Société des Missions Africaines –Province d'Irlande

LUPTON John né le 27 janvier 1888 à Newry
dans le diocèse de Dromore, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 30 octobre 1912
prêtre le 24 juin 1915
décédé le 23 avril 1969

1915-1916 Wilton, professeur
1916-1918 aumônier militaire
1918-1920 missionnaire au Liberia
1921-1923 missionnaire au Liberia
1924-1925 responsable de "The African Missionary"
1925-1930 missionnaire au Nigeria
1931-1938 Dromantine, professeur
1938-1946 missionnaire en Egypte, supérieur
1946-1948 Blackrock Road, Cork, animation
1949-1959 aumônier militaire, Suez, Chypre, Allemagne
1959-1968 aumônier, Shorncliffe, Grande-Bretagne
1968-1969 retiré

décédé à Cork, Irlande, le 23 avril 1969,
à l'âge de 81 ans

Father John Francis LUPTON (1888 - 1969)

John Lupton was born in Newry, Co Down (the family address was 54 Queen Street), in the diocese of Dromore, on 27 January 1888. He died at the Bon Secours hospital, Cork, on 23 April 1969.

John came from a prominent business family in Newry. His father, Charles, was a coal merchant and insurance agent, who died aged 36 years, leaving behind a wife and two young sons. John studied at the Dominican college, Newbridge, Co Kildare, and also spent time with the Xavarian Brothers at their college in Mayfield, Sussex, before coming to St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork, in 1909. He studied philosophy and theology at St. Joseph's seminary, Blackrock Road, Cork (1910 1915), and was admitted to the Society on 30 October 1912. John was ordained a priest in St. Joseph's church, adjoining the seminary, by Bishop Daniel Cohalan, auxiliary bishop of Cork, on 24 June 1915. He was one of a group of five ordained on that day.

John was ordained at a time when the Irish Province (formed in 1912) was finding its feet. Numbers of priests were low, hardly thirty; responsibilities at home and in Africa were great. One of the difficulties was to find suitable staff for the various Irish colleges to which significant numbers of students were now flocking. John was assigned to the secondary school at Wilton immediately after his ordination. Doubtless his superiors would have liked him to remain there for a number of years. However John had a restless temperament and a love for adventure and he was not to be denied. After a year in Wilton he volunteered as an army chaplain and was assigned to the Near East, where he served until the end of the first world war. For the next two years (1918 1920) John worked as a missionary in Liberia, joining a staff of seven young Irishmen led by Mgr. Jean Ogé, an Alsatian member of the Society. On his arrival in Liberia in August John was appointed to Grand Cess station on the Kru Coast, where Joseph Crawford was superior. Six months later, with the transfer of Fr. Crawford to New Sasstown, John became superior at Grand Cess. Early in 1920 he was transferred to Old Sasstown. In August of the same year John fell ill with anaemia and had to be sent to Ireland.

In May 1921, after making a good recovery, John was re assigned to the Benin vicariate in south western Nigeria. He was one of three Irish Fathers serving in the vicariate at that time. Bishop Ferdinand Terrien, the vicar apostolic, appointed him to Ijebu Ode district, where Alphonse Wolff was superior. A year later John took up residence at Atikori, a mission near Ijebu Ode which had been founded in 1915. At the same time Bernard van Leeuwen took over as superior in Ijebu Ode. In August 1923 the acting 'visitor' (responsible for the welfare of the confrères), Francis Weiss, reported to the Irish Provincial: 'It is my duty a sad one indeed to inform you that Rev. Fr. Lupton has been knocked down by a severe attack of "blackwater". This happened on the 11th or 12th of August. On the 13th Rev. van Leeuwen sent a wire to me asking for medical help. At once I saw the doctor here who motored to Oru at a distance of five miles from where Rev. Lupton was lying on his sick bed. They brought him by hammock to the road where a motor lorry was waiting for him. The doctor judged however that the state of Rev. Lupton would not allow him to be transported to Ibadan, the distance being 36 miles, so he was brought to Ijebu Ode only 9 miles from the spot. The doctor spent the night and the following day with Rev. Lupton and made all arrangements to have him removed from Jebu Ode to Lagos government hospital. On his return to Ibadan the doctor told me that Rev. Lupton was "out of danger" but he added that he thought that the Lagos doctors will order him home'. John was indeed sent home, sailing on 23 October.

John had a talent for writing and during his years in the army and in Liberia he was a frequent contributor to the African Missionary, the Province's magazine. In 1924, after recovering his health, he became editor of the magazine and, a year later, was appointed its 'Travelling Correspondent for Western Nigeria', a post which suited his talents ideally and which he pursued with vigour until May 1930. He also reported on behalf of Propaganda Fide's Agentia Fides. Between 1931 1938 John taught sacred scripture in the Society's theological seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down. John's next appointment was to the vicariate of the Nile Delta, in Egypt, where he served as superior of his Irish colleagues until 1946. The Egyptian mission had been originally opened by French members of the Society in 1877. Irish members went there over the years to assist in the education apostolate. In 1936 the Irish Province took responsibility for staffing the vicariate's 'English language' schools.

When John arrived Irish members were teaching in St. George's college, Choubra, which had been established by the French. During his own tenure as superior, John transferred St. Austin's intermediate school, which had been opened by John Prendergast in 1937, to a new location (Sharia Boutros Pasha Ghali, Heliopolis) and developed it into a full secondary college. Also, with the help of the British Council (which was the proprietor) John established St. Paul's school, 72 Rue Sidi Abil Dardaa, in Alexandria. John supervised the management of the three schools, appointing the headmasters and assigning confrères to each. During the war years he also acted as an officiating chaplain in Cairo, visiting the military hospitals and helping, among other things, to notify families when servicemen died. During these years too he ministered not only to Europeans but to the East African troops stationed in Egypt.

In 1946 John returned to Ireland and spent the next two years attached to the Province's Blackrock Road headquarters. Then, for the second time in his life, he became a full time army chaplain. He was to serve most of the remaining years of his life with the British army. He was posted to Northern Ireland in May 1949, to Suez in June of the same year, and to Cyprus in January 1953. In February 1953 John was sent to the British Military hospital at Fayid, M.E.L.F. 17, suffering from severe anaemia. After a period of convalescence and a return to duties in Cyprus, he was re assigned to army duty in England from June 1954; two years later he commenced a 3 year tour of duty in Germany. Finally, after his commission had expired, from 1959 1968, he served as officiating chaplain, at Shornecliffe Garrison, Kent (1959 1968). He spent the last year of his life retired at Blackrock Road.

Living to 81 years, John was a man endowed with a very active and incisive intelligence and a great curiosity about life in all its facets and expressions. He had a gift for languages and was a talented painter. The archives of the Irish Province contain several scholarly manuscripts on African topics, linguistic, historical, and anthropological, compiled by John. Widely travelled and possessing a fund of information, John was ever ready for a lively discussion. He was a man who was naturally the focus of interest and attention in every gathering.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.