Daley, Colum Dennis Austin
1930 to 1994
Catholic Church (Dominican)
Dennis Austin Daley was born in Peoria, Illinois, on August 25,
1930, the only child of Lawrence A. and Alfreda Zeller Daley. His primary
education was taken at St. Mark Catholic Grade School in Peoria from 1936 to 1938,
and Washington Public School in Washington, Illinois from 1938 to 1944. He
attended Spalding Institute in Peoria from 1944 to 1948, for his seconadary
education, then went on to Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa from 1948 to 1950.
In late Summer of 1950, he entered the Dominican Order, receiving the habit
and his religious name of Colum on August 30 of that year, at St. Peter Martyr
Priory in Winona, Minnesota. First profession was made on August 31, 1951,
after which he moved to the Dominican House of Studies in River Forest,
Illinois, to study philosophy, attaining the degree of B.Ph. in 1953. He then
moved on to St. Rose Priory and Aquinas Institute in Dubuque, Iowa for his
theological studies. On May 25, 1957, he was ordained to the priesthood in
Dubuque, then completed another year of studies there in theology.
Because he had carpentry and other practical skills, Father Daley was
assigned to the young Dominican mission in Nigeria, arriving in Kano on June
15, 1958. Assigned first to Gusau, he quickly mastered Hausa and also learned
quite a bit of Yoruba and Igbo. To the end of his life, in every house in
which he lived, he always spared time for practical services: plumbing,
carpentry, mechanics and any other kind of maintenance. After a leave, in 26 January 1962 he
went on to open the parish of St. Vincent Ferrer at
Malumfashi, at first living in a mud hut with a grass roof. At the end of
April 1964 he went up to Katsina as the first resident priest of St. Martin de
Porres Church "outside the walls," and was stationed there until, as a result
of the riots of June 1966, he left for St. Dominic's, Yaba on 10 June 1966.
In April 1975 he became pastor and superior of St. Dominic's, Yaba, at the
same time editing The Vicarate newsletter and running a homily series
in The Independent. In 1979 he also began working on the Marriage
Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Lagos.
In September 1981 he moved back to the Ibadan priory where, besides
itinerant preaching, he served as an Officialis for the Dioceses of
Lagos, Ibadan and Ijebu-Ode, developing his expertise in Canon Law, which he
shared in a weekly column in The Independent. He celebrated his 25th
ordination anniversary in Ibadan on 8 June 1982. In October 1983 he published
Love and marriage.
In 1984 he was appointed a member of the Canon Law Commission of the
Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), a position which he held until
his death. When the Vice-Province of Nigeria was established by the Master of
the Order (2 April 1985), he elected to affiliate with the new vice-province.
In 1985 he moved to Agbor as associate pastor, at the same time serving as
judicial vicar for the Lagos Interdiocesan Tribunal and the Diocese of
Issele-Uku. On 31 May 1989 he was transferred to Gusau as pastor of Our Lady
of Fatima Church, as well as Promotor of Permanent Formation for the
vice-province. In the latter job he issued a monthly study guide which was
well researched and practical.
In May 1993 Colum Daley went on leave after cancer of the colon had been
diagnosed in Ibadan. He had an operation at Loyola in Maywood, and after
convalescence was given a clean bill of health. After returning to Nigeria, in
Gusau he developed joint pains and came to Ibadan for examination. A return of
cancer was suspected, but the tests turned out negative. Meanwhile, he had
been diagnosed as having malaria, and hindsight showed that all his symptoms
could be explained by a case of severe malaria. Fr. Lawrence Agu visited him
at U.C.H. on the afternoon of 10 February 1994 and came back telling the
community that Colum was in a serious condition, finding it difficult to
breathe. Many brothers promptly went to be with him. He was sitting up in bed,
and commented that he really said his prayers that day. Then he began joking
with us as we excused ourselves for not bringing some "green bottles." Around
10:00 P.M. he said we should be getting home, since it was late, but we said,
"Let's wait at least until the drip finishes." A little later his breathing
became more difficult and he announced to Fr. Chukwubikem that he was dying.
"Give me absolution. I forgive all who have offended me and I ask pardon of
all whom I have offended." Afterwards Chukwubikem rushed back to the house to
bring Communion, which Colum devoutly received. We asked if we should say the
rosary; he said no, but after a minute said to go ahead. He even loudly joined
in some of the Hail Marys. At a point he said he could not breath sitting in
the bed, and asked to go to a chair. He got out of bed and sat on the hard
chair almost unaided. Around then the doctor came and commented that he would
be all right. Colum answered, "Sorry, doctor, you failed. I will be dead in
ten minutes." The rosary went on and shortly after midnight his breathing
stopped and his eyes went blank, but he continued to sit erect. The doctor got
him on the bed and tried to pump his heart, but in a few seconds we realized he
and gone. It was November 2, 1994. We at once began the Dominican Salve, then gathered his
things and went back to the Community to summon everyone to the Office of the
Dead in the church.
The funeral Mass was celebrated on November 15, 1994 with Archbishop A. O. Okogie as
chief celebrant. Concelebrating were Bishop S. A. Sanusi, bishop emeritus of
Ijebu-Ode, Bishop A. O. Gbuji of Issele-Uku, Bishop A. Faina of Ijebu-Ode,
Bishop Ay-Maria Atoyebi, O.P., of Ilorin, and over a hundred priests. Laity
from Lagos, Gusau etc. added to the throng. Fr. Peter Otillio delivered the
homily. Burial took place at the Priory cemetery in Ibadan.
From the "The Lives of the Brethren 1990-1994" page on the Web site of the Dominican Friars Province of St. Joseph the Worker (Nigeria and Ghana).
This article is reproduced, with permission, from the "The Lives of the Brethren 1990-1994" page on the Web site of the Dominican Friars Province of St. Joseph the Worker (Nigeria and Ghana). All rights reserved.