Société des Missions Africaines – Province d'Irlande

CLANCY Patrick né le 18 décembre 1918 à Donoughmore
dans le diocèse de Limerick (Iralnde)
membre de la SMA en juillet 1940
prêtre le 18 décembre 1943
décédé le 20 octobre 1945

1945 missionnaire dans le diocèse de Ondo, Nigeria

décédé à Ondo, Nigeria, le 20 octobre 1945,
à l’âge de 27 ans

Le père Patrick Joseph CLANCY (1918 - 1945)

A Ondo (Nigeria), le 20 octobre 1945, retour à Dieu du père Patrick Clancy, à l'âge de 27 ans.

Patrick Clancy naquit dans le diocèse de Limerick, en Irlande, en 1918. Après avoir terminé ses études classiques au collège Saint-Michel de Limerick, il entra au noviciat de Kilcogan. Il fit le serment en 1940 et fut ordonné prêtre en 1943.

En février 1945, il partait pour le vicariat d'Ondo-Ilorin au Nigeria. Dès son arrivée, il s'appliqua à l'étude de la langue et des coutumes, afin d'être le plus proche possible de ses futurs paroissiens. Une fièvre bilieuse vint interrompre son travail, ainsi que les projets que ses supérieurs formaient sur lui.

Father Patrick Joseph CLANCY (1918 - 1945)

Patrick Clancy was born in Donoughmore, Newcastlewest, in the diocese of Limerick, on 18 December 1918. He died of blackwater fever, at Akure, Nigeria, in the Ondo Ilorin vicariate, on 20 October 1945.

Patrick (Paddy) received his secondary education from the Jesuits, at St. Munchin's college, Limerick (1932 1937). In November 1938 he entered the S.M.A. novitiate and house of philosophy at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, taking his oath of membership on 30 June 1940. He studied theology in the Society's seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down, and was ordained a priest, by Bishop Daniel Mageean of Down and Connor diocese, in St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, on 19 December 1943. He was one of a group of twelve ordained on that day.

War conditions prevented Patrick and the other members of his class destined for West Africa from sailing until February 1945. In that month they set out for Africa, accompanied by the Provincial, Stephen Harrington. On arrival in Lagos, Nigeria, Paddy was appointed to the vicariate of Ondo Ilorin, then in the charge of Bishop Thomas Hughes. The vicariate had been established two years earlier, after a division of the old vicariate of the Bight of Benin. The area of the new jurisdiction was 25,950 square miles, with a population of 915,000 of which approximately 350,000 were animists, 300,000 Muslims and 250,000 Christians of various denominations. There were a number of large towns with populations varying from 10,000 to 60,000, including Ilorin, Ondo, Akure, Owo, Ikerre and Ado-Ekiti; but most of the people lived in villages and small towns and made a living from farming, and the production of cocoa, palm oil, palm kernels and cotton for export. The first catholic missionaries had arrived in the area in 1912, but it was only in 1918 that a missionary took up permanent residence coming up from Lagos.

When Bishop Hughes assumed charge of the new vicariate there was scarcely any visible sign of the catholic Church. The territory had been explored by the first groups of residential missionaries, especially by Fathers Wouters, Laugel and Simon in the early 1920's, but intensive missionary work had been impossible for a variety of reasons. It was Bishop Hughes and his small missionary staff who set about changing this situation in a territory that stretched from the southern swamps, through the tropical forest belt and into the beautiful hill country of Ekiti - and on to unknown Borgu.

Paddy came to the vicariate with the hope of being able to make a contribution to this great work, spending his early months learning the local languages and preparing himself for his first assignment. In July he made a retreat at Akure with all the priests of the vicariate and afterwards he was appointed to Ilawe mission. In the second week of October he passed his Yoruba examination entitling him to hear confessions in the local language. However man proposes and God disposes! Within a matter of weeks he took seriously ill, contracting blackwater fever. He died in the mission at Akure, in the presence of the bishop and five of his fellow-missionaries.

Patrick Hughes, the 'visitor' (responsible for the welfare of the confreres) wrote to the Provincial shortly after Paddy's death: 'As you may know he suffered from light fever in July but after treatment by the doctor he got quite well and when he came to the annual retreat he was in the best of form. When the Bishop visited Ilawe on 1 October for confirmations he was surprised at the improvement in his appearance. A few days later Fr. Clancy was in Ado with the Fathers from the other stations. They arrived in Nigeria with him and they were also remarking on his improvement. He had no trouble in passing his Yoruba examination then and was the best of the four examined. On Sunday he was in good form, but on Monday he had fever which on Tuesday was worse. The temperature ran up to 104 and he could not hold down food. There was no doubt of course that it was blackwater fever and the doctor thought it a very serious case.' After Paddy had died Bishop Hughes wrote to the Provincial: ' Fr. Clancy never looked so well as he did a week before being struck down, when I saw him at Ilawe, where I had been for confirmations. He made a great fight for life. Everything possible was done for him'.

Paddy's death was one in a long line since the establishment of the Irish Province in 1912. It is to the credit of the confreres that they never allowed themselves to be discouraged by such calamities. On the contrary, premature deaths were accepted as part of the price to be paid for the evangelisation of Africa. The loss of colleagues drew the members closer together, helping to forge that singular spirit which was to characterise their work and ensure the firm rooting of the Church.

He is buried in Ilawe-Ekiti, Nigeria.