Société des Missions Africaines - Province d’Irlande

G MAGUIRE Maurice né le 16 décembre 1917 à Belfast
dans le diocèse de Down & Connor, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 29 juin 1937
prêtre le 22 décembre 1940
décédé le 2 mars 1993

1942-1956 diocèse de Benin City, Nigeria

1956-1958 diocèse d’Ibadan, Nigeria
1959-1993 diocèse de Benin City, Nigeria

décédé à Ibadan, Nigeria, le 2 mars 1993
à l’âge de 75 ans

Father Maurice Gabriel MAGUIRE (1917 - 1993)

Maurice Maguire was born at Townsend St., Belfast, in the diocese of Down and Connor, on 16 December 1917. He died in the Oluyoro Catholic hospital, Oke-Offa, Ibadan, Nigeria, on 2 March 1993.

Maurice's father came from Co Leitrim and was a publican in Belfast. Maurice was one of six boys and two girls. His younger brother, Denis, became a member of the Society in 1938, serving in the archdiocese of Lagos. Another brother, Joe, also joined the Society but because of ill-health finished his studies at All Hallows college, where he was ordained. Joe served in Auckland diocese, New Zealand. Maurice first came into contact with the Society through seminarians from Belfast, one of whom (Henry Russell) lived next door. He was also greatly influenced by Father Joe Donaghy. Maurice received his secondary schooling at St. Mary's C.B.S., Belfast (1929-1935). He came to the Society's novitiate and house of philosophy at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, in September 1935. Two years later he commenced his theological formation in the Society's seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down. Maurice was received as a member of the Society on 15 June 1940 and was ordained a priest by Bishop Edward Mulhern of Dromore diocese, at St. Colman's cathedral, Newry, on 22 December 1940. He was one of a group of nineteen ordained on that day.

After ordination Maurice was appointed to the vicariate of Western Nigeria. Maurice's sea voyage to Nigeria was delayed because of the second world war but eventually he got a passage in February 1942. He was to serve in the mid-western region of Nigeria (erected in 1950 as the diocese of Benin City) between 1942-1956 and again between 1959-1993, a total of forty-eight years. He spent three further years at Ibadan. On his arrival in Africa he was assigned to Okene district, where he applied himself to learning the local language. In April 1943 he was appointed to St. Paul's inter-vicarial major seminary, at Benin City, becoming superior of that institution in January 1947. St Paul's provided philosophical and theological training for students from all of western and northern Nigeria, and also from Liberia. In 1954 Martin returned to Okene district as superior, with Frank Convey as his assistant priest. Statistics show that since Maurice's first posting to Okene the Catholic community had trebled, providing a good example of the vitality of the Church in mid-western Nigeria. However Maurice was soon recalled to the major seminary. In 1956 that institution, henceforth named after Saints Peter and Paul, was transferred to Ibadan and Maurice was chosen superior of the staff which supervised this important move.

When the seminary was safely installed and operating, in 1959, Maurice returned to Benin City diocese, serving there until the time of his death. He was appointed first to Sapele district, but after eighteen months he was asked to take over St. Paul's junior seminary in Benin city. He was superior of this institution from June 1961 until June 1966. On his return from leave Maurice was next appointed parish priest of Igarra where, except for eighteen months at Uzairue parish and St. Joseph's Benin City, he remained until September 1977. He was also vicar general of the diocese, taking charge during Bishop Kelly's absence on leave. During the next decade he served in Ubiaja, Ewatto and Ekpoma. From 1989 until the time of his death he was attached to Uromi, resident in the regional superior's house.

Maurice spent over half a century in the service of the Church in Africa. He became one of the best-known S.M.A. missionaries in western Nigeria, playing a major role in educating many of Nigeria's priests and bishops and spending many years in pastoral work. His funeral at Ekpoma bore testimony to the love and affection of these priests and bishops for their mentor, and to the respect and admiration of the people of the mid-west. Among the bishops present were Bishop P.E. Ekpu, Bishop F. Alonge, Bishop A. Gbuji, and Bishop Makozi. Approximately 100 priests concelebrated and about sixty religious attended with the faithful from Ekpoma, Uromi, Ubiaja, Afenmai, Benin, Ibadan, Ondo and Lagos numbering about 1,500. The major inter-vicarial seminary, with which he was so closely associated, is today a flourishing institution located at two centres (in Ibadan and Ekpoma) and with some 300 students.

An appreciation of Maurice by a colleague recorded the following impressions: 'Blessed with a sharp mind and a voracious appetite for knowledge he had an unrivalled reputation as a man of learning. Allied to a meticulous attention to detail, his contribution to the growth of the Church in Benin diocese was incalculable. Among his wide-ranging interests there is little dispute among his peers that his competence as a canon lawyer was unchallenged. He had an extraordinary insight into students who recognised him as a fair-minded, strict man.' Maurice celebrated the golden jubilee of his priesthood in 1990. He died after a short illness.

He is buried in the grounds of the Brother Roman Centre, Ekpoma, Nigeria.