…Marks ninth anniversary as Archbishop of Lagos
Fear and trepidation are usual feelings that come with leadership at some point in life, especially when one gets to a position they never envisaged at a stage in their life. This can be said to be the case for Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins, Catholic Archbishop of the Metropolian See of Lagos, nine years ago, when he received the news of his appointment, as Archbishop of Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos. Archbishop Martins, formerly Bishop of Abeokuta Diocese, initially didn’t believe that he had been called to shepherd a much larger flock, but it later dawned on him that he had be appointed to lead a larger flock in the Lagos Archdiocese, and for him, the next thing he asked himself was, ‘Where do I go from here? According to the Chief Shepherd, ‘Of course, I have been a bishop for about 14 years. But to be a Bishop in Abeokuta is not the same as being Bishop in Lagos.
So, naturally, the feeling was ‘Ok, what do I do: what needs to be done was there. But God has been faithful. Speaking on his journey for the past nine years that he has been shepherding the flock in Lagos, and high and low moments, as chief shepherd, Archbishop Martins noted that every position has challenges that come with it. Hear him: “Of course, every journey has its own challenges. Every position, every work that you have to do have high and low moments, but I think what makes the difference is the fact that you never feel alone in the task that you are carrying out. You feel the presence of God guiding you. “I could say practically, I felt the guidance of God in decisions and actions and the rest of it. So, that has been a great support, giving a great sense of grip that you can get from it.” The Archbishop noted that even with the challenges, great achievements have been witnessed because everyone does their bit for the development of the Archdiocese.
He said: “I would say, what we consider as achievement, is a sum total of everyone. Everyone in their own little areas, doing their different things, aggregate into what the development of the Archdiocese is. And so, that has helped in other words; everyone doing his own little bit, has made the work to be easier, even though it has its challenges. “The flock has been working hard, although there are some who are still sitting on the fence. And so, it’s an opportunity to challenge everybody, to say, ‘Look, the work of building the Church does not belong to the Bishop or to the priest, it belongs to every single person who is Catholic, every single person that has been baptized, that has been incorporated into God’s family in the Archdiocese. “Everybody has a duty to do something; something unique, something that he can say, ‘I did it.’ I think it’s important. ‘I did it’, not in order to gather praise, but rather that you can present to God at the end of time, when you stand before Him (God), when he asks, ‘What did you do?’ also, I think it is important for everyone to recognize the need to be able to give account of what one has done to build the Church, and to advance the course of evangelization.
” Archbishop Martins noted that beyond making effort to grow the Church, people should also grow in their spiritual life because that is what really matters. He said: “Many have made the effort; everyone still need to make the effort of developing the Church. But beyond making effort to grow the Church, one should also grow one’s own personal spiritual life because eventually, that is what really matters. When we get before God, it’s not the number of things you do, but rather, our relationship with Jesus. “And so, it’s important that we can build up that relationship with Jesus, in terms of how you find time to read the scriptures, how you find time to study the teachings of the Church, how people make an effort to even help others to understand and accept the faith; these are very, very important things that we cannot but pay attention to, as we journey through life.” In his message to Catholics, Christians and Nigerians as a whole, he noted that these are very difficult times in Nigeria.
“The insecurity is so vivid, you can feel it everywhere. And you know, that is why one gets a bit worried that rather than try and face the insecurity that is making people to complain, it will seem that the law enforcement agencies are going after people. “Sunday Igboho ; they are going after him, Nnamdi Kanu; they are going after individuals like that. These people are not the problem as such. What the problem is the inequality, the feeling of being left out. These are the real problems of this nation, and I think if the President and his government makes an effort to address those issues, which brought up these things, who is Igboho on his own, If not for the fact that there are problems that are there, which he has tried to respond to because no solutions are being found? “So, one would just simply ask that government needs to place emphasis where it is needed; fighting insecurity, making more equipment and facilities available, to fight insecurity.
See how our children are being kidnapped from schools everyday; it’s such a worrisome thing. And yet, we have those who are experts in security issues, who should have by their training, be able to find ways out. So, these are big issues that need to be addressed. And as I said, the feeling of being left behind in things is there. Appreciating religious and lay faithful in the Archdiocese, for their support since the past nine years, Archbishop Martins noted that they could not gather by this time of the year last year because COVID-19 pandemic, which was still biting very hard at the time, “but since then, we got some relief and that is why we are able to gather.” On the third wave of the pandemic, He reminded the people not to let their guards down , adding that the virus is more infectious at this level. “We must not let our guards down, even though we see some measure of relief because we are beginning to witness the third wave of the virus.People are being infected, and the numbers are growing, from what we heard. “We hear that nearly 300 were infected yesterday.
So, this is not something we should completely let down our guards. We have been told that the virus we are facing now is much more infectious than the ones we faced before. So let me use this opportunity to ask you dear brothers and sisters not to let down our guards, but to continue to keep the protocols of COVID-19 “We have been instructed that at all parishes should revert to the COVID-19 protocols that we had in place before. Some have begun to become a little slack at it, so, we must go back to it; checking temperatures, making sure we are wearing our face or nose masks; please ensure that we enforce the wearing of it, let us wash our hands as often as is necessary, keep physical distance, let us sanitize after Mass, make more Masses available, and ensure that we just keep the protocols. We pray that the Lord will keep us away from all harms, and that he will protect us from all the dangers. Let us do our own bit, so that we will not be putting God to the test as we pray.
Pray and work makes all things to work together. May the Lord grant us a quick and an end to this virus through Christ our Lord.” Giving thanks to God for the opportunity to gather the Archbishop said: “Nine years ago, when I was made to sit down on that chair there, it was with a lot of trepidation and fear, but since then, I have seen more clearly that the grace of God is greater than whatever fear or trepidation any one may have, and that grace has been manifest in more ways than one, through the life and activities of all the people in the Archdiocese of Lagos. “By God’s grace, together, we have done several things to improve on the life of the Archdiocese to build on the foundation that was firmly laid by my predecessors, in particular, His Eminence, Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie that is here with us today.”