EVENTS LEADING UP TO THE BIRTH OF THE CHAPLAINCY
In the year 1975, Rev. Fr. John Amiagwu was made Rector of the college, succeeding Rev. Sr. Catherine Hallahan. He celebrated mass for the Reverend Sisters in the chapel, which is the present Chapel of Adoration in St. Augustine though their parish church was St. Dominic’s Catholic Church, Yaba. Fr. Dennis Slattery celebrated mass in the dining hall of St. Finbarr’s college. As time went on, the number of people that attended that mass increased and he felt the need to have a church. So he went to Bariga and got a land there and built a church which was named St. Dennis Catholic Church this is after the name Dennis. The church grew into a parish.
The institution also grew and more buildings were needed. The parent of one of the nuns who came from a very wealthy family in America, gave some money to build the lecture hall. This lecture hall was built exactly on the space of the present college hall/ Library building. The remains of the wood was used to construct the wooden hall beside the church. By 1978 Rev. Fr. John Amiagwu was no longer the rector of the college.
THE BIRTH OF THE CHAPLAINCY
In 1981, it was decided that the wooden lecture hall would be used to celebrate mass for students. The mass was being celebrated by Rev. Fr. Steven Obiukwu, who was the rector of the college at that time. At this time, the Akoka community had grown to become a modern town with an interesting population of Catholics in and around the institution. Consequently the wooden lecture hall was made a mass centre as an out- station of St. Dennis Catholic Church and was christened St. Finbarr’s Catholic Church Akoka. The then wooden multipurpose hall which is now the present church of St. Augustine Catholic Chaplaincy was built in 1990. It was used as an examination hall for St. Augustine college requirement for the accreditation of the College. In 1991 this hall was used for the first time to celebrate mass in commemoration of the silver jubilee of priestly ordination of Rev. Fr. (Dr.) Israel Ekpo of Archdiocese of Calabar. Rev. Fr. Ekpo took the new title deputy provost rather than rector because of this time the institution had become a College of Education. Rev. Fr. Ekpo was taking care of the spiritual needs of students and offering mass. He built and attached an Altar and a Sacricity to the wooden multipurpose hall (Present St. Augustine Church) as it had become a centre for worship on Sundays.
In 2002, Rev. Fr. Ekpo handed the church to Rev. Fr. Benjamin Bello who was assigned a chaplain to see to the spiritual welfare of the College and the Church. Rev. Fr. Bello was of the opinion that since the Church “St. Finbarr’s Catholic Church” was located in a Catholic institution, the church should be a Chaplaincy and its name should be identified with the college. He went ahead to print the first St. Augustine Chaplaincy letter headed paper. To ensure the chaplaincy status, Rev. Fr. Bello stopped harvest thanksgiving which was practiced by the St. Finbarr’s Catholic Church and encouraged more pious societies in order to deepen prayer life. Rev. Fr. Bello left inn2003 without the complete transition of the church from St. Finbarr’s Catholic Church to St. Augustine Catholic Chaplaincy. It was when Rev. Fr. Alphonsus Ania took over that the church was upgraded to St. Augustine Catholic Chaplaincy, Akoka.
GROWTH, DEVELOPMENT AND PEOPLE WHO HAVE SERVED
Over the years, a number of Priests have worked in the Chaplaincy:
Rev. Fr. Stephen Obiukwu (1981 - 1993)
Rev. Fr. (Dr) Israel Ekpo (1993 - 2001)
Rev. Fr. Benjamin Bello (2001 - 2003)
Rev. Fr. Alphonsus Ania (2003-2008)
The daily mass was taken to the small chapel to the multipurpose hall.
He introduced two masses on Sundays, and introduced we annual harvest thanksgiving and bazaars, as well as tithing as measures to raise fund.
He re-energized inactive societies and encourage worshippers to form new societies that participated at deanery level
He also introduced the Wednesday healing mass.
He got approval for infants and adults baptism. Sacrament of penance and first Holy Communion
He refurbished the Chaplain’s residence and modified the Chapel.
Rev. Fr. George Anibuike (2008-2013)
He brought a new definition to the Wednesday evening mass for various needs which drew crowds and in turn increased the members of the Chaplaincy. He also reconstructed the church building and transformed it to a modern and impressive place of worship. He further modified the Chaplain’s residence and chapel. He got the church’s approval to conduct wedding and funeral masses and to open a Chaplaincy’s office.
Rev. Fr. Vincent Olofinkua (Dec. 2013 – Aug. 2014)
He carried out a renovation of the children to section.
A Chaplain was not immediately assigned to the Chaplaincy when Rev. Fr. Vincent Olofinkua left for further studies. For a period of about six weeks, St. Augustine Catholic Chaplaincy did not have a Chaplain but overseen by the Dean of Yaba Deanery. Rev. Fr. Felix Onemheghie, O.P. who assigned a priest from the deanery or from the St. Dominic Catholic Church to celebrate mass. On the 2nd of October 2014, a new priest arrived the Chaplaincy, in the person of Rev. Fr. Wisdom Chikezie.
Daily Morning Mass
The Chaplaincy began her daily morning mass at 6:15am on Wednesday February 01st, 2017 with 46 Parishioners in attendance.
Almighty and Eternal God, We your children of St. Augustine Chaplaincy,
give you thanks and praise, for your love and mercy, your blessings and protection.
We are grateful for various achievements, in our families and individual life.
We beg you Father, for continuous grace of unity and harmony,
in our Chaplaincy and homes. Grant us abundance of good health and fulfillment in life.
Keep us safe from dangers of all kinds,
bless all the good works of our hands and preserve us from untimely and unprovided death.
Make us all instrument of progress, to our community,
nation and the world.
And at the end of time, favour us with the reward of eternal life.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.Amen.
St. Augustine......Pray for Us!