Father Jack Finucane, who has died aged 80, was a Catholic missionary whose life became inextricably linked with the aid agency Concern Worldwide.
Born in Limerick city, Jack was one of seven children of Brigid-Delia (nee Byrnes) and John Finucane. His father was general manager of JJ O’Toole’s paper merchants.
Following in the footsteps of his older brother Aengus, at 18 Jack entered the Spiritan Novitiate at Kilshane, County Tipperary. He was ordained in 1963 and three years later was a young parish priest in rural Nigeria when the outbreak in 1967 of the Biafran war led to him moving from pastoral to emergency relief work.
As famine raged in Biafra and on television screens worldwide, food was shipped from Ireland and flown onwards via Caritas, the international Catholic agency, to Biafra, where Jack and fellow Spiritans then organised it into road convoys. After the war, having been briefly imprisoned, he was expelled from Nigeria.
After a short teaching spell in Ireland at Rockwell college, a Spiritan school in County Tipperary, and MA studies at the University of San Francisco, Jack was appointed in 1973 to head the operations in postwar Bangladesh of Concern, as the international NGO with headquarters in Dublin was then known.
The following year he moved to Ethiopia, to head the work of Concern there from its national headquarters in the capital, Addis Ababa. He subsequently did a second – and longer – stint as country director in both countries. His six years in Ethiopia from 1984 coincided with its devastating famine and, standing apart from other aid agencies, he decided to work with those people who had been forcibly resettled internally by the government.
From 1991 he became Africa regional director of Concern and, with the expansion of Concern’s work, regional director for the Horn of Africa. He lived in Dublin. Jack was directly involved in responding to some 20 humanitarian emergencies including Rwanda – he was shocked by his visit to Kigali prison – Sierra Leone, Somalia and, after he “retired” in 2002, Darfur in western Sudan and Sri Lanka after the tsunami in 2004.
Jack love of travel saw him climb Mount Kilimanjaro, drive through eastern Europe at the height of communism, and walk on the Great Wall of China. The hurling and Gaelic football that he played in his youth were replaced in later life by golf.
He is survived by his brother Joe and sisters Mary and Patricia.