Société des Missions Africaines –Province d'Irlande

Love Alfred né le 14 septembre 1911 à Belfast
dans le diocèse de Down & Connor, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 2 juillet 1933
prêtre le 20 décembre 1936
décédé le 24 février 1975

1936-1975 missionnaire au Liberia

décoré par le président Tubman de la Croix d'Afrique
diplômé de l'université de Chicago, US

décédé à Monrovia, Liberia, le 24 février 1975
à l'âge de 63 ans

Father Joseph Alfred LOVE (1911 - 1975)

Joseph Alfred Love was born in Belfast (Glenleam Drive, off the Antrim Road), Northern Ireland, in the diocese of Down and Connor, on September 14, 1911.

He died at the Liberian Agricultural Company (LAC, a large rubber plantation and farm, originally owned by Uniroyal Rubber Company), Liberia, on February 24, 1975.

Alfred studied at St. Malachy’s College, Belfast, the Sacred Heart College, Ballinafad, Co Mayo (l927-1928) and St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork (l928-1931), before going to Kilcolgan, Co Galway, for his novitiate and philosophical studies. Two years later, on July 2, l933, he was admitted to the Society and, in September of the same year, went to Dromantine, Co Down, for his theological formation. He was ordained a priest in St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, by Bishop Edward Mulhern of Dromore diocese, on December 20, 1936. He was one of a group of eighteen ordained on that day.

After ordination Alfred was appointed to the Vicariate of Liberia. The Society had been entrusted with the Liberian mission in 1906 after three earlier attempts to establish a Catholic presence by other missionary agencies had failed. SMA missionaries succeeded in establishing firm roots in Liberia but the toll on the members' health was high. Several missionaries died of various forms of fever. Many more were invalided home, unfit for further service in the tropics. This was the mission to which Alfred came in October 1937 and for which he was literally to give his life some 40 years later.

Alfred's first missionary tour (1937-1945) was prolonged, because of the world war, beyond the usual five years. His first appointment was to Cape Palmas (on the Kru Coast), a mission which had been founded in 1930. Alfred spent six years in this mission, before being transferred to Monrovia, capital of Liberia. On his return from his first home leave, in June 1946, Alfred was re-appointed to Cape Palmas. Then, after a year, he was assigned to Gbarnga mission, in the interior, north-east of Monrovia, where he was to serve for almost four years. In 1949 Alfred was appointed 'Visitor', in charge of the spiritual and temporal welfare of his colleagues. He discharged his duties while remaining superior of Gbarnga mission. In all the stations where he worked Alfred paid particular attention to the educational apostolate, building good schools, training teachers and seeing that academic standards were maintained.

In January l95l Alfred was sent by his superiors to Chicago University for further studies, remaining there until July l952 when he returned to Liberia. At this time the Vicariate was divided and Cape Palmas became headquarters of a separate Prefecture. Here, working under the leadership of Francis Carroll, Alfred became central to the new Prefect's plan for development. Already having shown himself to be a first rate educationalist, and now possessing the highest qualifications (he had acquired both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees) he became president of the newly opened Maryland College of Our Lady of Fatima, Cape Palmas, the first Catholic third-level institution in the English speaking part of West Africa. In October l953 he was awarded the Knight Commander of the Star of Africa from President William V.S. Tubman. In 1959 Alfred became a member of the American Province of the Society which was entrusted with staffing the Cape Palmas jurisdiction. Alfred continued to work in Liberia for a further 15 years, serving in both the Cape Palmas territory and in the Monrovia jurisdiction. After nine years in charge of Our Lady of Fatima College, Archbishop Carroll, who had been translated to the Monrovia jurisdiction, invited him to come and take charge of the new St. Joseph’s school then being constructed in Yekepa, Nimba County. He was also assigned as Pastor of this new parish. In June 1968 he had leave after suffering a heart attack. After a period of convalescence he returned to Liberia in the October 1970, and was assigned as Pastor to St Joseph’s LAC, Batua, where his death took place.

Alfred died tragically, in the course of a robbery in 1975. At the time he was chaplain to the rubber plantation and farm at LAC, and in poor health. The Society’s Regional Superior in Liberia wrote the following report of the incident: 'When he did not appear for Mass on Tuesday morning the sisters went to his house and found him lying under the table in his bedroom. Evidently the house had been broken into by rogues [robbers] during the night. Things were badly tossed around in his room; the plate glass door to the living room had been smashed. The car was taken and found in the bush a few hundred yards from the house. There was one mark on the back of his head which could have been the result of a fall. Medical evidence showed that he had died as a result of a heart attack probably a result of shock from the disturbance. His death is a great shock to all of us. His life was a great inspiration when one considers his poor state of health and especially his precarious heart condition. Sister Carmel of the Consolata Sisters was the first person to find him, coming from her convent two hundred yards away. She found a mark at the back of his head where he could have fallen on the floor of his room. However further examination at the Funeral Home in Monrovia revealed evidence of blows on the face and on the groin. It is fairly clear that there was some kind of violence.’ 'His Requiem Mass was celebrated, in the presence of President Tubman, in the Sacred Heart cathedral, Monrovia, where he had laboured many years before.

Alfred was an exceptional athlete during his student days, and a fine soccer player. During his time in Kilcolgan he started a swimming, diving and life-saving club. Years later his knowledge of football was put to good use in Liberia, in high schools at Yekepa, Gbarnga and Fatima High school. Alfred had a life-long devotion to Our Lady and St. Joseph. During his time in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Monrovia he started the Legion of Mary.

He is buried in the grounds of St. Theresa's convent, Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa.