Dennis Joseph Slattery, a Catholic reverend father. His death in July 2003 was mourned for his glorious achievements in Nigerian education sector. Born on February 29, 1916 in South Ireland, Slattery, who was ordained priest on December 17, 1939, began his missionary work in 1941 in Ilawe-Ekiti in the old Western Region, where under one year, he acquired fluency in Yoruba language. Slattery was posted in 1942 to St. Gregory’s College, Obalende, Lagos, as a teacher and games master. Although his stay at the college was brief, he achieved great exploits in the classroom and on the field of play. He was an eminent recipient of the Order of the Niger, OON.
Slattery was a resourceful leader. After his transfer a year later from the college to the Catholic Printing Press as a journalist, he performed so brilliantly that he was made the editor of the Catholic Herald in 1943. By his activity as a founding member of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, and the Guild of Editors, Slattery contributed significantly to labour, politics and journalism in Nigeria. He was so dogged in his fight for the betterment of the Nigerian society that, after several warnings from the British colonialists, he was threatened with deportation on three occasions.
As the slippery inside-left footballer in the old Lagos United Football Club, Slattery enjoyed the home away from his native Ireland. He was a time football referee. One of his most important assignments by the Roman Catholic Mission in Nigeria was completed with the founding of St. Finbarr’s College in January 1956. The school he founded was a Technical Grammar School, within the premises of St. Paul’s Primary School, Ebute-Metta. Slattery retired from the college In 1975 and later retired as vicar-general of the Archdiocese of Lagos[i].
[i] TELL July 28, 2003