Fr Edward Casey SMA – Obituary

Five days before his 89th birthday, Fr Edward [Ned] Casey returned to the Lord whom he had served so faithfully for nearly 64 years as a priest in the Society of African Missions. He died in St Theresa’s, SMA House, Blackrock Road, Cork at 11am on Wednesday, 15 February 2017.

He will be buried in the SMA community cemetery after 12 noon Funeral Mass on Saturday, 18 February. You can watch the Mass via webcam by clicking here.

Edward, though known as Ned in the SMA, was the 4th born of 6 children to William and Mary Anne [née Hourigan] Casey. A brother of his mother was a Dominican Brother, Brother Enda OP. He also had an aunt in religious life, Sr Vincent OP, in Taylor’s Hill, Galway. After completing his secondary education in 1947, the young man entered the SMA Novitiate in Cloughballymore, Kilcolgan, Co Galway for a two-year Philosophy and Novitiate programme. Two years later, after taking his First Oath of membership in the Society he went to the African Missions Major seminary at Dromantine, Newry, Co Down for theological studies. Along with ten classmates he was ordained a priest in the Cathedral of Saints Patrick and Colman, Newry on17 June 1953.

1953 Ordination class. Fr Casey is seated on right.

When the young missionary arrived in Nigeria he was assigned to the Ondo diocese which was led by Bishop William Field SMA. Ondo diocese at that time was more than 60,000 sq kms [Ireland in 68,890sq kms] with less than twenty priests for the entire area! Fr Ned was to serve both Bishop Field and his successor, the first indigenous bishop of Ondo, Rt Rev Bishop Francis Folorunsho Alonge. After five months initiation into the language and culture of the local Yoruba people, Fr Ned was assigned, in March 1954, to Okitipupa, in the south of the diocese. He also served Catholic Missions all over the diocese including Ado-Ekiti, Oro, Ondo and Akure.

In 1960, the Prefecture Apostolic of Ilorin was created from the northern part of Ondo diocese, with Monsignor William O’Mahony SMA as its Prefect. Twelve years later the diocese of Ekiti was carved out of Ondo. It had Ado-Ekiti as the Cathedral parish where Fr Ned had served many years before. It must have been a cause of great joy to him to see the fledgling church he toiled in now growing into a separate diocese of its own.

In 1969 Fr Ned was elected Regional Superior for Nigeria South, a post he served in until his election to the Irish Provincial Council at the 1978 Provincial Assembly. In his capacity as a Regional Superior and later Provincial Councillor, Fr Ned represented the Province at many meetings, both in Nigeria, Ireland and internationally. He was also the Superior of the SMA House on Blackrock Road, Cork [1978 – 1983]. On completion of his mandate in 1983, he did a brief sabbatical and then returned to Ondo the following year to care for Ikare-Akoko parish.

Fr Casey shortly after his 1953 ordination.

Fr Ned was a man on whom you could rely. During his first period in Nigeria, he was also the diocesan Building Supervisor travelling the length and breadth of the vast diocese supervising the construction of schools, churches and medical centres.

Fr Ned returned finally to Ireland in 1988 and accepted the task of leading the SMA community in Dublin. During his twelve years in Dublin, Fr Ned was the public face of the Society and he built up, along with the other SMAs in the community, the Society’s profile. He interacted with our SMA supporters in the Dublin and Leinster area, celebrating Masses with Sponsor groups, collecting Mission boxes, visiting them in hospital and praying with them at family funerals etc. But the love of fulltime parish ministry never left him and, in 2001, Fr Ned offered his pastoral services to the Bishop of Galway. He served there until 2010 when he moved to Blakemoor Nursing Home at Ballindereen, Kilcolgan, Co Galway. Blakemoor [formerly called St Columba’s] was originally a property of Llewellyn Count Blake, the original benefactor of the fledgling Society of African Missions in its early years. Count Blake willed the Ballindereem [Cloughballymore] property to the Society in 1916 and, in time, it became the SMA Novitiate. It was there that the young Ned Casey, from nearby Kilbeacanty, Gort, came in 1947 to begin his formal studies with the SMA. Fr Ned was Chaplain in Blakemoor until 2015 when ill health forced his complete retirement to the SMA House, Blackrock Road, Cork where he spent the last 19 months participating in the life of the house – daily Mass, Holy Hours, community gatherings – right up to the day before his death.

Fr Casey is survived by his sister, Margaret [Peggy] Hanbury and nephews, nieces, other relatives and friends as well as his confreres in the Society of African Missions. He was predeceased by his brothers Patrick, John-Joe, Thomas, and sister Mary [Foley]. 

Funeral arrangements

Thursday, 16 February: Reposing at the SMA House, Blackrock Road, Cork.

Friday, 17 February: Following Prayers for the Dead at 7pm his remains will be taken to St Joseph’s SMA Church, Wilton, Cork.

Saturday, 18 February: Concelebrated Funeral Mass at 12 noon followed by burial in the adjacent SMA community cemetery.

He is mourned by his sister Margaret [Peggy] Hanbury, nephews, nieces, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, their families, relatives, friends, SMA confreres and the people in the many places he ministered during his 64 years of priesthood, in Nigeria and Ireland. Fr Casey was predeceased by his sister Mary Foley and brothers Thomas, John Joe and Patrick.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis. Requiescat in pace.

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