Diamond Jubillee with 29 awardees
It was a complete 60 days of leisure, pleasure and fun for Parishioners of St. Anthony Catholic Church, Gbaja, Surulere. For 60 days the church mapped out activities to mark her 60 years of existence. Among the programmes of activities held for this well publicized epoch making events includes; a day with the elderly, youths day, men’s day, children’s day, and women’s day.The climax is the award and recognitions of 29 well deserved parishioners who excelled in different areas and among them is Late Sir Michael Otedola, the former Lagos state Governor, and Rt. Hon. Raphael Adetiba current deputy speaker of Kwara state and others in different categories . The reasons for the award for each recipient will make difference as you read on
A day with elderly was very unique in the sense that it was set aside for the old members of the parish who are 70 years and above. An excellent way to appreciate the aged ones. They were lavished with love, gifts and more much.
Aerobics was part of the activities that parishioners will not forget on time including the chief host and parish priest Very Rev Monsignor Bernard Okodua and his Associate Rev. Fr. Victor Okhiria. Aerobics is actually a form of physical exercise that combines rhythmic aerobic exercise with stretching and strength training routines with the goal of improving all elements of fitness (flexibility, muscular strength, and cardio-vascular fitness. This is what they engaged in so as to stay fit throughout the programme of the anniversary and beyond.
The main programme kicked off with the 9 day Novena which is more of spiritual exercise. The Parishioners participated actively in it with a strong believe that God will see them through and indeed it was a huge success.
The souvenirs and gift items produced for this anniversary that served as momerabilla were keyholders, umbrellas, lapel pins, t-shirts, phone holders, stainless mugs and parish ankara. Throughout the 60 days, the items were on sale. Even,at the parish bookshop, the items are very much available on sale as at the compilation of this report.
The award dinner and luncheon
The dinner and luncheon were well planned with comic MCs who instantaneously moved the members to laugh out loud. The dinner menus which include Chinese food can’t be forgotten easily. And it was complemented with the donations in support of the church renovation.
13th June 2021, the anniversary proper.
On the 13th June 2021 was the 60th anniversary of the church having been founded in 1961. The clement weather was a huge advantage as Parishioners trooped out in numbers and attended different masses which each ended with thanksgiving. And the final mass at 11:30am. It was glamorous being the mass that ushered in the main celebration all in Parish uniform or Ankara. The decoration was clear evidence that diamond jubilee was prepared for. The souvenirs and gift items were on display either at the each persons attire or on the tables.
Rev. Fr. Umoh, who was an alter server in the parish before he was ordained a priest, gave the homily. As the son of the soil, he downloaded the historical background of the church to the instantaneous admiration and applause of the parishioners. According to him, the church gave birth to 3 churches in her history. He took time to list the founding members or parishioners, the indigenous priests from the parish, the past parish priests and religious who served the church both the living and the dead.
The mass which is the highest worship to God in the church continued in high ecstasy after Fr. Umoh brought his homily to an end. The chief celebrant and the Parish priest, Very. Rev. Fr. Monsignor Bernard Okodua was full of gratitude to God and to those who made the event happen. He particularly thanked those whose effort made the church proud not only within the community but archdioceses. These particular set of people were honoured with awards right in the church. Below are the categories of awardees
The parish priest who is also the anniversary hosst, in his preamble described the awardees as exceptional having been carefully nominated and selected by the committee asigned for the anniversary. 5 categories of awards were given which includes 2 oldest practing parishioners who are in their early nineties. Mrs Juliana Obadeyi and Pa Okonmah received nanogenerian awards.
Long service award
The long dedicated service award category were received by Mrs. Ethel Ibeawuchi who has currently served for 27 years and is still serving, Mr. Thomas Amenaghwon who also has served for 25 years and still service. Others in this category who were Mrs. Juliana Ogidan, Mrs. Josephine Inwang, Mr. Silas A. Ojugbana and Mr. Michael Mary Oyebanji who even at over 80 years is still active in service of God in the church.
Achievers Award category were given to those who had made the parish pround outside the church. Among these awardees were Bishop John Oyeola who is currently the Bishop of Osogbo Dioecese. He was the product of St. Anthony Catholic church. Sir Steve Omajafor, Sir Kola Olowu, Mr. Joseph Falase also received similar awards having served or represented the church at the diocecees and some even at the national level. Others who also fell in this category were Dame Abimbola Fashola, Mrs. Esther Izokpu, Mrs. Rebecca Pyne, Rt. Hon. Raphael Adetiba who is currently the Deputy Speaker at the Kwara State hose of assembly. And off course Mr. Chris Uwolloh and family who particularly was the overall best in the family quiz competition organized in the archdiocese.
This category of award went to the parish priests who served in the church from the incenption. 9 of them were late. The living ones who received this award includes Rev. Fr. Raphael Adebayo, Monsignor Edmund Akpala, Rev. Fr. Christian Eze, and Rev. Fr. Anthony Obadina
Post Humous Award
Late Sir. Michael Otedola, one time Lagos state Governor and the father of oil billionaire Mr. Femi Otedola led in the Post humous award. In this category also were Late Sir and Late Lady Anthony Omoje, Pa Seweje and Pa Linus Umoh. Others were Late Mr. Sylvester and late Lady Benedicta Afolabi, Late Mr. Joseph Idahosa Omo-Osagie as well as Late Chief (Mrs )Lady Francisca J. Okuribido. These were majorly some of the founding members of the church who left a lasting legacy.
The diamond jubillee celebration indeed witnessed a large turn out as parishioners and invited guest came in their numbers. Among them was the Rev. Fr. Gabriel Emeasogba who flew in from Uk. Father Gabriel was formerly a residence priest who spent 5 years in the parish as a law student from the University of Lagos. And of course, he graduated with first class Hons. The second climax of the annivesary is the cutting of the anniversary cake