Société des Missions Africaines – Province d'Irlande

skelly laurence né le 28 janvier 1926
dans l'archidiocèse de Dublin (Irlande)
membre de la SMA le 27 juin 1946
prêtre le 14 juin 1950
décédé le 20 janvier 2005

1950-1954 université de Cambridge
1954-1965 archidiocèse de Cape Coast, Ghana
1965-1973 archidiocèse de Lagos, Nigeria
1974-1975 Rome, secrétaire au SEDOS
1975-1976 université de Cambridge
1977-1989 archidiocèse de Dublin, Irlande
1989-1990 Maynooth, Irlande, année sabbatique
1991-1992 paroisse de Wilton, vicaire
1992-1998 Wilton, responsable du bulletin
1998-2003 Wilton, retiré
2003-2005 Cork, retiré

décédé le 20 janvier 2005 à Cork (Irlande)
à l'âge de 78 ans

Father Laurence SKELLY (1926 - 2005)

Laurence Skelly was born in Dublin (the home address was 66 Botanic Road), in the parish of St. Columba, on 28th January 1926.
He died in St. Theresa’s Nursing Unit, SMA house, Blackrock Road, Cork, on 20th January 2005.

Laurence (Larry) Skelly was one of three children (two girls and a boy) born to William Skelly and Georgina Constance (Nee Gerety) of Glasnevin. His mother was a Protestant who became a Catholic on her marriage. Larry received his primary education at St. Canice’s CBS, North Circular Road, Dublin (1932-1938) and his secondary education with the Christian Brothers at O’Connell’s Schools, North Richmond St., receiving an honours leaving certificate in 1944. His first contact with the SMA was through a vocations brochure which he read in 1943. He was interviewed for admission by Fr. Andy O’Rourke. He then entered the Society’s novitiate and house of philosophy, at Kilcolgan, Co Galway. Two years later he was promoted to the Society’s major seminary at Dromantine, Newry, Co Down. He excelled at his studies during his secondary schooling and seminarian years. Larry was first received as a member of the Society on 27th June 1946 and became a permanent member on 12th June 1949. Larry was ordained a priest in St. Colman’s cathedral, Newry, by Bishop Eugene O’Doherty of Dromore diocese, on 14th June 1950. He was one of a group of eleven ordained on that day.

Larry was ordained at a time when the education apostolate was growing rapidly in West Africa, especially in the secondary sector. It was not surprising that, given his excellent academic record during his school and seminary days, Larry was sent to Cambridge University to read History at Downing College. Under the guidance of R.J. White, his tutor (who he greatly admired) he acquired a B.A. degree in 1953 and in the following year took his Higher Diploma in Education. Larry was awarded an M.A. degree in 1956. He was then appointed to the staff of St. Augustine’s College, Cape Coast, Ghana's first catholic secondary school, which had been founded in 1936. He was to teach in this institute until June 1965. In later life he recalled with affection his years there spent with Tony Glynn, Frank Fallon and Pat Murphy. One particularly sad moment came in 1961 when he heard of the death in a road accident near Cape Coast of Paud O’Leary, a thirty-eight year old member of the Society, who had been on the Augustine’s teaching staff from 1954-1960.

In October 1965 Larry was posted to the Archdiocese of Lagos. Two years later he became a member of the staff of St. Gregory’s College, Lagos, Nigeria's first Catholic secondary school opened by Leo Hale Taylor (later Archbishop) in 1928. Larry was to teach in Gregory’s until 1973. For several years he took on the additional duties of Housemaster. Larry represented the Lagos confreres at the Provincial Assembly of 1973. Shortly after the conclusion of the Assembly he received a medical check-up which warranted the advice from his doctors that his return to the tropics should be deferred indefinitely. Some months later his superiors posted him to Rome as Anglophone Secretary to Sedos, the Church’s agency for documentation and research. During the early months of 1975 Larry again fell ill and had to withdraw from his post at Sedos. Realising that he required a prolonged rest, his superiors suggested that he take sabbatical leave for a year. Larry was agreeable and, starting in October, spent the year reading at his old Alma Mater, Cambridge, residing in St. Edmund’s House. He then took up an assignment as curate in Rathmines parish, Dublin Archdiocese.

Larry was to minister in Rathmines until June 1989 after which he took sabbatical leave, spending the year at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, where he read history and theology. During these years he was periodically unwell, but managed to remain active. However finally, in July 1990, he fell seriously ill and underwent major cancer surgery, which included a colostomy, in Beaumount hospital. Making a good recovery he became an assistant priest in the SMA parish at Wilton. Larry’s final appointment was to the Editorship of the Bulletin, a journal which formed an important part of the Province’s ongoing formation programme for its members. The Bulletin contained a wide variety of articles and reviews, focussed on updating and renewal. He produced the Bulletin until April 1998. Larry spent most of his retirement in Wilton, enjoying life there, spending long hours reading, and meeting his many friends, some of whom travelled long distances for his company. Eventually in July 2003, with a deterioration in his health and after a period of hospitalisation, he came to the SMA house at Blackrock Road where appropriate nursing care was available. During 2004 he moved into St. Theresa’s Nursing Unit.

Larry had a rich and varied career in the Society. He was a true Dubliner. It was said by a classmate (Gerry Crowe) that in the leaving certificate history exam Larry got first place in Ireland. Larry continued all his life to read widely in history. He imbued his students with a love of that subject. In St. Gregory’s he was known by the students as ‘Napoleon’, on whom he discoursed in fascinating detail and to whom, especially when walking, he bore a strong physical resemblance. His library was a veritable treasure-trove of history books of the highest quality. His African career was given over to the educational apostolate. As well as teaching he was Housemaster and also produced some plays such as Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of being Earnest which are still remembered with affection by the ‘Old Boys’ of St. Augustine’s and St. Gregory’s. In Rathmines and Wilton he is remembered for the quality of his preaching. His homilies were short, sharp and always to the point. It is said that his spirituality bore a maternal influence, to the extent that he was never a great proponent of devotional practices. Larry was a keen debater and he liked being right. In later life, sometimes, he presented as irascible and, indeed, grumpy. No doubt ill-
health contributed significantly to this. Larry was a man who maintained long and faithful friendships through his life. Many of his friendships were formed in his early school years and survived right to the end.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.