Société des Missions Africaines –Province d'Irlande

 guilfoyle  Le Père John GUILFOYLE
né le 18 août 1914 à St John’s villas
dans le diocèse de Ferns, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 29 juin 1937
prêtre le 22 décembre 1940
décédé le 9 décembre 1976
 1941-1942 Cork, études supérieures

1942-1970 missionnaire au Nigeria, 

1942-1967, archidiocèse Lagos, dans l’enseignement
1968-1970, Ibadan, petit séminaire
1971-1976 Australie, paroisse de Beaconsfield

décédé à Freemantle, Australie, le 9 décembre 1976,
à l'âge de 62 ans

Father John GUILFOYLE (1914 - 1976)

John Guilfoyle was born in St. John's villas, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, in the diocese of Ferns, on 18 August 1914. He died, unexpectedly, in Freemantle hospital, Australia, on 9 December 1976.

John studied at the Christian Brothers school, Enniscorthy, before coming to the Sacred Heart college, Ballinafad, Co Mayo and St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork (1927 1934). He joined the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy, at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, in the autumn of 1935, and completed his theological training in the major seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down. He was received as a member of the Society on 29 June 1937 and was ordained a priest, by Bishop Edward Mulhern of Dromore diocese, at St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, on 22 December 1940. He was one of a group of nineteen ordained on that day.

John's period of training took place at a time when the Province's missionary bishops urgently required university graduates for their growing commitments to education. Responding to these requests a number of priests were withdrawn from Africa from the mid 1930's to study at U.C.C. (as a concession to their maturity those studying arts were permitted to qualify in two years). From this period, too, selected student seminarians were sent to university. John was among a small group of who remained on in Wilton after matriculating in order to attend U.C.C. After a year in that college John completed his degree course at U.C.G., during his two-year novitiate at Kilcolgan (The students went to U.C.G. one day each week and received additional lectures in Kilcolgan from priests designated by the university Michael Mahony lectured in philosophy and Anthony MacAndrew in education). John graduated with an honours degree in philosophy and education, in 1937. After ordination John returned to U.C.C. (residing at Wilton), where he graduated with a higher diploma in education in 1942.

His academic formation complete, John was assigned to the vicariate of Lagos, in south western Nigeria. The vicariate had been erected in the same year when the old vicariate of the Bight of Benin was divided. John sailed for Africa in March 1943 in a war-time convoy, disembarking at the port of Lagos. Bishop Leo Taylor, the vicar apostolic, appointed John to St. Gregory's college, Lagos, Nigeria's first catholic secondary school founded in 1928. When John joined the staff (which included four of his missionary colleagues) the college was a thriving institution with over 300 students, and a high reputation in both academic and sporting fields. John went on his first home leave in January 1947. He returned to Lagos a year later, where he was nominated vice-principal of St Gregory's. In April 1950 the Lagos vicariate was erected as the archdiocese of Lagos. In the same year John was re-assigned to St. Leo's teacher training college, Abeokuta. This important institution, which had a population of some 350 students, provided teachers for the ever-expanding network of elementary schools throughout the jurisdiction.

When John returned from home leave in September 1956, he was appointed first principal of St. Peter's grammar school, Abeokuta (known as the 'Fr. Coquard Memorial Secondary School', in memory of the celebrated S.M.A. missionary Jean-Marie Coquard, a self-taught surgeon, who founded the Sacred Heart hospital in Abeokuta). In its first year the school was housed in some classrooms at St. Leo's college, while buildings were commenced at Aro, Abeokuta. On the completion of two blocks and a principal's residence in June 1957, the school moved from St. Leo's to the new site. John went on leave in May 1959. When he returned in November he was re-assigned to St. Leo's college. Later on he did pastoral work in Ibonwon, Epe, Ado Odo and Egbado district. In 1968 he was posted to St. Theresa's inter-diocesan minor seminary at Oke Are, Ibadan. In 1970 John retired from Africa, taking up a new ministry in the S.M.A. parish, at Beaconsfield, in the archdiocese of Perth, Western Australia.

John was a man of outstanding intellectual capacity, with a particular interest in literature and drama. It is said that he had read Dickens and most of the classics before he reached the age of 13. In the first arts examination at U.C.C. in 1934 he obtained first place in his class in English. Had he not become a missionary he may well have pursued a distinguished academic career. He had the capacity of the academic to become completely absorbed in his researches. It is said that on one occasion when deeply involved in study he forgot a Christmas dinner for 10 12 confreres. In the event John was to make a notable contribution to the building up of catholic education in Nigeria. As an educationalist he was always experimenting with techniques and theories. His views on religion were also progressive and anticipated many of Vatican ll's insights. He was one of the very few members of the Province who fully understood Logic (studied at Kilcolgan). But he never used his knowledge in debate. John was especially interested in drama, and as a result many fine plays were staged in the beautiful Assembly Hall in St. Leo's, and in the other institutions where he taught.

He is buried in the S.M.A. plot, Freemantle, Australia.