Société des Missions Africaines - Province d’Irlande

COLEMAN Edward né le 30 août 1915 à Midleton
dans le diocèse de Cloyne, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 26 juin 1936
prêtre le 17 décembre 1939
décédé le 24 septembre 1993

1940-1952 diocèse de Benin City, Nigeria
1952-1953 Blackrock Road, Cork, animation
missionnaire et vocationnelle
1953-1967 diocèse de Benin City, Nigeria
1968-1983 diocèse de New York, USA
1983-1984 Blackrock Road, Cork, animation
missionnaire et vocationnelle
1984-1986 aumônier d’hôpital à Glanmire, Cork
1986-1993 Blackrock Road, Cork, retiré

décédé à Cork, Irlande, le 24 septembre 1993
à l’âge de 87 ans

Father Edward Francis COLEMAN (1915 - 1993)

Edward Coleman was born in Midleton, Co Cork, in the diocese of Cloyne, on 30 August 1915. He died in the South Infirmary, Cork, on 24 September 1993.

Edward (Ned) lost both of his parents when he was young. He received his secondary education in Cork, studying in the Christian Brothers school, Our Lady's Mount, (1929-1930), with the Capuchin Fathers, at Rochestown (1930-1933) and finally in Christian Brothers college, Wellington Road (1933-1934). Having matriculated he commenced the pre-medical course at U.C.C. The circumstances of his vocation have been described by a close colleague: 'One evening, early into his medical studies, he picked up a copy of the African Missionary and after reading it he decided this was the life for him'. Ned joined the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy, at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, in December 1934. Two years later, in 1936, he commenced his theological formation in the Society's seminary at Dromantine, Co Down. Ned was received as a member of the Society on 17 June 1939. He was ordained a priest by Bishop Mulhern of Dromore diocese at St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, on 17 December 1939. He was one of a group of seven ordained on that day.

After ordination Ned completed his theological formation in Dromantine and in June 1940 was appointed to the vicariate of Asaba-Benin, in Western Nigeria. Because of the war it was difficult to get a sea-passage to West Africa but eventually, in January 1941, he was able to reach his mission. The vicariate covered a vast territory, some 58,000 square kilometres with 1,700,000 inhabitants, now divided into an archdiocese and three dioceses. The Church had made significant strides since the first mission had been founded in the region in 1884. Ned's first appointment, given to him by Bishop Patrick J. Kelly, was to Sapele district. This district consisted of a catholic community of some 3,000 members and 1,200 catechumens, attached to the central station at Sapele and its 46 outstations. Ned's commission from his bishop was to assist in the 'parish' and to learn the local language. After a year he passed his language examination and received authorisation to hear confessions among the people. He was then appointed to the renowned St. Thomas' teacher training college, at Ibusa, which had been established by Bishop Broderick in 1928 and which provided elementary teachers for the vicariate's numerous schools. In January 1944 Ned was transferred to Kabba, and a year later he was appointed to Asaba. He spent the last months of his first tour of duty in Ibusa mission.

After returning from leave, in January 1947, Ned was assigned to Sapele; four months later he was placed in Asaba where he was appointed mission superior. The principal station of Asaba, founded in 1888, had originally been the headquarters of the vicariate, and although Bishop Leo Taylor changed the seat of the vicariate to Benin City in 1938, Asaba continued to be a thriving district. In January 1953 when Ned came to Ireland on leave his superiors appointed him to the staff of the African Missionary, the Province's monthly magazine. In December of the same year Ned persuaded his superiors to allow him return to his old mission which from 1950 had become the diocese of Benin City. Ned was appointed superior of Ozoro district in the heart of Izoko country. In 1956 he became parish priest of Uzairue where he re-modelled the chute. In 1959 Ned founded the parish of Umunede, in Issele-Uku district. Ned spent most of his remaining years in Nigeria (1961-1967) as chaplain to the Regina Mundi leper settlement, at Ossiomo, some 30 miles from Benin City.

During the quarter of a century Ned spent in Nigeria his administrative talents were widely recognised. He is especially remembered for the opening of Umenede parish. But, above all it was his ministry at the Ossiomo leper settlement which entered the folk memory of mid-western Nigeria. In October 1965 the Nigerian government awarded him the title of 'Officer of the Federal Republic' for his services to the lepers and other sick throughout his long missionary career. In the citation presented to him it says: "This award is presented to you in sincere appreciation of your selfless services to improve the health of the unfortunate Nigerians who through no fault of their own, have been suffering from untold hardship through sickness and poverty. Nigeria cannot compensate you enough for the ordeal to which you were exposed in the course of your services to the Nation".

When Ned returned to Ireland in 1967 his doctors advised him not to go back to the tropics. Accordingly, in May 1968, he went to the U.S.A. where he undertook pastoral work in New York archdiocese. In 1973 he was elected a delegate, by Irish confreres in America, to the Provincial Assembly of that year. He spent the year 1983-1984 in the main promotion office at Blackrock Road, helping with administration and promotion. His final assignment was as chaplain to St. Stephen's hospital, Sarsfield Court, Cork. He retired to Blackrock Road in January 1986.

By temperament Ned was a quiet and reserved man. He had a great love for and knowledge of classical music. Yet he was often the centre of attention because of an extraordinary talent: namely his ability to tell humorous stories. His good humour and interest helped him to build up countless relationships wherever he went, and none more so than in the old Bendel State. Ned was very quick-minded, always ready with an appropriate riposte. In retirement each morning he did all the newspaper crosswords in record time. He celebrated the golden jubilee of his priesthood in 1989. Ned was brother of Sister Ethelbert O.L.A.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.