Société des Missions Africaines –Province d'Irlande

SHEEHAN Jerome né le 12 juin 1894 à Keelovonogue
dans le diocèse de Cork, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 1er novembre 1918
prêtre le 29 juin 1921
décédé le 3 juillet 1981

1921-1922 Cough, directeur spirituel
1922-1923 Wilton, enseignant
1923-1928 missionnaire en Nigeria occidentale
1929-1931 Clough, directeur spirituel
1931-1932 Blackrock Road, Cork, responsable du magazine
1932-1936 missionnaire en Nigeria occidentale
1937-1942 Clough, directeur spirituel
1942-1943 Ballinafad, supérieur
1943-1946 Clough, supérieur
1946-1948 Dromantine, directeur spirituel
1948-1971 Clough, directeur, puis directeur spirituel
1969-1971, retiré
1971-1981 Blackrock Road, Cork, retiré

décédé à Cork, Irlande, le 3 juillet 1981,
à l'âge de 87 ans

Father Jerome Joseph SHEEHAN (1894 - 1981)

Jerome Sheehan was born at Keelovonogue, Pike, Drinagh, Dunmanway, Co Cork, in the diocese of Cork, on 12 June 1894. He died, suddenly, in the mother-house of the Irish Province, at Blackrock Road, Cork, on 3 July 1981.

Jerry studied at the Sacred Heart college, Ballinafad, Co Mayo (1912 1914) and St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork (1914 1916) before coming to St. Joseph's seminary, Blackrock Road, in the autumn of 1916. He completed his philosophy in 1918 and his theology in 1921. Jerry became a member of the Society on 1 November 1918 and was ordained a priest, at Cork, on 29 June 1921. The ceremony took place in St. Joseph's church, adjoining the seminary. The ordaining prelate was Bishop Thomas Broderick, vicar apostolic of Western Nigeria. Jerry was one of a group of ten ordained on that day.

Jerry was to spend much of his life in the home houses and became known to generations of S.M.A. students. Few claim to have ever heard him laughing, but many saw a radiant smile suffuse his face. After ordination Jerry spent a brief period as spiritual director in the novitiate and house of philosophy, at Kilcolgan, Co Galway. He then served as a professor at Wilton, before going Africa in 1923. He was appointed to the vicariate of Western Nigeria, the first jurisdiction in Nigeria to be entrusted to the Irish Province, when Bishop Broderick had been appointed in 1918.

On his arrival, in October 1923, Jerry was assigned to Agenebode district, where Pierre Piotin was superior. Fr. Piotin died on 22 March 1924 and Philip Cassidy became superior. The third priest at Agenebode was Valentine Barnicle. Jerry is credited with having founded in Ivianokpodi, an important secondary station of Agenebode district, St. Martin's minor seminary, an institution which began with six students. Thus Jerry played a key role in helping to train the few young men who presented themselves to become Nigeria's first indigenous priests. In 1926 Fr. Cassidy died and a year later Fr. Barnicle was transferred to Asaba to found the major seminary. Jerry became superior of Agenebode district and was joined by Henry (Harry) Kenny. At this time there were some 700 catholic members in the district as well as 200 catechumens. There were three large secondary stations, Ivianokpodi, Iviukwe and Okpekpe and numerous outstations.

At the end of his first tour of duty Jerry travelled down to Lagos for his ship to Europe on the pillion seat of Val Barnicle's motor-cycle. As they bumped along over the bad road Jerry tugged at his steerman: 'Stop! I think there's something wrong'. There was. One of his feet had been jolted into the spokes of the rear wheel and his toes were badly injured, leaving him with a slight 'drag' on one leg and intermittent pain for the rest of his life. As a result of the accident he was retained at home and became spiritual director to the S.M.A. novices at Kilcolgan remaining at this post until June 1931 when he was appointed editor of the African Missionary.

Jerry returned to Western Nigeria in October 1932, taking up an appointment as superior of Ibusa district. This district comprised the 'parishes' of Ibusa, Ugwashi-Uku, Issele-Uku and Onitsha-Olona. Jerry resided in Ibusa while Fathers Derivan, Burr and Fegan lived in the other principal stations. Jerry remained in charge at Ibusa until he returned to Ireland on leave in 1936. He was then appointed confessor and professor at Kilcolgan. John Levins was superior, Michael Mahony was master of novices, while Edward Harrington taught philosophy. There were 40 students in formation as well as three candidates for the brotherhood. Jerry remained in Kilcolgan until 1942. He was then appointed, successively, superior of Ballinafad (1942 1943), superior of Kilcolgan (1943 1946), spiritual director at Dromantine (1946 1948) and director of students, Kilcolgan (1948 49). He remained on in Kilcolgan, first as confessor and professor and later as spiritual director to aspirants in the 'spiritual year' which was introduced in September 1953 until his retirement in 1969. Jerry spent the first two years of his retirement at Kilcolgan, until March 1971, when he came to Blackrock Road.

In 1981, the year of his death, Jerry celebrated his diamond jubilee of ordination at Blackrock Road along with Bishop Patrick J. Kelly, both surviving members of the 1921 ordination class. Jerry was a first cousin of Stephen and Peter Harrington, and of Patsy and Florence McCarthy, all members of the Society.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.