S.M.A.Fr Slattery

Not many people living today will remember Fr. Maurice Slattery. We should however be very proud of this great man. The story of his life is the story of the development of the society of  African Missions in Ireland and in Africa over a period of 60 years. Born in Laccamore Abbeydorney in 1874, he was ordained in Egypt in 1900 and there he spent the first twelve years of his priestly life. In 1912 he was called home and found himself the Provincial Superior of the Irish Province of the Society of African Missions, at the age of 38. The tasks facing the new Provincial was to establish Irish Houses into a seperate Province and to create an Irish Missionary movement that would send hundreds of Irish Missionaries into the territories given exciusively to them. In those days, Missionary vocations were few and Africa , which was described as "The White Man's Grave" was not very attractive. But priests were needed, so Fr. Slattery set out with confidence and enthusiasm to head the needs of Africa in Ireland, to gather vocations, to provide for the education and upkeep of the Seminarians before sending them out for their apostalate.

Steadily the members of the Colleges  grew and gradually, too, came the resource to cater for this growth. New Missionfields were added to the Irish Province, more priests were needed ,more houses too. A Novitiate was opened in Cloughballymore, Co. Galway, a Seminar in Dromautine,near Newry. More and more young priests were sent to the Missions. Challenge followed challenge for Fr. Slattery during his two terms as Provincial, but at the end of his second term,  he was able to report that all challenges had been met and that the Society was now a very healthy organisation.  

In 1937, Fr Slattery was elected Superior General of the Society, the first Irishman to hold this office.  Once again it was necessary to found a new house as the General Chapter had decided that the Mother House should be transferred to Rome.  In 1938 he found a suitable home not far from the Vatican.  Here he set up his administration and had many grand plans  that had to be dropped because of the outbreak of World War 2.  Part of the Mother House was now occupied by Government Departments for war work.  Communications with the Missions were uncertain but he tried to keep in touch by sending frequent Circular letters.

His term as Superior General ended in 1947.  He returned to Cork where he started yet another foundation, the University Hostel for African students at Doughcloyne.  From here he made many visits to his relatives in Kerry.  During one of those visits he was taken ill at Ballyroe House - the home of his niece, Mary Brosnan (nee Slattery) and died on 11th May, 1957.  He was buried in Wilton, one of the oldest Houses of the Society in Ireland.


by Fr. Maurice Slattery


And hail again, O Clough,

Sweet home of peace!

Have I not loved thee well?

Nor shall I cease

To love thy woods and wastes,

Thy rocks and rills,

Thy holy life and joy

Composing ills.

Those ills that make me fret,

Destroy my will,

I love thee, Clough, for this -

My soul's great thrill;

And may I love thee more

As youth recedes,

For prayer is always thine,

And whispering beads!


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