Société des Missions Africaines –Province d'Irlande

HUGHES Thomas né le 1er décembre 1904 à Belfast
dans le diocèse de Down & Connor, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 8 juillet 1927
prêtre le 7 juin 1931
décédé le 1er septembre 1987

1931-1935 missionnaire au vicariat du Bénin
1936-1937 Wilton, études supérieures
1937-1944 Dromantine, professeur
1944-1948 Kilcogan, professeur et conseiller provincial
1948-1950 Blackrock Road, Cork, animation missionnaire
1950-1987 Dublin, hôpital, malade

décédé à Dublin, Irlande, le 1er septembre 1987,
à l'âge de 82 ans

Father Thomas O'Rourke Francis HUGHES (1904 - 1987)

Thomas O'Rourke Hughes was born in Belfast (the family address was 40 Beechmount Parade, Falls Road), in the parish of St. Matthew's, in the diocese of Down and Connor, on 1 December 1904. He died at St. Patrick's hospital, James' St., Dublin, on Tuesday, 1 September 1987.

Thomas (Tom) studied at the Sacred Heart college, Ballinafad, Co Mayo (1921 1922) and St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork (1922 1925). Having matriculated he entered the S.M.A. novitiate and house of philosophy at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, and two years later, on 8 July 1927, he was received as a member of the Society. He studied theology in the Society's seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down, from September 1927, and was ordained a priest by Bishop Edward Mulhern of Dromore diocese, at St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, on 7 June 1931. He was one of a group of twelve ordained on that day.

After ordination Tom was appointed to the vicariate of the Bight of Benin, then an immense jurisdiction in south western Nigeria which subsequently, in 1950 (after many subdivisions) became the archdiocese of Lagos. Tom's arrival, in October 1931, occurred one year after the appointment of Francis O'Rourke as vicar apostolic and the transfer of responsibility for the jurisdiction from the French to the Irish Province of the Society. Tom's first appointment, given to him by Bishop O'Rourke, was to Ibadan where he studied Yoruba and was introduced to the missionary life. After three months Tom was appointed to the staff of St. Gregory's college, Ikoyi, Lagos. This college, originally founded in 1877 as an elementary school with a section for training elementary teachers, became a fully fledged secondary college in 1928, under Leo Hale Taylor (later first archbishop of Lagos). Tom joined a staff led by Jim Saul and which included Jim Ward, Tommy Moran and ten African masters. There were 180 pupils in the secondary school and 45 students in the teacher training department.

On his return for his first home leave, in December 1935, Tom's superiors sent him to U.C.C. to acquire a university qualification, doubtless with the intention of returning him to St. Gregory's. However his studies were interrupted after a year when his superiors, seeking a spiritual director for the seminary at Dromantine, appointed him to this responsible post. Martin Lavelle was superior of the seminary and also professor of dogmatic theology. Other members of staff were John Cadogan, John Murphy, John Lupton, Michael McCaffrey, Michael McEniry and Brother Gerald Collins. There were seventy students in Dromantine receiving their theological training in a four year cycle. Tom so impressed in the discharge of his duties that, in 1944, he was assigned to an even more responsible post, namely that of novice master at Kilcolgan. Nor did it come as any great surpass when he was elected by his colleagues as delegate for Kilcolgan and Ballinafad to the 1946 Provincial Assembly, where he was appointed councillor to the new Provincial, Dr. Patrick Kelly.

However at this point in his life the symptoms of a tragic illness became manifest and he was forced to relinquish his heavy duties in the novitiate and resign his councillorship. In the hope of some improvement he was brought to the S.M.A. house at Blackrock Road, Cork, in 1948, and given some work there in the promotion office. However his condition worsened and he was to spend the remainder of his life, a period of some 37 years, confined to hospital, first to the St. Edmundsbury branch of St. Patrick's hospital, situated in Lucan, Co Dublin and, from 1967, to the James Street branch. Tom responded well to treatment and almost every summer and Christmas he spent time with his brother and family in Ballyvoy, Ballycastle, Co Antrim. In June 1953, with the consent of his doctors and superiors, he was well enough to assist Fr. Vincent McNabb, parish priest of Culfeightrin, Ballycastle, for some weeks.

In November 1954 Tom suffered a mild attack of poliomyelitis and was treated for a period in the Richmond hospital. He made a good recovery and after a period of convalescence returned to St. Edmundsbury. Over the years he went on two pilgrimages to Lourdes and on one occasion, accompanied by his brother, went to England where his niece made her profession as a religious. In the mid 1960's it was thought that Tom might be well enough to take on a chaplaincy and both his superiors and doctors encouraged him to consider this proposal. However Tom had his own ministry within the confines of the hospital and was reluctant to venture outside its walls. In 1976 the Provincial Council suggested he come to live in Dromantine or Blackrock Road, but again Tom preferred to remain in St. Patrick's. Tom was keenly interested in the affairs of the Society and appreciated receiving newsletters and Society literature. He developed his own ministry of prayer for the missions. Tom was in failing health for some months before his death. When Tom died he was the last surviving member of his family, having been predeceased by his brother. He was also the last surviving member of his ordination group.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.