Société des Missions Africaines – Province d'Irlande

McKENNA Patrick né le 15 février 1889 à Aughyoule
dans le diocèse de Kilmore, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 30 octobre 1912
prêtre le 24 juin 1915
décédé le 4 novembre 1962 

1915-1937 missionnaire au LIberia
vicariat de Monrovia
1937-1952 Blackrock Road, Cork, conseiller provincial
et économe de la maison jusqu’en 1955
1955-1959 missionnaire au LIberia
vicariat de Monrovia
1959-1962 missionnaire au Nigeria
diocèse d’Ibadan

décédé à Cork, Irlande, le 4 novembre 1962,
à l’âge de 73 ans

Le père Patrick Francis MAC KENNA (1889 - 1962)

A Cork (Irlande), le 4 novembre 1962, retour à Dieu du père Patrick Francis Mac Kenna, à l'âge de 73 ans.

Patrick Francis Mac Kenna naquit à Derrylin, dans le diocèse de Kilmore, en Irlande, en 1889. Il fit le serment en 1912 et fut ordonné prêtre le 24 juin 1915.

Quelques semaines plus tard, le père Mac Kenna s'embarquait pour la préfecture du Liberia. Il allait y travailler jusqu'en 1937, année où l'assemblée provinciale d'Irlande le désigna comme conseiller provincial. En même temps, il assura la charge d'économe à la maison de Blackrock Road.

En 1955, le père Mac Kenna retrouvait avec joie le vicariat du Liberia. Après un congé en Europe en 1959, il retournait en mission, mais cette fois au Nigeria, dans le diocèse d'Ibadan.

Il revint mourir au pays natal.

Father Patrick Francis McKENNA (1889 - 1962)

Patrick McKenna was born at Aughyoule, Derrylin, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, in the diocese of Kilmore, on 15 February 1889. He died in the Bon Secours hospital, Cork, on 4 November 1962.

Patrick McKenna (known as 'Black Paddy' to distinguish him from a red haired confrere of the same name) went to St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork, in 1906 and to the Sacred Heart college, Ballinafad, Co Mayo in 1908. He entered the major seminary at Blackrock Road, Cork, in 19 10, where he was received as a member of the Society on 30 October 1912. He was ordained a priest in St. Joseph's church, Blackrock Road, by Bishop Daniel Cohalan, auxiliary bishop of Cork, on 24 June 1915. He was one of a group of five ordained on that day.

A few weeks after his ordination Paddy set out for the prefecture of Liberia, a mission which had been entrusted to the Irish Province of the Society on its formation in May 1912. Liberia at that time was in the throes of a bitterly contested civil war between the Americo Liberian ruling elite and the indigenous population of the Kru Coast. An impoverished country, with a small, thinly scattered population, with few roads, virtually no medical facilities and a remorseless climate, Liberia was perhaps the most difficult of the West African mission fields. Paddy was to play an important part in the evangelisation of that territory.

Working under Jean Ogé, the prefect apostolic, and later, from 1931, under Bishop John Collins, Paddy was to spend twenty six years (some six tours of duty) at his post, an exceptionally long spell in such a mission. On his arrival, in November 1915, Paddy was appointed to the Sasstown district on the Kru Coast, where his superior was John Collins. At this time the district was experiencing severe food shortages because of the world war. The local males traditionally made their living as sailors and the war had virtually brought this to a stop. Moreover there could be no question of food supplies from Europe reaching the missionaries or the people. Reports from the 'visitor' (the Father in charge of the spiritual and material welfare of the members) show that Paddy suffered much ill-health during these early years, so much so that in January 1918 it was decided to send him to the Ivory Coast (Tabou) where he was placed under the care of a French doctor. He made a good recovery and returned to Liberia in March, taking up a new appointment at Betu. However in subsequent years his health was always delicate.

Paddy came to Ireland for his first home leave in March 1919. On his return to Liberia, in January 1920, he was re-appointed to Betu district. This district consisted of two mission stations - the residential station of Betu, founded in 1914, which had a total of 300 Catholics; and the outstation of Wappi, founded in 1922, with some 20 Catholics. Betu, situated in a low-lying area, was an unhealthy mission for Europeans. During Paddy's term of office it was to claim the lives of three young Irish missionaries, Denis O'Hara who died in 1921 (he died in New Sasstown of blackwater fever, contracted in Betu where he was stationed), Francis J. McGovern, who died in 1922, and John Barry who died in 1925. In 1932 this ill-fated town was reduced to the status of a non-residential station (outstation). Paddy was superior of Betu district until June 1923 when he fell ill and had to be invalided home.

After convalescing Paddy was back in Betu early in 1924. In March 1925, after the tragic death of John Barry (probably due to typhomalaria fever), Mgr. Ogé appointed Paddy to the district of Kinekale, also on the Kru Coast, where the principal station (Kinekale) had been opened in 1921 and where there was a flourishing catholic community. Paddy next went on home leave in July 1928, returning to his mission in January 1929. He was now appointed to the district of Grand Cess, one of the larger of the Kru Coast districts, where the principal station had been founded in 1916 and where there were almost 1,500 Catholics. A year later he was transferred to the district of Bassa which had been opened in 1929 by Michael McEniry. The superior at Bassa was Paddy's namesake, Patrick McKenna from Co Armagh. In 1934 Paddy returned to the Kru Coast as superior of Cape Palmas district. At the time Cape Palmas, the largest town on the Kru Coast, had a catholic community of 150 members. Sixteen years later, in 1950, it became a prefecture and in 1981 it was erected as a diocese.

Patrick was elected by his colleagues in Liberia to represent them at the Provincial Assembly of 1937 which was held in Cork. At this Assembly he was nominated provincial councillor to Stephen Harrington, and also appointed house bursar at Blackrock Road. At the Assembly of 1946 Paddy hoped to be released in order to return to Africa and appeared to have gained his wish. However in the following year, with the election of Stephen Harrington (former Provincial and now a councillor) as Superior General, Paddy was co opted to take his place on the Irish council. In 1952, with the appointment of a new administration at Cork, Paddy was assigned to Ballinafad, as confessor and later (from October 1953) to Blackrock Road as bursar.

Although now in his 66th year Paddy's desire to return to Africa remained strong and in 1955 he persuaded his superiors to permit him to go to Liberia. The Liberian jurisdiction had been divided in 1950 with the erection of the Cape Palmas prefecture. Paddy was appointed to the original jurisdiction now renamed the vicariate of Monrovia, and posted to Bassa district. He remained there until 1959, when after a holiday in Ireland, he was re assigned to the diocese of Ibadan in south western Nigeria. Ibadan had been erected as a diocese a year earlier and its bishop, Richard Finn, was looking for additional personnel. On his arrival Paddy was posted to Oke Ado parish in Ibadan city. Paddy fell ill in the summer of 1962 and returned to Ireland where a cerebral tumour was diagnosed. Admitted to hospital in September, he faced his death with exemplary courage and faith.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.