On Friday 23 June 2023, the Catholic Diocese of Oyo in Nigeria celebrated three remarkable events: the Diamond Jubilee of the Diocese’s existence, the Golden Jubilee of Bishop Julius Babatunde Adelakun and the ordination to the priesthood of 3 deacons.
Wonderful events… including the 60th anniversary of the diocese of Oyo and the 50th episcopal anniversary of Bishop Julius Adelakun, which have enriched our history of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit in Nigeria: it was through Bishop Adelakun, now Bishop Emeritus, that the first Daughters of the Holy Spirit missionaries took root in Nigeria, in this diocese of Oyo, also putting forward the idea of forming Nigerian DHS. It was a glorious and joyous day for so many people who took part in the celebration: all the bishops of the ecclesiastical province of Ibadan, the priests, religious and lay faithful of Oyo and the surrounding area.
On this great day of the 60th anniversary of the Catholic Diocese of Oyo (1963-2023), all the good works carried out for the glory of God by the missionaries of various congregations and societies were recalled and appreciated – the very first evangelization being due to the White Fathers (Missionaries of Africa). Before the Eucharistic celebration began, the names of the deceased priests and religious who worked there as missionaries, as well as the indigenous priests and religious of Oyo, including the deceased FSE sisters, were named and entrusted to God in prayer.
Bishop Julius Adelakun celebrates fifty years as bishop. In his homily, the Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Ijebu-Ode, Bishop Francis Adesina, described Bishop Julius Adelakun as a true icon of faith and culture, a good and humble pastor, a great teacher, a great missionary, and a good shepherd of the flock of the Diocese of Oyo. He testified that Bishop Adelakun had inspired the lives of people who, through their encounter with him, had been fully transformed into what God had called them to be. He described Bishop Adelakun as a man who encouraged people to work even when they were about to give up. He stressed that Bishop Adelakun had vigorously promoted the formation of lay people, religious and priests in the diocese.
Bishop Francis Adesina also added that historically, the creation of the Catholic Youth Organisation of Nigeria in 1973 was one of Bishop Adelakun’s pastoral initiatives, as was the creation of the Diocese of Osogbo in 1995 – as a result of his inspiration and encouragement, the first missionary Daughters of the Holy Spirit were invited to train young Nigerian girls to join the Congregation -. Finally, he encouraged the celebrant, who is now over 80 and in frail health, not to see his old age as a problem but to see his strength in his weakness and to continue to trust in God to sustain him always.
The three deacons raised to the order of the priesthood – Reverend Raphael Akinyemi, Reverend Julius Ojo and Reverend Philip Ogunlere – also received a special address. In his homily, Bishop Francis Adesina thanked God for having judged them worthy to participate in the priesthood of Christ. He encouraged them to remember the stages of their formation and to make good use of them to progress in their ministerial function, the spirit of the priesthood being a vocation and not a career or a profession. It is a call to holiness of life through prayer, a call to be a teacher and shepherd in the service of God’s people, a call to see themselves as servants and not as “bosses”. This is why they must offer themselves totally to Christ.
Bishop Francis Adesina also thanked God for what he has asked of the current Bishop of Oyo, Bishop Emmanuel Badejo, who succeeded Bishop Julius Adelakun on his retirement in November 2009. He emphasised that Bishop Badejo had used his gift of prudence to strengthen the pastoral vision of his predecessor. He prayed that God would bless and sustain him in his service.
The celebration of these three events took place with great joy and enthusiasm, as expressed by the children and adults singing and dancing to the glory of God. It was a very special day for the Daughters of the Holy Spirit from the Vice-Province of Nigeria, who joined in the celebration as they witnessed together the great things God has done for his people.
By Sister Patience Effiong DHS. Published on 26 June 2023