Following the expiration of the four year tenure of Rev. Fr. Denis Kaye, as the National Chaplain, Catholic Youth Organisation of Nigeria, CYON, Rev. Fr. Gabriel Odunaiya, former National Deputy Chaplain, CYON, has been appointed the new National Chaplain, by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN. Disclosing this in a statement dated June 7, 2021, Mark Ifeanyi Ugwu, National President, CYON also stated that in the same way, Rev. Fr. Maurice Mbeke Provincial Chaplain, Catholic Youth Organization of Nigeria, Calabar province has been appointed the Deputy National Chaplain. Quoting the book of Ecclesiastes 3:1, ‘There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven’ Ugwu said: “I am pleased to inform you that today being 7th June, 2021, the Catholic Bishops Conference appoints new national chaplain and deputy.” Rev. Fr. Gabriel Odunaiya, who is Lagos Archdiocesan CYON chaplain’s birthday, is June 10. His philosophy is hard work does not kill, laziness does! His vision is ‘Spiritual and physical Growth and oneness of Catholic Youth Organisation of Nigeria. His hobbies include sports and playing musical instruments.
Rev. Fr. Gabriel Odunaiya was born into the family of late Mr. Camillus Odunaiya and late Mrs. Cecilia Odunaiya, indigenes of Omojoda-Odoayan of Eredo-Epe LGA of Lagos State. He had his primary school education at Roman Catholic Mission (RCM) in Omojoda-Odoayan, after which he proceeded to Okemagba High School, Omojoda-Odoayan and Ansar-Ud-deen High school at Isiwo, Ijebu-ode. His Tertiary Education began at LASPOTECH, an institution where his late uncle Engr. Cosmas Odunaiya was Rector. He started by studying Computer Science, until his feelings to answer God’s call became uncontrollable, upon which he wrote an application to the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos and Deo volente, and he got the admission. In year 2002, he began the Spiritual year formation at St. John of the Cross, Ekpoma, Edo State, after which he proceeded to the prestigious major Seminary of SS. Peter and Paul, Bodija, Ibadan for his Seminary training.
He completed his Seminary training in 2011 and holds a BA. Degree in Philosophy, from the University of Ibadan, and a BA. Degree in Sacred Theology, from Pontifical Urban University, Rome. While in the seminary, he was once chairman of Yoruba liturgical group (2010-2011). He was also Provost Marshall of Federal Road Safety Club, for three years; a choir member, member, Legion of Mary, Sacred heart society and many other societies in the Church. Odunaiya was ordained Deacon on Sunday, August 28, 2011 at SS. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael Catholic Church, Satellite Town, and ordained Catholic Priest on Saturday, Dec 17, 2011, at the Catholic Church of Divine Mercy, Lekki by His Eminence Anthony Cardinal Okogie. He was first posted to St. Peter’s Catholic Church, Ejigbo, Lagos. In November 2013, he was appointed as the Chaplain of the Archdiocese and resumed officially on December 18, 2013. He became a resident priest in the Catholic Church of the Presentation, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos. In September 2014, he represented the Archdiocese in Rome for an International Conference on Pope’s Encyclical Evangelii Gaudium, (The Joy of the Gospel), where he actively participated and received a certificate of participation.
In service to God with self-development at heart and to be better in providing guidance in the Youth Apostolate, he has participated in International Conferences/Leadership Seminars such as American Camping Association (ACA), Youth Development Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA and International Camping Congress in Sochi, Russia. Alpha Leadership Conference, London, UK among others. On the 23th July, 2015, he was appointed as the Chaplain of Lagos Ecclesiastical Provincial, Catholic Youth Organisation of Nigeria. Then on the 13th December, 2016 he was appointed as Deputy National Chaplain, CYON. In addition to his responsibilities, on June 1, 2021, he was appointed the CYON National Chaplain. Fr. Gabriel is known for his hard work. He is friendly, blunt, easygoing, vibrant, a sage and an inspirational speaker. He loves the Church so much, particularly the youths and holds their welfare to his heart because he believes they are the now of the church, as well as the future leaders in the society at large