Société des Missions Africaines –Province d'Irlande

MORAN Joseph né le 26 décembre 1906 à Stonepark
dans le diocèse de Tuam, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 2 juillet 1929
prêtre le 11 juin 1933
décédé le 29 septembre 1974

1933-1946 missionnaire au Liberia
1946-1951 missionnaire au Nigeria
diocèse d’Asaba Bénin
1952-1974 Salt Lake City, USA

décédé à Cork, Irlande, le 29 septembre 1974,
à l'âge de 68 ans

Father John Joseph MORAN (1906 - 1974)

John Moran was born at Stonepark, Ballyglass, Co Mayo, in the archdiocese of Tuam, on 26 December 1906. He died in Shanakiel hospital, Cork, on 29 September 1974.

John studied at the Sacred Heart college, Ballinafad, Co Mayo (1922 24), and at St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork (1924 27), before entering the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy at Kilcolgan, Co Galway. Two years later, on 2 July 1929, he was admitted to membership of the Society and proceeded to the seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down, for his theological formation. He was ordained a priest by Bishop Edward Mulhern of Dromore diocese, at St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, on 11 June 1933. He was one of a group of nine ordained on that day.

John served in Liberia, arguably the most difficult of the Society's missions in West Africa, from 1933 1946. On his arrival, in October 1933, John Collins, the prefect apostolic of Liberia (he was to become a bishop in 1934 when Liberia was erected as a vicariate), assigned John to the mission of Cape Palmas on the Kru Coast. This part of Liberia, far distant from Monrovia, the capital, was inaccessible by road, and was reached only by sea or by walking almost two hundred miles along the beach. Patrick F. McKenna was superior of Cape Palmas station which had been founded three years earlier and which had some 50 Catholics and 50 catechumens, as well as five secondary stations. There was not a single catholic marriage (perhaps the best index of progress) during the four years John spent in this station.

When John returned to Liberia from his first home leave, in March 1939, he was appointed to the district of Sasstown, also on the Kru Coast. This was the largest ecclesiastical district in the vicariate with over 4,000 Catholics and 1,000 catechumens. There were two principal stations, Sasstown (founded in 1911) and Betu (founded in 1914). In addition there were 22 secondary stations. Annually there were between 6 and 12 catholic marriages. John returned to Ireland on home leave in April 1942. It was September 1944 before he could secure a sea passage back to his mission. On his return he was appointed to Monrovia district where he was given special responsibility for the station of Sanequellie located deep in the interior some 150 miles north-east of Monrovia.

Although in his student days John was physically strong and an excellent athlete, his constitution suffered greatly in the tropics and all through his priestly career he was to experience ill health. It was for this reason that in 1946 he transferred to the vicariate of Asaba Benin in Nigeria where medical attention was available. This vicariate had been erected in 1943, under the leadership of Bishop Patrick J. Kelly. In contrast to Liberia, where the progress of the Church was slow, the mid-western region of Nigeria was witnessing a great movement towards the Church at the time John arrived. Bishop Kelly appointed him superior of Onitsha-Olona station, which had been established in 1906 under the patronage of Our Lady of Lourdes. John's assistant was Paul Emecete, Nigeria's first catholic priest, ordained by Bishop Thomas Broderick in Asaba in 1920. John ministered there until January 1950 when he was transferred as superior of Ogwashi-Uku mission. The town of Ogwashi-Uku had been a major centre of resistance to British rule at the turn of the century and, indeed, in 1909 during a violent confrontation, the catholic mission had been burned because the Fathers (unjustifiably) were deemed to have aided the government side. The catholic mission was re-established soon after and went from strength to strength. John did not remain long in this historical catholic centre . Successive bouts of dysentery had so weakened his constitution that he was advised to return to Europe. Back in Ireland his doctors told him that he would never be able to return to the tropics.

In 1951 John went to the diocese of Salt Lake City, in the U.S.A., where he ministered until 1974. He served first in St. Joseph's church, Ogden, Utah. In 1954 he was appointed to St. Vincent de Paul church, Murray, Utah, a quieter parish which suited him better because of his fragile health. In 1966 John was seriously injured in an automobile accident and spent nine months recuperating. When he had recovered he took up a chaplaincy at St. Benedict's hospital, Ogden, where he ministered until his retirement to Cork in July 1974. During this long period in the U.S.A. he maintained a lively interest in the fortunes of the Society, saving every cent he could spare for its missionary projects. Indeed much of the S.M.A. present day missionary effort in South America was financed by money that John Moran collected.

John always looked forward to a long and serene retirement with his confreres at Blackrock Road. In the event he was called by God when he had spent scarcely three months in retirement, when he was still relatively young.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.