Société des Missions Africaines – Province d'Irlande

MORTON John né le 5 février 1912 à Belfast
dans le diocèse de Down & Connor, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 2 juillet 1933
prêtre le 20 décembre 1936
décédé le 20 novembre 1960

1937-1939 missionnaire au Liberia
1940-1946 missionnaire en Egypte
1947-1950 Ballinafad, professeur
1950-1953 Cork, université
1954-1960 missionnaire au Nigeria
diocèse de Ondo

décédé à Akure, Nigeria, le 20 novembre 1960,
à l’âge de 48 ans

Le père John MORTON (1912 - 1960)

A Akure (Nigeria), le 20 novembre 1960, retour à Dieu du père John Morton, à l'âge de 48 ans.

John Morton naquit à Belfast, dans le diocèse Down & Connor, en 1912. Il fit ses études dans les maisons de la province d'Irlande, fit le serment en 1933 et fut ordonné prêtre le 20 décembre 1936.

Missionnaire au Liberia à la fin de 1937, il dut en revenir malade en 1939. En 1940, le père Morton était nommé professeur au collège Saint-Georges au Caire, en Egypte. Revenu en 1946, il passait trois ans comme professeur à Ballinafad. Excellent mathématicien, ses supérieurs lui firent prendre une licence à l'université de Cork. Muni de ce précieux diplôme, le père Morton partait pour la Nigeria où il enseigna dans un collège du diocèse d'Ondo

Homme très calme, très équilibré, le père Morton était surtout un missionnaire d'une grande piété et d'un profond détachement.

Father John MORTON (1912 - 1960)

John Morton was born in Carnmoney St., Belfast, in the diocese of Down and Connor, on 5 February 1912. He died in the catholic mission hospital, Akure, Nigeria, on 20 November 1960.

John ('Seansie') received his early education in Belfast: at the Christian Brothers schools, Harding St. and at St. Malachy's college. He completed his secondary education in the colleges of the Society. He studied at the Sacred Heart college, Ballinafad, Co Mayo (1927 1928), and at St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork (1928 1931), before entering the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy, at Kilcolgan, Co Galway. He was received as a member of the Society on 2 July 1933 and then entered the major seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down, where he studied theology. He was ordained a priest by Bishop Edward Mulhern of Dromore diocese, in St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, on 20 December 1936. He was one of a group of eighteen ordained on that day.

After ordination John was appointed to the vicariate of Liberia, erected two years earlier, under the leadership of Bishop John Collins. John came to his mission in October 1937. His first appointment was to the district of Cape Palmas which had been founded in 1930, and which was situated on the Kru Coast. Patrick McKenna was John's superior and the other assistant priest was P.J. Duffy. Cape Palmas district, at that time, had one residential station (Cape Palmas) and nine outstations serving a catholic community of less than 300. It is now the centre of a diocese. After eighteen months John was assigned to another Kru Coast mission, to the district of Sasstown. In the early history of this district (founded in 1911), the missionaries played a crucial role in protecting the local population from attack and pillage by government forces. Also, when poverty struck the region (the first world war prevented the Krus from earning their traditional livelihood as sailors), the missionaries came to their rescue with vital material aid. The people were deeply appreciative and the Kru Coast Church, and especially in Sasstown and Grand Cess, had gone from strength to strength. When John came to Sasstown it was by far the largest mission district in Liberia, with two principal stations (Sasstown and Betu) and some 20 outstations, and with a catholic population of over 4,000 as well as some 1000 catechumens.

Liberia was an extremely difficult mission, with a dangerous climate which over the years had exacted a heavy toll on missionary personnel. In June 1939 John fell ill and was invalided home to Ireland. After a period of convalescence he was assigned to the Egyptian mission where the climate was more temperate. Indeed this mission had been sought out by the Society as early as 1877 precisely for that reason, to provide a mission in Africa where those incapable of returning to the tropical regions could work. John's excellent academic record during his student days and especially his competence in mathematics and science, equipped him for a teaching ministry. He was placed on the staff of St. George's college in Cairo, a school which had been established by Irish S.M.A. priests in co-operation with the clergy of the Eastern Churches.

In 1946 John returned to Ireland to teach mathematics in the preparatory college at Ballinafad. After three years in the classroom he was sent to U.C.C. where in 1953 he graduated with a B.Sc. degree in mathematics and physics. With this precious qualification he now returned to Africa, to the diocese of Ondo, which had been erected in 1950 under the leadership of Bishop Thomas Hughes. This jurisdiction had formerly formed part of the vicariate of the Bight of Benin confided to the Irish Province in 1930. John came to Ondo at a time when secondary colleges were being developed, grant aided by the colonial government and staffed and managed by missionary personnel (priests, religious and lay volunteers). John taught in St. Thomas Aquinas college, Akure, between 1954 1960, up to the time of his death. During these years he made an invaluable contribution to the diocese and the country (which gained its independence in 1960 and many of whose political leaders and public servants had been trained in mission schools). Quietly good humoured, this imperturbable and talented confrere, whose reputation as a teacher of science was unsurpassed, died at his post at the relatively young age of 48 years.

He is buried in Akure, Western Nigeria.