It was truly a great day when St. Leo’s Catholic Church, Ikeja, Lagos rolled out drums to celebrate its 50th Golden Jubilee of God’s Faithfulness.
With all my heart, all parishioners very excited with Rt. Rev. Msgr. Dr. John Aniagwu appreciated God for his unending love and grace upon the parish and in their lives as individuals.
The Chief Celebrant and Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos, Most. Reverend (Dr) Alfred Adewale Martins rejoiced with all priests and parishioners at the remarkable development and growth the parish has witnessed over the years, describing them as clear indications that God’s grace has been abundant .
“So it is indeed a joyous occasion for thanksgiving and reflection. It is an opportunity for us to watch and count our blessing. It is also a time to renew and rededicate our efforts to the work of evangelism and expanding the kingdom of God amid the challenges of our time.
“Your steady growth and remarkable accomplishments are undoubtedly a testimony to the benevolence of God and the hard work of the parishioners, led by a dedicated pastor and associates over the years. We congratulate Msgr. Aniagwu especially during his long and successful tenure, a lot of growth and development has been achieved,” the Archbishop said.
Archbishop Emeritus of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie said, “This is a great achievement and an accomplishment that calls for celebration. In commemorating the beginnings of our beloved parish, we give all glory to God who planted the seed of faith, watered it and nurtured it through committed priests, religious and Catholics.
“As people of one family bound by the waters of our faith and baptism, let us recommit ourselves and rededicate our lives to Christ who is our head. To do this we must be heralds of peace, love and unity, for we are all one in Christ. There should be no form of distinction between us, for the body of Christ does not tolerate any exclusion, discrimination, contempt or even hatred” , urged Okogie.
On how the Vincentian priest was appointed to the Catholic parish of St. Leo and the transition from Vincentian priests to native priests, the cardinal emphasized, “Before Christ’s ascension into heaven, he entrusted the task of continuing the church to her apostles. This was played out between the SMA and the Vincentians in February 1991. The mantle of leadership was passed on to the Vincentians by the SMA.
“The desire to proclaim the gospel brought about the transition on June 26, 1995. The Vincentian Fathers left St. Leo’s Parish for the newly created parish, Christ the King Catholic Church, Akowonjo, a former branch of St. Leo’s Ikeja. This led to the transfer of the first native priest, the Rev. John Aniagwu who had spent about 16 years in the seminary. He received an associate, Fr. Cletus Nwaogwugwu, a fidei Donum priest from the Diocese of Ahiara.
And on the lay people who have most influenced the birth and development of the parish of Saint-Leon, the Archbishop Emeritus of Lagos underlined: “In the mission of Jesus, it is not only his apostles who have contributed to his work of evangelization on earth. There were other disciples who contributed their share. It reminds us of lay people like Dr. FA Akerele, Prince J. Adelusi – Adeluyi, Chief Ben Olaiya, Chief JT Caxton – Idowu, (KSS), Mrs. Dorathy Okide, MG Asemota, Mr. and Mrs. Napo Alapini and many others who were members at the inaugural meeting that gave rise to the name St. Leo, primarily because of Archbishop Leo Hale Taylor, who reluctantly accepted the name in his memory. Their efforts cannot be forgotten because of the great service they rendered to the church at this time in the history of the development of St. Leo’s Ikeja. For those who are alive, as we remember them, we pray for perseverance and blessings, for those who are dead, we pray for eternal rest. Amen!
Okogie pointed out that for the past 50 years, St. Leo’s Catholic Church Grand Parishioner Ikeja has been kind and generous with his talent, time and treasures.
“They are always ready and willing to help the work of God. I thank them for their commitment and dedication to the growth of St. Leo’s. I encourage you to “never be lacking in zeal, to be aflame with the spirit, to serve the Lord, to rejoice in your hope, to be patient in tribulation, to be constant in prayer” (Rom. 12: 11), praying further that God will continue to bless you and reward you all with good health of mind and body and his best blessings. Amen. Congratulations again! Ad Multos annos.
For the Dean, Ikeja Deanery, Rev. Msgr. Patrick Obayomi, the celebration was a time for Aniagwu and his parishioners to count their blessings, name them one by one and find out how good the Lord has been to him and his parishioners.
“I thank God for your life as well as for the unquantifiable services you have rendered with dedication to the parish and the Archdiocese of Lagos, aware of the great developments that St. Leon Parish has witnessed under your leadership.”
Superior General of the Sisters of the Generalate of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, Reverend Sr. Mary Fausta Manefa, EHJ took the opportunity to appreciate Aniagwu for her paternal care and support to their institute and especially to their sisters working in the parish over the years. She prayed that the parish would continue to grow more and more in the mission of evangelism and that God would keep him in his love and bless him with good health of mind and body as he served. the people of God of St. Leo Catholic Church, Ikeja.
From afar, Owerri, the capital of Imo State, the Director of Education of the Education Commission of the Archdiocese of Owerri, Rev. Fr. Wilfred Nwachukwu (PhD) sent a message of goodwill: “Dr. Aniagwu has remained a strong pillar behind the spiritual and physical growth and success of the parish. I must also add here that one of the greatest privileges I have had in my journey as a priest is to have been part of St. Leo Parish for just under a decade.
Aniagwu said the origin of the church dates back to 1949. The early congregants, who formed the nucleus of today’s St. Leo Catholic Church, began their worship at the Maryland Chapel in 1949 within the grounds of St. Agnes Teachers Training College. . No sooner had the faithful settled in for regular worship than they realized that the chapel was insufficient in terms of space to hold the congregation that came for Sunday mass.
When he arrived on June 26, 1995 at St. Leo Parish, the parish was large not only in the size of its main church, but also in the caliber of its people. The people themselves were not only great in the magnitude of their material endowments. They were great in the quality of their faith. The people of St. Leo had plenty of them. This says a lot about the quality of leadership that was provided by the founding fathers of the parish, members of the Society of African Missions, SMA. The priest of the mission congregation, CM (aka Vincentian Fathers) built a solid edifice on this foundation. The native clergy, who succeeded the Vincentians, had only to continue the good work already begun by their skilful predecessors.