60 Years Of Service To God And Humanity
An Ireland Catholic priest of the Society of African Missions (SMA), Very Rev Fr Jeremiah O’Connell, 84, has celebrated his 60 years of service to God and humanity in the Jos Archdiocese.
Very Rev Fr Jeremiah O’Connell has been described as a great scholar and cleric, a different person to different people – to the poor and needy, a perfect example of a Vincentian, and a defender of the poor.
He was awarded the “Papa Medal of Cruce Pro Ecclesiate” during the Centenary celebration of the Advent of Catholicism to the Archdiocese of Jos. He is also the Procurator (or the Finance Officer) of the Archdiocese.
This was made known Monday at St Louis Catholic Church Jos, by the Archbishop-cum President of the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria, Most Rev Dr Ignatius A. Kaigama, during a thanksgiving Mass organized by O’Connell’s parishioners to mark 60 years of his service to God.
The Archbishop further described cleric as an example of ‘accountability and transparency’ to the entire Priests of the Archdiocese and beyond, adding that Very Rev Fr Jeremiah O’Connell is known to be humble, holy and full of life and, indeed a great man, who has served God and humanity tirelessly and has remained faithful and committed to the service of God. He prayed that God should continue to strengthen him.
According to the Archbishop, “Rev O’Connell has touched many lives, who are today occupying significant positions in our country, despite the challenges he had endured for 60 years.”
He said, “He deserve a national honour due to the contributions he has impacted on the citizens of this country,” and commended him for his contributions to the service of God and humanity, both in the state and the country at large.
The President of the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria then urged priests and the public at large to reflect on the legacies demonstrated by Rev O’Connell, while imploring them to use it in the areas of their endeavors for the transformation of the society.
He further encouraged the people to imbibe the spirit of humanity, dedication and qualities that would shape the society to a more cherished manner. A Hall was dedicated to the 84-year old cleric for the occasion of the 60th Priestly Diamond Jubilee celebration and Thanksgiving Mass.
In his sermon, Msgr Cletus Tanimu Gotang appealed to the members and Nigerians in general to support federal government in the fight against corruption in the country, adding that, the current economic hardship being experienced in the country is caused not only by corrupt leaders but also the common man.
According to him, “his life is an exemplary life for us to follow, and there is the need for us to stand and look back and reflect on our lives to live a simple life style.”
He observed that, “for our country to turn around for good, all hands must be on desk to change our attitudes, change in our lives, change in our conversion, change in our tribal blindness, change in our religious blindness and change in our political blindness.”
Conscience Triumph gathered that, Rev Fr Jeremiah O’Connell was born on May 10, 1932, to the family of late Mr and Mrs O’Connell in Cork, in the Republic of Ireland, and began his early education at the local National School 1 (Clashean National School).
He attended his secondary school education at Presentation Brothers College, Cork, and was trained by the Society of African Missions (SMA) from 1950 to 1956, and was ordained a Catholic Priest in June 13, 1956.
After his ordination, the Society sent him to the University College, Cork, Ireland, where he read Chemistry. In 1960, he headed for his first expedition to Africa as a Missionary priest; and his first posting was to Nigeria – and to the Catholic Diocese of Jos, where he was assigned to work at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Shendam.
He was posted to St Joseph’s College, Vom, from 1961 to 1968, and was later transferred to St Murumba College, Jos, from 1968 to1975. During his years of teaching, he motivated many young people, who are now in high places of human endeavours.
Our reporter learnt that over the years, Rev Fr Jeremiah O’Connell has combined academic and pastoral duties. In 1976, he was the Parish Priest of St Theresa’s Catholic Church, Jos, and from 1978 till date the Parish Priest of St Louis Catholic Church Jos.
He was appointed Vicar-General of Jos Catholic Cathedral by late Bishop Gabriel Gosum Ganaka. He also acted as Procurator, and loves Nigeria, especially Plateau, where he has spent most of his precious time in Nigeria.