Copies of Dr Edmund Hogan’s book on Fr Jean-Marie Coquard are now available for sale through the African Book Collective and Amazon.com. This most informative book traces the life of this French-born missionary among the Egba of Yorubaland. The book was officially launched at a ceremony in the Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, Nigeria.
Before the official launching Fr. Hogan sketched the career of Fr. Coquard and the significant role he played in the life of Abeokuta, in particular his single-minded commitment to the planning and construction of the Sacred Heart hospital. Fr. Hogan succeeded in capturing and retaining the attention of his audience by blending scholarly research with occasional quirky asides, thanking the people for being considerate in naming a State after him (Abeokuta is in Ogun State) and forgiving them for omitting the H at the beginning, plus light-hearted references to his lack of fluency in the Yoruba language.
Fr Jean-Marie Coquard: a brief biography can be read here.
Fr. Hogan also referred to the prominent role played in Sacred Heart Hospital by the Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles (OLA) who first came to Abeokuta in 1886. The Sisters have been associated with Sacred Heart Hospital since 1936.
OLA Sisters and Nurses from the Sacred Heart Hospital are pictured with SMA members at Fr Coquard’s grave.
Sr. Consolata, OLA (Sr. Bridget Murphy from Co. Cork) arrived in Abeokuta in November 1936 and she was to be the first in a long line (which continues to the present day) of professionally-trained OLA Sisters, Irish and Nigerian, who worked in the hospital in both the clinical and administrative capacities.
Louisa Rodriguez: Fr. Hogan also paid tribute to the monumental role played by Louisa Rodriguez, a Catholic of Brazilian extraction, who had been raised with the OLAs in Porto-Novo. She had expressed a desire to become a Sister but got no encouragement. Despairing of ever becoming a Sister she expressed a wish to work without payment for the rest of her life in Abeokuta hospital. She did so with amazing ‘devotedness and self-sacrifice’ (Fr Hogan refers to Luisa in the book as Fr. Coquard’s ‘right arm’). This incredible lay woman later took private vows as a consecrated laywoman. Fr. Hogan unreservedly referred to her several times as ‘a saint’ and insisted that she deserves a special mention in the history of the Church in Abeokuta.