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Bishop O'Donnell: the Augustinian bishop at the service of Africa and humility


The funeral of Bishop Louis Senan O'Donnell, who died at the age of 96, took place in the city of Dublin, Ireland, on the 12th of April. He was a true Augustinian, committed to the eradication of poverty and the promotion of educational opportunities for the poorest children and families

The OSA has had an uninterrupted presence in Africa since the 15th century, in particular in Nigeria. Truth, interiority and charity - the Augustinian pillars - have guided, transformed and made possible great transformations in the countless lives of those touched by the light of the Gospel and by the efforts of the friars and sisters who went there to support the mission of the Church in the continent.


This is the case of Fr. O'Donnell - born and bred in Ireland, but who spent a large portion of his pilgrimage on earth working relentlessly in Africa on behalf of the Augustinian family and for the poorest of the poor and the dispossessed.


"He was a true missionary, a man of overwhelming humility, deeply rooted in the Order", says Fr Edward Daleng, General Councillor for Africa, who spoke at the funeral. "He was first and foremost a school teacher. Much of his apostolic work was carried out in areas controlled by the terrorist group Boko Haram, which gives even more weight to his mission.”


With two sisters becoming religious, and three Augustinian brothers, the teachings of the bishop of Hippo deeply touched the heart of this Catholic family that spread across the globe to proclaim the Good News.


A simple bishop


Ordained in 1955, and Bishop of Maiduguri from 1993, Bishop O’Donnell retired back to Ireland in 2003 to live out his last years as "just another friar".


According to Fr Daleng, "He didn't want anyone to wash his clothes or clean his cell. He took care of everything himself. He did not want to be noticed for his pectoral but for the fact that he was just another simple Augustinian at the service of the Church and his community.


At a well-attended and "moving" funeral celebration, which was attended by the Nigerian ambassador to Ireland, the affection of those who had the opportunity to know him as a pastor was evident.


Rest in peace, our Brother.



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