey G  Le Père George LACEY
né le 5 novembre 1892 dans l’île d’Inishbofin
dans le diocèse de Tuam, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 13 novembre 1917
prêtre le 13 juin 1920
décédé le 28 décembre 1921

1920-1921 missionnaire en Nigeria occidentale

décédé à Lokoja, Nigeria, le 28 décembre 1921,
à l’âge de 29 ans

Le père George LACEY (1892 - 1921)

A Lokodja (Nigeria), le 28 décembre 1921, retour à Dieu du père George Lacey, à l'âge de 29 ans.

George Lacey naquit dans l'île d'Inishbofin, dans le diocèse de Tuam, en Irlande, en 1892. Il fit ses études aux Missions Africaines, le serment en 1917 et reçut l'ordination sacerdotale le 13 juin 1920.

En juillet, le père Lacey partait pour le vicariat de la Nigeria Occidentale. Il fut nommé à Lokodja. Pendant quatre mois, il travailla avec enthousiasme et zèle. Il eut alors une forte attaque de malaria et fut transporté à l'hôpital, où il resta 5 semaines sans que l'on réussisse à diagnostiquer exactement sa maladie. Le père était de santé robuste, le climat de Lokodja est relativement bon; humainement, sa mort fut une catastrophe inexplicable.

Le père Chabert, arrivé à Lokodja 48 heures après l'enterrement du père Lacey, écrivait: "Etant appelés à continuer l'œuvre de la Rédemption, nous devons trouver naturel de suivre Notre Seigneur jusque sur le lieu de l'immolation.

Father George LACEY (1892 - 1921)

George Lacey was born on Inishboffin Island, Connemara, Co Galway, in the archdiocese of Tuam, on 5 November 1892. He died at Lokoja, western Nigeria, on 28 December 1921.

George was one of four islanders from Inishboffin who became members of the S.M.A. Two others were the brothers Martin and John Lavelle. The fourth was his younger brother, Martin Lacey, who died in Monrovia (Liberia) in 1944. George was educated in the colleges of the Society. He studied at the Sacred Heart college, Ballinafad, Co Mayo (1911 1912) and at St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork (1912 1915), before entering the Society's seminary, on the Blackrock Road, Cork. He completed his course of philosophy and theology in 1920. George was admitted as a member of the Society on 13 November 1917 and was ordained a priest by Bishop William J. Miller, O.M.I., vicar apostolic of the Transvaal, in St. Joseph's church, Blackrock Road, on 13 June 1920. He was one of a group of ten ordained on that day.

In July 1921 George set out for the vicariate of Western Nigeria. He was appointed to the district of Lokoja. The principal station, Lokoja, was situated far up the Niger, at the confluence of the Niger and Benue rivers, and had been established by Jules Poirier and Carlo Zappa in 1884. Lokoja had been abandoned in 1891 but was re opened after the appointment of Thomas Broderick as vicar apostolic in 1918. Subsequently Lokoja was to be the gateway to northern Nigeria and, since 1964, the seat of a diocese.

When George arrived he joined a missionary staff of 20 priests, five of whom were Irish. They were all young men: Patrick O'Connell and Thomas Conway, both ordained in 1919, and Edward Griffin, John Heaney and Philip Cassidy, all members of George's ordination class. Lokoja district, at the time of George's arrival, had a catholic community of 505 members and 880 catechumens. Berengario Cerminati, an Italian member of the Society, was superior, and Patrick O'Connell was the other assistant priest. Among the secondary stations of the district were Baro, Oka, Okeni, Minna, Kaduna, Zaria. Like all mission stations at that time, Lokoja had a dispensary, and a school. George threw himself into the work with all the enthusiasm of a zealous young missionary, learning the local language and taking on the renovation of his mission house. Towards the middle of November he was struck down by a severe attack of malaria and was brought to hospital where he remained for five weeks, under the care of a European doctor and nurse without an exact diagnosis of his malady. His condition gradually worsened and he died shortly after Christmas. Reports of his death from the mission were at a loss to explain the exact cause of the calamity. It was suggested that he had over exerted himself in the harsh climate and had neglected to take quinine, the prophylactic against malaria. He was buried beside Andrew Dornan, another Irishman (from Belfast) who had died in Lokoja in 1886.

George's death was a great loss to his family (his brother Martin was then a student in Wilton), to the Society and to his mission. His death was particularly poignant in the light of a series of enthusiastic articles which had appeared under his name in the African Missionary in the months before his death. These dealt with the subject of a native clergy for Africa, a theme dear to the heart of Bishop de Marion Brésillac, founder of the Society to which George belonged, dear also to his own mission superior, Bishop Broderick, who had ordained Nigeria's first priest (Paul Emecete) at Asaba scarcely 18 months before George's arrival.

He is buried in Lokoja, Nigeria.