The history of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Chirch, Ladipo- Shogunle, Oshodi dates back to the early 1950’s. It has its origin from St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Mushin. St. Micheal’s Catholic Church, Mushin, came into being on 20th October, 1943, when a small church built with bamboo sticks and thatch roof was blessed and opened by Late Rev. Father F.E Birmimgham (S.M.A), a curate under Rev. Fr. Galvin (SMA) –rector of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Yaba. The church at Mushin was situated at No. 1, Oyegunle Street, Idi-Oro and later, in 1955, moved to Agege Motor Road, Baba-Olosa, Mushin (Now Regina Mundi Catholic Church).
In those days, Catholics living around Oshodi, Shogunle, Agege and Ikeja had to treck to Mushin on Sundays to attend Masses. On the 17th of April, 1954, an association known as Legion of Mary was formed. The Legionaries, few in number as they were then, embarked on serious house to house evagelization within the Mushin area. As time went on, the Legionaries extended their evangelization to other neighbouring towns like Shomolu, Oshodi, Ikeja and Agege. In those days, there were no good roads, and transport facilities were very scarce. Yet the Legionaries defied all these as they went on home to home visitation, teaching Catechism and spreading the Catholic faith. Their activities, no doubt, led to increasing number of people from these neighbouring towns attending Masses on Sundays at Mushin.
As the number of worshippers attending Masses from these towns increased, it become necesary to organise Masses occasionally for them in their areas. Towards the end of 1956, a handful of Catholics living in Oshodi sent a delegation to Rev.Fr. D. J. Slattery, the Priest in Charge at the Church in Mushin, to solicit for the favour of saying Mass for them at Oshodi on Sundays. Fr. Slattery enquired about the size of the congregation and was impressed. He encouraged them to find a place suitable for celebration of Mass.
Consequently, on 7th December, 1956, the first Mass at Oshodi was said by Rev. Fr. Slattery at the Hall of Rainbow Hotel, along Agege Motor Road, Oshodi. 65 Catholics attended the Mass and only 18 recieved Holy Communion. Thereafter, the Priest, sometimes assisted by Rev. Fr. Cardiff, continued to say Masses for them on regular basis. The saying of Mass at Oshodi attracted more Catholics living in Oshodi and environs and the congregation grew fast in number.
In 1957, the ever-increasing congregation has outgrown the hall of Rainbow Hotel. Consequently the proprietor of the hotel, Alhaji Afolabi, consented to giving out one of the classrooms of his private school at Brown Street, Oshodi to be used for Masses on Sundays. The community continued to grow in number and in spirit.
As the Oshodi Community continued to grow in number and in spirit, soon the idea of having a permanent place of worhisp came to them. In 1958 the community bought some acres of land along Oyetayo Palm Avenue, Oshodi (now Oyetayo Street,). The land was bought with the proceeds of the 1957 Community’s Harvest.
In September 1957, Late Rev. J.K Aggey – the Auxilliary Bishop to Late Achibishop Leo Taylor, and Late Rev. Dr. Joseph Adeleye were transferred to Mushin. Later Rev. J.K Aggey donated money realised during his ordination as Auxilliary Bishop of Lagos to Oshodi Community, through Pa Quirino Anthonio. This money was used to build a hall and two classrooms as part of the land earlier purchased at Oyetayo Palm Avenue. The place was then being used as both place of worship and School (now St. John’s Primary School). The other part of the land was reserved for the construction of Church building and Rev. Father’s house. However, owing to the delay in developing the land, some unscrupulous people sold the land to STRABAG Construction company, who later sold it to DUMEZ, another Construction company.
The growth of the Young Mass Centre was so tremendous that Bishop Aggey did not hestitate to sanction the purchase of a piece of land for the permanent site of the church when Rev. Fr. D.J. Slattery brought the information to him.
The church/school served as mass Centre for Oshodi community for many years. Priests come from Mushin to celeberate Mass for them every Sunday. Some of the priests that officiated at the Mass Centre include; Rev. Fr. Julian Slattery- the Pioneer Priest, Rev. Fr. Joseph Carew, Late Rev. Dr. Adeleye, Rev. Fr. Fitz Gibbon, Rev. Fr. Gleen (who bequethed a box full of assorted Mass vestments to the Parish), Rev. Fr. Fitz Gerald (who adminstered the Mass Centre for long time) and Rev. Fr. Ghent, who opened/operated a bank saving Account for the Mass Centre, from the meagre Sunday collections.
In 1971 Rev. Fr. Fitz Gerald appointed Mr. Nicholas Okonkwo as interpreter for Igbo language and Mr. Paul Ajakaiye for Yoruba language. Mr. Nicholas Okonkwo doubled as interpreter, and church usher, which he still does till today, while Mr. John Ekeocha was made the first lay reader.
Meanwhile, the Legionaries from Mushin wasted no time in forming Our Lady of Mystical Rose Praesidium, Oshodi, to assist in the work of evangelization within the area. The Praesidium battled through oppositions and in early 1958, succeded in opening up another place of worship at Shogunle.
Notable among the Legionaries was Late Mrs. Martha Ore Bello; who later donated her residence to serve as community Centre at 39, Igbehinadun/Brown Street, Oshodi.
The Shogunle community, like Oshodi, was also growing fast. In 1962 a piece of land was purchased for the community Church, under the leadership of Mr. John Ibe and one Mr. Cletus. Through the efforts of members, a mud house was built on the land (the present St. Martins Church site). At the outbreak of the Nigerian Civil War in 1967, many members from the Eastern Region left for their own regions. The documents of the land were given to Mr. Bernand Oghumah for safe custody, which he did till 1970 when the war ended. After the civil war, the Shogunle community continued to worship at the mud house, which is being used as Mass Centre as well as a community centre. The mud house was pulled down around 1987 during the reign of Rev. Fr. Laffey and a new building was erected there. After the death of Fr. Laffey, Rev. Fr. O’ Leary took over. He brought some money from his home diocese in Ireland to roof the building. When Rev. Dr. Msgr. Philip Hoteyin came in as parish priest (2003- 2006), he found the house out of fashion and unbefiting of a Mass Centre.. He pulled it down and laid a foundation for a modern church building (the present St. Martin’s Church). The building was completed during the time of Rev. Fr. Stephen Enearu (2006 – 2008) and the Mass Centre was upgraded to an out Station. It is hoped that one day, St. Martin’s will become a full fledged parish
OSHODI/SHOGUNLE PARISH WAS BORN
In 1974, His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Anthony Olubunmi Okogie, the Archbishop of Lagos, appointed St. Patrick's Fathers to take charge of the Oshodi/Shogunle Community. The St. Patrick's Fathers’ Superior, Rev. Fr. O' Connor, posted Rev. Fr. Julian Connolly to Oshodi as the first resident Priest for both Oshodi and Shogunle communities with directives to see to the quick development of the Parish. Thus, the Oshodi-Shogunle Parish was born. The priest was housed in a building belonging to Mr. J.E. Everette, a prominent member of the community, near Ladipo Bus-Stop, along Agege Motor Road. This marks the emergence of the Oshodi-.Shogunle Church as a parish.
EXPULSION FROM ST. JOHN'S PRIMARY SCHOOL
Meanwhile, the Oshodi Community continued to worship at the St. John's Catholic Primary School. Around 1975/1976, the Lagos State Government took over all mission schools, including St. John’s Primary School. In 1976 the church was barred from using the school premises for church activities. This forced the worshippers to start immediate development of the land already purchased for the permanent site of the church at Wuraola Street. It happened that the worshippers came to the school one Sunday morning, as usual, for the celebration of Mass, but found the gate locked, with instruction that nobody should be allowed into the premises. They had to celebrate the Mass outside the school. After the Mass the priest (who was holding brief for the Parish Priest) asked the worshippers about the land they had purchased for the church’s permanent site. It was Mr. J.E Everette who admitted knowing the land and he took them to it. The land was cleared and temporary structure was erected immediately for use by the community as their Mass centre. At this point, some parts of the land had been taken over by some unscrupulus elements, while some structures being put on the land were destroyed by the youths of the church. Around 1977 some one started erecting a house at the present site of the parish hall. The parishioners pulled it down and some leaders of the church were taken to the police. The matter was later taken to court and the church won the case.
BUILDING OF ST. JOHN'S THE EVANGELIST CHURCH
Later, an energetic and hardworking priest, in the person of Rev. Fr. Thomas Greenan was brought to assist Rev. Fr. Connoly. The priests, with full support of the management committees of both Oshodi and Shogunle Communities, then under the leadership of Mr. F.K.W. Mensah and Chief J.B. Makinde respectively, mobilized the parishioners to clear the land and set in motion the process of building the main church. Mr. J.E. Everette, who had a construction company, mobilized some equipments of his company to work on the land and supplied some of the materials needed for the new church construction.
On 26th September 1976, the foundation stone of the new church was laid by His Grace, Archbishop Anthony Okogie. The church building was completed in a record time. On Sunday, 29th January 1978, the Church was dedicated to the Lord by Archbishop Anthony Okogie, and named St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, Oshodi- Shogunle.
THE PARISH HOUSE / FIRST PAPAL MEDALIST
On 4th March, 1979 the foundation stone of the Parish house - the Rev. Father's house was laid by His Grace Archbishop Anthony Okogie. At the same occasion the Archbishop decorated the first parishioner to be so honored, Late Mrs. Martha Ore Bello, with a Papal Medal in recognition of her outstanding contributions towards the growth of the church; one of them being the donation of her residence at Brown Street, Oshodi, for Community centre and her examplary life. The Parish house was completed and dedicated to the Lord by the same Archbishop Okogie on 28th September, 1980.
In June, 1980 Rev. Fr. Patrick Laffey was posted to the Parish to assist the over -worked Rev. Fr. Birmingham. In 1981, Rev. Fr. Laffey was for a brief period posted to St. Paul’s, Ebute-Metta. In June 1982, Rev. Fr. Jim Birmingham left the Parish on Sabbatical study in USA. Rev. Fr. Grace held brief for him as resident priest. In October, 1982, Rev. Fr. Patrick Laffey was posted back to the Parish as Parish priest and stayed till 1988 when he went on leave to Ireland and died there. May his soul rest in peace. Amen.
In 1986, Late Rev. Fr. Patrick Adegbite was sent to the Parish for a brief period, after his ordination, to hold fort for Fr. Laffey who went to Ireland on leave. He thus became the first Diocesan Priest to work in the Parish. In 1987, Rev Fr. John O'Leary was brought in to also assist Rev. Fr. Laffey, and later took over from him when he died in 1988. Rev. Fr. O'Leary was replaced by Rev. Fr. Noel Dunphy in 1989. Fr. Dumphy was not a St. Patrick’s Priest but a volunteer missionary from the Diocese of Kildale in Ireland. Fr. O’leary was also a Missionary Priest from Archdioces of Almagh in Ireland. Rev. Fr. Joseph Long replaced Rev. Fr. Dumphy in 1992. Rev. Fr. Joseph Long was to be the last St. Patrick's priest to serve in the Parish, as he handed over to Rev. Fr. Patrick Feyisetan in 1995, Rev. Fr. Albert Yankey from Ghana, Rev Fr. Charles Atuah (MSP), and Rev. Fr. Sean Quinn also served in the Parish between 1992/1995. As a result of the shortage of St. Patrick's Priests the Archbishop decided to hand over the Parish to Diocesan Priests. Thus ended the reign of St. Patrick's Missionary Fathers in the Parish. We shall ever be very grateful to the St. Patrick's Missionary Society for their pastoral care and development of the parish from 1956 to 1995.
Rev. Fr. Patrick Feyisetan (1995-1996): became the first Diocesan Priest to serve as Parish Priest of the Parish, while late Rev. Fr. Patrick Adegbite (1986) was the first Diocesan Priest to serve in the Parish (as an Assistant Priest). Rev. Fr. Feyisetan was replaced by Rev. Fr. Gabriel Osu (now Rev. Msgr) 1996 - 2003. Rev. Fr. Sylvester Owusu MSP (a Ghanaian) was Assistant Priest 1998 - 2002. Rev. Fr. Osu was replaced by Rev. Dr. Msgr. Philip Hoteyin 2003 - 2006. Rev. Fr. Stephen Enearu 2006 - 2008, came in to replace Rev. Dr. Msgr Hoteyin, while Rev. Fr. Francis Ike - replaced Fr. Enearu in January 2008- While The Present Parish Very Rev. Fr. Patrick Obayomi replace Rev. Fr. Francis Ike in the year 2013. The following priests also served as assistant priests. Rev. Fr. Joachim Ochibili, Rev. Fr. Massdile, Rev. Fr. Livinus Obianisi 2002 - 2005, Rev. Fr. Augustine Nnaemeka 2005 - 2006, Rev. Fr. Bernard Shokos Ngwu (MSP) 2006 - 2007, Rev. Fr. John Paul Ale 2008 - 2009, Rev. Fr. Melvis Mayaki 2009 , Rev. Fr. Theodore Martinos, Rev. Fr. Daniel Chigbu, Rev. Fr. Charlse Onouha, Rev. Fr. Innocent Chiamakha till date.
PROJECTS, RENOVATIONS AND RECONSTRUCTIONS
The Parish Clinic was established around 1979 and was housed at the conference hall of the parish house. The pioneer nursing sisters who managed the clinic were Rev. Sr. Leman, Rev, Sr. Patricia Amadi and Rev. Sr. Patricia Hely, all from the Medical Missionaries of Mary (MMM). The Rev. sisters were housed along African Church Street, a few houses away from the parish house. In order to expand the services of the clinic, a launching was held on Sunday, 4th April 1982, during which the Rotary Club of Isolo donated an Ambulance to the clinic. The health project expanded rapidly and conducted medical clinic once a week at four centres – Oshodi, Shogunle, Mafoluku and Ladipo. The center, however, suffered some financial problems and lack of patronge which led to its temporary closure in 1985.
In 1981 the Reverend Sisters opened another health Clinic at Dominion house Mafoluku and operated there until1983, when they moved into a permanent site at old Ewu Road near St. Jude’s Catholic Church, the present St. Catherine’s Health Clinic.
The St John’s parish clinic was reopened in 2002 under a new management board headed by Sir Puis Ehiagwina. The new board was inuagurated by Rev. Fr. Gabriel Osu in January 2003 with the instruction to establish a viable sustainable Parish Clinic. The board sought for funds from internal and external sources. Through the influence of Sir. Ehiagwina as a high ranking member of St. Vincent De Paul International, they were able to get some financial assitance from abroad. Since then the clinic has continued to grow from strength to strength and has widely expanded its scope of operation.
The Parish Hall :
The idea of a Parish hall was first conceived by Rev. Fr. Patrick Laffey, who nurtured the idea of a Two Storey building to house the Parish Clinic on the ground floor, the hall on the first floor and Rev. Sister’s residence on the top floor. He however could not actualize the dream before he died in 1988. The Catholic Youth Organization of the Parish took a bold step towards kick-starting the project when they organized a fund-raising ceremony on 27th May, 1990. The project however, could not take off because only a paltry sum of money was realized at the fund-raising. The project finally took off, and was completed during the tenure of Rev. Fr. Gabriel Osu and was named after Rev. Fr. Patrick Laffey. The hall was dedicated to God in the year 200l by His Eminence, Anthony Cardinal Okogie. The hall and clinic area was floored by St. Patrick’s Society and commissioned on 27th January, 2008. The building presently accommodates the Parish Clinic, the Parish Office and Priest’s offices on the ground floor while the hall is at the top floor.
Renovations and Reconstructions
The period between 1988 and 1991, which ended with His Grace, Archbishop A.O. Okogie’s 2nd Cannonical visit to the Parish (20th – 22nd December, 1991), recorded a spectacular landmark in the history of St. John the Evangelist Parish for the following reasons. The Church was expanded 40ft lengthwise and St. Martin’s Mass Centre was erected. These two projects were executed through the financial support of the Archdiocese of Almagh, nurtured through the instrumentality of our beloved Rev. Fr. John O’Leary. During the period, the terrazo work in the church was completed, and the church was filled with pews to replace the benches. Flooding, which was seriously threatening the compound, was brought under control. Furthermore, the CWO and CYO were reorganized. These achievements span across the reign of the following Parish Priests. Rev. Fr. John O’Leary, Rev. Fr. Noel Dunphy, Rev. Fr. Joseph Long , and Mr. J.B. Adu and Mr. S.A. Umoren, as Vice Chairmen of the Parish Pastoral Council.
During the reign of Rev. Fr. Joseph Long (1992-1995): the Catechism classes were constructed. He also built the grotto of the Blessed Virgin Mary, after uprooting the big tree that stood there.
Rev. Fr. Gabriel Osu’s (now Rev. Msgr) regime (1996-2003): witnessed a lot of reconstructions and innovations in the Parish. The sacristy was transferred from the rear of the Church to the front, the Sacristy and the Sanctuary were extended and renovated, the Parish Bookshop was built and made functional and the Evangelist Newsletter was established, with the first edition coming out in 1996. This has since trasformed into The Evangelist Magazine. He also started and completed the Parish Hall building, which was dedicated in 2001 by His Eminence, Anthony Cardinal Okogie.
During Rev. Dr. Msgr. Philip Hoteyin’s period (2003-2006), the present St. Martin’s Church building was started. He also opened the Chapel of Adoration within the church building, using one wing of the sacristy. This was as a result of pressure mounted on him by the Association of Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary, whom he happened to be their National Spiritual Director. The Sacred Heart Associaton went on to do the entire equiping and furnishing of the Chapel, including the new Monstrance put in the chapel.
Rev. Fr. Stephen Enearu (2006-2008): came with a number of Charismatic innovations. He introduced the monthly three days retreat and the Tuesday afternoon Mass for the sick. He rekindled the spiritual and charismatic life of the Parishioners.
He awakened the spirit of donating to the Church on the parishioners with his preaching of prosperity through giving, and instilled on the parishioners the spirit of forward-ever-and-backward-never with his popular slogan, “we go de go! Them go de look!” meaning we shall be progressing while others shall be envying us. He completed the St. Martins Church building and set in motion the monthly contributions where individuals choose categories of their choice, to raise fund towards the building of the long-awaited new St. John’s Church. He, however, could not start the church building before he was transferred.
Rev. Fr. Francis Ike (2009 to 2013): When Fr. Ike came in, he continued with, and improved on, most of the programmes started by Rev. Fr. Enearu. He gave the entire parish a face-lift. He renovated the Parish House and laid interlocking blocks on the compound. He also renovated the Parish Hall and the clinic and beautified the Sanctuary. He made necessary repairs and modifications to st. Martin’s church building. He modified the categorised monthly contribution towards the church building giving it more vigour, and involved the societies and organizations in the parish with categorized annual contributions, according to the strength of the societies/organizations.
In mid 2010, he started the building of a temporary church to make way for the demolition of the main church, to give way for construction of a new Church. In December, 2010 the old church was pulled down and in February 2011 work began on the new church. The foundation stone of the new ultra-modern 21st Century Church was laid by His Eminence Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie on Sunday 10th April 2011, during his 3rd Canonical visit to the Parish. Work on the new church progressed so fast, and on 21st December 2012 the roofing was completed. The churh floor and gallery were cleared of construction debris, and on Sunday, 23rd December 2012, celebration of Sunday masses commenced in the new church, thus ending the era of having Sunday masses simutaneous at the temporary church and parish hall. As at the time of completing this report, April 2013, the block works and rails around the church and the gallery have been completed. The window frames are being put in place and plastering of the entire church is going on. He works with the following as associate priests:
Very Rev. Fr. Patrick Obayomi (Dec. 2013- Till Date): Very Rev. Fr. Patrick Obayomi took over from Very Rev. Fr. Francis Ike (Parish Priest St. Patrick Catholic Parish, Alaba and Dean, Satellite Deanery) and he helped in completion of the new Church Building which is nearing Completion. Then he has worked with the following associate Priests: