History of St. Dominic’s Parish

October 25, 2016 4:27 pm. Posted by Comments Off on History of St. Dominic’s Parish


In 1946, the Apostolic Delegate to English speaking East and West Africa, Archbishop David Matthew, whose headquarters was at Mombasa, invited the Dominicans to West Africa. His brother was an English Dominican. In 1949, he followed up his earlier 1946 invitation to the Dominicans with a more specific request. He wrote to the Provincial of St. Albert’s Province in Chicago, Fr. Edward Hughes, O.P., requesting for Dominicans to come and serve in the mission field in Nigeria. Fr. Hughes made exploratory visits to Nigeria in 1949 and 1950. In January 1950, the Provincial Council unanimously approved the Lagos foundation.

The Archbi

shop of Lagos, His Grace Leo H. Taylor, through a formal letter, invited them to take the responsibility of the then new Yaba mission that was not a Parish yet. On March 4, 1951 at 4:00pm, three priest of the Order of Preachers (O.P.) of the American Province of St. Albert the Great, accompanied by their Provincial, Fr. Hughes, arrived in Lagos to assume responsibility of Dominicans in the Archdiocese of Lagos. There were: Michael James Dempsey, O.P., Edward T. Lawton, O.P. and Arthur Leo Kinsella, O.P.

Almost immediately after they arrived, the Rosary Confraternity was established. The Angelic Warfare Confraternity was also established. The Thomistic Institute was inaugurated and the Third Order of St. Dominic was introduced. To crown it all, in January 1954, “St. Patrick Catholic Mission” was raised to the dignity of a “Parish”, and renamed “St. Dominic’s Parish”, and Fr. Michael J. Dempsey named its first Parish Priest.


Prior to the arrival of the Dominicans, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church had become a Mission Station under the SMA Fathers. Sunday Masses were at 7:00am and 8:30am. Masses were held in a small Church building estimated to hold about 300 people. The congregation at both masses would have numbered about 600.

In those days, cars were rare, in fact at 7:00 am mass, the only car often seen was a “Ford Prefect” Car, owned by Mrs. McEwen, [nee Miss Onipede], and at the 8:30 mass only a “Vauxhall” car owned by Chief Shodimu.

Three structures adorned the Catholic Church compound: The Church built in 1933, the Mission house, a storey building with the upstairs suspended on hardwood. The flooring was of similar timber – hard wood, and of course, the St. Patrick’s School Block, which was in Progress, but later completed by Rev. McArthy, a renouned builder then resident at St. Paul Catholic Church, Ebute Metta.

At the arrival of the Dominicans, Pa Alfred F. Hooper was then the Chairman of the Church Committee. Chief G. A. Chukelu was the general Secretary, other outstanding and distinguished Parishioners included, Chief Shodimu, Chief M.O. Akindele, Veteran Teach M.B. Odedeyi, Choirmaster and the reputable organist and Choirmaster, John O. Faneye, S.S. Ogundipe, S.W. Oshilaja, A.O. Oresanya, G.M. Campbell, A.O. Oresanya, C.A.A. Titcombe, P. T. Odulana, Pa G.S. Nicholas, L. A. Onojobi, Chief Lawrence O. Kehinde, Papal Knight C.S. Adewumi, [Sr], Chief Rufus Onyeje, [The Orumili of Nnewi], P.K. Delima and Isaac Ogoegbunam.

Soon afterwards with the mantle of leadership on Fr. Michael Dempsey, O.P., Rev. Art Kinsella, O.P. became the Spiritual Director of the Legion of Mary Praesidium, and  Fr. E.T. Lawton was made Chaplain to the armed forces in the area.

The Rev. James M. Dempsey O.P. was inducted as Pastor of the new St. Dominic’s Parish. At a reception held in his honour, he was given a purse of 5 guineas, seed money that was to later yield a thousand fold. From time to time, Fathers Dempsey O.P., Lawton O.P. and Kinsella O.P. made the time to extend their apostolic operations outside Lagos. They gave retreats in centers like Benin, Kaduna, Kano and Akure. In 1955, Fr. Kinsella O.P. had to return to the US due to ill health. He was replaced by Fr. Ambrose Windbacher. In the same year, two more Dominican Fathers, James S. McHatton and Louise V. Nadeau arrived Yaba. With more Priests in the Parish, the number of Sunday Masses at Yaba increased. As a result of this, Masses were celebrated at 6:00am, 7:30am and 9:00am.

On Easter morning in 1955, the Parish Bulletin was Printed and circulated, for the first time, to all Parishioners at Mass. One Thousand and Five Hundred Bulletins were then been printed for distribution every Sunday free of charge. The bulleting has since evolved and is self-sustaining.

On October 17th 1959, Brother Stephen Lucas O.P. arrived in the Yaba Parish. Brother Stephen entered religious life at age 20, took his vows seven years later in July and came to Nigeria three months later. In that same year, a fourth Mass was added, with the last one specifically celebrated for children. Brother Stephen introduced St. Jude Apostolate and Society for Vocations Support to encourage prayer life and to support the training of young people to the priesthood.

Rev. Fr. Tom McDermott OP a young American Dominican friar, who was to later move the Dominican Presence in Yaba to greater frtomaccomplishments, arrived St. Dominic’s Parish in September of 1983 after his ordination four months earlier at the old Cathedral in St. Louis USA. He was soon after his arrival appointed an Associate Pastor with responsibility for Catechetic. This Dominican Friar was popularly called Fr. Tom and similarly nicknamed Little Jesus because of his close mimicking of the physical image of Christ.

St. Dominic’s Parish has been blessed since inception with the Pastors listed below. See Booklet on St. Dominic’s Catholic Church (1954 – 2004) for more elaborate record.

  • Rt. Rev. Michael J. Dempsey, O.P. (1951 – 1965).
  • Rev. Fr Giles Klapperich, O.O. (1965 – 1972)
  • Rev. Fr Ambrose Windbacher, O.P. (1972 – 1975)
  • Rev. Fr. Colum Daley, O.P. (1975 – 1981)
  • Rev. Fr. Richard Farmer, O.P. (1981 – 1990)
  • Rev. Fr. Thomas McDermott, O.P. (1990 – 1998)
  • Rev. Fr. Bola Oye, O.P.  (1998 – 2001)
  • Rev. Fr. Maryvin Ubili, O.P. (2001 – 2010)
  • Rev. Fr. Felix Onemheghie, O.P. (2010 – Present)

Other Dominican Friars that arrived Nigeria from St. Albert the Great were: Fr. Peter M. Otillio, OP; Justus M. Pokrzewinski, OP; Rev. Fr. Edward H. Riley, O.P.; Joseph P. Kenny, O.P and Fr. Gilbert Thesing, OP. It is also important to note that the First Nigerian Dominican Friar is Rev. Fr. John Nwanze, O.P.

Categorised in: History

This post was written by Intro

Comments are closed here.