HISTORY OF SACRED HEART CATHOLIC CHURCH, ODOGUNYAN
The first attempt to establish Catholic Church presence in Odogunyan was in 1972 when Mrs. Martina Daniel Onwuka and a small group of people met late Alfred Okorie who was the chief security officer of Zumuratu Primary school and requested for a place of worship for members and a class room was provided for them. Late Mr. Nelson Umeh, who later became the first station Catechist, moved from house to house gathering members. Before then members were attending masses at St. Augustine Catholic Church, Ikorodu and St. Luke’s Catholic Church Army barracks, Odogunyan.
The first Holy mass was celebrated in 1978 in the Mass Center at Zumuratu Islamiya Primary school, Odogunyan by a missionary priest from Missionary Society of St. Paul Seminary, Iperu Remo, Ogun State. Later, Sacred Heart Mass center and that of Barracks at Odogunyan joined in fellowship and worshipped together under the guardianship of Rev. Fr. Ohara. The worshipping Communities were merged and put under St Andrew's Catholic Church of 241 battalion Army barracks, Odogunyan.
In 1981 when all the battalion went on mass transfer to Jos the Church properties were divided. In 1982, after the transfer of Soldiers, members of the Church came back to Zumuratu Islamiya Primary school and had their service and the number of members increased. Rev. Fr. Patrick Moore, of St. Augustine used to come to Odogunyan every Saturday to say ass at 7.0 p.m. The Mass center was then named Sacred Heart Mass center. Late Mr. Philip Offor and Festus Meniru were the station Catechist and then later Late Mr. Christian Nwosu a position he held till his death on February 2016. Alfred Okorie was the church Council Chairman, and then Aloysius Agbo, Eugene Ani, David Achi and Oliver Aligbo who was the last chairman before Sacred Heart Catholic Church became a parish.
Thereafter, the Mass center was overseen by the Pastoral team from St Augustine’s Catholic Church Ikorodu under Rev Fr. Burklyne (Parish Priest) assisted by Rev. Fr. Ohara. The following societies were formed with their President as follows: Legion of Mary (Mrs. Martina Onwuka), CMO (Mr. Christian Orinya), CWO (Mrs. Mercy Mgbechi), CCM (Mrs. Mary Ohajiaka), Block Rosary Crusade (Josephine Eze), CYON (Longinus Onuoha) and the first Choir master was Clifford Ezeji.
In 1987 Rev. Fr. Sylvester Emmanuel Osigwe was transferred to St. Augustine’s Catholic Church Ikorodu and the first C.P.C election was held at the Mass center with the following Officers: Late Aloysius Agbor as Chairman, Late Peter Ohajiaka, Vice Chairman, George Njoku as the Secretary, while Cyril Okeke was the Financial Secretary and Late Louisa Okorie became Treasurer. Among the pioneer members worthy of mention are: Nelson Umeh, Alfred Okorie (aka Daudu), Reuben Ezeh, , Peter Obineme, Wilfred Nwankwo, Augustine Ezeh, all of blessed memory. Others are Wilfred Anunobi, Bernard Eze, Okeke Anthony Uzochukwu, These pioneer parishioners despite all odds set the foundation for what is today known as Sacred Heart Catholic Church Odogunyan.
Sacred Heart Catholic Church grew rapidly and benefited from the efforts of Rev. Fr. Sylvester E.U. Osigwe who as the Parish Priest of St Augustine’s Catholic Church bought the land for the development of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in 1987 through the efforts of Hon. Mathew Adesanyan, Mr. Clifford Ezeji, and Christian Nwosu. Additional land was also bought in 1996 through Mrs. Martina Daniel Onwuka. The then outstation had its first canonical visit on 20th August 1988; the second canonical visit took place on 2nd October 1997. In 1999, a temporary place of worship was built on the permanent site of the parish.
Rev Fr. Christian Eze with his Associate Rev. Fr. Christopher Arabi contributed their quota in building the community after which the Claretian missionary priests led by Rev. Fr. Henry Omonisaye took over and reformed the Parish and Outstations especially in CYON and choir. His Associate Rev Fr. Daniel Onyeayana took over from him and contributed to the building of the Rev. Father’s house as well as equipping and furnishing it. When this was done, Rev Fr. Rowland Onyenali was sent down to Odogunyan making him the first and last resident priest in Odogunyan. He fenced the father’s house during his stay.
Fr. Obi contributed to the erection of the first church building on the permanent site in the year 1999. Meanwhile, the request made on the 22nd April 1999 for a parish was granted on the 1st of December 2005, making Sacred Heart Catholic Church a full-fledged parish with the following outstations; Our Lady Queen of Peace Odonla, St. Anne’s Odokoekere, and St. Paul’s Muti, with Rev Fr. Francis A. Adegun as the first Parish Priest. We commend all the priests and others that played vital roles in the upliftment of Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
Rev. Fr. Adegun resumed at the parish on 18th December, 2005 and within two years he strived to lay the foundation of the new Church Building in 2007. He put in a lot everything towards the building of the Church, spiritually and physically. Under his watch, the newly created Parish grew exponentially with new other five outstations namely; Archangels Abgede, St. Lucy, Orimedu, St. Anthony, Igbolomu, St Charles Igbosoro and St. Agnes, Elepete, with lands bought by the Parish for each of these five outstations and they all enjoyed some level of physical development.
This church building which got to an advanced stage of construction before his departure attested to Fr. Adegun’s relentlessness efforts in transforming the Parish from the humble state in which he met it rose to today’s church and community of worshippers known as the Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Fr. Adegun also laid the foundation for vibrant church organizations and societies that impacted on the spiritual life of the people. These are all a testament to Fr Adegun’s selfless service to the parish and its outstations. He was assisted in this work mostly by seminarians, (who are now reverend fathers) and by Rev Fr. Peter Azagba who became his Associate in 2012. He was transferred from the parish on 18th, December 2013.
In December 2013, Rev Fr. Damian Alozie took over the mantle, continued with both the physical and spiritual development of the Parish with Rev. Fr. Peter Azagba (Associate Priest) who was transferred on October 2nd, 2014, while Rev. Fr. Gabriel Fatoye (Associate Priest) came in, on the same day till date.
In order to complement the efforts of the Pastoral team the Parish was also administered at different times under various Parish Councils and Organisations with the following leaderships; The PPC Vice Chairman and Secretary were Mr. Cosmas Osho and Mrs. Bridget Mayor (2005-2011) respectively followed by Dr. Joseph Martins Odiagbe and Mrs Mary Aipoh (2011- 2014) and currently Mr. Taiwo Oyafemi and Mrs. Rhoda Eguogu (2014-date). The Parish Laity Council chairman and secretaries were Engr. Lawrence Ogwogwo and Mrs. Tina Ufor (2006-2010) Mr. Roland Asekome and Mrs. Agnes Nwaduba (2010-2014), Tpl. Peter Fosudo and Mrs. Florence Oladosu (2014-2015) and currently Mrs. Gloria Obasuke and Mr. Orga (2015-date).
The Catholic Men Organization was first handled by Mr. Christopher Oninya later by Dr. Martins Odiagbe and Mr. Reuben Osazuwa (2007 – 2010), Mr. Reuben Osazuwa and Mr. Andy Eze with Mr. Muyiwa Omole taking over from Mr. Andy Eze (2010-date). The CWO was first handled by Mrs. Mercy Mgbechi, then later by Mrs. Ezeji as Chairpersons while Mrs. Ngozi Okorie and Mrs. Immaculata Mmerem took over as the first Parish President and Secretary (2006-2012), Mrs. Rebecca Odiagbe and Mrs. Lovelyn Anunobi (Acting Secretary) (2012-2014), then Mrs. Olukemi Fosudo and Mrs. Grace Omole (2014- date). Also the first CYON President was Longinus Onuoha later Edith Davies and Oliver Ogwogwo 2005-2009), Emmanuel Oladosu with Chioma Eze and Salako who took over from Chioma in 2015 (2010-date).
Fr. Damian aggressively transformed the parish by finishing the Sacred Heart Catholic Church building, built, generator house, renovated the bookshop, children’s hall and the toilets, bought extra land for SHCC Odoguyan and for these outstations; St. Lucy Catholic Church Orimedu, St. Anthony’s Igboolomu, and Archangels Agbede. He created several BCC centers in all outstations and the Parish. Today to the glory of God, this beautiful and heart lifting place of worship along with the people is being dedicated to the service and glory of God.