Société des Missions Africaines – Province d’Irlande

A Flanagan James né le 1er janvier 1920
dans le diocèse de Down & Connor (Irlande)
membre de la SMA le 1er juillet 1941
prêtre le 17 décembre 1944
décédé le 4 février 2004

1945-1951 vicariat apostolique d’Ondo-Ilorin, Nigeria
1951-1954 Wilton, études universitaires
1954-1963 diocèse de Benin-City, Nigeria
1963-1969 diocèse de Warri, Nigeria
1969-1986 diocèse de benin-City, Nigeria
1986-1994 aumônier militaire
1994-2003 Warrenpoint, retiré
2003-2004 Blackrock Road, retiré

décédé à l’hôpital Sainte-Thérèse, Cork, le 4 février 2004
à l'âge de 84 ans


Father James Alexander FLANAGAN (1920 2004)

James Alexander Flanagan was born in Newington parish, Belfast (the family address was ‘Margreta’, 42 St. James’ Park), in the diocese of Down and Connor, on 1st January 1920.
He died in the SMA house at Blackrock Road, Cork, on 4th February 2004.

James (Jim) Flanagan was one of eight children (four boys and four girls) born to Patrick and Adelade (nee Dougal). He received his secondary schooling in St. Mary’s CBS, Belfast, between 1934-1939. He then entered the Society’s novitiate and house of philosophy, at Kilcolgan, Co Galway. Two years later, in 1941, he commenced his theological studies in the Society’s major seminary, at Dromantine, Newry, Co Down. Jim was first received as a member of the Society on 1st July 1941. He became a permanent member on 17th June 1944. Six months later, on 17th December 1944, he was ordained a priest by Bishop Eugene O'Doherty of Dromore diocese, at St. Colman's cathedral, Newry. He was one of a group of seventeen ordained on that day

After his ordination Jim was appointed to the Vicariate of Ondo-Ilorin in Nigeria. His departure for Africa took place in November 1945, some two months after the end of World War Two. On arrival Bishop Thomas P. Hughes, the Vicar Apostolic, appointed him to Oro mission, a station which had been founded in 1930 under the patronage of St. Andrew. During his first missionary tour of duty, lasing until January 1950, Jim also served in Ilawe, Ondo town and Ekiti.

Jim’s priesthood coincided with a period of rapid development in the Nigerian Mission’s educational apostolate. In the post-war years the colonial government made substantial grants available to voluntary agencies for the building and staffing of secondary schools while missionary bishops saw the school apostolate as particularly fruitful in implanting the Gospel. However, in order to avail of the opportunities afforded by government, graduates were required and so began a drive to have increasing numbers of missionaries acquire third-level qualifications. Jim was one of those selected for the teaching ministry. In 1951, after completing ten months of his second tour of duty, he commenced studies at University College Cork. Three years later he was awarded a B.A. degree, taking honours in Geography and Sociology, with English as his third subject.

Jim returned to Africa in December 1954 taking up a teaching appointment in the Diocese of Benin City. He was to spend much of the remaining thirty years of his missionary life in the teaching ministry, mainly in Benin City diocese but also, between 1964-1969, in Warri diocese (erected in 1964 from a division of Benin City diocese). Among the schools which benefited from his teaching expertise were St. Patrick’s College, Asaba, a school of some 400 pupils where he taught at various times with Fr. Anselm Ojefua, a Nigerian priest, and Frs Anthony McDonagh, Michael O’Keeffe , Joe Stephens and John (Harry) Jones. He also taught in St. Thomas Aquinas Teacher Training College, Ibusa, St. Anthony’s College, Ubuluku, St. Brendan’s College, Bomadi, and in the prestigious Immaculate Conception College (I.C.C.) Benin City, where he served as Vice Principal and Principal and with which his name is most closely associated. Jim’s skill as an educator was recognised by the Nigerian Government which appointed him to various regional and national boards of education. In the institutions where he taught, generations of students were to benefit greatly from Jim’s academic competence and pastoral concern. Among his colleagues he was remembered for his cheerful demeanour, cordiality, urbanity and excellence as a host.

In 1985 Jim went on a well-deserved sabbatical leave, spending a year at the Mission Institute in Dalgan Park, Navan. He visited Nigeria in the following year but, realising that his health was no longer sufficiently robust for the tropics, he returned to take up a new ministry, that of Army Chaplain, attached to the Army Camp at Gormanstown. Jim’s priestly and personal qualities made him eminently suited to this new ministry. A year later, in May 1987, he was transferred to the Curragh Army Camp. Keenly interested in all things African, during this period he also assisted a confrere, Fr. Michael McGrath, in publishing a series of catechetical books. The series, titled Africa Our Way, was authored by Fr. McGrath and Sister Nicole Gregoir. Jim continued to work, as health would allow, until 1994. He ministered mainly in the Army Chaplaincy ministry, in the dioceses of Meath, Kildare and Leighlin and Dublin. Among his placements were Cathal Brugha Barracks, Dublin, Collins’ Barracks, Dublin, Dundalk Barracks, and St. Bricin’s hospital, Dublin.

In September 1994 Jim retired to Warranpoint, Co Down (43 Pinewood Hill), living with his brother. Jim greatly enjoyed his retirement, golfing, playing music – of which he had a great love – and again enjoying nothing more than dispensing hospitality to his many visitors. During these years he remained keenly interested in things African, keeping in touch with people and events through correspondence. Locally he remained active in providing assistance to neighbouring parishes. Eventually, in December 2003, increasing ill-health compelled him to enter St. Theresa’s Nursing Unit at Blackrock Road, Cork. He died unexpectedly on Wednesday, 4th February 2004, at 1.30 a.m.

He is buried in the Society’s cemetery, at Wilton, Cork.