Société des Missions Africaines – Province d'Irlande

kyne stephen né le 31 décembre 1872
dans le dans le diocèse de Tuam (Irlande)
membre de la SMA le 18 juin 1892
prêtre en 1896
préfet apostolique le 1906-1910
décédé le 30 janvier 1947

1896-1906 missionnaire en Egypte

1906-1910 préfet apostolique du Liberia
1910 pro provincial d’Irlande
1912-1913 premier provincial d’Irlande
1913-1920 Lyon, 150, professeur, droit canon et anglais
1920-1931 Irlande, directeur spirituel
1931-1937 conseiller provincial
1937-1947 Irlande

décédé à Cork, Irlande, le 30 janvier 1947,
à l’âge de 74 ans

(biographie en anglais à la suite)

Monseigneur Stephen KYNE (1872 - 1947)

Le 30 janvier 1947, à Cork, en Irlande, retour à Dieu de Monseigneur Stephen Kyne, ancien préfet apostolique du Liberia et ancien provincial, à l'âge de 74 ans.

Stephen Kyne naquit dans le diocèse de Tuam (Irlande), le 31 décembre 1872. Il fit ses études à Cork, à Lyon et à Choubrah, en Egypte. Ayant émis le serment en 1892, il est ordonné prêtre en 1896. Il resta en Egypte, où il travailla à Tantah, puis à Zifta. Très doué, il devint vite un arabisant remarquable. Le père Duret le choisit comme conseiller. Dès 1904, on avait songé à lui comme préfet apostolique du Haut Niger (préfecture qui ne fut jamais créée); en 1906, il est nommé préfet apostolique du Liberia, mission parmi les plus difficiles, abandonnée des autres Sociétés missionnaires et que le père Planque venait de demander et d'obtenir.

En 1910, Mgr Kyne est rappelé en Europe pour prendre en charge l'œuvre des Missions Africaines en Irlande. C'était en effet un homme surnaturel, d'une grande prudence et d'une grande modération, en qui les supérieurs de la Société pouvaient avoir toute confiance.

En 1912, Mgr Kyne devenait le premier provincial d'Irlande. Mais le père, en raison de son tempérament, n'était pas fait pour occuper les premières places. Timide, il se défiait trop de lui-même, ce qui l'empêchait de prendre les initiatives pour lancer la nouvelle province. Dès l'année suivante, il laissait sa place au père Slattery et était nommé à l'assemblée générale de 1913 conseiller de Mgr Pellet. Restant désormais à Lyon, il assura, au grand séminaire, les cours de droit canon et d'anglais.

En 1920, il retournait en Irlande où il continuait à servir la Société comme directeur spirituel dans les écoles apostoliques et comme conseiller provincial, de 1931 à 1937. Il eut sur les futurs missionnaires une heureuse et fructueuse influence.

Bishop Stephen KYNE (1872 1947

Stephen Kyne was born on 31 December 1872 at Togher, Hollymount, Co Mayo, in the archdiocese of Tuam. He died at St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork, on 30 January 1947.

Stephen studied in the colleges of the Society. He was a student in the apostolic school at Blackrock Road, Cork, between 1887-1890. He studied philosophy and theology at the S.M.A. seminary in Lyon, France, between 1890-1894. He completed his theological formation in the society's seminary at Choubra, near Cairo, Egypt (1894-1896). Stephen was received as a member of the Society in Lyon on 18 June 1892. He was ordained a priest in the seminary chapel at Choubra on 17 May 1896. The ordaining prelate was Guido Corbelli, bishop of Peluse and vicar apostolic of Egypt.

During his student days in Egypt Stephen was on the teaching staff of St. Louis' secondary college, Tantah. After ordination he continued on at Tantah, becoming director of students in the 'Free-school', which was attached to the fee-paying college and which catered for the poor. During this time he learned to speak Arabic. In 1900 he became superior of the mission of Zifta (a station on the Nile, where the O.L.A. sisters had a boarding school and day school, and where S.M.A. priests convalesced), a post which he occupied until 1906 when he was appointed prefect apostolic of Liberia. At that time Liberia was considered perhaps the most difficult of the Church's West African missions. Earlier attempts to establish a mission there by other missionary societies had failed. The mission had now been confided to the S.M.A. and Stephen was nominated to lead the first expedition. Doubtless his appointment was related to his performance as a councillor to the prefect apostolic, Mgr. Duret, during his time in Egypt. Stephen spent four years in Liberia where, in the face of the greatest difficulties, he succeeded in firmly rooting the Church, establishing stations at Kekrou and at Kakata. Confronted with the death of colleagues, the constant companionship of illness, deprivation and isolation, the hostility of Protestant missionaries and the indifference of the population, he was to provide a superb model of missionary evangelisation for his successors.

Stephen's recall to Ireland as superior of the Irish branch of the Society, in 1910, was as unexpected as it was unwelcome. In that year a decision had been made by Propaganda Fide to erect the Irish branch of the Society into a full Province. However, the founder of the Province, Joseph Zimmermann, was to be withdrawn from Ireland because of differences with Society superiors in Europe - among other things it was felt that Fr. Zimmermann was too autonomous in outlook. His recall had led to disaffection within the branch. Moreover many of the Society's supporters including bishops, clergy and laity - who greatly admired Fr. Zimmermann - now withdrew their support. Those bishops who were involved in the financial administration of funds collected to support the new Province became unhelpful. A particularly urgent problem facing the Irish branch was the fate of the apostolic school at Wilton where staff and students had gone into revolt against Society authority.

These were the circumstances in which Stephen was called upon by his superiors to take charge of the Society's Irish branch and to be its first Provincial superior. He assumed responsibility as pro-Provincial in 1910 and was formally appointed Provincial on 12 July 1912. A year later, on 26 August 1913, he resigned in broken health. No doubt the years spent in Liberia had taken their toll. It is recorded that on his return from Liberia Stephen was 'a worn-out missionary, spending weeks and months in the South Infirmary hospital with fevers'. But above all there was the strain of dealing with the immense difficulties of the fledgling Province. By the time he resigned Stephen had succeeded in re-opening the apostolic school. He had also taken steps to recover control over the Province's finances and in eliminating debts. There was the joy too of seeing the first ordinations for the Province and the dispatch of missionaries to Liberia which was entrusted to the care of the Province as its first mission. Moreover he had already ensured that the future of the Province would be in good hands; for shortly after his arrival in Cork, and realizing that his stay would be short, he had written to the Superior General, Bishop Paul Pellet, requesting the assistance of a young S.M.A. priest who he had known in Egypt - Maurice Slattery. Fr. Slattery proved an able successor as Provincial.

In the latter months of his Provincialate Stephen went to La Croix in France, hoping to recover. However when it was clear that he would be no longer fit to continue, and having submitted his resignation, he took up an appointment as councillor to the Superior General at Lyon, where he also taught English in the seminary. Stephen is remembered as a 'very entertaining professor' ... a brilliant linguist who 'made his classes interesting by the comparisons he was able to make with other languages'. At the end of the first world war Stephen was anxious to return home and was able to fulfil his wish in 1919 when he took up an appointment in the brothers' novitiate at Kineurry, near Westport, Co Mayo.

Stephen was next assigned as spiritual director to the Province's theological seminary at Blackrock Road. When the seminary was transferred to Dromantine, Co Down, in 1926, Stephen became spiritual director in the apostolic school at Wilton. An account of Stephen's life by a colleague noted: 'It was as spiritual director that he was most at home and at his best. He used to quote freely from St. Francis de Sales, and was not unlike him in his own mind and manner. He had read very much of the spiritual life, in French and in English. But it was in his personal interviews with the students that he did the greatest good... He completely won their confidence, solved their questions and doubts, and inspired them with the ideals of priestly holiness and missionary zeal. And he did all that in a brotherly, paternal way. He was the ideal "spiritual father"'. In 1930 Stephen was co-opted as a Provincial councillor and was elected to the same position at the Provincial Assembly of 1931. He retired in 1937 and spent the last decade of his life in ailing health at Wilton.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.