Société des Missions Africaines - Province d’Irlande

KENNEDY Thomas Brendan né le 24 janvier 1928
dans le diocèse de Kerry, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 1er juillet 1947
prêtre le 13 juillet 1952
décédé le 10 avril 1993

1952-1954 Cork, études
1954-1955 Londres, études
1955-1965 diocèse de Benin City, Nigeria
1965-1972 diocèse de Warri, Nigeria
1973-1978 Rome, généralat
1978-1991 Manchester, province de Grande-Bretagne
1991-1993 Blackrock Road, Cork

décédé à Thurles, Irlande, le 10 avril 1993
à l’âge de 65 ans

Father Thomas Brendan KENNEDY (1928 - 1993)

Thomas Kennedy was born at 31, The Mall, Tralee, in the diocese of Kerry, on 24 January 1928. He died unexpectedly in Thurles, Co Tipperary, on Holy Saturday, 10 April 1993.

Thomas (Tom) studied with the Christian Brothers at Tralee (1941-1945), matriculating before he joined the Society's house of philosophy and novitiate at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, in September 1945. Two years later he entered the Society's seminary at Dromantine, Co Down, for his theological formation. Tom was received as a member of the Society on 1 July 1947. After completing his theological studies Tom went to U.C.C. in 1951 where he commenced studying for a B.A. degree. He was ordained a priest, along with Dermot Healy, by Bishop Cornelius Lucey of Cork diocese, at the Church of the Sacred Heart, Western Road, Cork, on 13 July 1952.

During the period 1952-1954 Tom continued on at U.C.C. spending much of his summer vacations living and working as a chaplain in the Bordeaux region of France. In 1954 he completed his undergraduate academic formation receiving an honours B.A. degree in French and philosophy. Academically Tom was a high achiever with an exceptionally clear and logical mind. He spent the academic year 1954-1955 at London University where he was awarded a post-graduate certificate in education.

Having completed his academic formation Tom was now appointed to the diocese of Benin City in western Nigeria. This diocese, erected in 1950, had originally been part of the vicariate of Western Nigeria, the first mission in Nigeria to be entrusted to the Irish Province (in 1918). In the post-war era Patrick J. Kelly, bishop of the diocese, was energetically developing secondary education in his jurisdiction. On his arrival, in October 1955, Tom was posted to Sapele mission where, under the supervision of the superior, Mick Cavanagh, he learned the local language, studied the local culture and was introduced to the pastoral ministry. Sapele was a well-established mission, with 17 outstations and a Catholic community of some 6,000 members and 2,000 catechumens. However it was inevitable, given his academic qualifications, that Bishop Kelly would assign Tom to the education apostolate before long. Hence, in March 1956 Tom was appointed to the staff of St. Thomas's teacher training college, Ibusa, where Jerry Cadogan was principal. He also served as assistant priest in Ibusa parish. Tom showed himself not only an excellent teacher but also a first-rate administrator. Accordingly, in September 1957, when Bishop Kelly decided to open a secondary school at Ozoro (Notre Dame college), he selected Tom as the founding principal. Tom also served as assistant priest in Holy Trinity parish, Ozoro, which had been established by Bill Breslin in 1953. Three years later in 1960, Tom became founder principal of St. Brendan's secondary school, Bomadi and assistant priest in Bomadi parish.

In 1964 the diocese of Benin City was divided into two, the southern part being constituted the diocese of Warri. Tom was incorporated into the new diocese in 1965, where Bishop Lucas Nwaezeapu, appointed him principal of St. George's secondary school, Obinomba, near Abraka and assistant priest in St. Joseph's parish, Aragba. Tom held these positions until 1972. For a period (1970-1972) he was also chairman of the priests senate in the diocese of Warri.

In 1973 Tom went to Rome to work in the secretariat attached to the General Council administration. In 1978, at the end of his term, he was seconded to the British Province of the Society as Provincial procurator, based at Manchester. During his years in Rome and Manchester, although suffering from ill-health, he brought his formidable administrative and intellectual skills to bear on his work. In Rome he served Joseph Hardy, the Superior General, and his two councillors, John Power and Harrie van Hoof, taking charge of both the French and English language sections of the secretariat. In Manchester he took charge of the British Province's financial management which was noticeably strengthened during his time as procurator. Tom returned to Ireland in poor health in 1991, taking up residence at Blackrock Road. He was travelling by train to Dublin when he took ill and died.

A contemporary who worked with Tom in Nigeria wrote the following lines on hearing of his death: 'Of Tom's eighteen busy and productive years in Nigeria perhaps the most memorable were those from 1960-1965 when he was at Bomadi - a very remote, isolated area in the Niger delta. Working against enormous odds and fortified only by his faith and his own inner strength, he built up and left behind him a thriving school and Christian community'. The same could be said for the spirit in which he carried out all the assignments given him during his priestly career. Tom was younger brother of Michael Kennedy who became a member of the Society in 1950, was ordained a priest in 1951 and served most of his missionary life in the diocese of Ibadan where, like Tom, he was engaged mainly in the educational apostolate.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.