Société des Missions Africaines –Province d'Irlande

McAULEY William né le 11 juin 1910 à Andersonstown
dans le diocèse de Down & Connor, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 19 juin 1932
prêtre le 21 décembre 1935
décédé le 21 juillet 1981

1936-1965 missionnaire au Nigeria
diocèse de Jos
1965-1967 malade, au repos
1967-1973 au service du diocèse de Down & Connor
1973-1981 retiré chez lui, malade

décédé à Belfast, Irlande, le 21 juillet 1981,
à l'âge de 71 ans

Father William Joseph McAULEY (1910 - 1981)

William McAuley was born in Andersonstown, Belfast (the family address was 34, Vicinage Park), in the diocese of Down and Connor, on 11 June 1910. He died in Foster Green hospital, Belfast, on 21 July 1981.

William (Billy) studied at the Sacred Heart college, Ballinafad, Co Mayo (1926 1927) and St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork (1927 1930) before entering the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, in 1930. Two years later, on 19 June 1932, he was admitted to membership of the Society. He studied theology in the Society's seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down, and was ordained a priest by Bishop Edward Mulhern, of Dromore diocese, at St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, on 21 December 1935. He was one of a group of twenty-one ordained on that day.

After ordination William returned to Dromantine for six months to complete his theological course. He was then appointed to the prefecture of Jos, in northern Nigeria. This jurisdiction had been erected in 1934 under the leadership of William Lumley, although the catholic presence there went back to 1907 when missionaries had first come to Shendam. William arrived at his mission in September 1936. He spent his first six months at Udei/Kafanchan, where Michael Flynn was superior, assisted by Peter Bennett. There were some 45 Catholics and 40 catechumens in the principal station. The Fathers also took care of nine secondary stations, scattered over a wide area, which included Makurdi, today the seat of a diocese. During his tyrocinium, or period of induction, William studied Hausa, learned about African culture and undertook supervised pastoral work. When William had completed his tyrocinium, passed his language examination, and received faculties to hear confessions, he was appointed briefly to Udegin Kassa. Within six months he was back in Kafanchan where he served as superior for the next eighteen months. He spent the last fourteen months of his first tour of duty in Jos, the headquarters of the prefecture. William went on his first home leave in August 1941. During that same first tour he had witnessed the deaths of three colleagues who had been with him in Dromantine, John Marren and Anthony Dwyer, who died in 1937 from yellow fever, and Andrew Geraghty who died in 1940.

William's return to Nigeria was delayed because of the difficulty in getting a sea passage in wartime. Eventually, in July 1943, he sailed for his mission on board the troop-ship liner California. Four days out to sea the convoy was attacked by aircraft and several ships were damaged or sunk. The California suffered a direct hit. Many of the troops on board were killed but all the missionaries survived. They abandoned ship and were rescued by the corvette Moyola, which brought them to Casablanca. There the missionaries, including a number of O.L.A. sisters, were cared for by American soldiers who saw they eventually got to their destinations. There is a photograph in the archives of the Irish Province taken at Casablanca of the party of Irish priests, including William, kitted out in the uniforms of American soldiers.

William reached his mission in August, taking up an appointment as superior in Pankshin, in the south-east of the prefecture. He was joined by Benedict (Ben) Sands, a recent arrival, whose tyrocinium he supervised. Ben was to die in Kwa mission in 1949. William was transferred to Kwa mission, some twenty miles from Shendam, in 1945. Con Clancy was the superior and together they ministered not only to the 800 Catholics and 1,000 catechumens in Kwa and its twenty-three outstations, but also took charge of Kwande mission (in Ankwe territory about 25 miles from Shendam) and its eleven outstations. Their ministry was not made any easier by the fact that a new Sudan Interior mission at Kwolla, situated between Kwande and Kwa, was making every effort to attract away the Catholics.

William went on his next home leave in September 1947. On his return, in March 1949 (he was granted an extension at home on compassionate grounds), he was appointed superior of Pankshin. In August 1950 he received twelve weeks leave to visit Rome for the Holy Year. On his return he resumed his superiorship at Pankshin. William was to serve in the jurisdiction (erected as a diocese in June 1953) until he was compelled to retire through illness in December 1965. During these years he ministered in Jos mission where he was in charge for several years (1954-1960), in Kagoro, in Pankshin and in Shendam.

William was one of the great pioneering missionaries in Jos. He is especially remembered in Pankshin where a secondary school in Balang was named after him - the 'McAuley Memorial school, Balang'. Two years after leaving Nigeria William was strong enough to take up parish work in the diocese of Down and Connor. Following a coronary in December 1973 he retired at home in Belfast. Always a warm, enthusiastic and zealous man, William was most anxious to return to Nigeria, where he had spent so many happy years, and where so much still remained to be done. In May 1979 he was able to make the trip. However, unfortunately within two months his health began to deteriorate and he was compelled to return home to Ireland in July of the same year. He died in Forster Green hospital Belfast.

After his death a colleague gave the following assessment of his life and work: 'Billy McAuley was very zealous in opening up new churches, especially in bringing Christ to places that never had heard the Good News. He regularly visited every station in his vast parish, often on foot. The parish of Pankshin, where he laboured for many years, is now divided into five parishes: Pankshin, Amper, Kabwir, Mongu and Daffo - largely due to his pioneering work. He was very talented in learning languages and he excelled in Hausa. He had a deep understanding of the culture of the people and worked very well with them. He had a special way with people; he got to know them and their problems and they loved him. He had a great sense of humour, which endeared him to the people. He was one of the many great missionaries in our Society'.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.