Société des Missions Africaines –Province d'Irlande

  né le 2 septembre 1919 à Cobh
dans le diocèse de Cloyne, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 31 juillet 1941
prêtre le 15 juin 1946
décédé le 28 janvier 1983

1948-1954 Savannah, Géorgie, vicaire
1954-1959 Savannah, école Saint Pie X
1959-1963 Caire, Illinois, paroisse Saint-Columba, curé
1969-1983 Tucson, Arizona,
mission auprès des Indiens Yacqui

décédé à Tucson, USA, le 28 janvier 1983,
à l'âge de 63 ans

Father Maurice MAC CARTHY (1919 - 1983)

Maurice McCarthy was born in Cobh, Co Cork, Ireland (the family address was 11, Westview), in the diocese of Cloyne, on September 2, 1919.
He died in St Joseph's hospital, Tucson, Arizona, USA, on January 28, 1983.

Maurice (Mossie) was one of seven children born to Maurice and Johannah (nee Downing) McCarthy. He studied at the Presentation College, Cobh (1934 1935) and at St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork (l935 l938), before coming to the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy, at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, in the autumn of l938. Maurice became a member of the Society on July 1, 1941 and studied theology in the Society's seminary at Dromantine, Co Down (1942-1946). Maurice's studies were interrupted in November 1941 after the death of two of his brothers from fever, one aged 12 years, and the other aged 18. Maurice and other members of the family were placed under quarantine in the Fever Hospital in Cork. Maurice faced this tragedy and crisis with great courage and was able to resume his seminary training in September 1942. He was ordained a priest in St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, by Bishop Eugene O'Doherty of Dromore diocese, on June 15, l946. He was one of a group of fourteen ordained on that day.

Maurice had a good academic record. Receiving an honours leaving certificate in 1937, he had remained on in Wilton for a further year attending University College Cork. When he went to Kilcolgan he continued his studies at University College Galway and graduated with an arts degree (philosophy and education) in June 1941. After ordination Maurice was appointed to the Society's mission in Egypt, where the Irish Province staffed a number of secondary colleges. However political instability in the region delayed his departure. He spent a year waiting for a visa and eventually when none was forthcoming his superiors decided to appoint him to another mission. Because of the deaths of his two brothers in the early 1940's there was a feeling that Maurice was delicate. In fact this was not the case, but his superiors decided against sending him to the difficult climate of West Africa. Instead they appointed him to the American Province of the Society, which had been founded in 1941 and which was short of staff. The American Province had a number of African-American mission parishes which were reckoned to be less taxing than mission parishes in Africa. This belief was not always justified by experience. Indeed circumstances in some of the Society's missions in Georgia, Southern Illinois, and elsewhere, were often extremely difficult. Maurice served as assistant pastor at St. Benedict's parish, Savannah, Georgia from l948. Between l954 l959 he taught at St. Pius X High school, also in Savannah. He spent until l963 as pastor of St. Columba's parish, Cairo, Illinois.

Maurice's name will forever be associated with the Indian people of Tucson diocese. In March 1940 the American Province of the Society had commenced a ministry to the African-Americans in that diocese. There they discovered also a colony of Yaqui Indians who had migrated from Mexico, most of them illegally, who were now squatting on vacant land. When Maurice came to Tucson in September 1963 he took an interest in the Indians. Within a year of his arrival it was found necessary to return the mission parish to the diocese (its population had become exclusively Mexican). However, with the consent of his superiors and the bishop of the diocese, Maurice remained on as pastor to the Yaquis, living in a primitive dwelling similar to that of his parishioners and enduring the same hardships. He was particularly concerned that his flock because they were not considered to be American Indians did not receive a grant of land from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. All American Indians had received such grants and the territories allotted to them (Reservations) enjoyed special privileges and government support. In l969 with the assistance of the then Secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall, Maurice received a grant of 300 acres of land for the Yaquis, which he called New Pascua. In subsequent years over 500 homes were built here approximately l00 by Maurice's brother Declan who operated a construction company. Eventually a church designed by the Yaquis to accommodate their special rituals was built. It was at this church, Christo Rey, that Maurice's funeral took place. A heavy cigarette smoker, Maurice developed emphysema and died of a heart attack at the comparatively young age of sixty-three years. The traditional Yaquis funeral ceremonies were observed, including a lengthy wake service and the carrying of the casket to various 'stations' where prayers were recited, mariachi music played and four groups of dancers (matachini, pascola, phariseos and deer) performed traditional Yaqui dances. The funeral Mass was celebrated by Bishop Manuel Moreno and fourteen concelebrants. At his own request Maurice's body was laid to rest at Monte Calverio, New Pascua, Tucson.

Maurice came from a family of ten, six boys and four girls. His father was a customs and excise officer. His brother, Kevin, who died of fever aged 18 years, was a student with the Society and is buried in Wilton cemetery. Maurice was an excellent sportsman, swimmer, cricketer and hurler. During his year in Cork waiting for a visa for Egypt he played with Blackrock hurling club. Maurice's brother, Colum worked as a priest in Tucson, Arizona, while his sisters Eithne and Ursula were members of the Franciscan Missionaries of St. Joseph.

He is buried in Monte Calvario Cemetery, New Pasqua Village, Tucson, Arizona, USA.