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The Beginning of the Maynooth Movement in Southern Nigeria and the Rise of the St. Patrick's Missionary Society, 1920-1930

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The Catholic mission in Southern Nigeria under the management of the Congregation of Holy Ghost Fathers was established in 1885 by French and Alsatian Spiritans. In 1905 the mission came under the charge of the Irish Province of the Congregation with Father Shanahan (later Bishop) as the chief of mission. As a result of the fact that the Province was entrusted with responsibility for the supply of missionary personnel for the Spiritans' missions in the vast English-speaking areas of the then British Empire, and also because of the Irish Spiritans' preoccupation with schools and colleges in Ireland and Trinidad, the Province was unable to meet its personnel responsibilities to the missions. The dire need for priests made Shanahan, the ecclesiastical head of the Spiritan mission in Nigeria, who had been charged sub gravi by Rome with the obligation for staffing his mission, to invite Maynooth trained secular priests to serve on a temporary basis in Southern Nigeria. The coming of the secular volunteers to Nigeria created a series of problems leading to their being constituted into an independent secular missionary society, and subsequently to the allocation to them of a part of the vicariate as their own mission field.

Affiliations: 1: Bloomfield College, N.J., U.S.A.


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