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Société des Missions Africaines –Province d'Irlande

Duffy Thomas né le 11 novembre 1897 à Sargura, Cury
dans le dans le diocèse d'Achonry, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 8 juillet 1925
prêtre le 9 juin 1929
décédé le 24 février 1979

1929-1964 missionnaire au Nigeria
1928-1947, Asaba-Benin
1947-1964, Kaduna
1964-1976 aumônier, Mercy Convent, Skreen
1976-1979 Blackrock Road, Cork, retiré

décédé à Cork, Irlande, le 24 février 1979,
à l'âge de 81 ans


Father Thomas Patrick DUFFY (1897 - 1979)

Thomas Duffy was born at Sargura, Curry, Co Sligo, in the diocese of Achonry, on ll November 1897. He died at St. Patrick's hospital, Cork, on 24 February 1979.

Tom came to the Society when he was approaching his twenty first year. Having never gone beyond primary school he had a long course of studies before him. He was educated in the Sacred Heart college, Ballinafad, Co Mayo (1918 1920), in St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork (1920 1923), in the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy, at Kilcolgan, Co Galway (1923 25), in St. Joseph's seminary, Blackrock Road, Cork (1925 1926) and finally (after the transfer of the seminary in 1926) in Dromantine, Co Down (1926 1929). He was admitted to membership of the Society on 8 July 1925 and was ordained a priest, along with fourteen colleagues, by Bishop Edward Mulhern of Dromore diocese, in St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, on 9 June 1929. He was thirty two years of age when he was ordained.

After ordination Tom was assigned to the vicariate of Western Nigeria, the first mission in Nigeria to be entrusted to the Irish Province (in 1918). It was to be renamed the vicariate of Asaba Benin in 1934. Tom came to the mission in the autumn of 1929, joining a young staff ably led by Bishop Thomas Broderick, the founding bishop. Ten years later Patrick J. Kelly became bishop and was to remain in charge of the jurisdiction (named the diocese of Benin City in 1950) until 1971. Tom worked in the vicariate until 1947. His first appointment was to Lokoja, to replace members from the recently-erected continental Provinces (formed in 1927) who had been transferred to Togo and the Ivory Coast. During his first tour of duty (1929-1933) he also served in Okene where he came to regard the Igbirrah people as very special. Tom spent his second tour (1934-1938) at Kabba and Lokoja. He began his third tour (1939-1945) at Lokoja, but in January 1940 he was transferred to Asaba to take the place of the veteran Alsatian missionary Eugene Strub (one of the few remaining continental Fathers) who had died. He was re-appointed to Asaba on his return from home leave in 1946. In the seven years he spent at Asaba Tom made a profound contribution to the development of the district. Among his achievements was the commencement of the existing cathedral church.

Tom spent the next 17 years of his life (until 1964) ministering in the diocese of Kaduna in northern Nigeria, where his classmate John McCarthy had become bishop in 1943. This was a very different mission from Asaba Benin. In the first place it was a much more recent mission field, dating from explorations conducted from Lokoja in 1907. Secondly it was a region where Muslim influence was paramount and where government policy placed restrictions on Christian missionaries. Notwithstanding these difficulties, the Kaduna mission had prospered. In the early days the Church was formed around the communities of immigrants from the east who had come northwards with the railway and were amenable to evangelisation. But progressively from the 1920's, vigorous efforts were also made to root the Church among those indigenous communities which followed traditional religion. In 1954, a few years after the erection of the Nigerian hierarchy, Kaduna was sufficiently developed to be made a diocese

Five years later (1959) it was to become the metropolitan See for northern Nigeria, under Archbishop McCarthy. Tom was a member of the diocesan staff during these years of astonishing growth, when it became clear that not only was the Church now deeply rooted, but that it was also in the process of becoming self perpetuating. Tom spent most of his missionary life in pastoral work and in the construction of schools, dispensaries and churches. His first appointment, given in May 1947, was to Kano district. Tom was nominated mission superior and he was assisted by a staff of three (often two) missionaries. Tom returned to Kano several times during his subsequent missionary career. He was responsible for commencing the erection there of the church of Our Lady of Fatima the largest church in the north in its time which was completed by Michael Toner. Tom served too in Guni mission, in Zonkwa and in Kaduna where he built the archbishop's residence.

Tom was a strong willed, rugged, character. For relaxation he played Bridge, when he could find partners. He had a keen eye for the ridiculous, while his salty common sense helped him to reduce every crisis to its correct proportion. On his departure from Africa in 1964 Tom became chaplain to the Mercy convent, in Skreen, Co Sligo, retiring to Blackrock Road in 1976. He had a sister (Sr Brigid) in the O.L.A., working in Benin City diocese, who predeceased him. Two other sisters were nuns. He died in the golden jubilee year of his ordination.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.