Société des Missions Africaines –Province deq Etats-Unis


Bane1  Le Père Martin BANE
né le 28 juin 1900 à Millville
dans le diocèse de Springfield, USA
membre de la SMA le 7 juillet 1926
prêtre le 8 juin 1930
décédé le 31 décembre 1968

1930-1942 missionnaire au vicariat du Bénin
1943-1968 travaille aux USA au service de la Province

décédé à Tenafly, USA, le 31 décembre 1968
à l'âge de 68 ans


Father Martin M. BANE (1900 - 1968)

Martin was born at Millville, Massachusetts, USA, in the diocese of Springfield, on June 29, 1900. He died in Holy Name Hospital, Teaneck, New Jersey, USA, on December 31, 1968.

Martin Bane was one of seven children born to Martin and Mary (nee Canny) Bane. Although born in the USA he returned with his family to Ireland when he was two years old and spent most of his early life in Cummer, Ballyglunin, Co Galway. He received his elementary education at Beldare national school, Galway, and attended the Jesuit College, Sea Road, Galway, for his secondary schooling. During the war of independence he was active in the Old IRA, serving as a battalion adjutant in the Galway Brigade (1917-1921). In 1923 he decided to become a missionary and spent a preparatory year at the Sacred Heart College, Ballinafad, Co Mayo, where he studied Latin. He made his novitiate and studied philosophy in the Society's house at Kilcolgan, Co Galway (1924 1926). Martin completed his training for priesthood in the Society's theological seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down (l926 l930). Admitted to membership of the Society on July 7, 1926, he was ordained a priest by Bishop Edward Mulhern of Dromore diocese, at St. Colman’s cathedral, Newry, on June 8, 1930. He was one of a group of ten ordained on that day.

Martin worked as a missionary in western Nigeria between 1930 1938. At this point he felt called to the monastic way of life and entered the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor (Conventual). However he did not stay long and returned both to the Society and to western Nigeria in l939, labouring there until l942. Martin's first assignment in Nigeria, in 1930, was to Warri mission. A year later he transferred to St. Thomas' teacher training college, Ibusa, where he served as assistant principal. He ministered briefly in Lokoja and Aragba before becoming a professor in St. Paul's inter-vicarial major seminary, at Asaba, in March 1933. The following June Martin was nominated rector of this important institution which trained indigenous clergy for jurisdictions in the south, west and north of Nigeria. After his return from leave, in January 1936, he was appointed parish priest of Agenebode. It was to Agenebode that he returned after his decision in 1939 not to embrace the monastic life. During his years in Africa Martin gained a reputation for his unflagging devotion to outstations. One colleague has recorded how Martin travelled all over Afenmai country by push-bike. 'His hall-mark was a tea pot tied to the handlebars of his bicycle. He was so well-known that even today the word for "Whiteman" in Afenmai country is "Bane".'

In 1942, with no hope of returning to the tropics because of ill-health, Martin went to the USA where in l946 he was incorporated into the American Province of the Society. Between 1943-44 Martin took a course in Fordham University after which, for three years, he was editor of the Province's magazine, African Angelus. In 1950 he did a tour of West Africa in order to prepare himself for a number of writing projects which he had decided to undertake. His theme would be the history of missions in West Africa. The books which followed were, at the time, often the only serious historical surveys available and were therefore extremely important not only in promoting the missions and the Society's works but in setting down the record of what was occurring. Among the most influential titles were: Catholic Pioneers in West Africa (Dublin, l956); Heroes of the Hinterland (New York, 1959); Catholic Story of Liberia (New York, 1950); Niger Shamrocks and Other Lyrics (New York, 1960); St. Patrick's Foreign Legions (Tuam, 1962); The Popes and Western Africa. Although much of Martin’s time in America was taken up with writing he contributed to the Province in other ways. In 1953 Martin he gave lectures on Africa in the Mission Institute at Fordham. For a while in the early 1960’s he served as spiritual director in 'Ave Maria' seminary, the Society’s novitiate at Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Finally, from 1966 he assisted in administrative and promotion activity in the SMA headquarters at Tenafly.

A colleague who worked with him in Africa described Martin as ‘physically one of the strongest men I met in Nigeria, a great cyclist and a poet of renown.’ Testimony to this latter talent was his song "The Limestone Walls of Connacht" and an earlier piece written when a student in Dromantine titled: "Nigeria for Christ, the King". The same colleague commented that ‘the music written for both songs (by a noted musician in Newry) did not measure up to expectations.’ According to the same source Martin was torpedoed on a journey back to Africa during the war. ‘He was bobbing about in the Atlantic for a week or two. He was with two laymen and was very lucky to survive and be picked up. This happened during 1942'.

He is buried in the SMA Community Plot in Mount Carmel cemetery, Tenafly, New Jersey, USA