Société des Missions Africaines – Province d'Irlande

McCreanor John né le 13 février 1920
dans le diocèse de Dromore, Irlande
membre de la SMA le
prêtre le 27 juin 1946
décédé le 27 février 2007

1950-1955 archidiocèse de Lagos

1956-1958 diocèse d'Ibadan
1959-2001 au service de la Province de Grande-Bretagne
2001-2004 Liverpool, Nazareth house, retiré
2004 Castlewellan, retiré
2004-2007 Blackrock Road, Cork, retiré

décédé à Blackrock Road, Cork, le 27 février 2007
à l’âge de 87 ans

Father John McCREANOR - 1920 - 2007

John McCreanor was born at Magheratimpany, Ballynahinch, Co Down, in the diocese of Dromore, on 13th February 1920.
He died in St. Theresa’s Nursing Unit, SMA House, Blackrock Road, Cork, on 27th February 2007.

John Gerald McCreanor was the eighth of nine children born to Thomas and Alice (nee Rogan) McCreanor, who farmed near Ballinahich, Co Down. John
received his primary education at Drumaness, Ballinahinch and post-primary education at the Commercial Technical School, Ballinahinch, where he took R.S.A. (vocational) examinations. He then worked for some years on the family farm. One of his older sisters, Kathleen (Sr Eunan), had joined the Missionary Sisters of the Assumption, serving in Grahamstown, South Africa. She was to have a profound influence on John's decision to become a missionary. John was also attracted to the missionary life by reading the tragic story of Eamon Murphy SMA in the African Missionary. Eamon, from Co Monaghan, died in Ibadan within six weeks of arriving in Nigeria in 1937. John was also influenced in his choice of vocation by a family friend, Bill Fegan SMA. Deciding to join the SMA at the age of twenty-three John came to the Sacred Heart College, Ballinafad, Co Mayo, where he completed his secondary education without taking a public examination. He entered the Society’s house of philosophy and novitiate at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, in the autumn of 1944. Two years later he was promoted to the Society’s major seminary, at Dromantine, Newry, Co Down. John first became a member of the Society on 27th June 1946. He became a permanent member on 12th June 1949. He was ordained a priest in St. Colman’s Cathedral, Newry, by Bishop Eugene O’Doherty of Dromore, on 14th June 1950. He was one of a group of eleven ordained on that day.
After ordination John was appointed to the recently erected Archdiocese of Lagos. His first tour of duty lasted five years. He worked initially at Lafiaji where he learned Yoruba under the tutelage of Harry Sheppard. In 1951 he was appointed to Ogumpa mission in Ibadan. In the following year the Ibadan region was detached from the archdiocese and erected as a prefecture apostolic. John was assigned to the new jurisdiction, taking up the post of superior of Oke-Ado station where he worked with Michael MacFadden. On his return from his first home leave he was appointed superior of St. Cyprian’s mission, Oke Offa, where he was assisted by Patrick McGovern and later John Travers. His work during this time involved not only the pastoral ministry but an important school construction program. He also produced a newsletter for the diocese. In July 1958 shortly after Ghana gained independence John, along with Liam Burke, was sent to Ghana on a Community Development Course sponsored by UNESCO. His superiors hoped that from this course would emerge a study of how newly-formed African governments and missionaries could best cooperate for the good of the people. After about six months in Ghana John fell ill and returned to Ibadan. Soon after, Bishop Finn, in charge of the jurisdiction, sent him home to Ireland.
Since the early 1950’s the Society had been attempting to establish itself in England and a number of Irish confreres were assigned to this work. John was one of those seconded to the ‘British District’, as it was known. It was intended that his secondment should last two years after which he would return to Ibadan. However he proved so successful at his work that his superiors did not recall him. John’s first assignment was to the British District’s new seminary, St. Carmel’s, at Dutton Manor, Preston, Lancashire. He served as director of students here between 1959 and 1962. The opening of the seminary was an important step in the progress of the project for without it the District could not be erected into a full Province of the Society. In the event the Province was formally erected in 1968. John spent the remainder of his active life in England on promotion and vocation work, based in Liverpool, residing mainly at 138 Moor Lane (‘Holly Hedge’) , Great Crosby. Here he gathered around him an enthusiastic group of supporters who worked tirelessly to promote the Society and its works. For them John was the ‘face’ of the SMA. Also, from his base in Liverpool, he kept in touch with large numbers of supporters from further afield by means of a newsletter.
Gifted with green fingers John relaxed by gardening and in particular the production of vegetables. Horticulture was one of the courses taken by him at the Ballinahinch Technical School before he joined the SMA. At the turn of the new century John’s health began to deteriorate, causing much concern among his family and confreres. He spent some time at Nazareth House, Crosby, a nursing home (A niece, Sr. Laurice McMullan, was a member of the Nazareth Sisters) . But he was anxious to return to Ireland to live out his days in the family home near Ballinahinch. It was clear to family members in England that he would be unable to manage alone and in June 2004 they arranged for him to move from Nazareth House to Corriewood Nursing Home, Castlewellan. His condition soon worsened and he was transferred first to the Devonshire hospital, Downpatrick and then, in late September, to St. Theresa’s Nursing Unit, at SMA House, Blackrock Road, Cork. During these last years and months as he entered his mid 80’s, John suffered increasingly from dementia. Nonetheless he won the hearts of the care staff in St. Theresa’s who grieved openly at his passing. He was also very close to his family, members of which frequently took the long road from Northern Ireland to visit him in Cork during the closing years of his life.
As a promoter of the missions John was in the top echelon. The homilist at his funeral Mass remarked on this aspect of his ministry as follows: ‘John knew his supporters personally and his little valise was better than any computer. John had a database in that little valise and, indeed, much of it was contained in his very brain. He was meticulous in attention to detail, contacting promoters, all of whom in a sense had become friends, at the most acute and sensitive moments of their lives. Such pastoral attention and devotion was hugely appreciated. And the mission of SMA was more than repaid through the generosity of these supporters who responded in kind.’ At a ‘Mass of Thanksgiving’, held in Liverpool on 21st November, the homilist described his organisation of the Sponsorship Scheme for Students which he ran from ‘Holly Hedge’, Moor Lane. ‘Every quarter a team of “Envelope Ladies” would write out over 3,000 envelopes and families would help send out the newsletter to the sponsors, resulting in an income of £100,000 a year. Every penny went to the missions. Fr. McCreanor delighted more in the £1 postal order scrimped together, as he did the cheque easily written out. Coffee mornings, strawberry teas, bingo, fairs – all helped raise money.’ At weekends he would travel up and down the country by bus, train and road, making appeals. Back home on Monday he would start answering all letters personally. During his time in Crosby he assisted the priests of the Deanery, travelling around to say Mass, especially at St. Edmunds of Canterbury, St. Helens, SS Peter and Paul and St. Mary’s Little Crosby. He was also chaplain to the Knights of St. Columba 359 Council for 25 years.
Following concelebrated Mass on Wednesday 28th February John’s remains were removed from the community chapel, Blackrock Road to the parish church, Ballinahinch, Co Down. The Funeral Mass was concelebrated on Thursday, 1 March at 2.00 pm.
He is buried in cemetery adjoining the parish church, Ballinahinch, Co Down, in the North of Ireland.