Date of Creation: November, 1997
Date of Erection: 24 January, 1998
Landmass: 10,679.38 sq. km
Catholic Population: 65,000
Diocesan Patron: The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
First Bishop: Most Revd. Alfred Adewale Martins
Current Bishop: Most Revd. Dr Peter Odetoyinbo
The Catholic Diocese of Abeokuta was created on the 21st of November 1997 by his Holiness, Pope John Paul II. It was carved out of the Archdiocese of Lagos. His Lordship, Most Rev. Alfred Martins was ordained and installed as its first Bishop on the 24th of January, 1998 at the same ceremony in which the Diocese was formally inaugurated.
The area in question covers the Abeokuta Province of the British colonial era, which now comprises the Egba and Yewa divisions of Ogun State, the other division in the state being Ijebu which is co-terminus with the Diocese of Ijebu-Ode and Abeokuta. The total landmass of the state (16,369.40.sq.km) is shared by the two Dioceses thus: Abeokuta (10,679.38.sq.km) and Ijebu-Ode (5,690.02.sq.km)
Christianity was introduced into the Diocese in the early part of the 19th century and the seat of the Diocese, Abeokuta, currently houses the first Bible that was brought into the country by the early Missionaries. Catholicism came to Abeokuta in 1880 from where it spread to the other parts of what is now Abeokuta Diocese. The history of the Catholic church in the Diocese of Abeokuta intertwined with the wider history of missionary works of the Fathers of the Society of African Missions (SMA) and Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles (OLA). While the SMA Fathers arrived in 1880, the OLA Sisters followed in 1886. Since then, the Church has continued to grow.
The Diocese of Abeokuta, like Ogun state in which it is situated, is typically a ‘Gateway’ diocese. Not only does it connect the Archdiocese of Lagos with the Archdiocese of Ibadan in Nigeria, it is also strategically interconnected with the Church in the wider area of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), especially adjacent the Diocese of Port-Novo in the Republic of Benin. There is visible peaceful co-existence among the religious groups in the diocese as we have close ecumenical relationship as well as cordial relationship with the other religious bodies. There are lots of joint religious programmes between the various Christian denominations.
There are in the Diocese approximately 70,000 adherents to the Catholic faith, presently distributed into 49 parishes, administered by a total of 60 incardinated priests, and religious priests on mission working with His Lordship, Most. Rev. Dr. Peter Kayode Odetoyinbo. The Diocese has witnessed a rapid growth from 9 parishes and 11 priests in 1998 to what we have now.
The first Bishop of the Diocese, Most. Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins was in August 4, 2012 elevated to the Archbishopric of Lagos while Very Rev. Msgr. C.G Ajala stood in as the Diocesan Administrator from August 4, 2012 to June 2014. The second Bishop of the Diocese, Most. Rev. Peter Kayode Odetoyinbo was installed on June 25, 2014. Since his installation, the evangelism drive of the Diocese has received more vigor with the completion and dedication of the Cathedral of Ss. Peter and Paul, Itesi on the 21st of January, 2016. Other fruits of the evangelism drive include the creation of Agbara deanery which was carved out of Ota deanery, the creation of additional 13 parishes, establishment of Presentation Nursery and Primary school, Ilaro in 2016, establishment of a Diocesan Youth office and appointment of a Diocesan Youth Animator, Mr. Anzaku Daniel, the on-going construction of the Ave Maria Diocesan Catholic Women Organization Centre at Aiyetoro, and the Salve Regina Provincial Catholic Women Organization centre in Lala. To further the activities of the lay apostolate groups in the diocese, the Divine Mercy Pastoral Centre has been envisioned and is under construction in the Obada-oko area of Abeokuta. The newly established St. Albert the Great Seminary also exists within the territory of the diocese.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the Patron of the diocese hence the logo carries the symbol of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the seat of love, the love which has been poured into our souls by the Holy Spirit. The heart of Jesus is inflamed with love, burning for the salvation of the world. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the inspiration for the love that is firing the zeal of all within the diocese to be engaged in the missionary apostolate so as to be instruments for bringing the message of the salvation of Christ to the whole world.