Société des Missions Africaines –Province d'Irlande

McGUINNESS John né en 1928 à Cavan
dans le diocèse de Kilmore, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 30 juin 1949
prêtre le 17 juin 1953
décédé le 6 mai 1981

1953-1957 Cambridge université, études supérieures
1957-1971 missionnaire au Nigeria
archidiocèse de Lagos, secrétaire de l’archevêque
collège Saint-Grégoire, professeur
1971-1972 Blackrock Road, Cork, malade
1972-1973 archidiocèse de Lagos
1973-1978 Blackrock Road, Cork, archiviste provincial
école de la Trinité, professeur
1979-1980 archidiocèse de Kaduna
école Saint-Thomas, Kano

décédé à Mallow, Irlande, le 6 mai 1981,
à l'âge de 53 ans

Father John McGUINNESS (1928 - 2981)

John McGuinness was born in Cavan, in the parish of Urney, in the diocese of Kilmore (the family address given on his entry to the Society's novitiate was: 5 North Avenue, Shenly, Nt. St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England), on 23 October 1928. He died at Nazareth House, Mallow, Co Cork, on 6 May 1981.

John (Johnny) spent much of his early life in Sligo. He studied at Summerhill college, Sligo (1942 1947), before entering the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy, at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, in the autumn of 1947. Two years later, on 30 June 1949, he was received as a member of the Society and went to Dromantine, Co Down, to complete his theological formation. He was ordained a priest by Bishop Eugene O'Doherty of Dromore diocese, in St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, on l7 June 1953. He was one of a group of eleven ordained on that day.

John was an excellent student. He had received good honours grades in his intermediate and leaving certificates and had equally distinguished himself during his seminary training. After ordination his superiors decided to send him for further studies. John read classics at Cambridge University from 1953 1956. After graduating with an honours degree (Classical Tripos) he spent a year taking his diploma in education during which, as a practical requirement, he taught Latin and Greek in the Benedictine school at Downside Abbey. His academic formation complete, John was assigned to the archdiocese of Lagos, in south western Nigeria. On his arrival, in October 1957, he commenced his tyrocinium (induction and initial training) in rural surroundings at St. Mary's mission, Ijebu Igbo, under the direction of John Mooney. John received his first substantive appointment from Leo Hale Taylor, archbishop of the diocese, in June 1958. He was posted to the staff of St. Gregory's college, Ikoyi, Nigeria's first Catholic secondary school, opened in 1928. John went on his first home leave in the summer of 1959. He returned to St. Gregory's in December of the same year, serving in the school until April 1965.

In 1966 John became secretary of the social welfare department of the Catholic secretariat of Nigeria. He also took on the post of secretary to John Kwao Amuzu Aggey, the first African archbishop of Lagos, residing at Holy Cross. These were two substantive and demanding posts. In 1968 he was elected by his colleagues as delegate to the General and Provincial Assemblies held in that year at Rome and Cork. In 1970, weary and overburdened with work, John relinquished his Social Welfare portfolio, but his health continued to deteriorate and in June 1971 he became seriously ill. Following a stay in the Sacred Heart hospital, Abeokuta, he was invalided to Ireland. After treatment and a period of convalescence, in November 1971 John accepted the appointment of Chairman and Organising Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Provincial Assembly of 1973.

In March 1972 Archbishop Aggey died suddenly and John, who had worked so closely with him over the years, requested permission to go to Lagos to attend the funeral. Lawrence Carr, the Provincial, acceded to this request and after the funeral John remained on in Lagos, taking up a temporary post at Apapa. In October John again fell ill and was strongly advised to return to Ireland. He was most reluctant to leave his beloved Lagos and it was April 1973 before he finally departed. After six months sick leave he was ready again to take up an appointment, but not in the tropics. Fr. Carr now appointed him Provincial archivist. A year earlier Bernard Eerden, formerly archivist in the Generalate at Rome, had come to Blackrock Road to introduce the system of cataloguing used in Rome. John was instructed by Fr. Carr to familiarise himself with this new system and then to apply it to the vast store of many unsorted documents held at Blackrock Road. In November 1974 John took on an additional task, the post of Communications Secretary to the Irish Province, responsible for press releases and other uses of the mass media. A month later he was appointed to the editorial board of the Province's journal, the African Missionary. In addition to all these tasks John taught classics at Trinity school, Cork, for a period in 1977.

In December 1977 John requested permission from his superiors to return to Africa. After the Provincial Assembly of 1978 he renewed his request and Con Murphy, the newly elected Provincial, sought a placement for him in the archdiocese of Kaduna. John returned to Nigeria in October 1979, taking up a teaching appointment in St. Thomas secondary school, Kano, where Tom Treacy was principal. However in May 1980 John fell ill once more and was hospitalised at Zonkwa. He appeared to make a good recovery and returned to Ireland on leave in mid July. After six weeks he was back in Kano, only to fall sick once more. This time the doctors feared he had developed cancer and tests on his return to Ireland (in November) confirmed these fears. John lived for a further six months, facing his illness with exemplary courage.

John was 53 years old when he died. An able administrator and wise counsellor, his presence as secretary to Archbishop Aggey was to prove especially valuable during the Nigerian civil war (1967-1970). It was a time when diplomacy, sensitivity and common sense were at a premium and John possessed all these qualities. The help and advice which he gave to the archbishop and to so many others in that tense situation was indeed very great. John will be remembered as a man of great ability, devoted to duty, with a special flair for precision and punctuality. He was a capable organiser, and a staunch defender of the rights of everybody. John's brother, Michael, became a Capuchin priest and ministered in Papua, New Guinea.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.