Société des Missions Africaines – Province d'Irlande

CRAWFORD Joseph Dominic né le 5 août 1887 à Liverpool
dans le diocèse de Liverpool (Angleterre)
membre de la SMA le 31 octobre 1991
prêtre le 16 juin 1913
décédé le 20 mars 1936

1913-1918 missionnaire au Liberia
1918-1921 collège de Wilton, professeur
1921-1925 quêteur aux USA
1925-1936 ministère dans les paroisses des USA
confiées à la SMA

décédé à East-Saint-Louis, USA, le 20 mars 1936,
à l’âge de 49 ans

Le père Joseph Dominic CRAWFORD (1887 - 1936)

Le 20 mars 1936, à East-Saint-Louis (USA), retour à Dieu du père Joseph Crawford, à l'âge de 49 ans.

Joseph Crawford naquit à Liverpool (Angleterre) en 1887. Il fit ses études à Londres, Wilton en Irlande et Blackrock. Il fit le serment en 1911 et fut ordonné prêtre en 1913. Missionnaire au Liberia, il s'y dévoua pendant 5 ans et, en 1918, fut nommé professeur à Wilton. En 1921, il devint conférencier quêteur en Amérique, puis, à partir de 1925, il fit du ministère dans les paroisses confiées à notre Société.

Le père Crawford était un parfait gentleman, très doué pour la prédication. Cœur généreux et confrère complaisant, il évitait de faire la moindre peine. La monotonie du devoir était très pénible pour lui, et ce fut sa croix, croix qu'il sut supporter et accepter. Il mourut à la suite d'une grave opération.

Father Joseph Dominic CRAWFORD (1887 - 1936)

Joseph Crawford was born in Liverpool, England, on 5 August, 1887. He died at East St. Louis, Illinois, U.S.A., on 20 March 1936.

Joseph received his secondary education in the Salesian college, Batteresea, London, and at St. Joseph's college, Wilton, Cork. He then joined the first class to enter the new seminary founded by the Society at Blackrock Road, Cork, under the patronage of St. Joseph, in September 1909. Before that date Irish students for the Society went to Lyon for their philosophy and theology. Joseph was to spend until 1913 in the Blackrock seminary, during which he attended lectures in philosophy at U.C.C. for two of those years, without taking examinations. It appears that this was the way the seminary solved its difficulties in providing the required philosophical courses at that time. Joseph was received as a member of the society on 31 October 1911 and was ordained a priest by Bishop Robert Browne of Cloyne, in St. Joseph's church, Wilton, on 15 June 1913. Joseph was a member of the first ordination class of the newly formed Irish Province established in May 1912. His classmates were John Collins (later Bishop in Liberia), Eugene O'Hea (uncle of Frs. Jim and John O'Hea S.M.A.), and William Shine (who was ordained a week later in Maynooth and was also to be the first member of the new Irish Province to die in Africa).

After ordination the other members of the class were appointed to the prefecture of Liberia, in West Africa, which had been entrusted to the Irish Province at its foundation. The demands of Liberia were great, but so also was the need to provide teachers for the growing number of aspirants for the Society at home. Joseph spent his first year of priesthood (1913 1914) on the staff of the apostolic school at Wilton. He joined a staff of six, led by Michael Rowan, and which included Pat Harmon, Joe Butler, Michael Collins and John Clery. There were some 30 pupils in the school. In 1915, following the death of William Shine in Liberia on 5 May 1914, it was decided to send Joseph to replace him. At the time there were three mission stations in Liberia, all on the Kru Coast, located in the towns of Grand Cess, Sasstown and Betu. Joseph served in Liberia until 1920, ministering during the world war and its aftermath, when the difficulties caused by the war were compounded by an uprising of the Kru people against the government.

These were the years when the Church was truly founded on the Kru Coast, among people who previously had resisted all efforts to interest them in the Gospel. The firm rooting of the Church was directly related to the courageous actions of the missionaries in a time of crisis, when Jean Ogé (the prefect apostolic), John Collins, Eugene O'Hea and Joseph Crawford, defended the rights of the people against a brutal soldiery, putting their own lives on the line. In addition, during the privations of the world war (which prevented the Krus from following their traditional vocation as sailors), they supplied the starving people with vital material aid. In this latter respect the turning point was John Collins' trip to Freetown, Sierra Leone, in 1918, where he persuaded a ship's captain, named Denny, to sail to Sasstown with a full cargo of food, clothing, medicine and, most important, enough seed rice to make a harvest possible after two years of famine.

The stress of these turbulent years took their toll, and in 1920 Joseph withdrew from Liberia, weary and in failing health. A year later, in better health, but no longer suitable for the tropics, he went to the U.S.A. as national organiser of the U.S. national offices of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. Joseph was eminently suited to such work, gifted as he was as an orator, and possessing first-hand experience of missionary life. Obliged to abandon this work after five years because of a serious deterioration in health, Joseph was appointed to St. Augustine's mission, in the diocese of Belleville. This mission, which served the African-American community and was situated in the city of East St. Louis, Southern Illinois, had been founded by the Irish Province in 1920. Joseph ministered in St. Augustine's until his death. Joseph fell ill early in 1936 with little hope of recovery. He was only 49 years old when he died.

His obituary in the African Missionary, written by the Provincial, Stephen Harrington, acknowledged his unique contribution to the Liberian mission. 'He was one of the heroic little band who endured the struggle of those grim days, and from their sowing came the ripening fruit of later years'. During his vacations from Africa and America Joseph spent much of his time in Liverpool. He was particularly friendly with the Carroll family, two of whose members, Kevin and Patrick, subsequently joined the Society.

He is buried in East St. Louis, U.S.A.