By Princely Macnice, Plateau State
The selfless service of Society of Africa Mission (SMA) Priest, VERY REV. FR. Jeremiah O’Connell, to the country and education institutions has left indelible marks on the hearts of the unprecedented number of people that turned out to mark his Diamond anniversary.
A compilation of his Homilies over the years since coming to St. Louis, which the Reverend Sisters in the Parish Church said he writes by himself, was also launched to commemorate his long years of service in the Lord’s vineyard.
Speaking at the event which took place in Jos today, Arch Bishop of Jos, Ignatius Kaigama said Fr. O’Connell has epitomised the ideal description of “true service”, which he said is lacking in our society today.
Kaigama who described Fr. O’Connell’s contribution to the society as “unquantifiable and too numerous” said the Priest “poured his life” for the society to the extent that when it got to his official retirement as a Priest, when he clocked 70 years, he prevailed on his superiors in Ireland to graciously allow him to stay on because of his exemplary life and enormous impact on the society.
The Arch Bishop said: “he came without complain, he came joyfully to serve, despite all the challenges, obstacles, problems, he endured for sixty years.
The St Louis Parish Priest first taught at St Joseph’ College, Vom, Plateau State, where he rose to the position of the school Principal between 1961 – 1976, and was transferred to St. Murumba College Jos, 1968-1975; as Principal he became Parish Priest of St. Theresa Catholic Church Jos ,1976-78 and has been in St. Louis Parish since then till date.
He said Fr. O’Connell was” a Scientist, Chemistry teacher, he taught our children, they grew up to be Principals, some to be Commissioners, and Governors and Ministers; he has done so much quietly.
Bishop Kaigama extolled the selfless service of missionaries who came to the country and brought education and development for the country; their ability to go to remote areas where there are dire needs.
The Arch Bishop further said the event is remarkable because it falls within the Holy Year of Mercy, which he said opens up the opportunity to ask for God’s mercy.
In his word, the former Deputy Governor of Plateau, Hon. Ignatius Longjam said that Very. Rev. Fr O’Connell taught him Chemistry in Secondary School, and that during his early ministry vanguard; Rev. Fr O’Connell has shown no racial discrimination.
He added that the celebrant having served honourably is a proof of true stewardship and encouraged same in priestly ordinations and service.
The event which had large turn-out of dignitaries and congregation had in attendance Professor John Wade, representative of the State Governor, Simon Lalong who launched 5 copies of the book with N25,000.
Former governor of plateau state, Fidelis Tapgun was among the dignitaries that graced the event.