Peace of Christ be with you, beloved people of God. Let me begin with warm greetings of the new year, as I pray God to bless all of us this year as individuals, families and nation. I salute all our country men and women, particularly as we prepare for a great event in the life of our country – the forth coming general elections. Providentially, it is about the same time when we celebrate the 25th anniversary of our beloved Diocese of Abeokuta. It is indeed a moment to recount the grace and mercy of God on us as a Diocese in the last 25years and how He has led us thus far as a people of God on mission. As we celebrate this milestone of 25 years of labouring for the propagation of the Catholic faith in Abeokuta and Yewa parts of Ogun State which today has become the Catholic Diocese of Abeokuta, we remember and celebrate the investment of missionary endeavours in the Diocese over the years by the Society of African Missions (SMA Fathers, 1880) and Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles (OLA Sisters,1886), Bishops, Priests, Religious, Catechists, numerous men and women (dead and alive). 

We must acknowledge that it has been God for us all the way since the erection of our Diocese in 1998 and we are grateful to Him for choosing us to be part of the spiritual, pastoral and physical development of the Diocese. To the glory of God, the celebration of the 25th anniversary has commenced with a 9-day Novena Prayer from 16th - 24th January, 2023 when the Diocese officially clocks 25years, fundraising, symposium and launch of the Diocesan Documentary on 25th January (5pm), with the thanksgiving Mass and reception on 26th January, 2023 at the Ss. Peter and Paul, Itesi, Adatan Road, Abeokuta, Ogun State by 10:00am. These events will play host to Bishops, Priests, Religious and Laity, Dignitaries of Church and State, Executives of Societies and Congregations across the length and breadth of Nigeria. We therefore use this medium to appeal to everyone to support the Diocese and be part of this great event as we celebrate God’s mercy and love on our Diocese. 

Our Diocese consists of the Egba and Yewa blocks of Ogun State and covers 11 local government areas namely: Abeokuta South, Abeokuta North, Odeda, Ewekoro, Ado-Odo/Ota, Yewa South, Yewa North, Obafemi-Owode, Ifo, Imeko-Afon and Ipokia Local Government areas of the state. It is at the heart of the Ogun State Capital (Gateway State) and shares boundaries with Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Catholic Archdiocese of Ibadan and Catholic Diocese of Ijebu-Ode in the Southwest of Nigeria. Due to its strategic location, it has a close proximity to the Church in the ECOWAS States especially the Diocese of Port-Novo in the Republic of Benin. As Ogun State stands as the headquarter of most Pentecostal Churches in Nigeria, there is a profound ecumenical relationship with other various Christian denominations within the State and beyond. The Catholic population is estimated at over 100,000 across the parishes of the Diocese.


The Catholic Diocese of Abeokuta was carved out of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos under different Local Ordinaries which also includes the early missionaries down to Archbishop Leo Taylor, Archbishop John Kwao Aggey, and the current Emeritus Archbishop of Lagos - Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie. We acknowledge the missionary effort of Anthony Cardinal Okogie who began the process of the creating the Catholic Diocese of Abeokuta which was later pronounced a Diocese on November 21st, 1997 by the late Pope St. John Paul II. Rt. Rev. Msgr. Alfred Adewale Martins was installed as the First Bishop and the Diocese erected on January the 24th, 1998. Upon erection, the Diocese started with 9 Parishes and 9 incardinated Priests. The Parishes were: Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic Cathedral – Itesi, St. Anne Catholic Church - Ibara, St. Peter Catholic Church - Ota, St Mary Catholic Church – Ifo, St. Mary Catholic Church - Ayetoro, St Joseph Catholic Church - Imeko, St Joseph Catholic Church - Ilaro, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church - Ado-Odo and St. Michael Catholic Church – Ajilete. The pioneering incardinated priests included - Late Rev. Msgr. Christopher

Gbogboade Ajala, Late Rev. Msgr. Sylvester Uwadineke Osigwe, Very Rev. Frs: Michael Olufemi Akintolu, Joseph Yemi Akinlotan, Patrick Adeoluwa Feyisetan, Emmanuel Adebayo Lewis, Anthony Adekunle Famoroti and Late Cosmas Olufemi Famoroti. This celebration is an acknowledgement of the commitment and perseverance of these pioneers of the Diocese and the credible foundation they laid that paved the way for consolidated pastoral activities in successive years.  


With the retirement of Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie as the Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Dr. Alfred Adewale Martins, then Bishop of Abeokuta Diocese was elevated as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Lagos Archdiocese. He was subsequently installed on Aug. 4th 2012 at the Holy Cross Cathedral, Lagos. Thus, the seat of Abeokuta Diocese became vacant, and a Diocesan Administrator - Very Rev. Msgr. Christopher Gbogboade Ajala (blessed memory), was appointed to oversee the Diocese pending the appointment of a new and substantive Bishop. He administered the Diocese for close to 2 years. On April 15th, 2015, a Bishop-Elect, Rt. Rev, Msgr. Peter Kayode Odetoyinbo, then Vicar-General of the Catholic Archdiocese of Ibadan was appointed by Pope Francis as the second Bishop of Abeokuta Diocese. The episcopal ordination and installation took place on June 24th, 2014. Since then, the spiritual, pastoral and physical development of the Diocese has continued to grow in leaps and bounds. 


Over the years, there has been an increase in the number of Parishes and incardinated Priests in the Diocese from 9 Parishes and 9 incardinated Priests at inception to 68 Parishes and 75 incardinated Priests. Similarly, from 32 Parishes and 8 Deaneries in 2014 to 69 Parishes and 10 Deaneries with the creation of St. Pio - Agbara Deanery carved out of St. Peter - Ota Deanery and Mary Queen of Nigeria - Akute Deanery carved out of St Julius - Agbado Deanery. Presently, the Diocese has 10 Deaneries – Ss. Peter and Paul - Itesi Deanery, St. Joachim and Anne - Ibara Deanery, St. Joseph - Imeko Deanery, St. Pio - Agbara Deanery, St. Julius - Agbado Deanery, St. Mary - Ifo Deanery, St. Peter - Ota Deanery, St. Paul - Ibafo Deanery, Immaculate Conception - Ado-Odo Deanery and Mary Queen of Nigeria - Akute Deanery. We appreciate the Priests, Religious and Laity (dead and alive) whose names are numerous to mention that have contributed to the present level of growth in the Diocese. This celebration is in their honour; for the sacrifices and love to see that Abeokuta progresses in all areas; we appreciate their generous donation of time and resources.


Indeed, vocation to the priesthood and religious life has experienced a significant boost as our Presbyterium continues to be enriched with the ordination of new Priests for the Diocese making the present number of 75 incardinated Priests. The Diocese is blessed with the presence of Religious Priests and Sisters of diverse religious congregations working in the Diocese and these congregations add beauty and value to the Diocese. Some of them work in difficult terrains but with utmost love and commitment to the Church. The story of God’s wonders in our Diocese will not be complete without the mention of their great work among our people. The Diocese appreciates their commitment, selfless service and love for the mission, may they continue to find fulfilment in their chosen vocation. Worthy of note is our departed brother Priests who also laboured at some point in time to ensure the growth and development of our beloved Diocese. They include Very Rev. Msgr. Christopher Gbogboade Ajala (Former Diocesan Administrator), Very Rev. Msgr. Sylvester Osigweh,

Rev. Fr. Cosmas Famoroti, Rev. Fr. Alex Arowojolu (Fidei Donum Priest of Ondo Diocese) and Rev. Fr. Luke Adeleke. Their names will always be written in gold every time the story of Abeokuta Diocese is told for their love and service to the Church.  May their souls continue to rest in perfect peace. Amen


Through the financial contributions and generous donations of God’s people, the Diocese continues to train seminarians and send Priests on further studies. Some of our priests are currently on studies within and outside the Diocese, kindly remember them in your prayers. We pray and hope they finish soon and join us to continue the mission. The Diocese has a total of 57 Seminarians in formation at the various regional seminaries: 13 in the Spiritual Year, 18 in the classes of Philosophy and 19 in the classes of Theology and 7 on pastoral year. Let us pray that God will grant them the grace of final perseverance and continue to send men and women into His vineyard. We also use this medium to thank everyone for their financial support to the Diocese in the payment of the school fees of these seminarians, we are indeed grateful. Please continue to pray for them as they discern their vocations to the priesthood. We encourage young men and women in our Diocese and beyond to consider the vocation to the priesthood and religious life as they grow in their journey of faith. In fact, our Diocese is blessed to have St Albert the Great Major Seminary at Idowu-Offonran; a regional Seminary in our jurisdiction. Therefore, we need more men and women to join the priestly and religious life as the harvest is rich but labourers are few, we rely on the Lord of the harvest to send good men and women into His vineyard.   


Pastorally, new apostolates are established such as apostolate for widows/widowers, altar servers, family and human life, religious education programmes for the training and ongoing formation for catechists, church wardens, choristers and lectors. Thanks to the Chaplains and Directors. Statistically, more members are added to the flock via the administration of Sacraments as thousands of Catechumens continue to receive various Sacraments and more today receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. This is obviously enhanced by the zeal and commitment of our worthy catechists both part time and full time as well as lay service leaders. Some of them travel to the hinterlands to conduct services in order to enhance the effort of the priests. The Diocese appreciates their time and talents for the propagation of the catholic faith. 


Since 2016 till date, the Church buildings of some of our parishes have been dedicated,  the Cathedral of Ss. Peter & Paul, Adatan was completed and dedicated with the relics of Pope St. John Paul II by Most Rev. Dr. Peter Kayode Odetoyinbo. Others are St. Anne, Ibara with the relics of St. John XXIII, St. John Bosco, Alagbole with the relics of St. Theresa of Calcutta, Church of Transfiguration, Arepo with the relics of St. Maria Faustina, St. Ignatius, Magboro with the relics of St. Joseph Marello, St. Alphonsus, Akute with the relics of St. Maria Faustina, Christ the King, Agbara with the relics of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, St. Peter, Ota with the relics of St. Luigi Guanella and quite a few are also getting ready for dedication. 


Our Diocese successfully hosted the Second Plenary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria between 11th – 20th September, 2019; an event we remember with great joy. We conceived of building a Pastoral Centre and thank God for the generosity of the people of the Diocese and several other donors, this dream became a reality. To the glory of God, we were able to host the Bishops and Dignitaries at the newly constructed Divine Mercy Pastoral Centre located at Agbamaya, Obada-Oko, Abeokuta, Ogun State for the Conference. The facility has about 110 rooms (en-suite), conference rooms, a Chapel, Marian Grotto and other amenities. This facility added to the 40-room accommodation at the Fatima House located within the premises of the Pilgrimage Ground, Onikoko, Abeokuta. Hence, the Diocese can now host both diocesan and national events. Thanks to the constant financial contributions of God’s people in order to ensure that the construction continues till it is finally completed. 


As a Diocese, our investment over the years in the area of education is to ensure that our people have access to quality education. Historically, we have one of the oldest primary schools in Ogun state – St. Bernadette Nursery & Primary School – Onikolobo, Abeokuta which has continued to be amongst the best in Ogun State till date. Some other schools have also been established over time - St. Bernadette of Lourdes Nursery and Primary School – Ake Abeokuta, St. Peter Nursery and Primary School – Olomore Abeokuta, St. Patrick

Nursery and Primary School – Imeko, St. Luke Nursery and Primary School – Iwoye-Ketu, Presentation Nursery and Primary School – Ilaro, Sacred Heart Catholic College - Oke-Ilewo Abeokuta, St. Patrick Catholic College - Idofa Imeko, St. Peter Catholic College, Olomore, Catholic Comprehensive High School (Private) Onikolobo Abeokuta, St. Michael Catholic Nursery and Primary School, Ajilete. We hope to build more as God provides the means.  


Our Diocesan Ventures such as filling stations, block industry and carpentry are also thriving gradually. We have vibrant Justice, Development and Peace Commission, Social Communications Directorate, Diocesan Press and Pastoral Institute located within the Msgr. Somide Pastoral Complex, Itesi, Abeokuta. The Social Communications Directorate maintains a monthly publication of the CDA Rock Newspaper, which is the official newspaper of the Diocese aided by the Diocesan Press. The Justice, Development and Peace Commission has a palm kernel and cassava processing factory at Obada Oko, Abeokuta. This venture helps to create jobs and youth empowerment through the production of garri for retail/wholesale and palm kernel oil and cake in small and large quantities. We implore you to partner with the Diocese in whatever way possible. 


As we approach the general elections, we wish to indicate that though we are besieged by the adverse effect of inflation and corresponding economic hardship but let us remember that selling our votes will further compound our problems. We observed with delight, the enthusiasm with which many people approached INEC offices for registrations for their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC), we appeal to everyone that registered to kindly go and collect their cards. With the extension of the deadline for the collection of the cards by INEC, we expect more people to take advantage of this period to approach the officers at their wards for their cards. As a Church, we remain non-partisan, however we have the responsibility of speaking to matters of faith, morals and social justice particularly as they affect the poor and vulnerable. We therefore continue to advocate for social inclusion in our electoral process that will ensure that no one is disenfranchised.


The present administration has signed a new Electoral Amendment Bill into law (2022 Electoral Act) which of course is a laudable effort to keep the Nigerian electoral process up to standard with other democratic countries across the world. It is only hoped that the provisions of this Act are judiciously implemented in the coming elections to enable Nigerians enjoy the exercise of their political franchise before, during and after the elections. Such may really boost the confidence of Nigerians in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct free, fair and credible elections. The introduction of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BIVAS) to capture the face and finger prints of electorates and the electronic transmission of election results is indeed a dream come through and we are glad to hear from INEC that the commission is not contemplating the postponement of the elections.

While we urge politicians to be faithful to the ideals of the peace accord signed by the aspirants and political parties, we also appeal to party agents and their supporters to shun campaigns of calumny and conduct themselves peacefully as the electioneering campaigns progress. They must think and act in the interest of our nation, bearing in mind that we are at a critical point in our nation’s history as far as economy, security, unity, etc are concerned. This time is definitely not for business as usual, our nation needs redemption particularly as the latest multi-dimensional poverty index survey reveals that over 63% of persons living in Nigeria are multi-dimensionally poor. Weaponizing poverty to buy votes should be highly discouraged in whatever shape or form. 

Let the electorates examine the character and capacity of the aspirants of the various political parties and vote for candidates that will lead us to our dream land. We cannot afford to miss it again this time, if we desire a new Nigeria then it must come with new orientation and attitudinal change. Imagine how kidnapping, bribery, vote-buying, ballot box snatching, corruption, insurgency, banditry, robbery and other related vices will become things of the past if everyone of us decides to embrace a change of attitude. We implore Nigerians to reject all forms of vote selling and incentives by politicians who have turned our willpower to merchandise. Selling your vote is as good as selling your right to good governance and dividends of democracy. Let us join hands to save Nigeria by electing credible leaders that will salvage things from getting worse. Our nation is blessed with human and natural resources, the problem we have is credible people to manage these gifts and convert them to prosperity for our nation; Nigeria deserves credible leaders. 

Let us be security conscious as we approach the period of elections, we hope Government at all levels will provide adequate security before, during and after the elections. While appreciating the effort of the security agencies, we urge them to conduct themselves appropriately during the elections. Provision of security is their job and not meddling with electoral processes. Over militarization could also be counter productive if not properly managed.  The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria has again urged us to pray with a new prayer guideline for free and fair elections in Nigeria. Please join us in prayer for Nigeria at this critical time. We appeal to Nigerians particularly the youths to be law abiding and not be used as political thugs by politicians. The forth coming elections is a major referendum on our desire for a new Nigeria. Don’t be involved in violence but use your voters’ cards to elect credible leaders. 


Our Diocese has come a long way in its evangelization drive using the limited resources at its disposal to ensure the further spread of the Gospel of Christ within its area of jurisdiction. This is a product of hard work, dedication and determination by the Bishops, Priests, Religious and Laity of the Diocese. As our Diocese marks the 25th anniversary of its erection (1998-2023), we look forward with hope for a renewed commitment to the work of the evangelization in the Diocese and we pray our Mother Mary, Queen of Nigeria, to continue to intercede for us.



Most Rev. Dr. Peter Olukayode Odetoyinbo

Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Abeokuta




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