Cemetery Day Kagoro 2010

Reburial of Fr Anthony Glynn SMA

maurice-henryOn 14 November 2010 the SMA and many friends gathered at the SMA cemetery in Kagoro, Nigeria to celebrate the memory of our missionaries and to rebury the mortal remains of Fr Anthony Glynn SMA. At the beginning of the ceremony Fr Maurice Henry SMA (pictured above), Regional Superior for Nigeria gave the following address.

Welcome to all visitors and friends who have come from far and near to pray with us during this Mass at Kagoro on our annual Cemetery Day.  It is a day when we come to remember, honour and pray for our dead.  As the Book of Macabees says:  “it is a good and noble thing to offer sacrifice for the dead” (2 Macc.12:45).  While we welcome our fourteen Concelebrants, SMA friends and supporters, we welcome in a special way the members of staff and students of St. Joseph’s College, Vom, and the distinguished Old Boys of VOBA who have left other responsibilities to be with us today.

 

Each of our deceased is important to us all;  no one is more important or less significant than any other. Today, however, there is a special focus on the late Fr. Tony Glynn SMA, as we reverently and solemnly re-inter his mortal remains in our SMA cemetery.  He died in 1981 and because of the reverence and stature he gained at St. Joseph’s College, Vom, during his eleven years as Principal of that illustrious college, he was buried adjacent to the college he nurtured and loved, at the request of the VOBA members of that time.

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Fr Henry blesses Fr Tony’s remain As Fr John O’Keeffe SMA looks on

Due to recent developments at St. Joseph’s parish compound, especially as the mortal remains of the late Fr. Tony, lay in the path of the foundation of a new parish church at Vom, it was necessary, out of respect for him as well as in consideration of church development, to exhume his mortal remains and re-inter them in a permanent place of rest in the hallowed earth of our SMA cemetery at Kagoro.

Kagoro has a long and noble association with the SMA and its presence in Northern Nigeria. Not only does Kagoro Catholic Community trace its origins to the catechetical work of early SMA missionaries but it also has been the centre of SMA administration of the former Nigeria North Region for over 50 years; further, it  has provided initial experience and been the training ground of all SMA missionaries arriving in Northern Nigeria. These facts in themselves have provided a significant relationship between the SMA and Kagoro over the years but, since 2007 the relationship between the two has attained a deeper dimension when Kagoro became the official burial site of  deceased SMA confreres in the Northern part of the country.  Thus Kagoro has become a hallowed name in the annals of the SMA. 

Kagoro will henceforth remind all SMA’s and those who commit themselves to the mission of the SMA in the future, that it is the place of rest of missionaries who came to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to the peoples of Northern Nigeria.  And while we remember Tony Glynn in a special way today, we also recall and pray for the souls of all who are laid to rest here: Cornelius Griffin SMA, Michael Harrison SMA, Andrew Geraghty SMA, Tony O’Dwyer SMA, Florence O’Driscoll SMA and our Sister collaborators, Fidelma Reynolds OLA, Maura O’Leary OLA and Ita McGuane SSL.

t-glynn-reburial-3When praying for them, it is incumbent on us to tread gently on their lives and memory. The harvest of their labours provide a wide panorama of their varied endeavours.  As we re-inter the remains of Tony Glynn,  some of his exploits in particular, come to mind.  In Northern Nigeria he will be best remembered for his eleven years (1962-’73) as Principal of St. Joseph’s College, Vom. His experience as Principal and educationalist was built on his previous eleven years (1950-’61) as Principal of a prestigious Ghanaian college, St. Augustine’s, Cape Coast, the first Catholic secondary school in Ghana, founded in 1936. During his tenure at St. Augustine’s, he served as national chairman of the Principal’s Conference of Ghana and also as Chairman of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) during which time he visited Lagos on WAEC inspection tours.

His years in Ghana stretched through time of political foment and turmoil. A former staff member of St. Augustine’s was the fiery pan-African Kwame Nkrumah, who later led Ghana to its independence in 1958. Fr. Tony and Nkrumah became friends and Tony would speak in glowing terms of the latter’s courage and determination.

t-glynn-reburial-1Fr Tony’s remains are reburied alongside SMA colleagues and OLA and SSL Sisters. May they rest in peace. Amen.

Tony’s own political and diplomatic skills were put to the test after his retirement from St. Joseph’s College, during a stint of pastoral ministry in London.  It was a time of political upheaval in Nigeria, when the then Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, was overthrown in a bloodless coup d’état in 1976.  Because of his Nigerian credentials, Tony was considered a trustworthy mediator between the exiled Gowon and the Foreign Office in London. He confided to me that never did he experience such real fear in his life, as during those nights when he sped back and forth between the residence of the General and the British Foreign Office. Some within the Nigerian military junta wanted the retired General eliminated while others wanted him brought back to Nigeria. The Foreign Office was uneasy in having a deposed Head of State on British soil whose presence might cause political instability in Nigeria. Whatever the real facts of the situation, Tony recalled that he was tailed by cars with men in black suits wherever he went. There is a tale to be told of his London experience which may never see the light of day.

Such is a synoptic view of  one of our SMA brothers about to be reburied in this hallowed ground of Kagoro.  All others buried here would equally have their own rich story to tell.

May his soul and the souls of all our departed brothers and sisters who lie here, rest in peace.

Fr. Maurice Henry SMA