He spent 35 years in Africa, dedicating his time and work to teaching religious education in schools. During his last years spent battling with cancer, Fr. Vincent really showed determination and courage. He was living proof that, like Daniel Comboni, the missionary must never consider any obstacle too great, any situation beyond redemption, as we take up the Cross and follow our Lord and Master.
Vincent Anthony Maguire was born in 1933, the youngest of ten children, in the County of Monaghan in Ireland. He had a sound Catholic upbringing but could only complete primary school, as a secondary education was beyond the financial means of the family. From his early years, he had felt a strong desire to be a missionary priest, but his options were few and he went to the capital city of Dublin where he worked as a footman at the Italian Embassy.
As Divine Providence would have it, Vincent was walking down the main thorough-fare of O’Connell Street in Dublin one day, when he stopped to chat at a Legion of Mary bookstall, manned by a young man by the name of Sean Russell, who himself would become a Verona Father. In the course of their conversation, they discovered that they had something in common; a budding vocation to the missionary priesthood. Vincent expressed his own poor prospects of never fulfilling his dream. Like a good Legionary, Sean informed Vincent that an Italian priest would be coming shortly to interview him and suggested that he should also come along and meet this missionary priest. Vincent did and met Fr Polato FCCJ. At the age of eighteen, he went to Sunningdale to commence his course of formation that would lead him to the marvelous adventures of his missionary life in England, Italy, Uganda, Africa and Bunnoe, where his funeral took place on the 3rd December, 2016.
Sunningdale and a place in the Novitiate seemed to be a dream fulfilled, but Vincent still had a long way to go. Unsurprisingly, he found philosophy difficult. He even found it difficult to read or speak at times due to his pronounced stammer.
It so happened that his Novice Master and one of the professors of philosophy recognised his intelligence and good will and so took him under their wing. The result was that Vincent went through his studies with flying colours and crowned his academic achievements with a degree from the University of East Africa, Kampala, Uganda.
Although he willingly served on the home front as Rector of Mirfield Junior Seminary and as Chaplin to Overseas Student for a number of years, Fr. Vincent was most at home in his beloved Uganda. There he spent 35 years and was especially noted for his dedicated work in the field of religious education in schools. Those who worked with him testify to his respectful and gentlemanly way of dealing with people. This surely helped as he organised very active teachers’ organisations, gaining the appreciation of the local clergy, his own confreres and all who worked with him.
Perhaps it was during his last years spent battling with cancer that Fr. Vincent really showed the determination and courage that had served him so well ever since he first heard the call to mission. He had overcome many obstacles in the past and not even his serious illness would discourage him.
Fr. Vincent liked nothing better than a nice meal with friends in a good restaurant. In fact, he enjoyed a nice meal in a Chinese restaurant with an old friend the very day before he died, the 12th November, 2016.
He was living proof that, like Daniel Comboni, the missionary must never consider any obstacle too great, any situation beyond redemption, as we take up the Cross and follow our Lord and Master.