HEART-FELT TRIBUTES were paid to Fr Eddie Hartnett, SMA, at St Agnes, Maryland, Lagos on Monday 18 December when he celebrated the Golden Jubilee of his ordination to the priesthood.

Fr Eddie was ordained at St Colman’s Cathedral, Newry, Co. Down by the Bishop of Dromore, Dr Eugene O’Doherty, whose reign as bishop started in 1944 and ended in 1976.

In those 32 years, Dr O’Doherty imposed his Episcopal hands on hundreds of SMA priests who studied for the priesthood in Dromantine College. In subsequent years, SMA priests were ordained in their home parishes.

The Mass at St Agnes was the second leg of a double header in what proved to be an exhausting two days of celebrations for Fr Eddie.

He had earlier celebrated the first of the Jubilee Masses in his present parish, St Andrew’s, Kweme Sea Beach, a flick of a coin from Seme border, the entry point to the Republic of Bénin.

The journey by road from St Andrew’s to St Agnes’ on that Monday morning was a torturous one, no thanks to infuriating potholes and incessant traffic jams (somewhat misleadingly referred to here as a “go-slow”).

The trip that last between four and six hours was guaranteed to test the patience of a person half Fr Eddie’s age! Being one of the senior priests in Lagos archdiocese and holding several key posts within the archdiocese, it was just another journey in the course of his weekly meetings in the metropolis. Fr Eddie somehow managed to maintain an unruffled appearance, attributable to his regular exercise, tennis, swimming and walking.

The high regard in which he is held by clergy and people alike was reflected in the large and enthusiastic attendances at both Masses. He has spent the greater part of his missionary life outside of the Metropolis of Lagos. For many years, he was in the coastal town of Badagry which is considered by many as the “cradle of Christianity” in Nigeria since the Christian message was first preached there in 1842 and 20 years later the renowned Fr Francesco Borghero, SMA, celebrated the first Mass in Badagry in 1863.

Fr Hartnett’s name in any parish in Lagos archdiocese instantly associates him with the Badagry area. He speaks Egun and Yoruba, and that adds a little lustre to his highly vaunted reputation, particularly among the indigenes.

His association with the area has been a long and productive one. He has worked tirelessly in several parishes within Badagry itself devoting himself to the usual pastoral commitments, while putting special emphasis on the cultivation of catechists and the nurturing of vocations to both the diocesan and missionary priesthood. The evidence of his effectiveness in both areas of priestly ministry is highlighted by the number of diocesan priests who are natives of the area.

Presiding at the Jubilee Mass at St Agnes was Archbishop Alfred Martins. Among the concelebrants were Bishop Albert Fasina of Ijebu-Ode, Bishop Felix Ajakaiye of Ekiti, a good number of Monsignors, parish priests, their assistants, Sisters from a variety of religious Congregations, catechists, lay leaders and many parishioners from Badagry and other parishes in Lagos.

Msgr Philip Hoteyin, Frs John Amuda, Osbert Egbe, Wilfried Kouijzer, Peter McCawille, Danny Monaghan, Augustine Onwuzurike, Julius Temuyi and Emmanuel Zinsu were among those who attended the ceremony.

 At the reception in McGovern Hall, several speeches were delivered and gifts were presented to Fr. Hartnett in recognition of his selfless service.


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