Société des Missions Africaines - Province d’Irlande

POWER William né le 10 mai 1923
dans le diocèse de Cloyne, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 1er juillet 1943
prêtre le 18 juin 1947
décédé le 13 mars 2003

1948-1952 vicariat de Asaba-Bénin, Nigeria
1953-1954 Dublin : UCD - diplôme en sciences sociales
1954-1964 diocèse de Benin-City, Nigeria
1964-1998 diocèse de Warry, Nigeria
1998-2002 Manchester (Grande Bretagne)
2002-2003 Blackrock Road - retiré

décédé à Cork, Irlande, le 13 mars 2003
à l’âge de 79 ans

Father William Dominic Stanislaus POWER (1923 - 2003)

William Power was born in Youghal, Co Cork, in the diocese of Cloyne, on 10th May 1923.
He died in St. Theresa’s nursing unit, Blackrock Road, Cork, on 13th March 2003.

William (known as ‘Bill’ in the Society) was the second of six children born to Mary (nee Broderick) and John Power, who lived at Clock Gate Youghal. Bill received his secondary education from the Christian Brothers at Youghal and from the Cistercians at Mount Mellerary school, acquiring his Leaving Certificate in 1940. He then entered the Society’s novitiate and house of philosophy, at Kilcolgan, Co Galway. Two years later he was promoted to the Society’s major seminary, at Dromantine, Newry, Co Down. Bill was received as a member of the Society on 1st July 1943. He was ordained a priest in St. Colman’s cathdral, Newry, Co Down, on 18th June 1947, by Bishop Eugene O’Doherty of Dromore diocese. He was one of a group of sixteen ordained on that day.

After ordination Bill was appointed to the Vicariate of Asaba-Benin in mid-western Nigeria. Apart from a spell of study-leave, some brief sick-leave and a sabbatical year he was to serve in mid-western Nigeria continuously until 1998, a period of some fifty years. During these years he ministered mainly in the Niger Delta area, in the mission districts of Sapele and Warri, both noted for their lagoons and malaria. He spent many years in the parish of Ashaka, a station which in colonial days civil servants always regarded as remote and difficult. He worked in this area during the Nigerian civil war when the town was overrun first by Biafran troops and later by Federal troops. During this period his house was burned. He spent his last years in Nigeria as parish priest of Oleh, formerly an outstation of Ozoro.

Bill first reached Nigeria in January 1948. Some four years later, in June 1952, he was invalided home to Ireland with a throat complaint. Making a good recovery he was then sent to University College Dublin to take a Diploma in Social Science. This was awarded in June 1954. He then returned to Asaba-Benin, which four years earlier had been erected as the diocese of Benin City. In 1964, with the detachment of part of the diocese and its erection as the diocese of Warri, Bill became one of the founding staff of the new jurisdiction. Later, in 1970, he was to received a Diploma in Religious Education from Corpus Christi College, London. He was also to receive a Masters degree in Theology from the Angelicum University, Rome, awarded in 1980

On his retirement from Africa – he suffered ill-health from the mid-1990’s – Bill went to Manchester, England, from where he conducted promotion appeals on the part of the Society’s British Province. The presence of his sister, Teresa, in the city was a great blessing. In July 2000 he suffered a stroke, but made a good recovery, remaining on in England. However, in March 2003, in rapidly deteriorating health, Bill returned to Ireland, joining the SMA community at Blackrock Road, Cork, taking up residence in St. Theresa’s nursing unit.

On the occasion of his death a Memorial Thanksgiving Mass was celebrated for the repose of Bill’s soul by the bishop and priests of Warri diocese. In his homily Bishop Burke recalled Bill’s dedication to his missionary vocation, his contribution as educationalist and builder and his love of sport. Bill’s reputation as a builder was referred to in a biography written on the occasion of his death by Martin Ogbuotoboh, a son of Catechist Thaddeus Ogbuotoboh of Ashaka parish. ‘He built churches scattered all over the present diocese of Warri. At Okpara-Inland he build both church and mission house as well as St. Francis hospital. At Sapele he re-built the burnt mission house and constructed the present hospital. In Ashaka, to which he was appointed in May 1959, he inherited a church building partially completed, with foundations and up to window level. Lack of funds had halted the building. Fr. Power tirelessly took on the task of completing the church, which he named after St. Leo’. Other notable edifices erected by Bill were Mater Dei Boys Grammar School and St. Mary Magdalene Girls Grammar school, both in Ashaka. He also built a convent and brought in the first Eucharistic Heart of Mary sisters to the area. In addition he was responsible for numerous small schools and health centres erected in outstations. In all these works he took a ‘hands-on’ approach, not only supervising the construction but ‘climbing the roof-tops to make sure that the exact number of nails were used and were properly nailed at the right place’.

For many years Bill was Director of Religious Education in Warri diocese. As for his love of sports he had a particular interest in gymnastics and was a talented gymnast in his own right. He formed gymnastic teams in Benin City, Sapele and Uzairue. He also trained football teams. In Okpara Inland his team won the Msgr. Erameh cup - an inter-diocesan competition which included teams from Benin City, Warri, Issele-Uku, and from Bomadi and Auchi. In Sapele his athletics team won the Governor’s Cup three years in succession. While in Ashaka and Oleh he encouraged lawn tennis and hand-ball.

Bill liked to write and produced a number of articles, short stories and pamphlets, including the following titles: ‘Paralysis of Analysis’; ‘Half a loaf is better than no bread’; ‘Little drops of water make a mighty ocean’; ‘Talks on Prayer (Lord teach me how to pray)’; ‘Know how to Answer’ (two volumes); ‘But they are asking these questions’. He was also a good linguist, sufficiently fluent to be able to teach catechism and preach in the indigenous tongue. Bill’s long years as a missionary were not without their moments of difficulty. A trait of stubborn individualism was particularly exacerbated by the strain of the Nigerian Civil War and brought conflicts with confreres and his bishop. In the 1970’s there was a question of leaving Nigeria and going to the Society’s mission in Argentina. However with the passage of time the difficulties were resolved and at the time of his final departure from Africa he was beloved by all. Bill had an enthusiastic approach to life and an active mind. Indeed he was a student all his life, even to the extent of taking a certified course in computer literacy at the age of seventy-five years. Moreover he kept a diary, which he hoped might form the basis for writing projects, throughout his missionary career.

His family, on both sides, had African connections. His cousins Fr. Tom Power, Fr. John Power were missionaries in Africa as was his mother’s sister, Sister Madelene. All were buried in Africa, something for which Bill frequently expressed a wish.

He is buried in Wilton Cemetery.