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Société des Missions Africaines –Province d'Irlande

convey gabriel né le 25 mars 1912 à Castlebar
dans l’archidiocèse de Tuam (Irlande)
membre de la SMA le 1er juillet 1934
prêtre le 19 décembre 1937
décédé le 2 janvier 1990

1938-1951 missionnaire au Liberia, Monrovia
1951-1952 Blackrock Road, Cork
1952-1953 archidiocèse de Tuam
1953-1964 missionnaire au Nigeria, Benin City
1964-1987 missionnaire au Nigeria, Warri
1987-1989 Blackrock Road, Cork, retiré

décédé à Castlebar, Irlande, le 2 janvier 1990,
à l'âge de 77 ans

 


ImageFather Francis Gabriel CONVEY (1912 - 1990)

Francis Convey was born in St. Patrick's Terrace, Castlebar, Co Mayo, in the archdiocese of Tuam, on 25 March 1912. He died, unexpectedly, at the General hospital, Castlebar, on 2 January 1990.

Francis (Frank) went to St. Jarlath's college, Tuam, Co Galway, for his secondary education. Deciding to become a missionary priest in Africa, in 1931 he entered St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork, where he matriculated. In September 1932 Francis was promoted to the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy, at Kilcolgan, Co Galway. He received his theological formation in the Society's major seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down, between 1934‑1938. Frank was admitted as a member of the Society on 1 July 1934 and was ordained a priest in St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, by Bishop Edward Mulhern of Dromore diocese, on 19 December 1937. He was one of a group of fifteen ordained on that day.

After ordination Frank was assigned to the West African mission of Liberia, where he was to minister under the guidance of Bishop John Collins until November 195l. Liberia was one of the most difficult missions in West Africa. An impoverished 'Black Republic', founded by freed slaves from the U.S.A. in the early decades of the 19th century, Liberia was a small, sparsely-populated country, with constant strife between the Americo-Liberian settlers and the indigenous tribes. Protestantism of a virulently anti-catholic strain had been brought to the country by the freed slaves and this was one of the reasons why several attempts to establish the catholic church there during the 19th and early 20th centuries had failed. By the time Frank was ordained S.M.A. missionaries had been in Liberia continuously since 1905 and had managed to set down firm roots, particularly on the Kru Coast, east of Monrovia, Liberia's capital city.

On his arrival Frank was first appointed to the Grand Cess district, on the Kru Coast, where his superior was John Coleman. This mission district, founded in 1916, consisted of two principal stations - Grand Cess mission and Kinikale mission (founded in 1921) - and four outstations (Kinikale, Topo, Filokli, Beilopo). Frank spent the whole of his first tour of duty (1938-1945) - a tour prolonged because of the world war - in the Grand Cess district. Grand Cess, together with the district of Sasstown, both on the Kru Coast, could be said to be the cradle of Catholicism in Liberia. He spent all of his second tour (1947-1951) as superior of Sasstown district. In the early 1930's this district had gone into a decline, partly because of conflict between the Krus and the Americo-Liberian government. In its heyday the two principal stations were located in the towns of Old and New Sasstown, situated a kilometre apart, each containing 5,000 inhabitants, ruled by separate chiefs, and fiercely jealous of each other. In 1930 both stations were amalgamated and served from Old Sasstown. Frank ministered to a catholic community of some 3,000 members, with over 200 catechumens. There were seven elementary schools serving some 580 boys and 150 girls. Attached to the station were seven catechists who taught catechism to Christians in the outlying stations.

In February 1950 the Liberian mission was divided and Monrovia and Cape Palmas became the headquarters of two new jurisdictions. Frank became a member of the Cape Palmas prefecture, under the leadership of Francis Carroll, remaining in charge of Sasstown which was one of the principal centres of the new jurisdiction. As perhaps the most senior member of the prefecture, Frank also served as acting prefect apostolic during the absence of Mgr. Carroll on leave during the summer of 1950.

Between December 195l and September 1953 Frank was attached to the Society's house at Blackrock Road, Cork, assisting in the work of promotion. He was then assigned to the Nigerian mission, sailing for Benin City diocese in October 1953. This was a very different mission from Liberia, situated in a densely populated country, which was relatively prosperous and had significant natural resources. The Church in Nigeria, too, was far more advanced than in Liberia, with the hierarchy already erected and a growing number of indigenous priests and religious. With the erection of Warri diocese in 1964 (through a division of Benin City diocese) Frank was appointed to the new jurisdiction and was to serve there for the remaining years of his missionary career in Africa. Frank's name is especially associated with Ughelli where the Church and people owed so much to his efforts. He also served in Okene, Ozoro, Aragba and Obiaruku.

In January 1986 Frank had a hip replacement operation in Ireland and subsequently convalesced at Blackrock Road and at his home. He returned to Warri diocese in September 1986. However early in July 1987 he suffered a stroke and was invalided to Ireland in August. He made a good recovery. In December of the same year he celebrated the golden jubilee of his priesthood in Blackrock Road. He was on a visit to his family in Co Mayo at the time of his death. Frank's name was synonymous with hospitality and an open, welcoming spirit which touched countless people. A colleague who worked with him in Nigeria wrote: 'Frank could make himself at home and happy in any mission, no matter how remote or isolated from "civilization". He gave his best effort in every appointment and endeared himself to his people. He was a humble man who served in high and low positions with equal dedication and success'.

He is buried in the old cemetery, Castlebar, Co Mayo.


Société des Missions Africaines –Province d'Irlande
Le Père Francis G CONVEY
né le 25 mars 1912 à Castlebar
dans l’archidiocèse de Tuam (Irlande)
membre de la SMA le 1er juillet 1934
prêtre le 19 décembre 1937
décédé le 2 janvier 1990
Père Francis Convey

1938-1951 missionnaire au Liberia, Monrovia
1951-1952 Blackrock Road, Cork
1952-1953 archidiocèse de Tuam
1953-1964 missionnaire au Nigeria, Benin City
1964-1987 missionnaire au Nigeria, Warri
1987-1989 Blackrock Road, Cork, retiré

décédé à Castlebar, Irlande, le 2 janvier 1990,
à l'âge de 77 ans


Father Francis Gabriel CONVEY (1912 - 1990)

Francis Convey was born in St. Patrick's Terrace, Castlebar, Co Mayo, in the archdiocese of Tuam, on 25 March 1912. He died, unexpectedly, at the General hospital, Castlebar, on 2 January 1990.

Francis (Frank) went to St. Jarlath's college, Tuam, Co Galway, for his secondary education. Deciding to become a missionary priest in Africa, in 1931 he entered St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork, where he matriculated. In September 1932 Francis was promoted to the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy, at Kilcolgan, Co Galway. He received his theological formation in the Society's major seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down, between 1934 1938. Frank was admitted as a member of the Society on 1 July 1934 and was ordained a priest in St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, by Bishop Edward Mulhern of Dromore diocese, on 19 December 1937. He was one of a group of fifteen ordained on that day.

After ordination Frank was assigned to the West African mission of Liberia, where he was to minister under the guidance of Bishop John Collins until November 195l. Liberia was one of the most difficult missions in West Africa. An impoverished 'Black Republic', founded by freed slaves from the U.S.A. in the early decades of the 19th century, Liberia was a small, sparsely-populated country, with constant strife between the Americo-Liberian settlers and the indigenous tribes. Protestantism of a virulently anti-catholic strain had been brought to the country by the freed slaves and this was one of the reasons why several attempts to establish the catholic church there during the 19th and early 20th centuries had failed. By the time Frank was ordained S.M.A. missionaries had been in Liberia continuously since 1905 and had managed to set down firm roots, particularly on the Kru Coast, east of Monrovia, Liberia's capital city.

On his arrival Frank was first appointed to the Grand Cess district, on the Kru Coast, where his superior was John Coleman. This mission district, founded in 1916, consisted of two principal stations - Grand Cess mission and Kinikale mission (founded in 1921) - and four outstations (Kinikale, Topo, Filokli, Beilopo). Frank spent the whole of his first tour of duty (1938-1945) - a tour prolonged because of the world war - in the Grand Cess district. Grand Cess, together with the district of Sasstown, both on the Kru Coast, could be said to be the cradle of Catholicism in Liberia. He spent all of his second tour (1947-1951) as superior of Sasstown district. In the early 1930's this district had gone into a decline, partly because of conflict between the Krus and the Americo-Liberian government. In its heyday the two principal stations were located in the towns of Old and New Sasstown, situated a kilometre apart, each containing 5,000 inhabitants, ruled by separate chiefs, and fiercely jealous of each other. In 1930 both stations were amalgamated and served from Old Sasstown. Frank ministered to a catholic community of some 3,000 members, with over 200 catechumens. There were seven elementary schools serving some 580 boys and 150 girls. Attached to the station were seven catechists who taught catechism to Christians in the outlying stations.

In February 1950 the Liberian mission was divided and Monrovia and Cape Palmas became the headquarters of two new jurisdictions. Frank became a member of the Cape Palmas prefecture, under the leadership of Francis Carroll, remaining in charge of Sasstown which was one of the principal centres of the new jurisdiction. As perhaps the most senior member of the prefecture, Frank also served as acting prefect apostolic during the absence of Mgr. Carroll on leave during the summer of 1950.

Between December 195l and September 1953 Frank was attached to the Society's house at Blackrock Road, Cork, assisting in the work of promotion. He was then assigned to the Nigerian mission, sailing for Benin City diocese in October 1953. This was a very different mission from Liberia, situated in a densely populated country, which was relatively prosperous and had significant natural resources. The Church in Nigeria, too, was far more advanced than in Liberia, with the hierarchy already erected and a growing number of indigenous priests and religious. With the erection of Warri diocese in 1964 (through a division of Benin City diocese) Frank was appointed to the new jurisdiction and was to serve there for the remaining years of his missionary career in Africa. Frank's name is especially associated with Ughelli where the Church and people owed so much to his efforts. He also served in Okene, Ozoro, Aragba and Obiaruku.

In January 1986 Frank had a hip replacement operation in Ireland and subsequently convalesced at Blackrock Road and at his home. He returned to Warri diocese in September 1986. However early in July 1987 he suffered a stroke and was invalided to Ireland in August. He made a good recovery. In December of the same year he celebrated the golden jubilee of his priesthood in Blackrock Road. He was on a visit to his family in Co Mayo at the time of his death. Frank's name was synonymous with hospitality and an open, welcoming spirit which touched countless people. A colleague who worked with him in Nigeria wrote: 'Frank could make himself at home and happy in any mission, no matter how remote or isolated from "civilization". He gave his best effort in every appointment and endeared himself to his people. He was a humble man who served in high and low positions with equal dedication and success'.

He is buried in the old cemetery, Castlebar, Co Mayo.