The roots of Our Lady of Perpetual Light Chaplaincy (OLPLC), Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, can be traced to when the University of Ife was established in 1962 at Ibadan on the campus of the former Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology (now The Polytechnic, Ibadan). With the absorption of the Nigerian College by the University of Ife, what used to be Catholic Church there automatically became Unife Catholic Church, Ibadan branch; it was a smooth and seamless transformation. It is providential that the renowned geographer and Papal Knight, Professor Gabriel Afolabi Ojo, a staff of the new University, and his wife, became foundation members of the Unife Catholic Community. As close as the Unife Catholic Church was to the University of Ibadan Chapel, there was no formal relationship between the two; the Unife Catholic Church, until it moved to Ife in 1967, remained an outstation of Saints Peter and Paul Major Seminary, Ibadan, from where priests came in rotation to say Mass on Sundays and perform other pastoral duties.

Place of Worship

When the Catholic Community was moved to Ife in 1967, there was no permanent place of worship as we have it today and only student-priests and staff-priests were available for services. Besides, all Church activities, including Sunday Masses, were held in open spaces, under trees, staff living rooms, in the common rooms of students hostels, staff school hall, Faculty of Agriculture Foyer, and Sports Complex among others, depending on the nature of the activity and the composition of the expected participants. Among the student-priests and staff-priests between 1967 and 1980 were Rev Fr Julius Babatunde Adelakun (now Emeritus Bishop of Oyo Diocese), Rev Fr John A. Adeniyi (now a retired Mosignor), Rev Fr Richard Farmer (O.P.), late Rev Fr Simeon Oladipo, Rev Fr Van de Peet, Rev Fr George Moore (O.P.), Rev Fr John DeCoste, Rev Brother Anselm Uba (FSC), Rev Fr Joseph Erumevba and late Rev Fr. Prof. Thomas M. Ilesanmi.

Chaplaincy Administration Under the Dominican Priests

Upon the request of Bishop Julius Babatunde Adelakun, the then Bishop of Oyo Diocese in 1980, the Dominicans took over the administration of the Chaplaincy. They devoted their time, talent and treasures to the building of the chapel and to the building of the community of believers till they left in 2008. Under their care, the foundation of the long-sought house of worship was laid in May 1982 by Bishop Julius Babatunde Adelakun. The congregation began using the uncompleted chapel in 1985. They were able to fast track the rate of development of the Chaplaincy with the cooperation and staunch support of the successive bishops of the Old Oyo Diocese and Osogbo Diocese. A succession of forward-looking members of the Pastoral Council, the generosity of outside donors and the enlightened parishioners, all combined to take the chapel to its present stage; they all added one new thing or the other as the chaplaincy progressed.

The Dominicans who had served in the Chaplaincy included Fr Thesing, Fr Chris Egbulem, Fr Clement Dioka, Fr Jude Dawson-Amoah, Fr Aneidi Okure, Fr Dokun Oyeshola, Fr Callistus Iheme, Fr Anthony Amoako-Attah, Fr Dominic Okure, Fr Dominic Azagbor, Fr Bernard Oniwe, Fr Madonna Godwin Aghedo, Fr Okudulor, and Fr Steve Ogbe who joined the Dominican community at the tail end of the twenty-five-year Dominican administration of the Chaplaincy. In 2008, a Diocesan priest, Rev Fr Joseph Ayo Abe, took the baton from the Dominicans and was there for eight and a half years. He built massively on the legacies of the Dominicans and brought about impressive transformation in many areas of the life of the community. He was succeeded in December, 2016, by Very Rev Fr Thaddeus Olaolu Ajayi, Vicar-General of Osogbo Diocese, and Rev Fr Francis Kunle Idowu. With the transfer of Fr. Idowu in January 2020, a newly ordained Priest, Fr. Stephen Ola, was brought in to work with Fr. Ajayi to move the Chaplaincy forward.

Present Composition of the Chaplaincy

The people of God in the Chaplaincy comprise the various associations and pious societies including the Parish Pastoral Council, the Catholic Men Organisation (CMO), the Catholic Women Organisation (CWO), the Nigeria Federation of Catholic Students (NFCS), the Catholic Youth Organisation of Nigeria (CYON), the Choir, the Laity Council, the Guild of Lectors, the Altar Servers, the Church Wardens, the Charismatic Renewal Prayer Group, Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary, Legion of Mary, the Companions of Priests and Religious, the Divine Mercy group, the Confraternity of Mother of Perpetual Help, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, among many others. The Chaplaincy also has seven Small Christian Communities through which the word of God is shared among members in the various locations.

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