04 September 2007
Fr Francis McCabe SMA
Fr Francis (Frank) McCabe SMA passed away peacefully in the afternoon of 4 September at St Theresa’s Nursing Unit, SMA House, Blackrock Road, Cork. He was in his ninetieth year.
Frank was born into a family of two sisters and five brothers in Derrinasoo, Derreenargon, Boyle, Co Roscommon in the Diocese of Elphin on 24 May 1918. He attended Corderay National School before coming to the Sacred Heart College, Ballinafad, Co Mayo for his secondary education with the SMA. In 1941 he came to the SMA Novitiate at Cloughballymore, Kilcolgan, Co Galway and there graduated with BA at UCG. He became a permanent member of the Society of African Missions on 14 June 1946 and was ordained to the priesthood on 13 June 1947. He celebrated his first Mass at the church in Drumboylan. In June 2007 he celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of his ordination.
In 1948 he was sent on missionary assignment to the then Vicariate of Lagos in Nigeria and was appointed to Ibadan. That territory was subsequently divided and in 1952 the Prefecture Apostolic of Ibadan was created becoming the Diocese of Ibadan in 1958 with Bishop Richard Finn SMA the first bishop of the diocese. Frank spent the nearly twenty years teaching. For some time he was on the staff of Oke-Are Minor Seminary in Ibadan city, where among his pupils were more than seven of the present bishops of Nigeria. In 1954 he founded Fatima College, Ikire and was its first principal.
He began pastoral ministry in Eleta parish in Ibadan city and in 1968 he moved to Igbora Parish, a rural area between Ibadan and Abeokuta. There was a huge underveloped farm settlement in the parish and Frank procured funds from overseas agencies, funds which he used to buy tractors, trailers and ploughs. He then mobilised the local work force to till huge tracts of land where tobacco and maize were planted. For almost twenty years he continued to motivate and encourage this development. He was then assigned to Moor Plantation a parish in the suburbs of Ibadan.
In 1989 ill-health forced him to return to Ireland and he took up an appointment in Killimordaly Parish in Clonfert Diocese where he spent six years before retiring to SMA House, Claregalway. In 1996 he moved to SMA House, Wilton, Cork and returned to Claregalway in 1997. In 1998-2004 he went to Australia, before retiring in poor health to Blackrock Road in 2004. His health declined steadily over the recent years until he slipped away to God quietly on Wednesday.
His remains were removed from the SMA Chapel, Blackrock Road, Cork following the 10.30 a.m Community Mass on Thursday 6 September to St Joseph’s SMA Parish Church, Wilton, Cork, where the funeral Mass was held at 12 noon. Bishop John Kirby of Clonfert led the Mass which was concelebrated by a large number of SMA priests and a representative of St Patrick’s Missionary Society. The Provincial leader, Fr Fachtna O’Driscoll SMA preached the homily and led the obsequies in the Church and in the adjoining SMA community cemetery where the burial took place.
The funeral was attended by Frank’s many nieces and nephews and other relatives as well as people from Attymon where he had served. Nieces and nephews played an active role in the funeral liturgy.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.