Société des Missions Africaines - Province d’Irlande

Whittaker James né le 22 mars 1914 à Enniskillen
dans le diocèse de Clogher, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 30 juin 1935
prêtre le 18 décembre 1938
décédé le 4 février 1995

1939-1943 vicariat du Bénin, Nigeria
1943-1950 vicariat de Ondo Ilorin, Nigeria
1950-1972 diocèse de Ondo
1972-1974 diocèse d’Ekiti, Nigeria
1974-1988 diocèse de Raphoe, Irlande
1989-1994 Dromantine, retiré

décédé à Enniskillen, Irlande, le 4 février 1995
à l’âge de 80 ans


Father John James (Séumas) WHITTAKER (1914 - 1995)

Séumas Whittaker was born in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, in the diocese of Clogher, on 22 March 1914. He died in the Erne hospital, Enniskillen, on 4 February 1995.

Séumas (Shammy) was educated in the colleges of the Society. He studied in the Sacred Heart college, Ballinafad, Co Mayo (1929-1930) and in St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork (1930-1933). After matriculating Séumas entered the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy, at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, in September 1933. Two years later, in 1935, Séumas commenced his theological formation in the Society's major seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down. Séumas was accepted as a member of the Society on 30 June 1935. He was ordained a priest by Bishop Edward Mulhern of Dromore diocese, in St. Colman's Cathedral, Newry, on 18 December 1938. He was one of a group of eleven ordained on that day.

After ordination Séumas was appointed to the vicariate of the Bight of Benin, in south western Nigeria. During his first tour of duty (1939-1945) he ministered in the town of Ibonwon and at Ebute Metta (Lagos). Ibonwon district had been established as a mission in 1900 and by the time Séumas arrived it had a Catholic community of some 3,000. Ebute Metta had been founded in 1890 and was the 'third principal station' in Lagos city. When, in 1943, the Ondo-Ilorin region was detached from the vicariate and erected as the vicariate of Ondo-Ilorin, Séumas was assigned to the new jurisdiction and appointed to Ado-Ekiti. This was a large station - now the seat of a diocese - originally established in 1914 under the patronage of St. George. During the last year of his first tour of duty he served in Ushi mission. Séumas spent his second tour (1946-1950) as superior of Oka mission where he was assisted by Ned Donovan.

The Ondo-Ilorin jurisdiction became the diocese of Ondo in April 1950. Séumas was to serve in the diocese for six further tours (varying in length from three years to twenty-one months), until 1971. During this period he was superior of several of the principal stations in the diocese, including Effon Alaye, Oye, Ado-Ekiti and Oka. When the diocese of Ekiti was erected in July 1972 Séumas became a member of the diocesan staff. He served until September 1974 when he returned to Ireland in poor health. After a period of convalescence Séumas undertook pastoral work in the diocese of Raphoe, ministering in Killybegs, Kincasslagh and Glenties. In December 1988 he retired to the S.M.A. house at Dromantine. He spent the last year of his life (1994-1995) in the Millcroft nursing home, Mill Street, Enniskillen, and in the Graan Abbey private nursing home, Enniskillen. Both nursing homes were near his family home at New Row, Enniskillen. Séumas became ill with heart trouble a few days before he died. He was admitted to the Erne hospital, Enniskillen, where he gave up his soul to God.

Séumas had great devotion to Our Lady and during his years in Oka he did much to develop the Marian Shrine of Oke-Maria. His obituary in the African Missionary paints the following portrait of Séamus: 'S.M.A. colleagues always spoke glowingly of his hard work and devotion to duty. There was no limit to his zeal. His trekking through the forest in pursuit of souls often left him utterly exhausted. The people had a reverential fear of "Father Whittaker". His obvious sincerity in seeking their spiritual good and the extent he would go to see that they did what was right with God and man, filled them with profound awe. Shammy loved to sing and play the violin: his songs "Mother Mo Chroidhe" and "My Lagan Love" still resound in confrères ears and memories. The people to whom Shammy preached the 'Good News' for 35 years will never forget "Father Whittaker".'

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.