Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It is a thing of joy to see you all, gathered here as it is our custom and I warmly welcome you to our Annual Archdiocesan Get-Together which I term dinner of appreciation. We are here to share and interact once again with one another as an appreciation for the year 2023 and to project into the year 2024. We thank God who has made it possible for us to gather this way in good health. May His Holy Name be praised both now and forever, Amen.
With joy and thanksgiving for God’s graciousness, I welcome you all warmly and wish you a Happy New Year 2024. Ki odun y’abo fun gbogbo wa o. Ki aanu ati ibukun Oluwa wa lori gbogbo wa. Amin.
DECEASED PRIESTS AND RELIGIOUS
At this point, with sadness and grieve, we recall, commemorate and honour the memory of some of our Priests, Religious and Lay Faithful who departed during the course of the Year. We recall in particular;
- 1. Rev. Fr. Thaddeus Falade
- 2. Rev. Fr. Stanley Ukasoanya, ISch,
- 3. Rev. Fr. Fintan Daly, SMA,
We recall with sorrowful hearts also, the passing of some Lay Faithful. Among others, permit me to mention Late Pa Christopher Ofere, the driver of the Emeritus Archbishop. We pray eternal rest for all the dead and consolation to all the bereaved, Amen.
May we rise and observe a minute of silence, please.
THE YEAR 2023
The year 2023 has come and gone but memories of it remain. I sincerely appreciate the efforts of each and every one of you, who contributed to the life and growth of the Church – Priests, Consecrated Persons, our dear Laity and even our non-Catholic friends. I thank you for your sacrifices, faith, and goodwill.
Permit me to recall some highlights of the year:
APPOINTMENT OF NEW DEANS
During the course of the Year, new Deans were appointed to assist me in the work in the Archdiocese. They are as follows
- South Deanery – Rev. Fr. Gregory Oyelami
- North Denaery – Rev. Fr. Abiodun Ademoye, OP
- East Deanery – Rev. Fr. Philip Egunjobi
- West Deanery – Rev. Fr. Bernard Azeez
- Msgr J. K. Idowu remains the Dean of Central Deneary
ERECTION OF 5 PARISHES/CHAPLAINCY AND 9 QUASI PARISHES
Amidst the celebration and joys of this Year’s Cathedraticum, to the glory of God, we erected and announced 4 New Parishes and 9 Quasi Parishes. We now have as parish;
- St. James, Olorunda Aba.
- St. Francis, Sanyo – Soka.
- St. Augustine, Ojoo.
- Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Lade.
We have the following as Quasi Parishes;
- St. Theresa Catholic Church, Awotan.
- Mater Dei Catholic Church, Gbopa.
- St. Martin de Pores Catholic Church, Ajobo.
- Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Catholic Church, Joyce B.
- St. Benedict Catholic Church, Aba Oke
- St. Dominic Catholic Church, Ogungbade.
- St. Augustine Catholic Church, Olode
- St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Airport Quarter.
- Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, POAT.
Upon the completion of the priests’ rectory, 1 Chaplaincy was also erected, namely:
- St. Luke’s Chaplaincy, UCH
This is very obvious indication of God’s blessing and abiding presence in our Archdiocese, as well as a testament to our Spiritual and Physical development in the Archdiocese. We thank all the Priests, Religious and Lay Faithful who worked tirelessly and contributed to the building and development of these Churches. May our Archdiocese continue to grow to the glory of God.
I must say, these Churches are still at their infancy. I call on Priests and Laity of these Churches to continue to labour until they attain full maturity.
2023 WORLD YOUTH DAY AT LISBON
In the month of August, 2023, 13Ibadan Catholic Youths and Animators, some sponsored by their deaneries and by the Archdiocese, others by individuals represented us at the World Youth Day Celebration at Lisbon, Portugal. It is important to state that, from Nigeria, Ibadan had the highest representation at the event. It was a life changing encounter and experience for our youths. We thank God for the success and also some deaneries who sponsored their youths. All your efforts are acknowledged and well appreciated. Thank you so much.
NEW BISHOP OF ILORIN DIOCESE
I wish to congratulate Msgr. Anselm Pendo LAWANI, the Bishop-Elect of the Diocese of Ilorin. Msgr. Lawani was, until his appointment as Bishop, Ilorin Diocesan Administrator. With this, my duties and sojourn to Ilorin Diocese will come to an end. His ordination and installation ceremonies will hold on the 2nd of February 2024. We pray that he will be filled with the grace of his new office. Amen.
NEW RECTOR AT BODIJA SEMINARY
I wish to congratulate Very Rev. Anthony Igbekele, the newly appointed Rector of Ss. Peter & Paul Major Seminary, Bodija, Ibadan. We pray that he will be filled with the grace of his new office. Amen.
10th and 25th PRIESTLY AND 70th BIRTHDAY ANNIVERSARY
I want to also recall the celebration of the 70th birthday of both Msgr. J. K. Idowu and Msgr. Peter Ade Otubusin. We congratulate them once again. We equally congratulate Rev. Fathers Frederick Samuel and Peter Ajeigbe who celebrated 10th priestly ordination anniversary in the previous Year. We take this opportunity to also extend warm congratulations to Rev. Fathers Mark Obayi, Asawale Paul, Omolade Francis who celebrated their silver priestly ordination anniversary.
I wish thank you all, especially the Laity in the Parishes they serve, for your show of love and support to your Priests during their celebrations. God bless you all.
During the year, we were blessed with three (3) new priests ordained for the Archdiocese of Ibadan. I welcome them once again and present them to you: Rev. Fr. Jemibor Peter, Rev. Fr. Joseph Baranjoko and Rev. Fr. Edward Olojede. They have since resumed various assignments. May the Lord keep them steadfast in their pastoral duties. Amen!
Five of our sons, alongside two others, were also raised to the Order of Deacons on the 31st of December, 2023. They are: Rev. JohnPaul Aninwodo (St. Mary, Cathedral), Rev. Jemibor Peace (St. Lawrence, Lasokun), Rev. Adeniyi Joseph, Rev. Azeez Gabriel (Our Lady of Fatima, Eleta) and Rev. Anthony Fasakin (St. Ignatius of Loyola). They shall be returning to the Seminary at Bodija to continue and conclude their formation. May the Lord bless you and guide your feet.
PRIESTS ON STUDIES
Kindly be informed that some of our priests, during the course for the year went on studies, Rev. Fr. Francis Onugha and Rev. Fr. Egbe Eugene are now in Ireland; Rev. Fr. Callistus Orjika is in the United Kingdom and Fr Israel Ogundipe in Milan for Ecclesiastical Studies. We wish them well in their study and a safe return
Some of our priests, about 14 of them are currently undergoing studies at the National Teacher’s Institute, (NTI) training to be professionals in education. You will agree with me that the pastoral presence and support of Priests in all our schools is greatly desired and necessary.
I should mention also, that three of our priests just completed their Post Graduate Studies during the previous year in Secular Courses; Rev. Fathers, Anthony Akiwowo, Patrick Odediran and Vincent Anuniru. Congratulations to them.
SYNOD ON SYNODALITY – IBADAN ARCHDIOCESE AND MARONITE EPARCHY
In the spirit of the Synod on Synodality, the Archdiocese and the Maronite Eparchy had some interactive and ecumenical encounters during the Year. First, we had the Seminar on Synod on Synodality on the Latin and Maronite Rite in May 13, 2023. Secondly, we had our Annual Archdiocesan Christmas Carols together at the Maronite Eparchy on December 3, 2023.
The Church, in the spirit of Synodality has enjoined us to journey and listen together in achieving the common Mission of Christ, and that we have started in our Local Church here and we hope for a more robust relationship.
RETURN OF RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY TO IBADAN
I am happy to inform you that, in December 2023, the Seat of International Novitiate for Africa of the Dominican Sisters, Ogungbade was transferred to Our Archdiocese where it was until 2015. We warmly welcome them back to Ibadan and wish them growth, both in charism and apostolate.
With the presence of so many Novitiates, we hope more of our daughters will embrace Vocation to the Religious Life.
At this point, I welcome and introduce to you, priests and sisters who came into the Archdiocese in the last one year:
- Daughters of The Holy Spirit
Sr Esther Amowe, DHS
- 2. Sisters of Saint Louis
Sr. Margaret Dauda, SSL
- 3. Society of Divine Vocation (SDV)
Sr Josephine Odoh, SDV, Bursar,
Sr. Maria Ogbor, SDV
- 4. Oblates of St Joseph (OSJ)
Fr. Leo Ukwuani OSJ - Parish Priest of St. Cecilia Ayegbusi.
Fr. Simon Madu OSJ - Assistant Priest
- 5. Society of Missionaries of Africa
Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Avonyoh, SMA, Superior of the Formation House
- 6. Dominican Fathers
Fr. Bonaventure Agbali, OP (Lecturer, D.U.)
Fr. JohnMark Igboalisi, OP (Lecturer, D.U.)
Fr. AveMaria Erarhiefe, OP
- 7. Josephite (Sacred Heart of Jesus)
Rev. Fr. Judemary Amgbeye, CMF, Dean of Students
- 8. Franciscan Sisters
Sr Elizabeth Otenaike (N/P School Igangan)
Sr. Linda Okolo (N/P school Igboora).
- 9. Religious Sisters of Charity
Sr. Agatha Lucy Mary Onye, Nurse Midwife
Sr. Martina Iyamah, Postulant Director
- 10. Claretians
Fr Timothy Amaku, CMF
- 11. Josephite of Mulriado
Fr. Jacob Yeboah, CSJ (Community Superior)
Fr. Justine Umburnen Adeka, CSJ (Community Bursar)
- 12. Medical Missionaries of Mary
Sr Stella Ovientaoba, MMM, (Novice mistress)
Sr Eunice Ewerinde, (Student at DU)
- 13. Oblates of St Joseph, Sister
Sr. Lillian Nweke, OSJ (Postulate Mistress)
Sr. Priscilla Mnena Akeer, OSJ
Sr. MaryJohn Chisomaga Sylvester, OSJ
- 14. Dominican Sisters
Sr M. Elizabeth Tadafe OP,
Sr. M Teopists Akugizibwe, OP, (Novice Mistress)
Sr. M. Jacqueline Anurunkem, OP, (Novitiate Prioress)
- 15. St. Pio Capuchin Friary, Ibadan.
Friar Gabriel Amokaha OFMCap, (Vice-Director of Students)
- 16. Our Lady of Apostle
Sr Dorothy Ihumezie, OLA (Deputy Matron)
Sr Lelia Barikpe, OLA (Finance Controller, Oluyoro)
- 17. Sisters of Jesus the Savior
Rev Sr Joecletia Maria Umelo, SJS (Community Superior in making)
Rev Sr Mary Emilina Anike, SJS (Bursar)
Rev Sr Mary Dominic Okpara, SJS (Student Affairs)
- 18. Redemptorist
Fr. Vincent Obogo Oko, CSsR (St. Mulumba, Alakia Parish)
Fr Norbert Opara, CSsR (St Dominic Quasi parish, Ogungbade)
Fr. Michael Nzekwe, CSsR (St Augustine Quasi parish, Olode)
Fr. Joseph Yusuf, CSsR,
Fr Brendan Ugwu, CSsR:
- 19. Immaculate Heart of Mary
Sr. Miriam Therese Nwabuwa (Headmistress Bishop Finn)
Sr. Mary Erica Mbalaso, IHM (BURSARY, Bishop Finn)
- Missionaries of Africa White Fathers
Fr. Delphin Nyembo, MAfr.
- 21. Sister Dioceses
Fr. Lawrence Adetola (Ekiti Diocese)
Fr. Augustine Ugwumgbo (Nsukka Diocese)
We welcome you all to the Archdiocese and wish you a fruitful stay.
THE YEAR 2024.
In the month of October 2024, the ordination classes of 1999 & 2014 shall be celebrating twenty-five years and ten years of priestly ordination anniversaries respectively. We pray the lord to bless them and fructify their priestly apostolate.
- Synod of Synodality ends this Year
Pope Francis, in October 2021, formally opened the Synod on Synodality with the theme, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission,” and this multi-stage process, after the Diocesan, National and Continental phases, was supposed to culminate in Rome in 2023. However, the Holy Father has announced an extension till October 2024 so as to have a fuller and mature deliberation. As Catholics, it is our duty to continue our prayer for the synod and also practice and domesticate the theme of Communion, Participation and Mission in our various Parishes. May the fruit of the synod endure, Amen.
- Family Life and Values
The distractions and busyness of the modern life is making it more difficult for families to integrate (CCC 2225). More and more families are torn apart by the current economic crises not to mention the effect of social media and pop culture on young ones. This is the reality of our time.
In the Catholic Church, family life and the upbringing of young ones are of utmost importance. The family is the fundamental unit of society and the domestic church; hence, parents have the responsibility for the sound education and formation of their young ones; instilling values, and guiding them in their journey.
No doubt, the Church recognizes that raising younger ones in this time can be more challenging than ever. Therefore, parents need the support and guidance of the Church. Parent should use the various resources, means and opportunities the Church provides such as catechesis, programs, retreats, and counseling services to assist themselves in their role of raising children. We must pray that all families enjoy peace, progress & unity, Amen.
- Development of Every Lay Organization and Apostolate
Lay organizations, movements, associations, confraternities, and societies play a significant role in the life of the Catholic Church, especially in promoting mission, in deepening faith, and engaging in service. Therefore, it is a wonderful thing that every lay person belongs to at least one society to express their gift and talent.
To remain a mere church-goer is against the spirit of participation, communion and mission which the Church preaches. It is important to belong somewhere. Yet, it is not enough to belong, one must contribute positively and not negatively.
Therefore, the tendency to belong in order to be in charge or dominate or be overly influential is inimical to the growth and development of any organization. For this reason, lay organizations are not political parties. Rather, they should be rooted in prayer, guided by the Magisterium, that is, the teachings of the Church, and open to the pastoral direction of their chaplains. This is the way forward.
- Lay Collaboration for Growth in Parishes
Now we turn to the issue of Lay collaboration. The Church recognizes the importance of Lay collaboration in its mission and teaches that the laity have a specific vocation to participate actively in the Church’s mission (CCC 897). The laity are encouraged to use their talents, skills, and gifts to collaborate with their priests.
This Collaboration between the laity and priests can take various forms. Laity can support priestly ministry by assisting at liturgical celebrations, catechesis, evangelization, works of charity; and by providing expertise and insights in matters related to the Church.
In collaborating, everyone contributes according to their specific gifts and roles. When the laity and priests work together in unity, the Church is strengthened, and the mission of proclaiming the Gospel is advanced. Therefore, I thank all those who work hard in collaboration with their priests to ensure the growth of their parishes and encourage more and more lay collaboration in our Archdiocese.
- Way Forward in the Year 2024
Dialogue: We must begin, now more than ever, to imbibe and use the tool of dialogue, especially in the face of conflict and disagreement, whether it be on family or societal or political situation. Authentic dialogue fosters understanding, promotes reconciliation and builds peaceful relationship. It is in dialogue that we recognize the views and perspectives of the other party and realize the needs and rights of others and even possibly, the errors of our ways. Let us engage more with the spirit of dialogue and so ensure peaceful coexistence, tranquility, order and progress.
Forgiveness: from time to time, we are bound to offend each other and find ourselves in situation of mutual mistrust, deep anger and frustration. At these times, total and unconditional forgiveness as preached by Christ in the Gospel is the only remedy. True forgiveness promotes healing and restores broken relationship.
On the other hand, to refuse forgiveness leads us to close our hearts and arms to our brothers and sisters. Let us, in this new year, in our various life situation forgive who ever has wronged us.
Do something to stop the evil around you
Evil thrive when we fold our arms, watch and do nothing. Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act. The greatest tragedy is not the brutality of the evil people but rather, the silence of good people – says Martin Luther King Jnr. If God has put you in a position to speak, either in the society or even in the church, please, start by speaking up against evil and then acting on it. This way, we can combat evil in our midst and allow for peace and progress.
Pray and back it up with good works
As saint James reminds us in his epistle, faith without work is dead (James 2:14-26). When we pray for a good Nigeria, let us also back it up with good works. When we pray for a better parish or society, let us ensure that we are lifting a finger to help. To desire change and not work towards it is a job in futility. At this time in our country, we need to balance faith with work. Let us combine faith with action and all will go on well for us. We can state here, the age long quote from St. Augustine, ‘Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.’
Be kind in thoughts, words and deed
In this new year, please, let us resolve to be more charitable to our neighbors in our thoughts, words and deeds. The starting point of kindness must be in our thoughts. We must have best and kind wishes towards others and not desire their failure or misfortune. And if we must speak, we must ensure that our words don’t hurt or cause people to sadness or anger.
Peace and harmony are impossible without the virtue of charity. If we desire more peace in our lives and society, we must become more kind. The entire message of the Christmas Season is lost if we fail at this.
Always be ready to help other in need.
The country is really hard, but it harder for some than others. It is our God-given duty to hasten to help others in need cheerfully. Indeed, God loves a cheerful giver. And if you cannot afford material goods, there is definitely something you have more than others, kindly give it too.
+ G. ‘Leke Abegunrin
Archbishop of Ibadan
5th JANUARY 2024.