These nine years have been marked by unprecedented physical, pastoral and spiritual developments. In nine years, he has created 13 more Deaneries and over 60 new parishes, and dedicated over 30 churches. The numbers of confirmations are uncountable. Today, our children can now receive First Holy Communion, at the minimum age of nine and Confirmation, at the minimum age of 10; all in the bid to integrate them into the sacramental life of the Church, and catch them very young. May God be praised. In nine years, he has promulgated the Parish Guidelines for the pastoral administration, management of finances and human resources of the parish, and the Archdiocese. This has proven to be a gift from heaven, as it has put structures to the parish life, and administration, and helped grow an engaged Church. The implementation of the guideline is still being studied, and a review conducted, to ensure its purpose is fully realized. In nine years, he has permitted over 15 priests to proceed on further studies, and major in various areas; three in America, two in Rome, one in Spain, one in France, two in CIWA, and three in University of Lagos (Unilag). Some more have been given green light, to begin in the coming year. Others have done some studies in accounting, and some have obtained masters in online studies.
His commitment to education, and intellectual development of priests is beyond compare. In nine years, he has established the Caritas Lagos Fund, with which to assist dioceses, mission territories, congregations, institutions, parishes, and individuals outside the Archdiocese, who have financial needs, and have approached the Archdiocese for help. Caritas Lagos functions like a “Micro-Propaganda Fidei” in Lagos, and it has been of great help to many people, especially Dioceses in the North, affected by either insurgency or flood, and also, the internally displaced people in Maidugiri, Borno and Yola, Adamawa states. In nine years, he has acquired landed properties in the urban, as well as rural areas of Lagos, for physical development and empowerment of the locals. For instance, in uptown Lagos, the Archdiocese has a place in the ultra-modern Eko Atlantic City. This is to ensure that the Church is not left behind, when people move into the city. In Banana island, the Archdiocese is not left out, as efforts are being made, to secure a place of worship. In the hinterlands of Badagry and Ikorodu, large hectares of lands designated for Schools and other physical developments have been secured, and we have taken possession of these parcels of land. In nine years, a committee has been set up and commissioned, with an urgent mandate to realize the vision of the Archdiocese, to build a Retirement Home for Priests.
Mobilization fund has been approved and the retirement home is named after John Mary Vianney, the patron of priests. It is glad to know work is in progress. In nine years, he has also set up the committee to actualize the St Joseph the Worker Technical Institute, here in the Archdiocese, to offer practical education, on technical skills and craftsmanship. This project is already underway. In the same vein, his passion for educational excellence has made him begun the building of three additional Archdiocesan secondary schools, added to the already existing 10; one in Iju-Ishaga, one in Ikorodu, and one in Bogije. In nine years, a committee has been commissioned, to come up with ideas, drawings and recommendations, on the possibility of a more befitting Chancery, for the Archdiocese and Archbishop’s residence.
This committee has begun their meetings already. In nine years, he has set up and commissioned a number of committees, to come up with guidelines and policies on various aspects of the life of the Church, in Lagos, namely;
a. Committee on Evangelization;
b. Committee on Vocation and Formation;
c. Committee on Youth Ministry;
d. Committee on Media and Social Communication;
e. Committee on Healing Ministry. These committees, headed by various priests, have swung into action, in line with their mandate, and in keeping with the timeframe. In the same token, the Laity of the Archdiocese has been mandated to oversee the building of a Pastoral Centre for the Archdiocese. This project is about to kickoff. Within these nine years, the Augustine University started by Anthony Cardinal Okogie, the Archbishop Emeritus of Lagos has been approved, and its pioneer students have resumed studies, and already had their maiden matriculation.
Within five Years, St. Albert the Great Major Seminary, which was largely, built by Lagos Archdiocese, with some support from dioceses within the Lagos, Ibadan and Benin Provinces, and some individuals, has been inaugurated. This seminary would not have been a reality without Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins, who personally saw to it, and used his office, to appeal to the clergy and lay faithful of Lagos Archdiocese, to ensure the Seminary project is realized. Thanks to Fr. Julius Olaitan, Sir Iwuchukwu, and their team for their tireless good works and supervision. The success of the Year of Mercy Pilgrimage, to the Cathedral is unquantifiable. Thanks to the Archbishop, who not only set up a committee headed by Fr. Olaitan, to oversee this, but approved all their proposals, and makes sure he is personally present every Tuesday, to lead his flock, through the Holy Door, and preside at the Mass. We are grateful to God for the success of the Marian Year, which will be concluded, with the re-consecration of Lagos State, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Patroness of Nigeria.
We can go on and on. We salute and thank the Archbishop for his remarkable vision, and the tremendous growth witnessed in the Archdiocese, within these nine years. Without much noise, he has carried on with the legacy of his predecessor, and taken the Archdiocese to such a great height. Indeed, God has been faithful and benevolent to us. There is no better way to express this than in the words of the psalmist: “No word, no voice, no speech is heard, yet their span extends through all the earth…to the utmost bound of the earth (Ps.19:3).” This indeed is the work of the Lord and it is marvelous in our sight (Ps.118:23)”.
Therefore, we pray for you using the words of the psalmist: planted in the House of the Lord, may you continue to flourish in the courts of our God, still bearing fruit, as you grow old, still full of sap, still green… (Ps. 92:13, 14)” As we congratulate the Archbishop, we thank all the clergy, religious and lay faithful, whose support and collaboration, made these achievements possible. May God grease your elbows with more strength. Amen. We wish the Archbishop a happy, holy and healthy celebration. May the Patron and Patroness of the Archdiocese, The Holy Cross and Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, intercede for you. E pe fun wa.