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Société des Missions Africaines –Province d'Irlande

O'RIORDAN Florence né le 19 avril 1920 à Cork
dans le diocèse de Cork, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 1er juillet 1941
prêtre le 17 décembre 1944
décédé le 12 mars 1976

1945-1976 missionnaire au Nigeria

1945-1950, vicariat de Ondo Ilorin
1951-1972, diocèse de Ondo
Effon Ekiti
1972-1976, diocèse d'Ekiti
1976 en famille puis Cork, malade

décédé à Cork, Irlande, le 12 mars 1976
à l'âge de 56 ans

 

Father Florence McDermott O'RIORDAN (1920 - 1976)

Florence O'Riordan was born at Eason's Avenue, Cork, in the parish of Saints Mary and Anne, Shandon, on 19 April 1920. He died in the Bon Secours hospital, Cork, on 12 March 1976.

Florence (Florrie) received his secondary education with the Christian Brothers, at Our Lady's Mount, North Monastery, Cork (1932 38). He came to the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy, at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, in the autumn of 1939. He studied theology in the Society's seminary at Dromantine, Co Down between 194l 1945. Florrie was received as a member of the Society on 1 July 194l and was ordained a priest at St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, by Bishop Eugene O'Doherty of Dromore diocese, on 17 December 1944. He was one of a group of sixteen ordained on that day.

After ordination Florrie returned to Dromantine to complete his theological formation. He was then appointed to the Ondo Ilorin vicariate in south western Nigeria, reaching his mission in January 1946. He served in that region until 1976 - from 195l in Ondo diocese and from 1972 in Ekiti diocese, both jurisdictions created from divisions of the original vicariate. On his arrival, Bishop Thomas Hughes, the vicar apostolic, appointed him to Effon-Alaye district where David Mulcahy was superior. Here he was introduced to the local language, studied local culture and engaged in supervised pastoral work. After nine months, Florrie passed his examination in the Ekiti dialect of Yoruba, and was given faculties to hear confessions. He remained on in Effon for most of his first tour of duty, although he spent a short time before going home in Ondo mission. Florrie went on leave in January 1950, returning a year later to become parish priest of St. Michael's, Effon. When Florrie had come to Effon, first, there was a Catholic community of some 2,500 members and 260 catechumens, four outstations to be served, and a rate of three Catholic marriages annually (perhaps the best indication of progress). When Florrie went on home leave at the end of his second tour, in July 1955, the Catholic membership had grown to over 3,200, there were some 400 catechumens and seven Catholic marriages.

Florrie returned to Nigeria in May 1956, resuming his duties in Effon. He was to remain in charge of St. Michael's until 1969 when he was appointed first resident parish priest of St. Gregory's, Ire-Ekiti. Ire-Ekiti was a large, undeveloped town not far from Oye-Ekiti, highly populated and with a strong Catholic tradition, developed over the years since it first became an outstation of Ado-Ekiti in 1917. Florrie served here until he returned to die in Ireland.

Florrie was always fascinated by African culture. Determined to learn as much as possible about Yoruba life, customs, religion and culture, he spent long hours talking with 'notables' and 'ordinary people' in every locality where he worked. Eventually he was to gain a remarkable insight into the life of the people, uncovering aspects which were hidden from most of his colleagues. His ability to integrate his insights into the life of the Church, made him a man before his time. Florrie's interest was always sympathetic and well-received by the people. It is interesting that some twenty years before his death he became so close to the king and his councillors in Effon-Alaye, that he was appointed Chief Ojomo of the town. This was no mere honorary title, but a traditional one with its own duties and privileges. Florrie became one of the inner council of the king, respected for his understanding of town affairs, his integrity and his quiet and effective advice on any matter.

An African priest who worked with Florrie in Ekiti diocese penned the following lines: 'Everywhere Father O'Riordan worked, he won the hearts of all. People found him approachable, sympathetic and very fatherly. His flock's comfort was his life's ambition. Along with planting the faith, he sincerely believed in laying concrete foundations for the progress and future stability of the mission. Magnificent churches and imposing statues quickly sprung up at Effon Alaye and Ire-Ekiti... He was one of those rare personalities before whom you always feel welcome. It was an impression of this nature, coupled with his natural good-naturedness, that endeared him to the hearts of all. And hence when we say "may his soul rest in peace", we sincerely and very tearfully mean it'. Florrie returned to Ireland for surgery in February 1976, and died a month later.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.