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Société des Missions Africaines – Province d’Irlande

BRODERICK Thomas Mgr né le 23 décembre 1882 à Kilflynn
dans le diocèse de Kerry, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 20 septembre 1904
prêtre le 15 juillet 1906
évêque le 8 décembre 1918
décédé le 13 octobre 1933

1908-1910 Cork, Irlande, professeur
1910-1917 Blackrock Road, Cork, supérieur
1917 préfet apostolique de la Nigeria occidentale
1918 vicaire apostolique de la Nigeria occidentale
ordonné le 8 décembre 1918
1917-1933 Nigeria

décédé à Gênes, Italie, le 13 octobre 1933,
à l’âge de 51 ans


Monseigneur Thomas BRODERICK (1882 - 1933)

A Gênes (Italie), à l'hôpital, le 13 octobre 1933, retour à Dieu de Son Excellence Monseigneur Thomas Broderick, premier vicaire apostolique de la Nigeria Occidentale (aujourd'hui diocèse de Benin-City), à l'âge de 51 ans.

Thomas Broderick naquit à Kilflynn, dans le diocèse de Kerry, en Irlande, en 1882. Il fit ses études secondaires à notre école apostolique de Cork et sa théologie à Lyon. Il y fit le serment en 1904 et y fut ordonné prêtre en 1906.

Il partit aussitôt pour le vicariat apostolique de la Côte-de-l'Or, où il ne tarda pas à être nommé directeur de l'enseignement. Désormais, toute sa vie sera orientée vers les problèmes que pose l'éducation de la jeunesse. Le père Broderick travailla dans les stations d'Axim et de Saltpond.

En 1908, le missionnaire de la Côte était rappelé en Irlande comme directeur de l'école apostolique de Ballinafad qui se fondait. L'année suivante, la province d'Irlande ouvrait son grand séminaire et le père Broderick en était nommé le premier supérieur. Il eut une profonde influence sur ses élèves par la clarté et la force persuasive de sa parole, par la lucidité et la conviction qu'il mettait dans son enseignement, mais surtout par son exemple. "Il personnifiait à leurs yeux un haut idéal de perfection sacerdotale, de vie en Dieu et pour Dieu."

En 1912, le père Broderick devenait conseiller provincial, tout en gardant son poste de supérieur du grand séminaire, lequel était alors situé à Blackrock Road, à Cork. Il va devenir le premier évêque de sa province.

En 1917, le Saint-Siège choisissait le père Broderick pour succéder au père Zappa comme préfet apostolique de la Nigeria Occidentale. La préfecture devenant vicariat en 1918, le père Broderick en devenait le premier vicaire apostolique et était sacré en Irlande le 8 décembre 1918.

Mgr Broderick était un homme d'une intelligence supérieure, très calme et maître de lui; il se donna tout entier et se dévoua sans compter. Persuadé que l'école était le chemin de l'église, il fonda une école normale et lança un vaste programme scolaire.

Mgr Broderick fut partout, mais surtout en mission, un animateur remarquable. Le secret de son succès fut, dans une large mesure, le don qu'il avait d'enthousiasmer, de diriger, d'inspirer confiance à ceux qui avaient le privilège de travailler sous ses ordres.

Sa santé compromise, il rentre en Europe, fait le pèlerinage de Lourdes pour prier Marie de disposer de sa vie pour la plus grande gloire de son divin maître et se remit entre les mains d'un chirurgien de Gênes, son compagnon de pèlerinage. Il subit l'ablation d'un rein. Les docteurs avaient bon espoir, mais une crise d'urémie emporta le vénéré malade.

Il n'avait que 51 ans.


Bishop Thomas BRODERICK (1882 - 1933)

Thomas Broderick was born in Kilflynn, in the diocese of Kerry, on 23 December 1882. He died in St. Martin's hospital, Genoa, Italy, after an operation, on 13 October 1933.

Thomas completed his secondary education at St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork, before entering the Society's seminary at Lyon, France, where he studied philosophy and theology. He was admitted to membership of the Society on 26 September 1904 and was ordained a priest in the seminary chapel at Lyon, on 15 July 1906, by Bishop Paul Pellet, vicar general of the Society. Ordained with him on that day was Francis O'Rourke, later to become vicar apostolic of the Bight of Benin.

After ordination Thomas set sail for the vicariate of the Gold Coast (Ghana), a mission which had been first entrusted to the Society in 1879. Some Irish priests had already served on the mission, including Michael Wade who died in Saltpond in 1898. Thomas' gifts as an educator and administrator were soon recognised when he was appointed supervisor of catholic schools in the jurisdiction, a position of considerable responsibility for one so young, and a harbinger for the future. Although most of his work centred on education he also ministered for brief spells in the mission stations of Axim and Saltpond.

During these early years of the new century, while Thomas laboured in the Gold Coast, the Irish 'branch' of the Society, under Joseph Zimmermann, was making plans for the formation of a distinct Province. It was perhaps inevitable that a man of Thomas' calibre would be drawn into the process. In 1908 he was recalled to Ireland as director of the 'classical college' at Ballinafad, Co Mayo, a preparatory school which initiated aspirants into their secondary studies and prepared those who had already completed secondary studies outside the Society, for seminary courses which were conducted through the medium of Latin. Two years later, in 1910, the Irish branch opened a seminary for philosophy at Blackrock Road, Cork. Up to this time students went to France for their philosophical and theological courses. Thomas was chosen to be the seminary's first rector. And not only was he now responsible for the formation of students for priesthood but he took on the added burden of teaching scholastic philosophy. In July 1912, with the erection of the Irish Province, Thomas presided over an extended seminary which now provided the full range of courses for priesthood. During these years he was to have a profound influence on the students, forming the cadre of priests who were to pioneer the young Province's missions in West Africa.

In 1917 the Holy See chose Thomas to succeed Carlo Zappa (an S.M.A. missionary from Milan) as prefect apostolic of Western Nigeria. The prefecture became the vicariate of Western Nigeria in 1918. Thomas was appointed first vicar apostolic, with episcopal rank, and was consecrated a bishop (bishop of Pednelissus (Pednelissensis) in St. Brendan's cathedral, Killarney, on 8 December 1918. The ordaining prelate was William O'Sullivan, bishop of Kerry, assisted by Bishop Denis Hallinan of Limerick, and Bishop Daniel Cohalan of Cork. Thomas was 36 years old and at the time the youngest bishop in the Church.

Thomas inherited a territory which had resident missionaries in Asaba, Issele Uku, Ibusa, Ogwashi Uku, Onitsha Olona, Agenebode, Illah, Ubiaja, Ukoni, and Kabba; and numerous outstations, including Sapele, Warri town, Burutu, Aragba and Benin city. Much had been accomplished during Mgr. Zappa's long term as prefect, schools had been established, churches built, catechists trained and set to work. There was even a small seminary. However no African, neither here nor in any of the territories confided to the Society, had yet been ordained a priest and it was felt by many that such a development lay in the distant future. Thomas, however, deeply aware of the importance of an indigenous clergy, and confident that there should be no delay, took what at the time was an extremely courageous step in ordaining Paul Emecete. Paul was ordained on 6 January 1920 at Asaba, the first Nigerian priest and the first African ordained in the Society's mission fields since its foundation in 1856. Paul had been for many years a school master and catechist. He had received his training in philosophy and theology from different priests with whom he lived. It was, in effect, a form of training by apprenticeship.

Later, on 14 August 1929, Thomas was to ordain three more African priests for the Lagos mission (Stephen Adewuyi, Lawrence Layode and Julius Onih) (Nigeria's first indigenous priest, Paul Emecete, ordained by Bishop Broderick 6th January 1920 Paul was ordained on 6 January 1920 at Asaba, the first Nigerian priest and the first African ordained in the Society's mission fields since its foundation in 1856. Paul had been for many years a school master and catechist. He had received his training in philosophy and theology from different priests with whom he lived. It was, in effect, a form of training by apprenticeship. Later, on 14 August 1929, Bishop Broderick was to ordain three more African priests for the Lagos mission (Stephen Adewuyi, Lawrence Layode and Julius Onih) For Paul Emecete’s account of his own life see: African Missions, by John Todd, page 129. Paul Emecete gave faithful service as a priest in the Vicariate of Western Nigeria, later the Vicariate of Asaba-Benin. He died on 3rd May 1948.)

Thomas Broderick continued the work of his predecessor in opening up new territory. During the 1920's Sapele, Benin city and Aragba were made central stations and many new outstations were established throughout Warri province, in Sapele and Kwale districts, in the Isoka country and along the creeks of western Ijaw country. From Lokoja Thomas' missionaries opened up many new stations in Kabba province and travelled up the Niger to Baro and beyond.

Thomas took great pains to place properly trained catechists at the disposal of his missionaries, for in the outstations of the hinterland there was no substitute for the good catechist. He was to write much on this subject in the African Missionary. Thomas was also a great believer in the mission school as a vehicle of evangelisation. Children attending the school would, he felt, evangelise their parents and relatives, and would in time become the leaders of the Christian community. Not everyone shared his belief in the efficacy of such an approach. Nonetheless one of Thomas' first steps on arriving in western Nigeria was to initiate an extensive school-building programme for the entire vicariate. The formation of a well equipped teaching staff next became a necessity and a teachers' training college (St. Thomas college) - made its appearance at Ibusa in 1928. A rapid opening up of new stations followed. In fact, during the 15 years of his tenure the number of mission districts was doubled and the catholic population more than trebled. Numerous churches and schools were erected, the number of missionaries greatly increased, and almost every portion of the far reaching territory was opened up to catholic influence. It was above all Thomas' determination to develop catholic education that made these developments possible. This was clearly recognised and acknowledged by the apostolic delegate to West Africa, Archbishop Arthur Hinsley, during his visitation of the region in 1928. Having seen what had been achieved in western and eastern Nigeria he urged an intensification of the educational apostolate throughout Africa.

In the late 1920's Thomas began to suffer a painful internal malady which in 1930 was diagnosed as kidney trouble. In 1931 he went to Europe for the Provincial Assembly (held in Cork) and the General Assembly (held in Lyon), remaining on in Ireland for the Eucharistic Congress in 1932. Thomas returned to Africa after the Congress but within a short time he was confined to hospital and was advised to travel home for further medical attention. En route he made a pilgrimage at Lourdes and then placed himself in the hands of a surgeon from Genoa who had accompanied him on the pilgrimage. Thomas had an operation and the doctors were hopeful. However complications set in and he died. He was only 51 years old.

The arrangements for his requiem and funeral were made by Fathers Michael Collins, then a General councillor, and Patrick McHugh who was recovering from illness in San Remo. The requiem was in the cathedral church in Genoa and among the attendance were the cardinal archbishop of Genoa, students of the diocesan seminary, the Irish students of the Foreign Missions of Genoa, and the President of St. Martin's hospital.

He was buried in Staglieno cemetery (the municipal cemetery), Genoa, Italy. His remains were laid in the 'Campo' reserved to the religious by the municipality of Genoa. In 1942, in conformance with municipal regulations, his body was exhumed and re-interred in the 'Ossario commune' at Staglieno cemetery.