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Monumental milestone:
  • Archbishop Martins turns sod for Pastoral Centre
  • It’s a home away from home, says Architect

By Neta Nwosu and Constaincia Uruakpa

 

The Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos has reached one more milestone with the construction of its Pastoral Centre, amid the official ‘Turning of the Sod’ at the site. The building of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Centre on Chivita Avenue, within the immediate vicinity of St. Peter Claver Catholic Church, Ajao Estate, Lagos, is set to begin, following the sod-cutting ceremony performed by Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins, Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos on Monday, February 12, 2024.

The edifice, when completed will play host to high profile plenary meetings of the likes of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria and other pastoral care activities including retreats, as well as offer hospitality services. Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony, Archbishop Martins highlighted the significance of the Pastoral Centre.

He said, “The whole idea of the Pastoral Centre is obviously not new to anyone of us, but the need for it became even more urgent when it became clear to us that in a few years from now, our Archdiocese would be hosting the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Nigeria. And if that were to be the case, it will be extremely difficult to understand that we don’t have a place where the bishops could come together and stay, and have their meeting. “Well of course, we could use hotels and the rest of it, but certainly, that will not be in the interest of the Archdiocese.

But then apart from that, we know that our Archdiocese needs a place where people can come to for different activities; societies, individuals and groups can come to, in order to carry through the activities that are pastoral in nature, or that are even social in nature. “Therefore, we were looking everywhere within the Archdiocese to see where we have the best location. We looked through different parts of the Archdiocese, towards Lekki, towards Ikorodu, Badagry.

But in the end, we had to settle for this parcel of land because this place is going to be a lot more than just a place for the meeting of bishops, or a place for associations and societies to come for their events. “It will also serve the Archdiocese in providing hospitality services for people who probably are coming in from the airport or are going to the airport, people who certainly need a good place where they could come in, feel relaxed in a Church environment and is able to offer the services they wish. And that was why eventually, this parcel of land was picked as a place to be.”

Continuing the Chief Shepherd appreciated the Clergy and Parishioners of St. Peter Claver Catholic Church for offering the parcel of land for building a pastoral centre for the Archdiocese of Lagos. He added, “It is a well-known fact that we intend to build for ourselves a pastoral centre. And so, I am glad that you have created time on a Monday morning in order to come for this event that is significant in very many ways. It’s simple just turning the sod, doing the ground breaking as it were, and getting ourselves ready for the task that is ahead of us. “Of course, we all know what it is to build anything in these days in Nigeria, but we are kicking off the project with confidence, and we trust that whatever it is that is of God that we begin, God will see us through.

And as we call upon God at the beginning like this, you the people of God are present, there is going to be a collaboration between you and God to bring this project to a successful completion.” Rt. Rev. Msgr. John Aniagwu, Vicar General, Archdiocese of Lagos assured the Archbishop of the Archdiocese collective enormous support. He said, “I want to give you our assurance that it is one project that we all support, everyone, clergy, religious, lay faithful. And because we do, we will give you our maximum cooperation to bring it to reality.

My prayer is that we do it in the shortest possible time, that God will give us the enabling power to execute it in the shortest possible time, before it will become necessary for hosting the Bishops’ Conference in Lagos. “So, my brothers and sisters, we are all here representing the different sections of the Archdiocese. The clergy are here, the religious are here, the leaders of the lay faithful are here. Please, on your behalf, I am pledging that we will give our wholehearted support to the project, anything we can do to help our Archbishop bring it to completion.” Rt. Rev. Msgr. Aniagwu urged the clergy, religious and lay faithful to go back to their various bodies and canvass for support towards the realisation of the Pastoral Centre.

In his words, “Please go back to people that you represent and tell them that this is our project, it is not the Archbishop’s project, it is our project, and we are all going to benefit from it when it is completed. We won’t go looking for places anymore, hiring one place after another, and facing disappointments one after another. “So please, let us go back, we the clergy will go back and tell our brother priests, every time we are having our retreat, we are going to hire somewhere.

This project is a must for us. So, when this one is completed, we won’t have to do that anymore, going to squat during our retreat. Then the religious the same thing. “You can come here for your meetings, for various functions that you carry from one parish to another, you can do them here. And the lay faithful the same thing, all the gatherings you have that you go hiring halls from one parish to another, even hotels, you would not have to do that anymore by the grace of God.

“So, let us mobilise our people, mobilise them to support this project and work hard to bring it to fulfilment, as soon as possible.” The Vicar General once more pledged the Archdiocese’ support to the Archbishop. “So, Your Grace, I am giving you our word that we are fully behind you and fully behind this project. Just tell your people what needs to be done, and by God’s grace, because as we heard earlier, it is the Lord who is going to build it. We don’t build for the Lord, we build with the Lord. The Lord builds and we build with Him. It’s a privilege to be able to build with the Lord.”

Archbishop thanked everyone for gracing the occasion, “And therefore, we say again, thank you all for coming for this simple but significant event. We pray that what we begin today will be brought to a successful completion and that all of us who are present here on this day will be present when this project that we have in mind will have been brought to a successful completion. So once again thank you all for coming and God bless you all.”

The about 4,000 square metres Lagos Archdiocesan Pastoral Centre will feature a chapel, conference hall, 225 rooms, hub shop, cafeteria, terrace and a host of other facilities. Arc. Charles Egbudom, the Architect of the project pledged to optimise the buildable space to accomplish an ultra-modern pastoral centre as he presented the key features of the facility. “We have a building of about six floors, they call it five storey building. We count in floors to avoid errors.

So, we have six floors. The ground floor basically, is designed for most of the activities. Now, once you get into the entrance hall, we have the hall by the right and we have the chapel to the left. The hall has a capacity of about 330 persons, while the chapel will take about 250 people due to limited land space. “For the room capacity, we have about 219 standard rooms, all in suites, and then, we have six suites, each comprising a room and a parlour, with visitors’ toilet.

All together, we have a total of 225 rooms for any activity. “Like His Grace earlier pointed out, it is not designed only for retreat, we believe that some Catholics too who have one social function or the other can use the place, and it will be adequate. “If it is for retreat, we have designed a standard room that can be suitable not only to the Priests but also to the laity and other people of goodwill. “Now, inside the complex we have a refectory facility.

The refectory will take about 333 persons seated. “As soon as you walk in, we also have the hub shop in case you forgot something at home, you can get it from the shop. We also have a small terrace above the cafeteria where people can relax after their activities. “So, the place is meant to be very, very welcoming, just like a home away from home, that is the concept of that retreat centre. wbuilding as simple as possible so that it will be easy to maintain.”

 


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