BRIEF HISTORY OF ARCHANGELS’ PARISH, SATELLITE TOWN, LAGOS.
First and Foremost, the Archangels’ Catholic Church started as one of the Out-Stations set up by Rev. Fr. John Burke, S.M.A, in 1981, when he was the Parish Priest of Saints Mulumba and David Catholic Church, Lawanson. Later, Rev. Fr. Burke was transferred to Holy Family Catholic Church, Festac Town by Archbishop Anthony Olubunmi Okogie, DD. This brought him very close to his tender flocks. The Divine manifestations at that time proved that God conceived the idea and located His Vineyard in this part of Nigeria through His chosen people referred to as the Pioneer Parishioners or the Founding Fathers to carry out His plan. Some of the previleged individuals are namely: Late Chief Steve Ossai, Dr. Anthony J. Ekanem, Chief Andrew and Mrs. Veronica Nwadike, Otunba (Sir) Joseph Sanwo (KSM), Chief Gabriel Owolabi, Chief Clement Onah, Mrs. H.A. Akinjolire, Chief (Mrs) Cecilia N. Ossai, Engr. D.K. Kufeji, Chief Elias Ibeh Dike, Late Mrs. Elizabeth Udobi and several others, too numerous to mention here.
The list will be incomplete without mentioning the Rev. Fathers that assisted Rev. Fr. Burke, S.M.A, from the Lagos Diocese Catholic Secretariat, such as Rev. Monsignor Raphael Anasiodu and Rev. Monsignor D. Inyang. The later celebrated the Church’s first Harvest Thanksgiving and Bazzar Sales on Sunday, 6th December, 1981. These two were the most regular Priests. Another Priest that offered great assistance was Rev. Fr. J. Coakley, S.M.A from Saints Mulumba & David Catholic Church, Lawanson, Ikate, Surulere.
THE BURDEN AND THE TOIL
Satellite Town was then a new found land. It was very swampy and covered with thick forests, crocodiles and reptiles. The “Noble Project” of getting a Catholic Church in the area then, required a great amount of toil. According to Chief Andrew Ndidi Nwadike, a former Vice Chairman of the Parish Pastoral Council, The task was quite challenging, but exciting and joyous. The commitment then amazing. The Founding Fathers could just not explain where their strength came from, irrespective of them magnitude of the workload. Operating in high spirit, the pioneer Parishioners constituted themselves as “Satellite Association of Resident Catholics” and met on Wednesdays at Dr. Anthony J, Ekanem’s residence at Close 3, House 7. The pivotal roles played by Late Chief Steve Ossai, Dr. Anthony J. Ekanem, Chief Andrew Ndidi Nwadike, Mrs. H.A. Akinjolire, Otunba (Sir) Joseph Sanwo (KSM) and Chief Gabriel Owolabi culminated in the celebration of the First Mass took place in F.H.A Restaurant, known today as Federal Civil Service Club, on Wednesday, 27th September, 1981, which happened before the Feast of the Archangels. This Feast eventually informed the choice of the Parish’s great name.
The Founding Fathers basking in euphoria of the First Mass increased the tempo of their envangelization and appeals for fund. Chief Owolabi’s residence, Close 14, House 14 was regarded as the Association’s Secretariat.. Later, based on the overwhelming response received subsequently, the resident Catholics embarked on the search for a permanent place of worship in Satellite Town due to the relentless appeals from Rev. Fr. Burke that the FHA’s Restaurant had become too small and too congested for the Parishioners. Acting on the Biblical injunctions “Seek and ye shall find”, Late Chief Steve Ossai and his wife, Chief (Mrs) Cecilia N. Ossai, set out one Sunday afternoon in May, 1982, in search of a place for worship as part of evangelization. As God planned it, they stumbled on a large parcel of land adjacent to the National Oil Company Staff Quarters. On close enquiry, the couple discovered that the whole area on that axis was earmarked by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, specifically for public worship. Without delay, they joyfully rushed to the Executive Committee of the Satellite Catholic Association to disclose their “ultimate discovery”. The Association too, sent Delegates who intimated Rev. Fr. John Burke of the development. Elated by the “news”, Fr. Burke urged them not to relent until the land is properly secured.
In June, 1982, Chief Steve Ossai and Chief Gabriel Owolabi with the help of Mr. Mann – an Assistant Director in Survey Department, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, carried out a survey of the land covering an area of 3.96 acres. Thereafter, a signboard depicting Satellite Catholic Residents Assocciation as the owner of the parcel of land was erected to ward off intruders. In July, 1986, Chief Steve, Mr. Mann, the assistant Director in Survey Department, Chief Gabriel Owolabi and the Chief Draughtsman of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, also visited the prime location. With the support and guidance of His Grace, Archbishop A.O. Okogie, DD at this stage, all the necessary documentation was processed. A certified Allocation Letter was issued to the Catholic Church by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, before work commenced on the site. The Catholic Residents at this point, began mobilization and outreach for more members in full blast.
The need for the celebration of regular Holy Mass became imperative. The desire increased, but for the need to be satisfied, the Church must have a Resident Priest. And for them to have a Resident Priest, the Parishioners must build Rev. Fathers’ House and a place of worship. Left with no other option, the Founding Fathers rallied support and first, built one standard storey building for Rev. Fathers and one small class-room like-Hall for worship. This no doubt, showed their zeal and thirst for the word of God and salvation. With the two structures now on ground, the Founding Fathers confidently and courageously presented their request for a Priest to Rev. Fr. John Burke, S.M.A. They mounted pressure until when Rev. Fr. Burke conveyed their request to the Archbishop Anthony Olubunmi Okogie, who after consideration embraced the request. His Grace’s subsequent decision and actions, made the history for us today and for the future generation.
THE COMING OF THE REDEMPTORISTS TO NIGERIA
The Redemptorists is a Male Religious Congregation, known as the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer founded in Scala, Rome in 1732 by Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori. The Congregation focuses on preaching the Gospel to the most abandoned and to the poor in their remote areas. The Congregation accepts Parishes in isolated areas in order to help alleviate the conditions of the most abandoned. So, in the light of the above and as an act of Divine Providence, Archbishop Okogie acting on the Satellite Catholics’ appeal, forwarded a convincing request to Rev. Fr. Patrick J. 0′ Brien – Provincial Superior, Province of Oakland, U.S.A, for his Priests to work in Nigeria. In his reply dated 11’h June, 1987, the Provincial Superior obliged to be part of God’s partner in the spiritual progress. The Archbishop, now Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, DD, Archbishop Emeritus in his Acknowledgement Letter dated 27° June, 1987, thanked him for his “prompt action and passionate interest”, in sending his men to serve in our Catholic Community.
During Mass on Sunday, 30° August, 1987, Rev. Fr. John Burke, announced with fanfare, the impending arrival of FOUR MEN of the Redemptorist Congregation to our Parish. The Church greeted this cheery news with deafening ovation. The first set comprising: Rev. Fr. William Cleary, C.Ss.R. and Rev. Fr. William Peterson, C.Ss.R, arrived Nigeria on Wednesday, 30° September, 1987, while the second set, comprising: Rev. Bro. Daniel Hall, C.Ss.R. and Rev. Bro. Richard Fischer, C.Ss.R. arrived on Thursday, 22′ October, 1987. The Parishioners were highly elated. Their joy knew no bounds. The Parish organized in the honour of the first set, “A Five Day Reception Programme” spanning from 30° September to 4° October, 1987. The second set on arrival was given a similar reception. Precisely, both sets were accorded enthusiastic reception right from Murtala Mohammed Airport, Ikeja.
DEVELOPMENTS IN THE ARCHANGELS’ PARISH
It is two-folds:
Before the arrival of the Redemptorists, the following Out-Stations were already in existence, administered by Rev. Fr. John Burke SMA, i. St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, OjoAlaba (formerly an Out-Station of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Ajegunle, but later absorbed by Rev. Fr. Burke.) ii. St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, Agboju-Amuwo (set up by Rev. Fr. Burke, about three months before the Archangels), iii. St. Martin’s De Porres’ Catholic Church, Agric., Ojo (set up by the same Rev. Fr. Burke, in November, two months after the Archangels).
After the arrival of the Redemptorists’ FOUR MAN TEAM in the Parish with Rev. Fr. William M. Cleary, C.Ss.R as the Parish Priest, both spiritual and structural works, not only gained high momentum, but huge developments were achieved. The Archangels’ Catholic Church’s Parish status was announced in 1991, by His Grace, Archbishop Anthony Okogie, DD after a total of ten years of hard work. The Redemptorists created Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church Out-Station and other Out-Stations.
N.B: These Out-Stations have since attained Parish status and have also created their own Out-Stations.
DATE ATTAINED STATUS
i. St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Ojo-Alaba – 1993
ii. St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, Agboju-Amuwo – 2010
iii. St. Martin’s De Porres’ Catholic Church, Ojo Agric- 2011
iv. Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church, Tedi Muwo – 2012
N.B: These Parishes too have since created their own Out-Stations too numerous to mention here.
THE ARCHANGELS’ PRESENT QUASI PARISHES
Quasi Parish announced by His Grace, Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins, DD on Tuesday, 25° March, 2014.
i. Holy Spirit Catholic Church, Onireke – 2014
ii. Mother of Perpetual Catholic Church, Ijegun – 2015
Church of the Resurrection, Ijegun ceded to Mother of Perpetual Help as an Out-Station.
These two Quasi Parishes were prepared and became Quasi Parishes at the request made to the Archbishop by Rev. Fr. Vincent Ezezue, CSsR, the current Parish Priest.
All Saints Catholic Church, Ibeshe created by Rev. Fr. Patrick Scott, C.Ss.R – 1998
St. Alphonsus Ira ceded to St. Martin’s De Porres as an Out-Station
Church of Immaculate Conception, Abule-Oshun ceded to Saints Peter & Paul, Tedi as an Out-Station.
These two Out-Stations were ceded when Rev. Fr. Celestine Okah, C.Ss.R. was the Parish Priest
Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, Liverpool Estate, Zone 2 Satellite Town – Feb. 2014 Created by Rev. Fr. Vincent Ezezue, C.Ss.R on Sunday, 9th February, 2014.
The Archangels’ Parish of today is blessed with two Outstations namely:
All Saints Catholic Church, lbeshe
Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, Liverpool Estate, Zone II Satellite Town.
The landmark one storey Parish House and the first classroom like-hall were built during the time of Rev. Fr. John Burke, S.M.A. This was before the arrival of the Redemptorists in Nigeria. Rev. Fr. William Cleary, C.Ss.R took over from Rev. Fr. Burke as the Parish Priest on 30th September, 1987. The arrival of the Redemptorists greatly renewed the Parishioners’ strength. Shortly after, between 1988 to 1992, work on a one “One-Storey Parish Hall” for worship and Office upstairs was speedily completed with Rev. Fr. Cleary in charge. The first small Class-room like-Hall built earlier could no longer contain worshippers on Sundays. During the said periods, the land for the Rev. Sisters of Charity’s residence at Navy Town Road, Satellite Town, was purchased and built by the Rev. Sisters Religious Society.
In 1993, after Adult Harvest and Bazaar Sales, men of the underworld attacked Rev. Fr. Cleary at midnight in his residence. The robbers demanded for the Harvest’s proceeds after inflicting deep machete cuts on his head, but “he told them that the money was not in his custody”. And “that God’s Servants would be reduced only by one if they kill him”. At this point, the leader of the gang ordered, “leave him, let us go”. The incident led to the application for Police Post in the Parish.
In 1996, Rev. Fr. Patrick Scott, C.Ss.R came and Rev. Fr. Cleary returned to the Redemptorists Regional Headquarters in lbadan. Rev. Fr. Scott worked in the Parish from 1996 — 2002, as the Parish Priest. On 30 September, 1997, the Foundation for the Parish’s present edifice for worship was laid by Archbishop Okogie, DD’s delegate – Bishop Fitz Gibbon (S.P), assisted by Monsignor Samuel Okoduwa and Rev. Fr. Patrick Scott, C.Ss.R. After the Foundation Laying Ceremony, the foundation of the Church was completed but the project was left in abeyance due to lack of unity of purpose. The project was in that state until when Rev. Fr. Joterio Aghoja, C.Ss.R came in 2002.
In 2003, Rev. Fr. Joterio revisited the project after preaching a sermon titled: “I have a Dream”. Later, he set up a Fund Raising Committee to pursue his dream which actually materialized after three years. The magnificent Church building was to the glory of God dedicated on Sunday, 6th August, 2006, by Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, DD, the then Archbishop of Lagos.
In 2008, Rev. Fr. Celestine Okah, C.Ss.R came and tackled the construction of the Fathers’ House and a Health Care Centre. The Parish Priest — Fr. Celestine, after setting up the mini Archangels’ Clinic, laid the foundation of the present Fathers’ building on a higher location. He also started the Archangels’ Schools Project at the same time. Work was still on at the Archangels’ Schools when he was transferred in the year 2011.
In 2011, Rev. Fr. Lawrence Odoemena, C.Ss.R who was one of the Associate Priests was appointed the Parish Priest. Rev. Fr. Lawrence continued work on the Rev. Fathers’ House until he was transferred in 2013. He, however, completed work to enable the Archangels’ Schools for classes to begin in 2012.
In 2013, Rev. Fr. Vincent Ezezue, C.Ss.R became the Parish Priest. He completed the Rev. Fathers’ House and also carried out final works on the Archangels’ Schools before the blessing of both on Sunday, 16th March, 2014 by His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Alfred Adewale Martins DD. The Archbishop also blessed the Digital Bell installed in the Archangels’ Belfry on that same day. The Government Approval for Archangels’ College and Archangels’ Nursery and Basic Schools were gotten in 2015 and 2016 respectively. As the Church grew, so also was the problem of accommodation. As a result. the Parish Pastoral Council in 2014, reached a decision to pull down the one storey Block Hall earlier used for worship named after Rev. Fr. William Cleary, C.Ss.R. It gave way for an ultra-modern three Storey Building Project otherwise known as the Multi Purpose Building.
The Parish continues to contribute to the Spiritual growth of the Archdiocese of Lagos. An important and historic landmark was made in 2009 when the Chrism Mass for Badagry and Apapa Regions was celebrated in the Church. The practice of hosting and financing the Chrism Mass for these Regions in the Archangels’ Church still continues to date. The Parish successfully completed one of the Administrative Blocks at Saint Albert the Great Major Seminary at Idowu Ofonron, Ogun State and handed over it to the Archbishop of Lagos on Tuesday 10th March 2015.
Another landmark was made when also in 2009, the Redemptorist Congregation held the Priestly and Diaconate ordinations in the Parish. The Redemptorist Congregation also held the 2010, 2012 and 2013 Priestly and Diaconate Ordinations in the Parish. The history of the noble Parish will be incomplete without mentioning that the Silver Jubilee of the existence of Redemptorist in Nigeria was held in the Parish on 29th September 2012.
With this chronicle, one can clearly see that the Divine Manifestation in the Archangels’ Parish since it came into existence is amazing. To God be the glory for His graces and mercies.
THE PAST & PRESENT PASTORAL TEAM AT GLANCE
PAST AND PRESENT PARISH PRIESTS
REV. FR. JOHN BURKE, S.M.A 1981 – 1987
REV. FR. WILLIAM CLEARY, C.SS.R 1987 -1995
REV. FR. PATRICK SCOTT, C.SS.R 1996-2002
REV. FR. JOTERIO AGHOJA, C.SS.R 2002 -2008
REV. FR. CELESTINE OKAH, C.SS.R 2008 – 2011
REV. FR. LAWRENCE ODOEMENA, C.SS.R 2011 -2013
REV. FR. VINCENT EZEZUE, C.SS.R 2013 – 2019
REV. FR. GABRIEL ACHU, C.SS.R 2019 TILL DATE
PAST AND PRESENT ASSOCIATES
REV. MONSIGNOR D. INYANG
REV. MONSIGNOR ANASIODU
REV. FR. J. COAKLEY, S.M.A
REV. FR. WILLIAM BILL PETERSON, C.SS.R
REV. FR.ALPHONSUS M. DORAN, C.SS.R
REV. FR. JOHN O’RIODION, C.SS.R
REV. FR. BOB WRITH, C.SS.R
REV. BRO. DAN HALL, C.SS.R
REV. BRO. RICHARD FISCHER, C.SS.R
REV. FR. STEPHEN CULLEN, C.SS.R
REV. FR. PIUS BABATUNDE, C.SS.R
REV. FR. KINGSLEY ONYEKURU, C.SS.R
REV. FR. KENMARIA ONUOHA, C.SS.R
REV. FR. JUDE IBEH, C.SS.R
REV. FR. WILLIAM IKRE, C.SS.R.
REV. FR. DANIEL NWANKWO, C.SS.R
REV. FR. THOMPSON ANTHONY, C.SS.R
REV. FR. DONATUS CHUKWU, C.SS.R
REV. FR. GABRIEL ACHU, C.SS.R
REV. FR. MICHAEL EMERUE, C.SS.R
REV. FR. LAWRENCE ODOEMENA, C.SS.R
REV. FR. FRANCIS OKOROAFOR, C.SS.R
REV. FR. FELIX ALABI, C.SS.R
REV. FR. JOSEPH YUSUF, C.SS.R
REV. BRO. SAMUEL MBAGWU, C.SS.R
REV. FR. AUGUSTINE ONOJAH, C.SS.R
REV. FR. ALEX NWAODAZIE, C.SS.R
REV. FR. CALLISTUS ONYEANUSI, C.SS.R
REV. FR. RAPHAEL KOLEADE, C.SS.R
RELIGIOUS SISTERS OF CHARITY
REV. SR. STEPHANIE MACAULAY, RSC
REV. SR. BRID GREVILLE, RSC
REV. SR. PHILOMENA NEARY, RSC
REV. SR. JACINTA K. STEPHEN, RSC
REV. SR. AUGUSTINA ALOZIE, RSC
REV. SR. IRENE C. UGWOEGBU, RSC
REV. SR. FRANCA AHUMIBE, RSC
MR. CHARLES IJOMA
MS. LAETITIA CHUKWUMA
LADY IFEOMA EMEKA-ABOH
LADY PATRICIA NWANGENE (Present)