Société des Missions Africaines – Province d’Irlande

 lindon Le Père Thomas LINDON
né le 22 juillet 1933
dans l’archidiocèse d’Armagh (Irlande
membre de la SMA le 2 juillet 1953
prêtre le 7 avril 1957
décédé le 25 décembre 2004 
 1957-1961 Rome, études supérieures
1961-1967 grand séminaire d’Ibadan, professeur

1968-1969 Cambridge, études
1969-1973 diocèse d’Ibadan
1973-1978 Cork, conseiller provincial
1978-1979 Londres, université, études
1980-1988 diocèse d’Ibadan
1988-1989 Rome, année sabbatique
1989-1990 séminaire de Gbarnga (Liberia), professeur
1990-1995 séminaire de Makeni (Sierra Leone) professeur
1996-1999 séminaire de Lusaka (Zambie), professeur
1999-2001 Coimbatore Louth, Irlande, retiré
2001-2004 Black Rock Road, retiré
décédé le 25 décembre 2004 à Cork (Irlande)à l’âge de 71 ans

Father Thomas Christopher LINDON (1933 - 2004)

Thomas Christopher Lindon was born in the District Hospital, Ardee, in the county of Louth, in the Archdiocese of Armagh, on 22nd June 1933.
He died in St. Theresa’s Nursing Unit, SMA house, Blackrock Road, Cork, on 25th December 2004.

Thomas (Tom) Lindon was one of seven children (four girls and three boys) born to Thomas and Mary Theresa (nee Watters), who lived on Green Road, Louth, near Dundalk. Tom entered the Society’s Sacred-Heart College, Ballinafad, Co Mayo, in 1946 and completed his secondary studies in the senior-cycle college of St. Joseph, situated at Wilton, Cork. Tom was described by his teachers as an ‘above average’ student, and his Leaving Certificate results in 1951 confirmed that report. In the autumn of that year he entered the Society’s novitiate and house of philosophy at Kilcolgan, Co Galway. Two years later, in 1953, he commenced his theological formation in the Society’s seminary at Dromantine, Newry, Co Down. Tom was received as a member of the Society first on 2nd July 1953. He became a permanent member on 11th June 1956. Tom was one of four members of his class who were too young to be ordained at the usual time of Christmas. Eleven of his class were ordained in St. Colman’s cathedral by Bishop Eugene O’Doherty of Dromore diocese, on 18th December 1956. Tom, along with Aidan Anglin, Seamus Gallagher and Billy O’Sullivan, was ordained in the college chapel at Dromantine, by Bishop O’Doherty, on 7th April 1957. On the following day he celebrated his first Mass in his parish church at Louth, served by his brothers John and Michael.

After his ordination Tom was sent to Rome for post-graduate studies, reading for a Doctorate in Divinity from the autumn of 1957. Studying at the Gregorian University, he was awarded a Licentiate in Theology in 1959 and a Doctorate degree in 1961. His doctoral thesis was entitled ‘The Interrelations of Faith and Sacrament in the Justification of Man according to Cajetan’. Next he was appointed to the staff of SS. Peter and Paul’s Major Seminary, Bodija, Ibadan, an inter-diocesan seminary serving much of southern and western Nigeria. Tom was to serve continuously in this seminary until June 1967 when he was posted as Professor to the Society’s major seminary at Dromantine. In the autumn of 1968 Tom took a well-earned sabbatical leave, spending a year at Cambridge university, residing in St. Edmund’s House. He then returned to the diocese of Ibadan where he took up the post of Director of Religious Education, residing in Elete parish. From May 1970, in addition to his Religious Education work, Tom took charge of Eleta parish.

Sent by his Ibadan confreres as a delegate to the Provincial Assembly of 1973, Tom was elected at that Assembly to the incoming Provincial Council. He was to serve in this capacity until July 1978. His special responsibilities as a councillor related to Missionary Training and Formation. In particular he organised very successful summer-schools for confreres. He also was charged with the constitution and chairmanship of an Editorial Board for the African Missionary. In addition he represented the Society in the Catechetical Committee of the I.M.U. and presided over a number of Religious Conferences in Nigeria. At the conclusion of his mandate as Councillor he went to London University where he acquired a Masters degree in Area Studies (Africa), awarded on 16th January 1980. He then returned to Ibadan diocese where he was to serve for the next eight years.

Back in Nigeria Tom was engaged in pastoral ministry until 1983 when he was elected ‘Society Superior’ for Ibadan diocese. This was a post similar to that of the Regional Superior or Visitor of earlier years, making the incumbent responsible for the physical and spiritual welfare of his confreres. At the end of his mandate, three years later, Tom returned to pastoral ministry. In 1988 he went on sabbatical leave, studying in Rome. His intention was not only to reflect on his ‘grassroots experience since 1980 in the context of African Studies’, but also to update his theological training so that he could be a more effective teacher of students for priesthood. At the end of his sabbatical, in September 1989, he duly came to Gbarnga diocese, Liberia, to lecture in St. Paul’s Major Seminary. He took on a heavy work load, teaching at various times courses in Patrology, Scripture, African Religions, Cultural Anthropology and Church History. With the outbreak of the Liberian civil war the situation for the seminary became perilous, as can be seen from a letter written by Tom at that time: ‘The situation has got much worse in the past few days and there have been a number of serious incidents on the road between Ganta and Gbarnga… It is now evident that this town is likely to be soon in the middle of the crisis and that it would be a dangerous place for students.’ It came as no surprise when in August 1990 the seminary was transferred to Makeni, Sierra Leone. Tom was to serve in this seminary until 1995, when it was closed because of political unrest and the outbreak of civil war in Sierra Leone.

Keenly interested in African studies 1990 saw the publication of Tom’s article in the Journal of Religion in Africa, titled ‘Oriki Orisa: The Yoruba Prayer of Praise’ (XX, 2 [1900]). Later, in the middle of his exile in Makeni, he made plans to visit Nigeria ‘to see some of Kevin Carroll’s books and notes on Yoruba culture’. And in January 1995 after his return from a tense and deeply troubled Sierra Leone, he worked for a period in the SOAS and Missionary Institute Libraries. In the former institute he renewed his acquaintance with his old Professors, Richard Gray (Professor of African History) and Humphrey Fisher (Professor of the religious history of pre-colonial Africa). Tom continued to remain in close touch with events in Sierra Leone and received some heart-rending accounts of the devastation then taking place, written by African correspondents (now preserved in the SMA Archives at Blackrock Road). Unable to return to war-torn Sierra Leone, he requested a similar teaching post elsewhere in Africa. His superiors posted him to Zambia’s major philosophical seminary, at Mpima, near Kabwe. Here he took on the onerous task of Dean of Studies.

Tom’s health first began to give cause for concern in 1997 – he suffered from exhaustion and debilitation. However he was determined to remain active and he struggled to stay at his post in Zambia. He returned to Ireland during the Summer and Autumn of 1999 to assist his sister, Sr. Monica SSL, in nursing another sister, Julia, who was extremely ill. Shortly afterwards his own faltering health deteriorated to the extent that he was compelled to retire. After a year living at home he came to the SMA house at Blackrock Road in September 1999 for medical attention. He was to spend his last years at Blackrock, in St. Theresa’s Nursing Unit.

Tom enjoyed a sing-song and party get-together and could always be relied on for a humorous party piece. He also possessed an excellent sense of humour, gentle and benign in character. During his years in Ibadan he was a very faithful participant in the weekly tennis game at the Regional house. In his work he was a good administrator. But above all his talents were in the academic field. His contribution to the Society’s work resided particularly in his scholarship, the imparting of that scholarship to seminarians and seasoned missionaries and the bringing of his keen intellect to bear on the many areas of responsibility given to him as Provincial Councillor and Society Superior. He was survived by his brothers, John and Michael and sisters, Mary, Sister Monica

He is buried in Wilton Cemetery.