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Société des Missions Africaines –Province d'Irlande

CANNON Joseph né le 28 décembre 1915 à Belfast
dans le diocèse de Down & Connor, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 29 juin 1936
prêtre le 18 décembre 1939
décédé le 24 mai 1980

1942-1944 Etats-Unis, animation missionnaire
1944-1961 Etats-Unis, travail pastoral
1961-1970 Etats-Unis, animation missionnaire
1965-1967 responsable de la revue "African Angelus"
1970-1980 Bangor (Irlande du Nord)
travail pastoral et semi retraite

décédé à Bangor, Irlande, le 24 mai 1980
à l'âge de 64 ans


Father Daniel Joseph CANNON (1915 - 1980)

Daniel Cannon was born at Adela St., Antrim Road, Belfast, Northern Ireland, in the diocese of Down and Connor, on December 28, l9l5.
He died of a heart attack in St. Comgall’s presbytery, at the church of the Holy Redeemer, Brunswick Road, Bangor, Co Down, on May 24, l980.

Daniel (Danny) was one of three children born to Daniel and Ann (nee Hearty) Cannon. He attended St. Patrick’s Christian Brothers primary school before going on to St. Mary’s school - also run by the Christian Brothers – for his secondary education, graduating in June 1934. He came to the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy, at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, in September of the same year. Daniel received his theological formation in the Society's seminary at Dromantine, Co Down (1936 1940). He became a permanent member of the Society on June 29, l936, and was ordained a priest by Bishop Edward Mulhern of Dromore diocese, in St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, on December 17, l939. He was one of a group of seven ordained on that day.

After his ordination Daniel was ill for some time and it became clear that he would not be fit for the rigors of tropical Africa. When he improved he was sent to teach Church History in Dromantine (September 1940-June 1942). Then his superiors decided instead that he should go to work in the Society's American Province. This Province had been erected in March 1941, its membership drawn mainly from Irish and Alsatian Fathers who had been working in African American parishes in Georgia and Southern Illinois, since the early decades of the century. Additional staff was required for the Province's many tasks, for running its seminaries and colleges, for promotion and fund raising, for staffing its existing missions in America and others which were about to be founded both in America and West Africa. The American Provincial, Ignatius Lissner, appealed to Stephen Harrington for assistance. Danny was among twelve priests despatched to America by the Irish Province during the war years. Receiving sailing instructions in mid-December 1942, Danny sailed on the Queen Elizabeth 1 with six confrères, making landfall at New York on the 29th of the same month. When the party reached their destination, Queen of Apostles seminary, Silver Spring, Maryland, Fr. Lissner selected two of the new arrivals for propaganda work, one of which was Pat Donoghue, the other, Daniel. However they were unable to take up this appointment immediately. At the time Fr. Lissner had received many requests from bishops for replacements for priests who had gone to the war as chaplains. Danny spent his first year deputising for one such chaplain. On 29 March 1943 he wrote to Stephen Harrington from St. Mary's church, Little Falls, New York. 'I am up here in place of a curate who has gone to do his bit for Uncle Sam... It is hardly what I joined up for way back in 1934'. He added, more cheerfully, 'America is everything that it's supposed to be. One thing, though, that considerably surprised me was the hospitality of the people. Here they have the Irish people beaten to a frazzle on this score! As for religion those whom I've met so far are simply wonderful in their deep strong faith'.

Danny took up his propaganda post early in 1944 and, by all accounts, was very successful. In 1946 he became a member of the American Province. Some months before joining he had been appointed superior and pastor at St. Peter Claver's mission, Macon, Georgia. This African American parish, founded in 1913, had a Catholic community of 160 members with 20 catechumens, and one school. The Church had made slow progress in the Southern States over the decades, not least because of the attitude of the American Church to the 'Colored Apostolate’, which left much to be desired. Statistics for 1947 at Macon record a meagre 8 'conversions'. In 1950 Daniel was appointed pastor of St. Columba's mission, in Cairo, (near East St. Louis) Southern Illinois. This mission had been founded in 1928 at 412 Fourteenth Street by Peter Harrington. St. Columba's was also a small parish, with less than 200 Catholics and a handful of catechumens. The people of the town, almost all African Americans, were poor and without much prospects. In 1961 Daniel was re appointed to the work of promotion, residing at 4845 Ellis Avenue, Chicago. He continued at this important apostolate until 1965, when he became editor of the Provincial journal, the African Angelus. Two years later he returned to promotion work, residing at Tenafly. For the last decade of his life he lived in semi retirement in Bangor, Co Down, assisting in the church of the Holy Redeemer, at Ballyholme Esplanade.

During the 1940's and 1950's when Danny ministered to African American Catholics in the south, racial and religious prejudices were still incredibly virulent. In some ways Mission work in Georgia was much harder than in West Africa where missionaries were generally welcomed. Nor was the situation all that much better in Southern Illinois. And yet Danny's characteristic good humour and high spirits never deserted him. ‘He lifted people's spirits and showed them the promise of a better life.’

A colleague who knew him well and attended his funeral wrote that Danny was ‘held in high esteem by priests and people both in America and Ireland and he was really loved by young and old. The little church, in which his Requiem Mass was celebrated, was filled as never before and in fact many people could not get in and had to remain in the street outside. About 30 priests were there... Cardinal Tomas O'Fiach met the funeral en route near Dromantine and came on to Crossmaglen. He was a relative of Danny's. After the Cardinal had led the Rosary in the local church, we all accompanied the casket to the cemetery'.

He is buried in Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, Ireland.