May 29, 2024
News Nigeria

Archbishop Ugorji extols Archbishop Martins: humble, gentle, committed & consummate priest at 40

By Rev. Fr. Michael Nsikak Umoh

The people of God in Lagos Archdiocese, filled with exceeding joy and gratitude to God, rolled out their gongs and drums to celebrate their well-loved, amiable and quintessential Chief Shepherd, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, as he turned 40 years a priest and 25 years a bishop.

The peak of the celebration was a Holy Mass of thanksgiving at the Holy Cross Cathedral, Lagos, which was followed by a grand reception in honor of the โ€œClass of 8โ€ at the Parish Hall of Our Mother of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Victoria Island, Lagos, on Saturday 16 September, 2023.

Addressing the congregation of distinguished men and women at the well-attended Eucharistic Sacrifice, most of whom were leaders of various sodalities and pious groups in the Archdiocese, the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, speaking on behalf of all the bishops of the Conference, congratulated Archbishop Martins on his double celebration, as he also extolled his many qualities.

โ€œWe the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria โ€ฆ felicitate and thank God with you for graciously calling you to the Holy priesthood 40 years ago, and to the Episcopate 25years ago. We praise and thank Him for endowing you with many sterling qualities with which you have distinguished yourself as a humble, gentle, committed and consummate priest.

โ€œThrough your dedicated and exemplary life and ministry, you have impacted and lifted many lives in Abeokuta diocese and Lagos Archdiocese and across the country as a seminary formator, Bishop and Metropolitan Archbishop,โ€ the prelate commended.

The homilist at the Mass, Rt. Rev. Msgr. John Aniagwu, who was Rector to the eight celebrants at the prestigious Saints Peter & Paul Major Seminary, Bodija, Ibadan, recalled that as a seminarian, Archbishop Martins โ€œwas not only exceptionally brilliant and a model seminarian โ€ฆ but he also showed unmistakable leadership qualities. This led us, the seminary formation team, to appoint him the First Prefect of the seminary in the 1982-83 academic session. In fact, he did so well that barely three years after ordination, he was invited back to join us on the seminary formation team.โ€

โ€œAs a formator, Fr. Martins was a dependable team player. He filled every role that was assigned to him admirably well before leaving for further studies in Scotland.

โ€œAs Bishop of Abeokuta, our celebrant โ€ฆ together with priests and people, laid a rock-solid foundation for the new diocese โ€ฆ (and) for the past eleven years, Archbishop Martins has steered the ship of this Archdiocese with gentle, sure and steadfast hands.โ€

Furthermore, the homilist seized the opportunity to call on all priests to pay special attention to the plight of majority of Nigerians who presently suffer grievously as a result of the poor economic policies and mismanagement of resources by governments at every level.

โ€œThough I am fully aware that our primary calling is to be ministers of the Word and Sacraments, our primary calling is to minister to the spiritual needs of our people, but that does not say that we should stand aloof while our fellow citizens groan in abject destitution and crushing poverty. We see them every day: they come to our parishes in steady stream. Even to eat -one meal a day โ€“ is a tall order for many Nigerian families at this time. It is depressing, frankly heartbreaking,โ€ Aniagwu lamented.

With over 20 Bishops in attendance, and so many priests and religious, Peter Cardinal Okpaleke presented the Papal Certificates to Archbishop Martins and his fellow celebrants: Msgr. Jerome Oduntan, Msgr Edmand Akpala, Very Rev Fr. Michael Akintolu and Very Rev Fr. Alphonsus Ania. We recall that Monsignors Chris Ajala and Peter Oke had passed on to eternal glory.

 

 

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