26 March 2007
Fr Micheál Kennedy SMA
Fr Micheál (Hálai) Kennedy passed away on the morning of Monday, 26 March 2007 at about 06.35 am in the South Charitable Infirmary, Cork. He had been hospitalised for just over a week and his condition deteriorated rapidly over that time. He had been in poor health for some years which he spent in St Theresa’s Nursing Unit at Blackrock Road, Cork.
Hálai was born in Tralee, Co Kerry on 18 August 1926. He received his early education in CBS, Tralee. Deciding to become a missionary he came to SMA in 1945 and studied at the Society’s houses at Cloughballymore, Kilcolgan, Co Galway (philosphy) and at Dromantine, Newry, Co Down (theology). He became a permanent member of SMA on 12 June 1950. He was ordained to the priesthood on 13 June 1951 at St Catherine’s Dominican Church, Newry.
After ordination he studied at UCC where he read Science and completed a brilliant academic career when he graduated with an MSc degree.
He was then assigned for missionary work in Nigeria to the Prefecture Apostolic of Ibadan (which in 1958 became the Diocese of Ibadan). He was appointed to the teaching staff of Loyola College, Ibadan, which was founded in 1954, and he spent his entire missionary career there. He quickly became renowned as a teacher and in 1965 he was appointed Principal of the College, a post he continued to hold until 1980. Under his leadership Loyola College built up a reputation for academic excellence in the west of Nigeria and many of its past pupils have gone on to achieve positions of importance in the business, legal, medical, educational and political sectors of that great country. The loyalty of these past students to their capable and dedicated Principal is an earnest of the great influence Fr Hálai has had on the lives and careers of so many of them.
In 1980 he was forced to retire because of ill-health. Convalescing at Wilton he continued to make a valuable contribution to SMA as lecturer in Sacred Scripture to the SMA students during their Spiritual Year there. He continued to reside in Wilton in retirement until 1997. Then in the face of debilitating illness he moved to the St Theresa’s Nursing Unit, Blackrock Road.
He is mourned sadly by his sisters, Sr Brenda Mary (Mercy Sisters), Carmel, Gráinne, Nancy and Honor, by his brothers Bernard, Neilus, Owen and Aidan, by his brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, numerous nieces and nephews and a wide section of relatives and friends. Another brother, Tom, also joined the SMA and became a missionary priest, but he predeceased him in 1993.
His remains were removed from the Community Chapel, SMA House, Blackrock Road, Cork to SMA Parish Church, Wilton, Cork on Tuesday, 27 March. The Funeral Mass was concelebrated in Wilton on Wednesday, 28 March and was followed by interment in the adjoining SMA Community Cemetery.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.