History of Our Parish
In The Beginning
History has it that the current location called Festac Town was developed by the Federal Government of Nigeria to host the 2nd World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC) which was held in 1977. This chosen location along Lagos – Badgary Expressway designed, erected developed with various housing designs and recreation parks to give the participants a hospitable reception. After the events of hosting FESTAC, there was need to re-allocate the houses by means of balloting exercise to interested public to win and occupy the houses in Festac; giving rise to new settlers and occupiers from different parts of Lagos into Festac Town, and gradually Festac town came to be.
As the people moved in and settled down in Festac, the absence of a worshiping place stared them in the face. Most Catholics among them resolved in attending Mass on Sunday at their different parishes , outside Festac Town, until some people took the initiate to have the Holy Mass celebrated on Sundays in the new town. Never despise a humble beginning.
On Sunday, 21st August 1977, in the premises of Festac Post Office along 22 Road, the first step towards the making of Holy Family Parish was made by the prime movers at the end of the general meeting of the Festac Tenants/Residents Association. And the first meeting of the few Catholics who answered the call assembled at 22 Road, Block 2, Flat 11, the residence of a pioneer member, Mr. H.C. Osuya, which was opposite the post office – this turned out to be the inaugural meeting of the church committee. The first community Sunday Service was fixed for the following Sunday 28th August, 1977. The first Community service was without a priest and 150 persons were in attendance. It was conducted by Messrs. B.O. Adigun and G. Obasi. This gathering spurred the formal requisition for a priest from the Archbishop and the passionate work to get a church in Festac Town. The first fruits of the gathering was a sum of Eight Naira fifteen kobo (
Next, was the need for leadership and stewardship to drive the goals of the community, officers were elected – The Late Pa. A. O Wilson was eleted as chairman of the body, while Mr. E.A. Kolajo became the secretary alongside other co-opted committee members who worked towards mobilization strategies, publicity, logistics and liturgical preparations towards the first Mass (Eucharistic Celebration). Community services continued on Sundays till Sunday 18th September, 1977 at 10:00am with the first mass in Festac Town; attended by 500 hundred people – celebrated at the premises of the Post Office by Rev. Fr. Jim Birmingham S.P.S of St. Mary’s Catholic Church Ajegunle. (He proposed that the church should be called Holy Spirit Catholic Church).
The work of God has never been without Challenges, but the gate of hell shall not prevail! The first mass was temporarily disrupted by an overzealous official of the Federal Housing Authority (F.H.A). The mass held on that day, was the first open-air religious service to be organized in Festac Town by a Christian group. Thus the pioneer Catholics set the pace and made other denominations to wake up. Members kept the fire burning by holding meeting in their homes weekly on a rotational basis. The challenge of meeting at the post office was resolved after church committee obtained an official permission from F.H.A to use the Post office as a place of worship, but the Sunday service continued without the presence of a priest. The next step was to get a more ideal worshipping environment and representatives of the committee approached the F.H.A which kindly approved the use of Restaurant 8 at 321 Road. The next step was to get a priest to handle pastoral duties and celebrate Mass for the community, while they work towards getting a permanent venue for the church. Remember that, Festac was not an outstation of any parish, hence these great challenges.
On the 25th December, 1977 and 1st January, 1978 Mass was celebrated again at the Post Office venue by Rev. Fr. O’Hara SPS of St. Paul’s Catholic Church Ebute-Metta. By divine grace, the constituent Assembly which was inaugurated in Lagos to fashion out a constitution of the Second republic had some priests among the members. One of the priests, Rev. Fr. Sylvester Nagba, who came from the Jos Diocese, was assigned to Festac Town during his stay in Lagos. He celebrated mass Mass on 15th January, 1978 at Restaurant 8 Venue, before returning to his home diocese briefly.
Many other priests celebrated mass more regularly on Sunday before Fr. Nagba return on Saturday 11th March, 1978; on discharging his pastoral and administrative duties, the young community was privileged to account for the following:
- First sacrament of baptism – 38 persons on Saturday, 11th March 1978 and had baptized up tp 125 candidates by the 25th March.
- First Holy Communion – numbers and date not recorded
- Sacrament of Confirmation – 43 candidates on the 21st May, 1978 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Ajegunle.
- And formation of Societies – 30th April, 1978 some societies were formed, the include:-
- The choir
- Legion of Mary
- Christian Mothers Society
- St. Jude’s Society
- Guild of St. Anthony
- Guild of Church Warden
- Catholic Youth Organisation
- Sacred Heart Society
- Altar Servers
- Charismatic Praying Group
- Ajobi Catholic Society
Pioneer Church Committee
The Pioneer Church Committee was dissolved on 11th February, 1980, and in its place the first Holy Family Parish Pastoral Council was created in accordance with the Canon Law. The following were the members of the Pioneer Church Committee and subsequent Co-opted members.
The Foundation Parishioners
- Late Pa A.O. Wilson – Chairman
- Chief H.C. Osuya – Vice Chairman
- Mr. E.A. Kolajo – Secretary
- Mr. R.A. Udoenoh – Assistant Secetary
- Mr. I. Ibeh – Financial Secretary
- Mrs. E, Eneanya – Treasurer
- Mr. B.O. Adigun – Lector (local priest)
- Mr. J.O. Omolodun – “
- Mr. G.E.O. Okpala – “
- Mr. G. Obasi – “
- Mr. E. Falodun – Church Warden
- Mr. E. Ibe – “
- Mrs. A. Aloziem – Church Collector
- Mrs. E.T. Osuya – Church Collector
- Mrs. Magaret Okwonkwo – Catechist
Those Co-opted into the Committee
- Mr. I.C. Awugosi – Choir Master
- Mr. F.A. Dunmiju – Public Secretary
- Mr. O. Ekwelonu – Church Warden
- Mr. N.A. Ajala – “
- Mr. L.O. Oshin – “
- Mr. M.N. Eneanya
- Mrs. J.M. Chalokwu
- Mr. Paul Oben
- Mr. J.A. Ituah
- Mrs. Joy Odunewu
- Miss C.O. Ogunbiyi
- Mr. O. Okeke
- Mr. C.O. Iwuchukwu
- Mr. A.N. Adum
- Mr. E.I. Owochie
- Mr. J.I Ezeuko
- Mr. A.O. Onelum
- Mr. B.A. Eremiokhale
- Pa Edward Eze
- Mrs. A. M. Oseni
- Mrs. R.N Oranye
- Mrs. GraceOnyeneke
- Pa. F.U. Okonkwo – Sacred Heart of Jesus
- Mr. L.u. Ogbogu – Church Warden
- Mr. A.N Adum – Legion of Mary
- Mrs. R.M. Orjinta – Christian Mothers
- Mr. M.O. Ogbue – St. Anthony
- Mrs. Kassim – St. Theresa
- Mrs. F.O.Bolujo – Holy Rosary
- Mr. R.U. Ahana – Choir
- Mr. C.U. B. Opara – St. Jude
- Miss E. Paul – CYON
- Mr. Paul Abatan – Ajobi Society
- Mr. J. Ufot
- Mrs. P.E. Oniya
Progression of the Church Communities
The church communities made greater strides with the assistance of the Archbishop, in acquiring after a successful application to the F.H.A, two plots of land at 22 Road and 3rd Avenue respectively. The plot of land were for the purpose of putting in place a befitting church and a school, which are our present church and Nazareth school respectively. The acquisition was done on Monday, 12th June, 1978. The sum of N3,756:00 was paid for Nazareth School’s land and N1,250 for the church land.
On Wednesday, 28th June, 1978, Rev. Fr. Nagba finished his assignment in Lagos and went back to Jos. The period between 28th June and November, 1978 had the following priests coming to Festac to celebrates Sunday Mass. They were: Rev. Fr. Christopher Chindo Patrick Jennings and Brenda Cooney.
On Sunday, 16th July, 1978, His Grace, Archbishop Okogie made his first pastoral visit to Festac Town. He was received at Restaurant 8 and thereafter visited the acquired plots of land for the church at 22 Road and that of the school at 3rd Avenue.
Birth of Holy Family Catholic Church
The Archbishop fulfilled his promises on Sunday, 5th November, 1978, when he sent Rev. Fr. Micahel Omisesan (who later became a Monsignor and now late) to pastor the Catholic Community in Festac Town as its first Parish Priest. That same day, the parish was named HOLY FAMILY CATHOLIC CHURCH, which was in line with the Episcopal approval. The appointment of a Parish Priest and the official naming of the parish canonically brought the parish into being.
The first harvest thanksgiving and bazaar of the new parish took place on Sunday, 10th December, 1978, under the chairmanship of Late Chief A.M. Oseni. The event was highly successful the sum of N9,182.
Following the visible signs that the F.H.A. was about to take possession of Restaurant 8, Rev. Fr. Omisesan (late) declared the Mass of Sunday 31st December, 1978 as the last that would be said in that venue. Parishioners were directed to gather the following day, Monday, 1st January, 1979 – the New Year Day – on the land that was purchased for the church, with land-clearing implements. So the first day of the year 1979 was spent on the present site of the Holy Family Catholic Church by pioneer parishioners toiling to prepare a fitting place for the Lord rather than with their families and friends. The following Sunday, 7th January 1979, the first mass was offered on the site.
Mass was said in the open unitl a temporary church structure was built at the cost of about 15,000 withdrawn from the 1978 harvest funds supported donations from members. This was opened in Sunday 11th March, 1979, and as from Sunday 18th March, teo masses were offered at 8:00am and 9:00am respectively.
With the opening of the temporary church, parishioners generously provided the Parish Priest with nearly every item used in the celebration of the holy sacrifice of the Mass. So great was the response that the priest had to tell the congregation onw Sunday that nobody would believe that he came to Festac with a borrowed Mass box.
On Tuesday, 16th January, 1979, a bank account was opened for the parish at United Bank for Africa (U.B.A.), Iganmu branch, with N11,861.30 as the first deposit. It is noteworthy to state here that at the outset the church Committee raised fung through Secret bag Collections (S.B.C), which was undertaken at its meetings, and through fine for non-attendance at meetings by concerned committee members. Later, these were replaced with collections, harvest activities, voluntary donations and special levies.
Plan for Futuristic Church Building
On Trinity Sunday, 8th June, 1980, the First Holy Family Parish Pastoral Council was inaugurated by Rev. Fr. Omisesan (late).
On the 9th October, 1982, the foundation stone of the Holy Family Catholic Church, Festac Town, was laid by His Grace, Archbishop A.O. Okogie. The two million naira building was designed to have a seating capacity of two thousand.
In November, 1982, Rev. Fr. Gabriel Amolegbe was assigned by the Archbishop to assist late Rev. Fr. Omisesan in view of the growing population of the parish.
On the 19th of October, 1983, Rev. Fr. Alphonsus Aniareplaced Rev. Fr. Amolegbe who left for further studies.
The construction of the Old Parish Building was completed and dedicated to the glory of God on Sunday, 28th April, 1985, by His Grace, the Archbishop od the Metropolitan See of Lagos, Dr. Anthony Olubunmi Okogie.
In September of 1985, Rev. fathers Jeremiah Coackley and John Burke , both of the S.M.A. Order, came to live in the house provided for the priests and on the 10th of October 1985, Rev. Fathers Omisesan and Alphonsus Ania were transferred to other parishes.
The Parish of Festac Town later became co-extensive with numerous outstations in Amuwo-Odofinm Satellite Town, Ojo, Okokomaiko, Agboju, Ijanikin and other Area.