Professor James O’Connell

Born in Cork in 1925, James entered the SMA in 1944 and was ordained to the Priesthood in 1952. He studied Philosophy at University College, Galway where he was awarded an MA in 1948 with First Class Honours. He studied theology at the SMA seminary in Dromantine, Newry.

Following Ordination, he taught Philosophy for one year at the Society’s Novitiate and Philosophy Centre at Cloughballymore, Kilcolgan, Co Galway. From 1953 to 1957 he did Doctoral Studies at Louvain and in 1957 was awarded a PhD with highest distinction for a thesis on the philosophy of Charles S. Peirce, founder of the pragmatic school of Philosophy.

He worked as a missionary with the SMA (Irish Province) in Nigeria from 1957 until 1973. His first post was to teach Philosophy at the Ss Peter & Paul Major seminary in Ibadan (1957-1958) followed by ninie years teaching Economics at Ibadan University. In 1967 he transferred to the north of Nigeria to lecture in Political Science at Amadhu Bello University, Zaria. He left Nigeria in 1973.

He was a delegate to the Irish Provincial and General Assemblies in 1968 and 1973.

In 1974, he decided to leave the priesthood and married. His teaching career continued at Bradford University where he was Professor of Peace Studies, a position he held until his retirement in 1996.

While with the SMA he was known as a formidable scholar and he published many articles on economic and political issues and on the factors affecting the development of Africa. The SMA members whom he taught and worked with not only admired his intelligence and scholarship but loved him as a true gentleman.

He died in a hospice in London on Sunday, 8th September. His funeral will be held at the London city Crematorium on Monday 16th September. He is survived by his wife, Rosemary. Fr John Brown SMA, Parish Priest at the SMA parish in Walthamstowm Our Lady & St Patrick’s, will represent the Province at the funeral.

May the Lord receive him into the company of the blessed in Heaven.

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