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Société des Missions Africaines - Province d’Irlande
Le Père John Joseph MULLINS

né le 7 mars 1916 à Ennistymon
dans le diocèse de Galway, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 29 juin 1936
prêtre le 17 décembre 1939
décédé le 30 novembre 1992

1940-1968 archidiocèse de Monrovia, Liberia
1969-1976 paroisse sma, Beaconsfield, Australie
1977-1985 aumônier des Petites Sœurs des pauvres
à Glendalough, Australie
1985-1992 retiré chez les Petites Sœurs des pauvres
à Glendalough, Australie

décédé à Glendalough, Australie, le 30 novembre 1992
à l’âge de 76 ans

Father John Joseph MULLINS (1916 - 1992)

Joseph Mullins was born in Ennistymon, Co Clare, in the diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora, on 7 March 1916. He died in the Little Sisters of the Poor nursing home, Glendalough, Western Australia, on 30 November 1992.

Joseph (Joe) was educated in the Christian Brothers school, Ennistymon, between 1929-1934. After taking his leaving certificate he entered the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy at Kilcolgan, Co Galway. Two years later, in 1936, he commenced his theological formation in the Society's seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down. Joe was received as a member of the Society on 29 June 1936. He was ordained a priest by Bishop Edward Mulhern of Dromore diocese, at St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, on 17 December 1939. He was one of a group of seven ordained on that day.

After ordination Joe was assigned to the vicariate of Liberia, in West Africa. This was the first mission entrusted to the Irish Province of the Society on its foundation in 1912. It was also probably the most difficult mission-field for a variety of reasons, not least the poverty of the country and the hazardous climate. Many missionaries died there and many more were invalided home in broken health. Joe was to be one of the longest-serving missionaries in Liberia, working there until June 1968. Joe's first journey out to Liberia was delayed because of the world war. Eventually, in December 1940 he secured a passage from Liverpool and arrived in Monrovia (Liberia's capital) at the end of the month. Bishop Collins, the vicar apostolic, appointed Joe to the Monrovia district. In June 1942 Joe was posted to Sannequellie district, in the interior. The bishop gave him a motor-bicycle which, he told the Irish Provincial, 'will help Fr. Mullins to have frequent communication with Gbarnga (the other mission in the interior), where Fr. Lacey is also alone'. In February 1943 Joe was joined in Sannequellie by Robert (Bob) O'Leary. Joe went on his first home leave in December 1946. He returned to Liberia in January 1948, taking up a new assignment in the district of Sasstown. The principal station of this district, New Sasstown, had been established in 1911 and had grown into the largest mission in Liberia. When Joe came to Sasstown there were three other Fathers, and a catholic community of almost 3,000 members.

In 1950 the vicariate was divided, and the Kru Coast region was detached and erected as a separate jurisdiction with its headquarters at Cape Palmas. Joe remained attached to the original jurisdiction, which was renamed the vicariate of Monrovia. In 1951 Joe was appointed superior of the Monrovia district, which was populated by a variety of tribes and by a large Americo-Liberian ruling elite. Protestantism (often of a virulent, fundamentalist kind) was strong and in the early years - since 1903 - catholic missionaries had found it difficult to make progress. However in the 1930's a concerted effort had been made to establish a strong catholic presence in the capital and by the time Joe took charge there was a catholic community of some 2,000 members and several high quality schools. Joe combined pastoral work with a teaching ministry in St. Patrick's high school, Liberia's first catholic secondary school. Early in 1956 Joe took charge of the district of Owensgrove, formerly an outstation of Monrovia. However in May he fell ill and had to be invalided home to Ireland. Joe returned to his mission in July 1957. He was to remain in Liberia for three further tours of duty, working mainly in the Monrovia district. For a four-year period (1964-1968) he was 'regional superior' for Liberia and Ghana, responsible for the spiritual and material welfare of all his Irish confreres in both countries.

After the 1968 Provincial Assembly the Society took steps to extend to Australia and Joe was among a number of members assigned to that region. Between 1969-1976 he was in charge of the S.M.A. parish, at Beaconsfield, Western Australia. From 1977 he was chaplain to the Little Sisters of the Poor, Glendalough, Western Australia. And it was with the Little Sisters that he spent his years of retirement from 1985.

A colleague who worked closely with him in Liberia gave the following appreciation of Joe, published in the African Missionary: 'He was an extraordinary man with a wonderful outgoing personality and a great sense of humour. Joe had an outstandingly retentive memory which allowed him to talk on any subject and he was welcome in any company. We worked together in Liberia for many years... His commitment to Liberia and its people was total. The local people liked him enormously and felt completely at home with him.'

He is buried in the S.M.A. plot, Freemantle cemetery, Australia.