The federal Government Housing Estate on Victoria Island, Lagos otherwise known as 1004 Estate was designed to accommodate 1004 families. A good proportion of these estate dwellers belonged to other religious callings apart from Christianity; most of these others were Muslims. It was however estimated that there would be about 600 Christian families belonging to various Christian denominations hence, the chance of sharing Christian fellowship and festivities on the estate was not only remote but was virtually impossible. The only visible and coordinated form of worship was by the Muslims.
This gave a couple of Christians in the estate some concern and they started thinking of how to congregate. Of serious concern to them was not just that there was no place of worship in the estate but the whole of Victoria Island except at the Bar Beach which was the heaven for devotion and worship for members of the Pentecostal type of worshippers-cherubim and Seraphim, Celestial Church, etc. also, had anybody prevented the Christians on the 1004 estate from establishing their own fellowship and if possible, places of worship? The ideas mentioned above led to the exchange of view amongst and clergymen.
Consequently, the first meeting towards the actualization of these thoughts was held on Monday, 10th February 1986 with only members of the Anglican Church in attendance. Several other meetings were held and it was then decided that there should be a worship system under the same management of Ecumenical Mission as follows:
7:30am and 9.00am – Roman Catholic Worship
9:00am and 10:00am – Protestant Worship
10:30am and 12:00noon – Pentecostal Churches
This decision led to the effort to obtain authority from the Lagos State Ministry of Education for the use of the Primary School room on 1004 estate as the place of worship for the mission. The Mission immediately broke itself into Committee system of operation and each committee assigned with a particular responsibility (Authorising & Legitimising, Development, Finance and executive/Working Committees). This trend continued until moves were made to proceed with the inauguration of the Ecumenical Mission after permission had been obtained to use the schoolroom. The inauguration was finally promoted and proceeded with after the registration of Dr. R.P.A Ilechukwu as the first Roman Catholic member of the Mission. Hitherto to this period, the RomanCatholic Community worshipped at Church of The Assumption, Falomo. This link brought in the late Monsignor Pedro Martins who immediately took up the responsibility of the Roman Catholic worship hours and nursed it to maturity until it became amalgamated as an extension (outstation) of Church of The Assumption, Falomo.
The Mission was formally inaugurated on Saturday, 14 June 1986 and the celebration of the first Mass on the estate the following week-Sunday, 22nd June 1986 with 6 people (Mrs. M.O Nwihim, Mr.C.K Alabi, Mr. A.A Lawani, Mrs. C.I Adun, Mrs. C.Y Alabi, and Dr. R.P.A Ilechukwu) in attendance. This formally gave birth to the Catholic Community and this grew in bounds. The Ecumenical Mission sought and contested for land for the development of Christ’s work on this estate and sometime in 1989, the Federal Government of Nigeria identified a place for worshipers on the estate and three edifices were to be built; a Roman Catholic Chapel, a Protestant Chapel and a Mosque. The construction of the church building was completed in 1991 and the blessing took place on the Feast of the Epiphany in 1992 by the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Anthony Okogie.
He christened the Chapel, St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Oratory and advised that the founding priest (Msgr. Pedro Martins) and indeed all the worshippers must adhere to orthodoxy, what was fundamentally accepted in the Catholic Church, and for which St. Charles Borromeo was known for. Charles Borromeo, a 16th Century Italian Cardinal, later made Saint, was a great reformer who worked arduously and successfully in his time to maintain the teachings and standards of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Church from then has grown from strength to strength and has had a few priests oversee the affairs. After the Late Msgr. Pedro Martins who as the founding father was responsible for the spiritual nurturing of the worshiping community, the Archdiocese on 30th April 2002 appointed Rev. Fr. Anthony Fadairo as the first Priest-in-Charge and the status changed from that of an Oratory to a church. In 2004, there was a change of guard that brought
in Rev. Fr. Noel O’Leary, SMA. In 2006, the just newly ordained Rev. Fr. Debres Trinkson, SMA was posted to the Church to assist Fr. O’Leary.
During the tenure of Rev. Fr. Fadairo, he introduced week day morning Mass and a second Mass on Sunday because of the need to cater for the numbers that had started growing. In December 2005 under Fr. O’Leary, the Archdiocese asked the church to see to the continued growth of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, Ajah, Lagos, which was at that time an outstation of SS. Philip & James Catholic Church, Lekki, Lagos. Thus, this became the first outstation under St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, and in 2007 after the elevation of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, Lekki, Lagos as a Quasi Parish, Rev. Fr. Trinkson, SMA was redeployed to Ajah as the first Priest-in-Charge. At the exit of Fr. O’Leary in 2007, Rev. Fr. Eamon Finengan, SMA was posted as the fourth Priest-in-Charge but he stayed for only a few months and left. The Society for African Missionaries [SMA] who more or less now seemed to have been given the church to run had an internal arrangement which saw Rev. Fr. Christopher Emokhare stand in until 2008 when Fr. Debres Trinkson, SMA was appointed by the Archdiocese as the fifth Priest-in-Charge. The Church was later elevated to the status of a full parish in the year 2009 and has had 2 outstations—The Nigerian Law School and St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Oniru. In his time the parish has had 2 Associate Priests—the first being Rev. Fr. Philip Sosu-Mobee and Rev. Fr. Michael Omughele. In July, 2016, Rev. Fr. Michael Omughele was made the Priest-in-Charge by the Archdiocese at the exit of Rev. Fr. Debres Trinkson, SMA to Netherlands for further studies and pastoral work. In October, 2017, Rev. Fr. Alexander Oboh was assigned to join Fr. Michael as the Associate Priest-in-Charge. They [Fr. Michael Omughele and Fr. Alexander Oboh] are currently working as Pastoral Team in the Parish under the Chief Shepherd His Grace Most Rev. [Dr.] Alfred Adewale Martins.
The Parish has also grown in numbers which necessitated the increase in the number of Mass celebrated every Sunday from two to six; four (4) in the main Parish (7:00am, 10:00am, 10:30am – Children’s Mass and 6:00pm) and two (2) at the Outstations—Nigerian Law School [7am] and St. Patrick’s Oniru [8:30am]. The Parish has also grown in spirituality as more activities hold in the Parish on daily basis from Mass to prayer meetings by various Societies/Association and Prayer groups. To accommodate this growth and make the church a more conducive place of worship for the community, more structures have also come up. We now have an Adoration Chapel, a renovated church, an enlarged parish house/offices to accommodate more priest and parish activities and have recently acquired a parcel of land for future development of the Outstation—St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Oniru.
The Church has also had its fair share of challenges, the climax being the eviction of the 1004 residents by the Federal Government in the year 2005 which scattered the worshipping community all over Lagos. The church at that time had to battle with accommodating some residents (Catholics and none Catholics) within the church premises. Despite this sad event, the church, which has her foundation on Christ, the Solid Rock has stood the test of time and some of the then residents who leave far still worship here in the parish and new members have joined the parish and we continue to grow in membership on daily basis. Another major event, which lingers on in our memories was the call to eternal glory of our dear Baba, Rt. Rev. Msgr. (Col. Rtd.) Pedro Ayodele Martins in the year 2014. These reasons and many other countless ones give us all cause to celebrate and thank God for His mercies. The Catholic Community on 1004 Estate has every reason to celebrate but most of all this celebration calls more for a deeper reflection to evaluate our spiritual life and see the areas that need improvement and spiritual rejuvenation.