Patrick Fay was the Irish ambassador to Nigeria from 2010-2014. He also had responsibility for Ireland’s diplomatic relations with Ghana, Senegal and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). What follows is his reflection on the late Fr. Raymond Hickey OSA:
I wish to express my deepest sympathies on the death of Fr. Ray Hickey.
I was the Irish Ambassador to Nigeria 2010-2014 and since then teach at the American University of Nigeria in Yola. I met you, Fr. John, in Bishop Mamza’s house one evening.
Fr. Ray was a great source of inspiration to me. He was a true Christian gentleman and a person of very strong faith. His understanding of people left me in awe..
As you know, he wrote extensively of the Catholic Church in Nigeria. I have most of his books. Many of them he gave me himself. They were and still are a mine of information on Nigeria and the Church in Nigeria. I remember the former Nuncio, Archbishop Kassugga had great respect for Fr. Raymond as he always called him. And it was well earned!
His last email to me showed the strength of his faith. I’m sure he is now reaping the reward of his hard work
Since I first came to Africa, I have a strong sense of admiration and affection for the Irish Missionaries and the work they have done. As a fellow Irishman and Catholic, I have a great sense of pride that we produce men and women like them. He himself was proud of his Irishness and usually had a few words in Irish at the end of his emails.
While I used to meet Fr. Ray a lot when we were both in Abuja, I have only been able to meet him once since he and I moved. We met in Dublin for lunch when we were both home in summer 2019. He told my wife and I that he proposed to retire the next year, as he felt he was not able to continue. When I first met Fr. Ray, on a recent visit to Abuja a few months before I took up duty there, we talked about missionaries giving their lives and dying in Africa; he told me that he had no wish “to be buried under a coconut tree”, he would retire to Ireland when he felt he was finished here. However, I think it is fitting that he died here, where he dedicated his life to the people for over 50 years.
As we Irish say, we will not see his likes again.
I offer to you both and to the Augustinian Order both my wife’s and my own sincerest sympathies.
May his gentle soul rest at God’s right hand.