Société des Missions Africaines –Province d'Irlande

Levins-John né le 10 octobre 1890 à Drogheda
dans le diocèse d'Armagh, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 30 octobre 1912
prêtre le 24 juin 1915
décédé le 2 février 1969

1915-1918 Wilton, professeur
1918-1919 Blackrock Road, Cork, professeur
1919-1925 Ballinafad collège, directeur
1925-1931 Ballinafad collège, supérieur
1937-1943 Kilcogan, supérieur
1943-1946 Dromantine, directeur spirituel
1946-1952 Kilcogan, supérieur
1952-1956 Dromantine, professeur
1956-1965 Ballinafad collège, directeur spirituel
1965-1969 malade

décédé à Ballinafad, Irlande, le 2 février 1969,
à l'âge de 29 ans

Father John LEVINS (1890 - 1969

John Levins was born in Drogheda, in the archdiocese of Armagh, on l0 October 1890. He died in the Sacred Heart college, Ballinafad, Co Mayo, on 2 February 1969.

John commenced his secondary studies in the Society's apostolic school, at Wilton, Cork, in 1906. Two years later, with the establishment of the Sacred Heart college, Ballinafad, as a secondary college, John became a member of the first student intake and completed his studies in 1910. In the years immediately prior to the formation of the Irish Province of the Society (in 1912), Irish candidates for the priesthood went to Lyon for their theological training, while philosophical training was available in the seminary at Blackrock Road, Cork. John Levins belonged to the first class which received its entire priestly formation in Ireland, entering the Blackrock Road seminary in 1910 and commencing his theological formation there in 1912. Other members of his class who availed of the new theology faculty at Blackrock Road were Nicholas Heffernan, John Lupton, and Patrick F. McKenna. John was received as a member of the Society on 30 October 1912 and was ordained a priest in St. Joseph's church, Blackrock Road, by Bishop Daniel Cohalan, auxiliary bishop of Cork, on 24 June 1915. He was one of a group of five ordained on that day.

John was ordained at a time when the Irish Province had less than two dozen members but when student enrolment was rapidly increasing. Good teachers were in short supply. So also were priests with an aptitude for formation work. During his student days John had shown qualities which made him an obvious choice for such a ministry and he was to spend all his active life as a priest attached to the Society's colleges in Ireland. Immediately after ordination he was assigned to the staff of the apostolic school at Wilton until 1918 when he spent a year in the Blackrock Road seminary. From 1919 25 he was director of students at Ballinafad (which offered intermediate education, and also Latin classes for mature students), and from 1925 3l, superior of that college. His next assignment was at the Province's seminary (which in 1926 had been transferred from Cork to Dromantine, Co Down), where he was 'Spiritual Father', until 1937. In that year he went as superior to Kilcolgan, Co Galway, where S.M.A. students studied philosophy and made their novitiate, after which he returned to his former post in Dromantine in 1943. From 1946 1952 he was again superior of Kilcolgan and from 1952 1956, on the teaching staff at Dromantine. His last assignment was as 'Spiritual Father' in Ballinafad from 1956 1965, after which he retired in the same house until his death.

John became one of the best known figures in the Irish Province because of his long connection with the work of priestly formation. He is remembered by many as a shy, retiring, gentle character. In particular he is associated with Ballinafad, which he developed into a first rate preparatory college. He also recruited on behalf of the Society throughout Ireland and must be credited especially with making the Society known in Belfast where he was a regular visitor to the Christian Brothers schools.

An obituary by a colleague records the following portrait of John: 'Father Levins was "correct" and believed in being so; correct in dress, in speech, behaviour and church ceremonies. He belonged to the old school, to the age of the watch and chain and the biretta for daily Mass. He spent all his years in the colleges at home and students who knew his every movement were amused at the pains he took not to "scandalise" them. Quiet and shy externally, he had, within, a fire that burned brightly. He spent his leisure-time painting; peaceful, rustic scenes, tastefully coloured... He would like to be called priestly, and that he was - in the tradition of the solid, conventional priests of the Irish Church, with whom he always maintained very correct relations'.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.