Société des Missions Africaines - Province d’Irlande

 clancy cornelius  Le Père Cornelius CLANCY
né le 19 septembre 1914 à Cork
dans le diocèse de Cork, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 1er juillet 1934
prêtre le 19 décembre 1937
décédé le 8 décembre 2002

1938-1948 préfecture apostolique de Jos, Nigeria
1949-1950 Blackrock Road, Cork 
1950-1953 collège de Wilton et université de Cork
1953-1969 collège de Ballinafad, professeur
1969-1971 diocèse d’Ibadan, Nigeria
1971-1973 archidiocèse de Kaduna, Nigeria
1973-1977 diocèse de Jos, Nigeria
1977-1984 Blackrock Road, Cork, archiviste provincial
1984-1996 Blackrock Road, Cork, retiré
1996-2002 Wilton, retiré
2002 Blackrock Road, Cork, retiré

décédé à Cork, Irlande, le 8 décembre 2002
à l’âge de 88 ans

Father Cornelius Joseph CLANCY (1914 - 2002)

Cornelius Clancy was born in St. Patrick’s parish, Cork city, on 19 September 1914. He died in St. Theresa’s Nursing Unit, at SMA house, Blackrock Road, Cork, on 8th December 2002

The son of Cornelius and Mary (nee O’Brien) Clancy, Cornelius (Con) received his secondary education in St. Joseph’s College, Wilton, Cork (1929-1932). After matriculating he entered the Society’s novitiate and house of philosophy, at Kilcolgan, Co. Galway, in the autumn of 1932. Two years later he was promoted to the Society’s theological seminary at Dromantine, Co Down. Con was received as a permanent member of the Society on 19th June 1937. He was ordained a priest by Bishop Edward Mulhern of Dromore diocese, in St. Colman’s cathedral, Newry, Co Down, on 19th December 1937. He was one of a group of fifteen ordained on that day.

After ordination Con was appointed to the prefecture of Jos in northern Nigeria. This jurisdiction had been erected in 1934 when the prefecture of Northern Nigeria was divided. Con arrived at a time of crisis and much sadness. In September 1937 two priests, both young men, had died of yellow fever and Mgr. Lumley, the Prefect, had less than a dozen men at his disposal. Con was part of a group sent by the Irish Province to reinforce the complement of missionaries and to bring fresh hope. He was to do two tours of duty in the Prefecture, covering a period of ten years. It is difficult to trace his movements as the Society’s Etat (which gave such details) was suspended during the War years. However the record for 1939-40 placed him in the District of Udei where Dick Tobin was superior; while the record for 1947-48 placed him as superior of Kwande mission.

It is probable that in 1941 he was transferred from Udei to another mission as he wrote a letter in the ‘Missionary Mail’ section of the African Missionary in October of that year describing the new mission to which he had been appointed but omitting to give its name. He was to write again in the African Missionary in May-June 1945 giving an account of his eventful return journey from home-leave to Nigeria earlier that year, during which his convoy was bombed and ships were sunk. A third letter, written from Kwande in the issue for November-December 1947, was a discursive account of various primitive tribes and his dealings with them. A senior Jos priest, now retired, told this writer that Con spent most of his second tour of duty in Kwande. A further piece written in 1954 when Con was in Ballinafad gave valuable insights into the educational apostolate in Nigeria.

Con was invalided home to Ireland in October 1948. The doctors advised that he should not return to Africa for some time, so he went to Blackrock Road to convalesce. With a gradual improvement he took on the post of assistant editor of the African Missionary, serving between November 1949 and October 1950. In the autumn of 1950 Con moved to Wilton where he took some classes and also enrolled in University College Cork. These were times when the missionary bishops strongly urged Society leaders to provide suitable members with university qualifications so that they could participate in the post-war expansion of secondary education. In the summer of 1953 Con graduated with a B.Sc. degree (his subjects were Chemistry, Mathematics and Geography). He then was appointed to the staff of the Sacred Heart College, Ballinafad, from where he attended University College Galway, receiving a Higher Diploma in Education in the summer of 1955. Con was to remain on the staff at Ballinafad until June 1969, serving briefly as Vice-Superior of the college.

In August 1969, at his own request, Con returned to Nigeria, taking up a teaching post in St. Theresa’s minor seminary, Oke Are, Ibadan. A year later he went north to teach in Queen of Apostles, a girls secondary school established in Kakuri (Kaduna diocese) by the Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles. In August 1973 Con was assigned to teach science in another girls secondary college, the St. Louis College, Louisville, Jos, run by the St. Louis Sisters. He was to remain in this post for five tours of duty until December 1977 when he retired from Africa. Con’s next appointment was as Provincial Archivist in the SMA house at Blackrock Road. He performed his duties as archivist with the same conscientiousness and thoroughness he had exhibited in his teaching career. Con retired from the active ministry in September 1984. He was to enjoy a long and fruitful retirement, first in Blackrock Road (1984-1996) and then in Wilton (1996-2002). He was in failing health for some time before he came to the nursing unit in Blackrock Road where he died peacefully in the presence of his confreres.

Con lived to a great age. In December 1987 he celebrated the Golden Jubilee of his priesthood and a decade later, with two classmates, his Diamond Jubilee. On this latter occasion Con gave a speech, a copy of which is retained in the Archives of the Province. In particular he thanked God for the extraordinary progress of the Church in Northern Nigeria. ‘When I decided to go for the priesthood I thought I was doing God a favour. It took some time for me to realize that it was God who was doing me the favour… I have been spared to see the miracle of the growth of the Church in Northern Nigeria to its present state of almost total sufficiency. What I saw when I returned to Nigeria in the 1960’s bore no relation to what I had seen in the 1940’s. At that time Jos Prefecture was about three times the size of Ireland with only 18 SMA priests. The situation was similar on the Kaduna side. I could not in my wildest dreams have imagined the state of the Church in Northern Nigeria as I found it in the 1960’s.’

Con was a quiet, serious-minded man, intelligent and hard-working, prayerful and disciplined in his habits – a man who liked routine. He had a sociable side, too, liked music (he had played the piano – not very successfully - in the seminary) and liked an occasional game of golf, but this was evident only to those who knew him well or lived close to him. Better known among his confreres was his profiency as a barber, a ‘trade’ he plied well into his eighties, coming out of retirement from time to time for favoured clients. Con was conscientious in all that he did, sometimes over-conscientious and his scrupulous nature caused him considerable suffering throughout his life, a cross which he keenly felt but bore with courage. He had experienced scrupulosity first as a student and it recurred making it difficult for him to accept pastoral and administrative posts throughout his life. His growing deafness in the latter years of his life was another cross. His contribution to the building up of the Church in Africa was considerable. So too was his work for the Society’s administrative branch during his years in the Archives. As a teacher in Ballinafad he is remembered for the clarity of his presentation as well as for his fair-minded attitude to his students.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.