Société des Missions Africaines –Province d'Irlande

Kelly Martin né le 8 novembre 1904 à Ballinakill
dans le diocèse de Kildare & Leighlin, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 19 juin 1932
prêtre le 14 juillet 1935
décédé le 10 février 1988

1935-1938 Rome, études supérieures
1938-1946 missionnaire au Nigeria, vicariat du Bénin
1946-1952 Cork, supérieur provincial
1953-1967 missionnaire au Nigeria, diocèse de Ondo
1967-1971 Province de Grande-Bretagne
recteur de la maison de formation
1971-1978 diocèse de Shrewsbury (Grande-Bretagne) 
1978-1980 Manchester, paroisse Saint-Augustin
1980-1988 Cleethorpes, diocèse de Nottingham, aumônier

décédé à Cleethorpes, Irlande, le 10 février 1988,
à l'âge de 83 ans

Father Patrick Martin KELLY (1904 - 1988)

Patrick M. Kelly was born at Ballinakill, Co Offaly, in the diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, on 7 November 1904. He died in Cleethorps, South Humberside, where he was chaplain to St. Hugh's convent, on 10 February 1988.

Pat ('Doc') Kelly studied at the Christian Brothers preparatory college, in Marino, Dublin, between 1919 1924, taking his first temporary vows as a religious brother in July 1919. He remained attached to the Christian Brothers by temporary vows until 1929, teaching in a variety of schools, including C.B.S., Sullivans Quay, Cork. This school was one of the centres where S.M.A. students sat their leaving certificate. It is not known whether Pat's contact with these students was a factor; however students who had sat the leaving certificate in June 1930 were amazed to find, when they entered the S.M.A. novitiate at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, in September, that the brother who had supervised their exam was now a member of their class. Having been admitted to the Society on 19 June 1932, Pat was sent to the Irish college in Rome to study theology at the Lateran university. He was ordained a priest in Rome, on l4 July 1935, and remained there for further studies until 1938. We are unsure of the details of his ordination. Most probably it took place in St. John Lateran's basilica and the ordaining prelate was Archbishop Traglia. During his years as seminarian and priest in Rome he acquired a B.D. (Batchelor of Divinity 1934), an S.T.L. (Licentiate in theology 1936) and a D.D. (Doctor of Divinity 1938). He was in fact the first member of the Province to acquire a doctorate in divinity.

After his return from Rome Pat was assigned to the vicariate of the Bight of Benin, in south-western Nigeria, and on arrival in August 1938, he was appointed to St. Gregory's college, the secondary school in Lagos founded l0 years earlier by Leo Hale Taylor. Pat also ministered briefly at Holy Cross, Lagos (the first mission in Nigeria, founded in l868), and in Ondo district. It was at this point, early in 1942, that Pat's skills and experience as an educator were sought by the bishop of another vicariate, for the premier educational establishment of that jurisdiction. The vicariate was that of Asaba Benin (formerly Western Nigeria). The Bishop was Patrick J. Kelly, who had been appointed three years earlier (1939). The educational establishment was the renowned teacher training college founded by Bishop Thomas Broderick at Ibusa in 1928 named after St. Thomas. Pat took up the post of principal of this illustrious college in February 1942, bringing with him not only his extensive experience of teaching but also a highly original philosophy of education which was to prove controversial.

Aware that the vast majority of the children who would be taught by his trained teachers would go no further than primary school, Pat tried to ensure that their teachers would be able to train the children in the practical skills necessary for day to day living, maximising those skills and crafts which already existed in the local area, teaching new skills, and integrating them into an overall vision of a self sufficient and dynamic economic, social, cultural and religious model. This vision he set down in a booklet entitled: Lead Kindly Light which he had printed. He envisaged a Christian village where the products of traditional crafts would be linked with marketing techniques, and where the traditional farming methods would be improved to ensure a healthy diet and sale of excess produce. And there was much more. Departing from convention he sought to augment class work with another form of education, teaching through activity. For example, water was scarce, so he built a dam in the grounds of the college, involving the teachers in the work which was conducted according to local methods and using local materials. Protein was scarce, so he stocked the resulting lake with fish and also bred goats and sheep.

Pat remained at Ibusa until 1945 when his colleagues in the vicariate, impressed by his energy and insight, elected him as their delegate to the Provincial Assembly of 1946. At that Assembly he was elected Provincial Superior, succeeding Stephen Harrington. Pat brought to his task the same qualities that had characterised his work in Ibusa. He had already recognised that in the post war era Nigerian independence could not long be delayed and that second and third level education must be an important priority for both Africans and missionaries. Among the achievements of his administration was the establishment of St. Xavier's University Hall, Doughcloyne, Cork, as a hostel for African students attending U.C.C. Attached to the fine period house (once owned by the Sarsfield family), was a farm of over three hundred acres. He also established Ballinafad as a full secondary college in order that the Wilton college could be converted into a university hostel for student priests. In Africa Pat was anxious to supplement the conventional European models of education with indigenous models. Between March 1948 and January 1949 he conducted a comprehensive visitation of the missions during which he established 'Society works' - based on the experiments already made while he was at Ibusa - at Oye Ekiti and Owo, both in the diocese of Ondo. Weaving and dyeing of traditional cloth, brick and tile firing, paint making from local materials, and wood carving, were carried out in these centres.

In January 1952 Pat resigned as Provincial Superior. As Provincial his great priority had been Africa and this accounts for the extended nature of his visitation of the missions. During his absence complaints about the administration of some of the home houses were brought to the notice of Propaganda Fide and a new Provincial administration was appointed. It is to Pat's great credit that despite the distress he must have suffered at this time, he chose to return to his mission in Africa. In August 1952 he accepted an appointment as superior of the 'Society works' he had founded in Oye Ekiti, and sailed for Africa early in March 1953. Within a year he was to sustain a second blow, when the Society, in consultation with the local bishops in Nigeria, decided to close down the 'scheme'.

One of the principal reasons for this was the cost in maintaining the 'scheme' at a time when the Province's funds were low. Resolute government opposition was also a factor; for there could be no question of government subsidies for a scheme which prized an 'African syllabus' over an European. There was also resistance from ecclesiastical authority towards 'Society works', which appeared to encroach on episcopal prerogatives. Moreover, not everyone shared Pat's vision; and there were many who felt that mission staff would be better deployed in the traditional methods of the apostolate: in the sacramental ministry, in building churches, mission residences, schools and clinics, in training teachers to teach an academic syllabus, in training catechists, and in visiting outstations. With the hindsight of history it may be said that Pat was a man before his time. Many of his ideas were to find expression in the Vatican ll document on the missions (Ad Gentes), which urged the inculturation of the Gospel its rooting in the social, economic, cultural and religious life of those to be evangelised.

With the abandonment of the 'scheme' Pat courageously remained at his post, taking up an appointment in Ondo diocese. He served there for a further ten years making a significant contribution to the development of that diocese. His contribution was chiefly in the area of education and for a number of years he was principal of St. Peter's teacher training college, Akure, and of Notre Dame secondary grammar school, Ushi. In 1966 the British district of the Society was in the process of being formed into a full Province. Experienced members were needed to assist in the transition and Pat was seconded by the Irish Province for this purpose. Two years later, in 1968, he was incorporated as a member of the new Province erected in February of that year. At the first Assembly, also held in 1968, he was elected councillor to the Provincial, Michael J. Walsh. Pat spent the last years of his life as chaplain to St. Hugh's convent, at Cleethorps, South Humberside. However he returned annually to Ireland, always calling to Blackrock Road where he was held in the highest esteem by his colleagues. Pat died in England but was brought home for burial.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.