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Société des Missions Africaines – Province d'Irlande

McCABE Francis né le 24 mai 1918
dans le diocèse d'Elphin (Irlande
membre de la SMA le 1er juillet 1943
prêtre le 18 juin 1947
décédé le 4 septembre 2007

1947-1948 études supérieures, Cork
1948-1952 vicariat de Lagos
1953-1960 préfecture d'Ibadan
1960-1989 diocèse d'Ibadan
1989-1995 diocèse de Clonfert
1995-1996 maison sma de Claregalway, retiré
1996-1997 maison sma de Wilton, retiré
1997-1998 maison sma de Claregalway, retiré
1998-2004 Australie
2004-2007 maison sma de Blackrock Road, retiré

décédé à Blackrock Road, Cork, le 4 septembre 2007
à l’âge de 89 ans


Father Francis McCABE - 1918 - 2007

Francis McCabe was born at Derrinasco, Derreenargon, near Drumshambo, on the Roscommon/Leitrim border, in the parish of Ardcarne, in the diocese of Elphin, on 24th May 1918.
He died in St. Theresa’s Nursing Unit, SMA House, Blackrock Road, Cork, on 4th September 2007.

Francis (Frank) McCabe was one two girls and five boys born to James and Mary (nee Flynn) McCabe, a farming family at Derrinasco. He received his primary education locally, at Corderay National School where, he records, the Principal, Master Kelleher, gave him great encouragement and support. After completing his primary schooling Frank remained at home assisting in the family farm. He heard about the Society from a former classmate and when he wrote to the Sacred Heart College, Ballinafad, Co Mayo, he received a visit from Fr. Frank McNamara who came to interview his parents. In 1936 Frank entered the Sacred Heart College, the Society’s junior-cycle secondary college. Four years later he was promoted to St. Joseph’s College, Wilton, Cork, the senior-cycle secondary school. Having acquired his leaving certificate, he remained on in Wilton for a further year during which he attended lectures in philosophy and education at University College Cork. In the autumn of 1941 he went to the SMA novitiate and house of philosophy at Kilcolgan, Co Galway. During his two-year novitiate Frank continued his degree studies. At that time the degree students went to U.C.G. one day each week and received additional lectures in Kilcolgan from priests designated by the university. Frank was awarded a B.A. degree – his subjects were philosophy and education – in June 1943. He then commenced his theological studies in the Society’s major seminary, at Dromantine, Newry, Co Down. Frank was first received as a member of the Society on 1st July 1943. He became a permanent member on 14th June 1946. He was ordained a priest at St. Colman’s cathedral, Newry, Co Down, by Bishop Eugene O’Doherty of Dromore, on 18th June 1947. He was one of a group of sixteen ordained on that occasion. He celebrated his first Mass in the parish church at Drumboylan, assisted by the Parish Priest, Fr. Glynn.

After ordination Frank returned to Wilton from where he again attended University College Cork. In June 1948 he was awarded a Higher Diploma in Education. He was then appointed to the Vicariate of Lagos, setting out for his mission in December 1948. This vicariate, erected in 1943, became the Archdiocese of Lagos in April 1950, under the leadership of Leo Hale Taylor who had been in charge of the jurisdiction since 1939. On his arrival Frank was appointed to the district of Ile-Ife to teach in the ‘Normal’ (elementary teacher-training) college with Jim McCarthy and under the principalship of Dan Daly. A year later he was assigned as superior to St. Theresa’s minor seminary, Oke Are, in Ibadan, an institution which served several juridsictions in South-Western Nigeria. Other staff members were Patrick Jennings and Harry Sheppard. Frank was to minister in the Ibadan region until 1989, spending the first twenty years in the educational apostolate. Most of his teaching took place at Oke-Are seminary, where he taught many of the present-day priests and bishops of Nigeria. He also spent a substantial period at Ikire, near Ibadan, where he was founding principal of Fatima College, a secondary school, which opened its doors in 1955. He was Principal, too, of Stella Maris College, Okitipupa (September 1960-February 1961) and Vice-Principal of Annunciation School, Ikere-Ekiti (February 1961-April 1962). Other teaching assignments saw him at St. John’s E.T.C., Eleta (September 1962-January 1965), and St. Patrick’s College, Maryhill, where he was principal (January 1965-May 1968).

In the pastoral ministry Frank served first, briefly, at Eleta and later, briefly, in Moor Plantation – both in Ibadan city. But he is perhaps best known for his work in the parish of Igbo-Ora, a rural area between Ibadan and Abeokuta, where he came in the last months of 1969. Here, along with the usual catechetical and sacramental ministry, he became renowned for his Family Unit Farming Project. This was a scheme to enable local farmers learn new skills. It involved the acquisition and use of tractors and other modern agricultural machinery which Frank sourced from different international agencies, including Gorta, Misereor, and Cafod. Frank was in his element in this environment, exercising all his farming knowledge and empowering the locals to cultivate to levels hitherto unknown. Large tracts of land were tilled and planted with tobacco and maize. There were also extensive vegetable gardens. Whether he ever considered developing this scheme further into the growing of flowers is unknown, but later in life he demonstrated an marked aptitude for this branch of horticulture. After almost twenty years in Igbo-Ora Frank was assigned again to Moor Plantation, in the suburbs of Ibadan city.

Frank lived frugally. He had a great devotion to the Eucharist and to Our Blessed Lady. He promoted devotion to the Family Rosary and supported the establishment of the Legion of Mary. During his student days he was an enthusiastic footballer. He excelled in the seminary and also played with the St. Michael’s club from Cootehill and the Fenagh club in Leitrim. One of his more pleasant memories was the day he played for the Fenagh Club against Bornacolla, at Mohill, in the Leitrim County Final in the year of his ordination. Later in life he enjoyed a game of tennis, a sport in which he excelled and played into his eighties.

In 1979 Frank took a brief break from Africa to take the Glenart renewal course. Between September and December 1981 he did a further renewal course at Marianella, Dublin. In the mid-1980’s his health began to show signs of wear and tear and he was hospitalised on a number of occasions. Finally, in 1989, Frank retired from Africa and took up a post in the diocese of Confert, as curate at Attymon in the parish of Kiltullagh and Killimordaly. Here he continued to promote adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, devotion to Our Lady and the Family Rosary. Pilgrimages to Knock were also a regular feature during these years. Frank retired from the active ministry in 1995 and spent the next three years in the SMA houses at Claregalway and Wilton. But he found it difficult to withdraw entirely from active work. Devotion to Mary became even more central to his spirituality and it was this that led him, without consulting his superiors, to join the Magnificat Meal Movement in Toowomba, Queensland, Australia, a movement centred on ‘a shrine of Our Lady’ which, however, did not have the official approval of the Church. He was to spend the next six years there. Repeated requests from his superiors and family to return home were refused. Efforts to visit him were generally unsuccessful, or conducted in restrictive circumstances. His absence and the circumstances in which he was living caused much concern to the Society and to his family. However, quite unexpectedly, in June 2004 he reappeared in Galway. His age (86 years) and state of health did not allow a rigorous investigation of what had transpired over the previous years or how he had suddenly returned to Ireland. Frank spent his last years with the SMA community at Blackrock Road. On June 18th 2007, though frail of mind and body, he was able to join his classmate Joe Maguire in celebrating 60 years of priestly ministry. As the autumn set in his health deteriorated and he died peacefully on 4th September.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.