BRIEF HISTORY OF THE PARISH
St. Paul’s Catholic Church, Lagos Mainland was the first outpost of the Roman Catholic Church outside the Holy Cross Cathedral which enjoyed a pride of place as the first point of settlement for the Roman Catholic Church to cater for the spiritual needs of the returnees from Brazil, other Latino American countries and the Caribbean Island in the mid-19th century.
Initially the church’s influence was restricted to Lagos Island. Much of the Mainland was thinly populated by the Ijebus until some Egbas, who were forced to seek safety from the Kiriji war (1977-1893) came from Onigbongbo where their farmland was and settled as well. Consequently, Governor Clifford ceded part of Ebute-Metta (Ago-Egba) to the Egbas for protection. Ebute Metta was thus made of Ebute Iddo, Ebute Otto and Oko Baba (Ago-Egba) From Lagos Island at Opopo (popo) Aguda, the Roman Catholic Missionaries sought to win converts across the Lagos lagoon on the Mainland. This Evangelization must have started from 1890 under Bishop O’Rourke with outstation services, later Masses in the homes of the early converts. By 1895, the Church acquired the present location of St. Paul’s Catholic Church from the De Souza family. In addition to the church’s building, St. Paul’s primary school for boys and Mount Carmel girls school were built from 1894-1898.
The earliest Priests visited the Church from Holy Cross Cathedral in canoes. On February 4 1900, Reverend Father Ernest Haugher (SMA), later Vicar Apostolic of Gold Coast performed the first baptism in St. Paul’s, by this time, work on the Carter bridge was about to start.
After the World War 1, automobile transport multiplied slowly. In August 1926, Bishop Ferdinand Terren arrived at St Paul’s in his own automobile, the first Catholic Missionary in Nigeria to own one. St Paul’s under Archbishop Leo Hale Taylor became a launching pad for evangelization in Nigeria. It was from St. Paul’s that St. Patrick’s (now St. Dominic’s)was established in the 1920’s on a land donated by Pa Hooper, the goldsmith of Yaba. It was also through St. Paul’s that St. Michael’s was formed and managed by the late Monsignor Oni in 1945.
St. Paul’s became the seedbed of Journalism when on June 21, 1924, the second oldest magazine in Nigeria, the Catholic Herald was published. It served as a veritable instrument for the spread of the gospel and a tool for the correction of social ills and the fight for equal right and justice as well as the call for Nigeria’s independence.
St. Paul’s excelled in education of the young. The Catholic schools were quite formidable in sports in Lagos during the Empire days and beyond as well as Centres of academic excellence and discipline. As time went on, the Church benefitted from the population that came to work at the Nigerian Railway Corporation, the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria and the Nigerian Breweries at Iganmu. The population grew as people came all over Nigeria, Gold Coast (now Ghana), Togo and Benin Republic and the Church was ready to receive them.
St. Paul’s Catholic Church has been blessed with many highly intelligent pious and hardworking Priests and Reverend Sisters who have over the years, managed to wield the various people together to serve God and develop the Church as well as the community. The then Parish Priest, Very Reverend Monsignor Gabriel Osu, a moral theologian and journalist has more or less, brought back the communication unity and evangelization.
The Church has been listed in the roll of the United Nations Heritage sites as a result of the Holy Black Sculptures of spiritual images which prompted the use of the church for the mass of the FESTAC 77. A lot of tourists visit the Church, pray, take pictures and marvel at the works of art as well as the stained glasses. The Altar is the only one so far built in the spirit of the Vatican 11, where worshippers sit round the Altar during Masses.
St. Paul’s Catholic Church, Lagos with over 8,000 Parishioners has been cut out from the on-sets as a pioneering church and has played that role excellently well. Nigeria: St. Paul's Catholic Church Wants Schools Returned To Missionaries
5 May 2000
P.M. News (Lagos)
By Moses Uchendu
Lagos — The then Parish Priest of the Saint Paul's Catholic Church, Ebute- Metta, Year ………. 2000 Very Rev. (Dr.) Phillip A. Hoteyin, called on Federal and State Governments to immediately return Public Schools to the voluntary agencies to rediscover the fear of God in all aspects of life in Nigerians.
The priest made this plea at a press briefing on the centenary celebration of Saint Paul's Catholic Church, Ebute-Metta held at the church premises during the week. In a press statement jointly signed by Rev. Dr. Philip Hoteyin and Otunba Anthony O. Odugbesan, Vice Chairman (P.P.C), the church regretted that the social malaise in the society has become so alarming as it continues to erode cultural values and respect for elders and obedience to constituted authorities while the family as the foundation of the society has also abandoned its responsibility.
As at November, 2018 Very Rev. Fr. Michael-Christian Okonkwo (Dean of Yaba Deanery) became the Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Francis Babatunde as the Associate and a Resident Priest Rev. Fr. Adolphus Nwoye (from November 2019).
St. Paul’s Catholic Church has been blessed with many highly intelligent pious and hardworking Priests and Reverend Sisters who have over the years, managed to wield the various people together to serve God and develop the Church as well as the community. The Present Parish Priest, Very Reverend Fr. Michael-Christian Okonkwo, a moral theologian and a Director of Cecilian Academy has more or less brought back the communication unity and evangelization.
and raise a critical number of well trained and qualified Catholic musicians in the Parishes who will positively impact in/on our Liturgical celebrations.
His mission for the youth of St. Paul’s Catholic Church, Ebute-Metta and the entire Archdiocese of Lagos Metropolitan is to empower, standardize and professionalize individual, sacred music education and training in the Church and its environ.
Within the shortest time Very Rev. Fr. Michael-Christian has inaugurated a formidable and a working Parish Pastoral Council (PPC), Parish Finance Council (PFC) with Maintenance/Building Committee and Parish Laity Council (PLC). He equally introduced the Pauline Currencies starting with year 2019 Children/Youth Harvest and Bazaars’ of which huge success was recorded.
He introduced a quarterly Saturdays interactive sections with the Parishioners (Parish Assembly), a monthly “Know Your Faith” @ every last Fridays of the month, a Mariam Mass Celebration at every first Friday of every Month, Devotion at every second Fridays of the month and so on.
The Parish Priest has announced the celebration of the 120years Anniversary of St. Paul’s Ebute-Metta, come next year with lots of activities between January and April, 2020.