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Société des Missions Africaines – Province d’ Irlande
Le Père Michael Charles CAVANAGH
né le 13 octobre 1918 à Gurteeny
dans le diocèse de Clonfert, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 1er juillet 1941
prêtre le 17 décembre 1944
décédé le 1er janvier 1974
Père Michael Cavanagh



1946-1951 Asaba, Nigeria
1952-1965 diocèse de Bénin City
1965-1969 diocèse de Warri
1969-1972 repos en famille
1972-1973 Des Moines, USA

décédé à Cork, Irlande, le 1er janvier 1974,
à l’âge de 55 ans


Father Michael Charles CAVANAGH (1918 - 1974)


Michael Cavanagh was born in Gurteeny, Woodford, Co Galway, in the diocese of Clonfert, on 13 October 1918. He died in Shanakiel hospital, Cork, on l January 1974.
Michael (Mick) was in his sixteenth year when he decided to become a missionary priest with the Society of African Missions. Having never gone beyond primary school, a long course of studies lay before him in the colleges of the Society. In September 1934 he came to the Sacred Heart college, Ballinafad (the preparatory school in Mayo where young students commenced their secondary studies or where mature students learned Latin); three years later, in 1937, he transferred to St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork, to complete his secondary education. Having taken his leaving certificate Mick entered the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy, at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, in 1939, and two years later went to the major seminary at Dromantine, Co Down, for his theological studies. Mick was received as a member of the Society on 1 July 1941 and was ordained a priest by Bishop Eugene O'Doherty of Dromore diocese, at St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, on 17 December 1944. He was one of a group of seventeen ordained on that day.
In 1946 Mick went to the vicariate of Asaba‑Benin, in the region of the Niger delta, where he was to minister for nearly a quarter of a century. This jurisdiction was originally the vicariate of Western Nigeria, a vast territory stretching over mid-western Nigeria and including territory to the east and north. It was also the first mission in Nigeria confided to the Irish Province of the Society when Thomas Broderick was appointed vicar apostolic in 1918. By the time Mick came to the region the Church was firmly established. Mick joined a missionary staff under the vigorous and inspired leadership of Patrick J. Kelly, which at the time was rapidly pushing out the frontiers of the Church. He worked first in the Asaba-Benin vicariate (1946‑195l), then, after its sub-division into separate jurisdictions, in the diocese of Benin City (1952‑1965); and finally, after a further sub-division, in Warri diocese (1965‑1969).
Mick's first appointment, given to him by Bishop Kelly, was to Warri mission (founded in 1917) where Michael Foley was superior and where John Browne was the other member of staff. Mick spent most of his first five-year tour of duty serving Warri mission and its large network of outstations, many of which today are parishes staffed by Nigerian priests. In 1949 Bishop Kelly appointed Mick to Ashaka mission, where he served under John Lynott until 1951 when he returned to Ireland on vacation. Mick spent all of his second tour of duty as superior of Sapele mission. In subsequent years Mick is most closely associated with the Okpara-Inland mission, situated in a rural district some 25 miles from Warri town.
A colleague who knew Mick well wrote: 'The whole Warri district was well served by Mick Cavanagh working at a time when the Church was rapidly developing. Mick was one of those missionaries who became renowned for his treks to outstations, journeys which required planning and endurance and which were at the cutting edge of the work of evangelisation. His visits to the widely scattered fishing folk in the creeks sometimes entailed long canoe journeys for six weeks at a time.' Eventually, although he brought to Africa a strong physique (he had been an excellent sportsman in the seminary), his health deteriorated and he was invalided home. Between 1969‑1972 he lived mainly with his family. Partially restored in health, in April 1972 he went to the U.S.A. to work in the diocese of Des Moines, Iowa. However seven months later he was admitted to the Mercy hospital, Des Moines, for surgery. Shortly afterwards he returned to Ireland with little hope of recovery. In January 1973 he was admitted to Shanakiel hospital, Cork, where he died.
He is buried in Wilton cemetery.