Société des Missions Africaines - Province d’Irlande

FERGUS Gerard né le 16 septembre 1923 à Knockatoher
dans le diocèse de Clonfert, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 27 juin 1946
prêtre le 14 juin 1950
décédé le 14 mars 1994

1950-1951 Cork, université, études
1951-1952 diocèse de Kumasi, Ghana
1953-1976 vicariat de Monrovia, Liberia
1976-1992 diocèse de Southwark, Angleterre
1992-1994 Kiltulla, comté de Galway, retiré

décédé à Dublin, Irlande, le 14 mars 1994
à l’âge de 70 ans

Father Gerard FERGUS (1923 - 1994

Gerard Fergus was born in Knockatoher, Kiltulla, Athenry, Co Galway, in the diocese of Clonfert, on September 16 1923. He died in the Mater hospital, Dublin, on 14 March 1994.

Gerard (Gerry) was educated in the colleges of the Society. He received his secondary education at the Sacred Heart college, Ballinafad, Co Mayo and St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork (1938-1943). He entered the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy, at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, in September 1944. Two years later he commenced his theological formation in the Society's major seminary at Dromantine, Co Down. Gerry was received as a member of the Society on 12 June 1949; and he was ordained at priest by Bishop Eugene O'Doherty of Dromore diocese, at St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, on 14 June 1950. He was one of a group of eleven ordained on that day.

During his years of formation Gerry had studied also for a university degree. In his last year at Wilton he had attended lectures at U.C.C.; and while at Kilcolgan he had gone out to U.C.G. for lectures once a week and received 'in-house' lectures from S.M.A. priests designated to deliver them by the university. In 1946 he was awarded a B.A. degree in philosophy and education. After ordination Gerry returned to U.C.C. for a year, at the end of which he was awarded a higher diploma in education.

Gerry's first missionary appointment was to the Gold Coast (Ghana). The Gold Coast mission had been first entrusted to the S.M.A. in 1879 and many Irish priests and brothers had served there with distinction, especially in the apostolate of Catholic education. In 1926 the prefecture was handed over to the care of the newly-formed Dutch Province but Ireland's connection with the mission's educational work remained. Irish missionaries taught mainly in St. Augustine's college, Cape Coast, Ghana's first Catholic boys secondary school. In 1950 the education secretary for the Gold Coast, Pat Culligan, requested the help of the Irish Province in staffing a new secondary school to be opened at Opoku-Ware, near Kumasi. Gerry was 'loaned' to the new school for a year, sailing from Liverpool on the M.V. Accra, in December 1951. In March 1952 a new Provincial (John A. Creaven) was appointed, and he sought Gerry's transfer to St. Augustine's college (which was the responsibility of the Province) in order to allow another confrère to take up an appointment in the major seminary at Dromantine. Michael Anthony Glynn was principal of St. Augustine's when Gerry took up his new posting in June 1952.

Gerry was not to remain long in St. Augustine's. Bishop John Collins, of the vicariate of Monrovia (in Liberia) was about to open a new secondary school in the town of Bassa and was desperately short of staff. It was decided by the Irish Provincial Council that Gerry should be sent to his aid. Gerry did not return to Ireland but travelled on to Liberia, reaching his mission in January 1953. Gerry was to spend the next 26 years in Liberia. During those years he worked in most of the principal stations of what are today the archdiocese of Monrovia and the diocese of Gbarnga. Gerry's first appointment was to the new elementary school at Bassa, some 70 miles east of Monrovia along the coast. Tom Egan was superior of the district of Bassa, which had been first opened in 1929 under the patronage of St. Peter Claver. The school in which Gerry taught, too, was named after St. Peter Claver. Gerry was a good teacher but he preferred the pastoral ministry. After five years in Bassa he persuaded Bishop Collins to assign him to parish duty. In subsequent years - during the course of six further missionary tours of duty - Gerry ministered in Yekepa, Lac rubber plantation, and Bomi Hills where he spent his last years. In September 1976, no longer fit for the tropics because of ill-health, Gerry went to Southwark diocese, England, where he ministered in the Church of St. Thomas, Evelina Road, Nunhead, London. In November 1991 Gerry fell seriously ill and shortly afterwards retired to his home at Kitulla, Co Galway. In March 1994 he suffered a stroke and was hospitalised in Galway. After a few weeks he was transferred to the Mater hospital, Dublin, where he died.

Gerry spent fruitful and challenging years as a missionary. He ministered in Liberia at a time when the foundations were being laid for a dynamic Church which still flourishes in spite of the ravages of a vicious civil war. The solid foundations have ensured that the Church continues to play a significant part today in the rehabilitation of the country. Gerry was a quiet, unassuming man with a dry wit and a gentle humour. He knew his people and always kept close to his roots, his family and his neighbourhood. Gerry suffered much from his health in the last years, but bore his suffering with courage and faith.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.