Société des Missions Africaines –Province d'Irlande

MAHON John Thomas né le 21 décembre 1903 à Ballavarra
dans le diocèse d'Ossory, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 28 septembre 1922
prêtre le 23 mai 1926
décédé le 12 juillet 1980

1926-1944 missionnaire en Nigeria occidentale
1944-1945 conseiller provincial
supérieur de la maison de retraite
1946-1952 missionnaire au Nigeria, diocèse de Benin City
1952-1957 conseiller provincial
1952-1953, Clough, supérieur
1953-1957, Clough, économe
1957-1969 missionnaire au Nigeria, diocèse de Benin City
1969-1980 Blackrock Road, Cork, retiré

décédé à Cork, Irlande, le 12 juillet 1980,
à l'âge de 77 ans

Father John Thomas MAHON (1903 - 1980)

John Mahon was born at Ballavarra, The Rower, Co Kilkenny, in the diocese of Ossory, on 21 December 1903. He died in the Bon Secours hospital, Cork, on 12 July 1980.

John was educated at the Sacred Heart college, Ballinafad, Co Mayo (1916 1917) and St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork (1917 1920) before entering the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, in 1920. Two years later, on 28 September 1922, he was received as a member of the Society. He studied theology at St. Joseph's seminary, Blackrock Road, Cork, and was ordained a priest, along with nine colleagues, by Bishop Thomas Broderick, vicar apostolic of Western Nigeria, in St. Joseph's church, adjoining the seminary, on 23 May 1926. He was a member of the last class ordained in Cork from the Blackrock Road seminary which in 1926 was transferred to Dromantine, Co Down.

After ordination John was appointed to the vicariate of Western Nigeria, reaching his mission in October 1926. His first appointment, given to him by Bishop Broderick, was to Ukoni (near Uromi), where he was introduced to the missionary life, studying the local language and learning about local culture. After six months he passed his language examination and received faculties to hear confessions. John's arrival coincided with a decision by Bishop Broderick to establish a major seminary. In 1927 an institution for the teaching of classics was opened at Asaba, under the principalship of Valentine Barnicle. A year later John took charge of this seminary which had nine students studying classics and three studying philosophy. In 1938 the seminary was transferred to Benin City, and was re-located to Ibadan in 1956. For decades this institution, initially named after St. Paul and later known as Saints Peter and Paul seminary, served all dioceses in the south, west and north of Nigeria.

After almost three years in the seminary John was appointed to Ishan district where he was appointed superior of Ubiaja mission. This station, founded in 1908 under the patronage of St. Benedict of Philadelphia, had a catholic community of 540 members and 100 catechumens. There was also a large elementary school and twenty outstations. John remained alone in Ubiaja until he went to Ireland on his first home leave in September 1931. He spent the whole of his second tour of duty (September 1932-November 1937) as superior in Ubiaja. During these years, assisted by John Murphy and, later, Pat Braniff, he built up the station doubling the number of catholic members and catechumens, and establishing seven additional outstations. John was also 'vicar forain' in charge of 'Ubiaja district', which included not only Ubiaja station, but also Ukoni, Agenebode, and Apashu, all large residential stations.

When John returned from home leave in July 1938 he resumed his superiorship of Ubiaja district for eighteen months. Then he was appointed superior of Benin City mission, to where Patrick J. Kelly, the vicar apostolic, had transferred the headquarters of the vicariate. John was appointed pro-vicar of the jurisdiction, acting for the bishop in his absence. He was also appointed vicar-delegatus, acting for the bishop when authorised. In April 1944 John returned to Ireland on home leave. Five months later he was co opted onto the Irish Provincial council on the resignation of Tom Bartley. He was also appointed superior of the large S.M.A. community at Blackrock Road. In January 1945, anxious to return to Africa, John resigned from the Provincial council and returned to the vicariate (which had been re-named 'the vicariate of Asaba Benin' in 1943). He served there as pro-vicar and vicar-delegatus from June 1946 until 1950. During these years he was also superior at Sapele and at Agbor. When the vicariate was erected as the diocese of Benin City in April 1950 John was incorporated into the diocesan staff and appointed vicar general, second to the bishop. Two years later, however he was again recalled to Ireland and appointed Provincial councillor, and superior at Kilcolgan. In the following year, 1956, Kilcolgan ceased to be a house of philosophy and became the 'spiritual year' or novitiate for new aspirants. During this period of transition John acted as house bursar.

John returned to Benin City in May 1957 and ministered there continuously until October 1969 as vicar general of the diocese. During his long career in Nigeria John witnessed an extraordinary flourishing of the Church in the mid-west. With Bishop Kelly, John more than any man, helped to build up and establish the great archdiocese of Benin City, and the three dioceses that have sprung from it, Warri, Lokoja and Issele-Uku. John was a very competent administrator who, as vicar general, took charge whenever Bishop Kelly went on leave. He had a perfect understanding with his bishop. As acting-bishop he spent freely on projects he considered worthwhile, and treated generously those he believed would spend wisely, but had little time for those who spent foolishly. A silent man, of strong views and high standards, he generated staunch loyalty and sometimes strong opposition. John was an elder brother of Phil Mahon who was ordained for the Society in 1932 and who served in mid-western Nigeria, dying in 1952. John's sister joined the St. John of God congregation and ministered in Bunbury, Western Australia under the name Sr. Placidus. Two of his nephews, R. Lyng and J. Lyng, joined the Augustian order.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.