The Parish Priest of St. Anthony Catholic Church, Gbaja, Surulere, Lagos, Rt. Rev. Monsignor Bernard Okodua has urged Nigerians to be hopeful, and not to despair nor be dismayed by the situation of things in the country. Okodua gave the charge at a press briefing held on April 13, 2021, heralding the commencement of the 60th (Diamond Jubilee) anniversary celebration of St. Anthony Catholic Church. The parish priest who disclosed that the parish will be celebrating her Diamond Jubilee proper, on June 13, 2021, noted that despite the problems confronting the nation, and the world at large, there is need to celebrate people who put in their utmost for a worthy course. He said: “Given the situation of the past year, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic and social unrest in our country, the political uncertainty and less hope for a brighter future for our teeming youth population. ‘why the celebrations’, you may ask? “Such anniversaries as this, honour the founding fathers of the parish. As scripture states in Psalm 127:1, ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build labour in vain.’ In the years long past, God gave these men and women a vision to establish a parish. It must have been a daunting task, and would have cost them dearly, in terms of time, energy and resources, yet, they did it. Surely, some of them may have seen and known that this work would outlive them, reaching out to generations yet unborn, yet, they still committed to it.
Our anniversary is worth celebrating. “The Holy Bible teaches us not to lose hope, and not to despair nor be dismayed. The risen Christ has brought light to the world, and we must let his light shine by proclaiming the good news among men. Part of the good news is that our Parish has continued to grow in leaps and bound, from the humble beginnings of 1961, into a prominent Parish within the firmament of Lagos Archdiocese. To God be the glory.” The cleric encouraged the people to have communal gatherings, where they can come together to celebrate and merry, and also spend time in fellowship with one another. “It is good to catch up with people, and enjoy time and food together. It is always good to spend time with God’s precious people, and by extension, members of the proximate community, who are beneficiaries of our service. This is what we call fellowship, and it is to be encouraged among members of the Church of Christ.
According to Monsignor Okodua, one of the reasons for the celebration is to raise funds to carry out general renovation works in the Parish, to position it for the challenges of the next 15 years. “We need to constantly look into the future, and prepare to meet the needs of all relevant stakeholders, particularly, our dear Parishioners”, he said. He said that the Church’s anniversary day is her annual feast day, the feast of St. Anthony of Padua, on June 13. He added that this year, being a special year, the Parish’s Diamond Anniversary, the Parish has decided to celebrate in a grander way, bringing in relevant Church societies and groups to have their own special day of celebrations. He said: “We have also decided to begin early, as a buildup to the D-day, hence, our 60 to 60th catchphrase. Today happens to be exactly 60 days to our 60th anniversary. “A number of events have been lined up and scheduled to hold for the parishioners between today and our anniversary day on June 13, 2021.
The cleric thanked God for the Diamond Jubilee that is being celebrated at this period that he is the Parish Priest of St. Anthony Catholic Church, as he said it is time to pay tribute to those who have laid the foundation, and to those who have built on it till date. “May God bless and reward them with eternal life. May he grant us the grace to continue the legacy to lead God’s people to green pastures of eternal life. Amen”, he prayed. Rev. Fr. Victor Okhiria, Associate Priest, St. Anthony Catholic Church, in his welcome address noted that the role of the Church in the modern world as a transformation and change agent cannot be over emphasized, as he said that all over the ages, the Church has been involved in the life of humanity, structuring of society, and shaping the form and quality of political systems.