History of the Pauline Family in Nigeria


            In 1990 Fr Renato Perino, the Superior General, had the desire to begin a new opening in any of the English speaking countries of Africa. The General Council appointed Br Basil Chennamkulam, one of its members, to visit the English speaking countries of Africa to see where and when it was opportune to begin a house and a book centre. Br Basil visited a number of African countries, studied the possibility and reported to the council. Fr Perino sent him twice more to study the matter, and after considerable investigation he finally recommended to open a house in Nigeria.

House of Ibadan

Archbishop Felix Alaba Job of Ibadan welcomed the Paulines into his archdiocese. Thus began their presence in Nigeria on 7 October 1991, feast of the Holy Rosary. That day Fr Perino, the Superior General, officiated at the Mass in the General House, Via Della Fanella 39, Roma, and declared that a house was being opened in Ibadan and announced that he was sending Br Basil as his representative and Fr Leopoldo Bothawara from the Philippines, to Nigeria.

            Later, Fr Carlos Baradas  from Mexico, Fr Mark Fonseca and Fr Dominic Vellaiparambil from India,   and Br Girolomo Shim Jae Young (who was still in temporary profession) from Korea joined  the community in a rented house in Bodija, Ibadan. Br Basil found a suitable place  atRotimi William, S. Bodija, and purchased 1 acre of land with a two-storeyed building in it. Meanwhile our book-centre apostolate was  begun in a new building belonging to the Archdiocese, located in front of the Cathedral of Ibadan at Okepadi. Later the Archbishop gave the Paulines full possession of an adjoining piece of land where a four-storeyed book centre with basement was built   at the expense of the General House, and the Paulines moved in.

            As it was an international community made up of members from four different nations – Mexico, India, the Philippines and Korea – cultural differences made the growth of the community difficult. Two attempts at formation did not succeed in spite of getting many vocations.  Therefore Br Basil requested the General Government  to send sufficient members to Ibadan from any one Province in the  English speaking  world. Upon this the General Government handed over the entire Nigeria mission to the Indian Province. In 1996 Nigeria became part of the Province which now has become India-Nigeria Province.

            The new community consisted of Fr Joseph Kolencherry, the delegate of the Provincial, Fr Abraham Nedumpuram and Herman Dungdung, still a Junior. In less than six months of his arrival in Nigeria, Fr Joseph died in a shocking car accident. Fr Abraham was then made delegate. Soon Fr Thomas Manimala was sent from India to Nigeria to strengthen the apostolic activities there. Fr Abraham was replaced by Fr Emmanuel Mundumoozhikara as the new delegate. Later Frs Gilbert Kannikattand  DavidPushparaj  joined the community and Fr Manimala was appointed delegate of the house. Once again we began recruiting vocations and forming them.  The house for formation in Ibadan was completed in 2007. 

House of Enugu

On 3 November 2007  the Society of St Paul opened  St. Paul Book and Media Centre which the Society constructed in the property offered by the Catholic Diocese of Enugu in the premises of the Holy Ghost Cathedral. It was considered the largest book centre in the whole of West Africa. In June 2008 Fr Francis Maniamkerry joined the community. Fr Sebastian Elavunkal followed. On 22 October 2008, Bishop Antony O. Gbujiof  the diocese of Enugu entrusted the Holy Innocent Parish at Nchatancha  Nike  and its property in perpetuity to the Society of St Paul. Fr Emmanuel Mundumoozhikara took charge as its first Pauline Parish priest. In 2009 the Paulinesbuilt  a new residence in the parish property. 

House of Lagos

            In 2010 in Lagos we purchased  two and a half acres of land with a house which the Paulines eventually modified to suit their stay.  The  house of Lagos was canonically erected and made the house of Novitiate for Nigeria. The house actually opened on 7 September 2011. The first batch of four novices began their novitiate with Fr Johnson Vattakunel as their master. They made their First Profession on 26 September, 2012.  Many people of the area come to our house for daily Mass.

House of Port Harcourt

In 2010 the Catholic Institute of West Africa (CIWA) situated in Port Harcourt, Delta State, invited the Society of St Paul to take over a book centre existing in their premises. After considerable study and with due permission of the General Government, the Paulines accepted that invitation. The Institute  offered us  a piece of land (23192 sq. ft)  located within the campus of the Catholic Institute of West Africa, about 220 kilometres from Enugu,   free of cost.It has been decided to build here a spacious book centre with residence and offices. Meanwhile, from 2011, we are already running the Port Harcourt University Bookshop. The project is supervised by Fr Emmanuel Mundumoozhikara and Fr SijiPannakathil.

At the outset, I would like to present a brief history of the Society of St Paul in Nigeria. In the year 1990, Fr Renato Perino, the then Superior General, and his council, decided to expand the mission of the Society of St Paul in Africa. Br. Basil Chennamkulam, one of the General Councillors, was delegated to explore the possibility and its realisation.

His Grace Archbishop Felix Alaba Job of Ibadan welcomed our Pioneers. And on 7th October 1991, on the Feast of the Holy Rosary, the Society of St Paul began its presence in Ibadan. A community was gradually established and the Book Centre Apostolate began.  With the arrival of new members from different provinces/regions (India, Mexico, Korea, Philippines), the Apostolate was strengthened. In the year 1996, the General Government entrusted the responsibility of Nigeria Mission to the Indian Province and thus India-Nigeria province became a reality. An additional structure meant for vocation promotion and formation was erected in Ibadan in 2007 and was remodified in 2018.

On 3rd November 2007, with the inauguration of the St Paul Book and Media Centre, the Society branched out to Enugu. We have in this city, one of the best known and the largest book centre of the whole of West Africa. Within a year, on 22nd October 2008, Rev. Antony O. Gbuji, the Bishop of Enugu Diocese, entrusted the Holy Innocent’s Parish at Nchatancha Nike and its property in perpetuity to the Society. The construction of a new church is completed and it will be blessed and inaugurated on 16 May, 2021.

In the year 2010, the Society of St Paul began its third community in Lagos for the purpose of formation. And on 7th of September 2011, the community was canonically erected as the Novitiate house for Nigeria. On the 26th of September 2012, the first batch of indigenous members became part of the Pauline Family through their First Profession. In 2015, His Grace, Alfred Adewale Martins, the Archbishop of Lagos, entrusted us the responsibility of taking care of the spiritual needs of the families situated in the vicinities of this community.  The Society reached another milestone when it inaugurated the Alberione Institute of Communication Education (AICE) in Lagos in 2017 in view of training young minds for media education.

In 2010, the Catholic Institute of West Africa (CIWA) situated in Port Harcourt, invited the Society to take over a book center existing in their premises.  On 10th October 2011, Rev. Msgr. Felix Adeigbo inaugurated our new mission in Port Harcourt. The foundation stone for a new St Paul Book & Media Centre was blessed and laid by His Lordship, Most Rev. Dr. Camillus, the bishop of Port Harcourt. On 6th July 2014, the new St Paul Book & Media Centre was inaugurated by Rev Msgr. Pius Kii, the delegate of His Lordship Most Rev. Dr Camillus.

The Society of St Paul received an invitation from the Archdiocese of Accra on 14 August 2020 to begin our mission in Ghana. As an initial step towards the realization of this project, the Society is entrusted with the administration of St Bakhita Catholic Church at Amasaman, which is one of the outstations of St Silvanus Parish, Pokuase.

We received an invitation from the Archdiocese of Accra on 14 August 2020 to begin our mission in the Archdiocese. As a point of entry, on 7 March 2021,His Grace Most Rev John Bonaventure Kwofie, the Archbishop of Accra, assigned St Bakhita Catholic Church at Amasamanto the Society of St Paul and the formal Pauline mission was started on 2 January 2022 with the blessing of a new book centre.



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