Société des Missions Africaines – Province d’Irlande

BERMINGHAM Edward né le 19 mai 1916 à Kilcogan
dans le diocèse de Galway, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 30 juin 1935
prêtre le 18 décembre 1938
décédé le 9 septembre 1953

1939-1952 missionnaire au Nigeria pendant 12 ans
1952-1953 Irlande, malade, au repos

décédé à Galway, Irlande, le 9 septembre 1953,
à l’âge de 37 ans

Le père Edward Peter BERMINGHAM (1916 - 1953)

A Galway (Irlande), le 9 septembre 1953, retour à Dieu du père Edward Bermingham, à l'âge de 37 ans.

Né à Kilcogan dans le diocèse de Galway, Edward Bermingham fit ses études dans les maisons de la Société en Irlande. Il fit le serment en 1935 et fut ordonné prêtre le 18 décembre 1938. En 1939, le père Bermingham partait pour le vicariat de la Côte du Bénin, où il travailla jusqu'en 1953.

Il travailla d'abord dans le ministère paroissial, puis fut chargé de la rédaction du journal catholique: "Nigerian Catholic Herald". Il infusa une vie nouvelle à ce journal qui devint plus rayonnant et se répandit dans tout le pays. Le journal fut très apprécié des catholiques et des non catholiques.

Il rentra bien malade en Irlande, et fut fort préoccupé de ce que sa maladie coûtait de frais à l'archidiocèse, déjà si pauvre, de Lagos. Le cœur du père Bermingham fut celui d'un vrai missionnaire et il sut mettre les talents que le Seigneur lui avait donnés au service de la Mission et de la presse.

Father Edward Peter BERMINGHAM (1916 - 1953)

Edward Bermingham was born in Kilcolgan, Co Galway, in the parish of Ballinderreen, on 19 May 1916. He died at Seamount nursing home, Galway, on 9 September 1953.

The first child born to his parents, Edward was raised in the shadow of the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy, at Cloughballymore, Kilcolgan. From an early age he displayed exceptional literary gifts and when he was only thirteen years old he entered the Society's preparatory college in Ballinafad, Co Mayo, to begin the studies that were eventually to lead him to the priesthood. He continued his education at St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork (1930 1933) and at Kilcolgan where he made his novitiate and studied philosophy, and was received into the Society on 30 June 1935. He then proceeded to the theological seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down, and was 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 Edward returned to Dromantine for six months to complete his theology course. He was then appointed to the vicariate of the Bight of Benin, in south western Nigeria, sailing for his mission early in 1939. In 1943 this jurisdiction was to be renamed the 'vicariate of Lagos' and, in 1950, with the erection of the Nigerian hierarchy, it was to become the 'archdiocese of Lagos'. Edward's first posting, given to him by Philip Corish, the pro vicar (the bishop, Francis O'Rourke, had died in 1938) was to Abeokuta, capital of the Egbas, where he learned Yoruba and prepared for his 'canonical' examination, also undertaking supervised pastoral work. After four months he passed his examination and, having also reached the requisite standard in Yoruba, received faculties to hear confessions. He remained on in Abeokuta until July 1940 when Leo Hale Taylor, who had been nominated vicar apostolic in June 1939, posted him to Ijebu Ode. Three months later, when the editorial chair of the Nigerian Catholic Herald became vacant, he was the obvious choice. Printed by the vicariate's St. Paul's press, the Herald had been founded in 1924 by Bishop Ferdinand Terrien as a monthly. For many years it was the sole organ of public information and opinion for the catholic Church throughout Nigeria. From a monthly it appeared fortnightly and then weekly. Residing first at Ebuta Metta and then at Yaba (and contributing to the pastorate in both missions) Edward infused new life into this paper. He also set up a book shop and printing press for catholic publications.

In December 1952 Edward was invalided home to Ireland with a serious heart ailment. On examination he was informed by his doctors that he had only a year to live. His last thoughts were for Archbishop Taylor and for the expense his illness was causing a poor mission. He put his thoughts into words in a most poignant letter published (anonymously) in The Catholic Herald under the title of 'the Cost of Dying'. 'I am dying!... When I got sick nine months ago I had just completed 13 years missionary work in the tropics. In the good old pioneer days, I would have been allowed to die quietly and inexpensively. But in this era of the stratosphere when stethoscopes are only a matter of hours away, dying is made difficult... This tablet, that tablet and the other tablet must be experimented with in an effort to find something which will give strength to a weak heart while not irritating a rebellious stomach. And so, while the cost of living never worried me, I am now positively worried with the cost of dying. Somewhere in the tropics a poor bishop paid over £100 to get me home, and since then has footed a bill of approximately £200 in an effort to keep me alive. I think I would die happy if somewhere could be found a kind benefactor who would invest something in my cost of dying. I can only promise two things in return. Firstly, a speedy intercession for my kind benefactor in Heaven when I get there. Secondly, in the event of my being still alive when any donation is made, I would write a personal note of gratitude'.

In March 1953 Edward entered St. Bride's nursing home, at Sea Road, Galway. He appeared to grow stronger and for a while his superiors discussed the possibility of appointing him to Kilcolgan. After his discharge from the nursing home he went to live with his sister at 'The Quay', Kinvara, Co Galway. However in August 1953 he suffered another attack and was hospitalised. Edward died shortly afterwards in Seamount nursing home, in the presence of his father and of Patrick Gantly, then superior of the novitiate at Kilcolgan. After his death The Catholic Herald revealed details of Edward's identity and the Society received many gifts in his memory. Edward's sister, Josephine, joined the Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles, taking the name Christopher.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.