Fr Joe Maguire celebrates 90th Birthday

Fr Joe clocks 90

maguire-fr-j-90th-2Fr Joseph (Joe) Maguire was born in Warren Street, Portobello, Dublin on 28 March 1922. He was the fifth of seven children born to James and Julia Maguire (née O’Brien). He recently celebrated his 90th birthday.

Joe attended Synge Street CBS for his Primary schooling and one year of secondary studies. He then decided to join his father and two older brothers in the plumbing business.

However, within a year he decided he wanted to be a missionary priest. Lacking the necessary educational qualifications he had to go back to school for his Leaving Certificate.

Luckily, at that time, the Jesuits had an Apostolic School in Mungret, Limerick City, which provided an education for young men such as Joe Maguire. From 1937 – 1941 he studied for his Leaving Cert.  During his studies, the Vocations Directors for the different missionary Societies and orders would visit Mungret pitching for vocations. When asked why he chose the SMA, Joe’s answer was: “there were two other lads joining them so I followed them to Galway”. No great Pauline experience for Joe! One of his companions was later ordained a priest for the SMA whilst the other had to leave, due to a serious medical condition. Joe entered the SMA Novitiate and Philosophy school at Cloughballymore, Kilcolgan, Co Galway and became a member of the SMA in 1943. From 1943 – 1947 he studied Theology at the African Missions seminary in Dromantine, Newry, Co Down. He was ordained a priest in St Colman’s Cathedral, Newry on 18 June 1947.

maguire-fr-j-90thAppointed to northern Nigeria he arrived there in January of the following year. For the next 50 years he served all over what was then known as the Jos Prefecture until his final return from Nigeria in December 1998, one month short of 51 years unbroken service in Africa.

During those years, Fr Joe served under the Prefect Apostolic of Jos, Msgr William Lumley SMA, then the first Bishop of Jos, Bishop John Reddington SMA, and finally under the first indigenous Bishop (later Archbishop) of Jos, Most Rev Gabriel Gonsum Ganaka.

Following major heart surgery, Fr Joe retired to the SMA House on Blackrock Road, Cork where he has had a very active retirement. With little to do except rest after his surgery, Fr Joe decided to ‘learn the computer’ and soon mastered the intricacies of email and surfing the web. Though sight difficulties have limited his use of the computer, Fr Joe still gets his daily walks around Blackrock Road and his several visits to the Blessed Sacrament in the community chapel.

He has an abiding passion for all things Gaelic, especially his beloved Dubs! As a schoolboy, he was in Croke Park when Dublin last won a Senior Hurling Championship (1938). He’s hoping that he will see the next one also. On his first holiday home from Nigeria (1952), Joe acted as Christ in a Passion Play produced in the Cork Opera House. Read about it here.

fr-joe-and-his-sister-sheilOn Wednesday, 28 March, the SMA community gathered to celebrate Fr Joe’s 90th birthday, the fourth living member of the Province to reach this milestone.

Fr Joe’s only surviving sibling, his sister Sheila, lives with her family in Dublin. Though Fr Joe and his siblings were born on the south side of the city, marriage took Sheila to the northside where she now lives in Kilbarrack.

Along with some of Fr Joe’s nephews and nieces, Sheila travelled to Cork to celebrate with Fr Joe on 31 March. Fr Joe and Sheila posed for our photo at the celebratory lunch in a Cork City restaurant. No doubt a great day was had by all with many stories of life in Dublin recalled and shared.

Ad Multos Annos Fr Joe!