Tyrone-born SMA missionary appointed as Apostolic Administrator of Kontagora, Nigeria
On 30 April, 2010 Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of Bishop Timothy J. Carroll, SMA, a native of Millstreet, Co. Cork, as Bishop of the Vicariate Apostolic (the stage just before becoming a Diocese) of Kontagora, in the north-western part of Nigeria. Bishop Carroll had been in charge of the area from its establishment as an Apostolic-Prefecture (stage before being named a Vicariate) in March 1996. In recent years Bishop Tim has been experiencing poor health and felt it necessary to hand over to a younger man.
Pending the appointment of a Bishop to succeed Bishop Carroll, responsibility for guiding the affairs of the Vicariate has been handed to Fr Dan McCauley, SMA, a native of Strabane, Co. Tyrone. Fr Dan has been Bishop Carroll’s Vicar-General since 1996. Fr Dan’s title henceforth is Apostolic Administrator of the Vicariate of Kontagora.
Fr. Dan was ordained in St. Colman’s Cathedral, Newry, Co. Down on 16 December 1970 and first set foot on Nigerian soil on 1 September 1971 after a two-week boat trip. His arrival in Nigeria coincided with the departure from Nigeria of his uncle, also called Dan McCauley SMA, who met him on his arrival at Apapa Wharf, Lagos. Fr. Dan Sr. was a missionary in Ondo and Ekiti Dioceses since 1946.
After a six months orientation programme which included learning the Yoruba (Nigeria has 3 major languages – Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo) language and customs Fr. Dan Jr. was appointed to Ilorin Diocese and his first assignment was to the parish of Osi, to assist Fr. Michael McCoy SMA, a native of Dromore, Co. Tyrone. The Bishop of Ilorin Diocese at the time was Bishop William Mahony SMA, a native of Derrybrien, Co. Galway. Fr. Dan spent the next 25 years serving in various parishes throughout Ilorin Diocese.
In March 1996 a new missionary jurisdiction was inaugurated and responsibility for developing the area was given to the SMA. The new jurisdiction was called the Prefecture Apostolic of Kontagora with Monsignor Timothy Carroll, SMA as its first leader – the new jurisdiction at the start had 7 parishes. At the time of the creation of this new jurisdiction Fr. Dan was serving in Guffanti, a very remote rural parish on the west bank of the River Niger, working among the Kamberi people.
In August 2002, the Prefecture-Apostolic of Kontagora was upgraded to the status of a Vicariate-Apostolic and Monsignor Carroll was simultaneously elevated to the rank of Bishop. By this time the number of parishes had increased to 12. At the same time Fr. Dan was transferred from Guffanti to his present parish, St. Michael’s in Kontagora town, the centre of the Vicariate. He will continue to administer this parish, the while carrying out his extra duties as Apostolic Administrator of the Vicariate.
In 2006, the Kontagora area saw an outbreak of intercommunal violence and many Churches and Mission Houses were attacked. One of the Church Lay Leaders, Joseph Ibrahim, was burned to death in the violence.
Fr Dan’s pastoral work in St. Michael’s, apart from the usual programme of Masses, weddings, funeral and administration of the Sacraments also includes organising, in the dry season (January to May), the digging of wells in rural communities for the provision of drinking water, organising literacy classes for young people from rural communities who would never get an opportunity to attend regular school. He also has a large group of boys from neighbouring villages (where there are no schools) staying within the mission compound and attending the local schools to help with their formal education.
St Michael’s also has a Parish Action Committee on AIDS (PACA). The task of this committee is to promote awareness of HIV/AIDS, prevention and behaviour change, testing and counselling. They operate from a Centre opened in August 2009 called The HEART (Health Education Awareness Resource and Testing) Centre.
The promotion and growth of Small Christian Communities (SCC) within Kontagora are also high on the agenda of Fr. Dan’s pastoral priorities in St. Michael’s parish.
We congratulate Fr. Dan on this appointment which is a recognition of his devoted missionary service to the people of Nigeria for the past 39 years. We congratulate his mother, Patricia, and his wide extended family of brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews who are scattered throughout Tyrone, Donegal and further afield.
Report prepared by Fr Peter McCawille SMA
St Andrew’s Catholic Church, P O Box 12450, Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria