For two days, Ss. Ferdinand and Joseph, two Parishes in the Ipaja Deanery of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos were agog, as the centenarian Pa Augustine Olajide Shodunke took the centre stage during the celebration of his centenary birthday anniversary, at the St. Ferdinand Catholic Church, Ipaja, Lagos, recently. Accompanied by his children, family members from far and near, relations and well-wishers all were adorned in white attire with multi-coloured cap and head ties to match. Never in the history of the thirty-seven years of the Parish, has any parishioner dead or alive celebrated a centenary birthday. The Eruwon Ake, Abeokuta born Pa Shodunke whose 100th birthday falls on the feast day of St. Augustine, sat down calmly, overwhelmed with stupendous joy.
Very Rev. Monsignor elect, Peter Babatunde Oke was the Chief Celebrant in a concelebrated Mass featuring Rev. Frs Francis Anyanwu, Parish priest, St. Ferdinand Catholic Church and Dean, Ipaja Deanery; Theodore Martinos, St. Dennis Catholic Church, Akoka; Jude Abulu, St. Catherine Catholic Church, Alakuko; and Stephen Akinsowon, Parish Priest, Our Lady, Mother and Queen Catholic Church, Badare and Dean Ajah Deanery. Others were Joadim Ochibili- Holy Rosary, Catholic Church, Ogba; three Rev. Sisters, two seminarians and Rev. Fr. Basil Soyoye who flew in from France for the ceremony. Rev. Monsignor Peter Oke gave a vivid description of the life and times of the centenarian Pa Augustine Olayide Shodunke, his intimacy with him over a decade and half years ago.
He called on the congregation to reflect on their lives and what they give to the society at large. In his reference to the Psalmist on the mandatory age of seventy years, Oke pointed to the centenarian that at 100 years he is very agile. He congratulated Pa Shodunke and wished him long life. One characteristic feature he observes in the celebrant is his consistency in prayer and whatever Papa does. He enjoined the congregation to emulate Papa. Finally, he thanked God for the life of Papa whom he described as a father, grandfather and a brother in Christ. He concluded his homily by asking the congregation to join him in singing in Yoruba “Ara e dide e ba mi jo enia mi e ba mi yo Oluwa mi lo gbemi ga”
Next, the celebration moved to St. Joseph Catholic Church Gowon Estate during the thanksgiving Mass, the centenarian Pa Augustine Olajide Shodunke was a cynosure of eyes stepping out gingerly but steadily calculating his steps during the thanksgiving accompanied by his son Sir Augustine Ayodele Shodunke KSJI and other family members of the centenarian while the acknowledged cheers from the parishioners. In his homily Rev Fr. Basil Soyoye SMA who flew in from France for the ceremony said Pa Shodunke is thanking God and not the congregation noting that Papa believes in God. He recalled with nostaligia that while Papa was working he neither looked for promotion nor took bribe but only depended on his salary and blessing. Apparently a family relation, Fr. Soyoye referred to the role played by Papa in the family saying Papa believes in solving problems with prayer.
Finally, while congratulating the centenarian on the milestone reached, Fr. Soyoye drew the attention of the congregation to the response of the day’s Responsorial Psalm, “O Lord who may abide in your tent” and asked them to take cognizance of it. Papa Augustine Olajide Shodunke was born on Sunday, August 28 at Eruwon, Ake, Abeokuta, Ogun Sate Capital. He was baptized and confirmed at St. Patrick Catholic Church, Yaba now St. Dominic Catholic Church. From 1931 to 1938, Pa Shodunke attended St. Patrick Catholic Primary School, Yaba and St. Paul’s Ebute Meta, he later moved to a government school Okesuna Lagos in 1939. For his secondary education Pa Shodunke attended St. Gregory College, Obalende, Ikoyi where he passed his Senior Cambridge Examination.
The centenarian worked for the Nigerian Railway Corporation from January1945 to August 1984 and retired as Station Superintendent at Ido Railway Terminus. Between May 12 and December 2, 1996, Papa Shodunke served the Lagos State Judiciary as a Grade A Customary Court Judge after which he had his second retirement. Papa Shodunke was married to his heartthrob late Mrs. C.A Shodunke (Nee Odunlana). The marriage is blessed with children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Pa Shodunke membership in the Catholic Church cuts across numerous societies and organizations either as a member, founder or as a co – founder. Pa Augustine Olajide Shodunke is a recipient of many awards and certificates too numerous to mention since 1994.