BY: Revd Fr Felix Abraham Ilemonna (Associate Priest)
All is now set for the dedication of St. Charles Lwanga Catholic Church Apo, Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja. Come 5th December, history will be surely made for the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja as she dedicates the Church of St. Charles Apo. His Grace, Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, the Auxilliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Abuja, the Most Revd An+selm Umoren MSP, and the Archbishop Emeritus, His Eminence, John Cardinal Onaiyekan as well as the Rt Msgr John Nwadike and his associate Priest, Revd Fr Felix Ilemona and the entire people of God of St. Charles Lwanga Parish Apo and invited guest will grace this day as this Church amidst a tethered and troubled history finally will be dedicated permanently as a place of worship of God by the people of God. The Mass is scheduled for 10a.m and the date remains 5th December, 2021.
Below is the history and journey of the parish community.
HISTORY OF THE ST. CHARLES LWANGA PARISH APO – ABUJA
The present day St. Charles Lwanga Parish, Apo started as an outstation of St. John Catholic Parish, Ketti in 1993. Deacons were sent to celebrate services every Sunday under a tree with the few faithful. The first mass was celebrated in 1994 by Rev. Fr. Anthony Mallam of St. John Catholic Church, Ketti in a batcher made up of wood and zinc. A year later, blocks were added to the structure. Subsequently, Priests were sent from Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral, Area 3, Garki every Sunday to celebrate masses.
The Church became a Quasi-Parish with the then St. Michael Parish Durumi in the year 1999 and a year later became a Parish with Late Rev. Fr. I. I. Martins Mbeledoguas the pioneer Parish Priest. He pastored the Parish till 2004 when he was called to glory. May his soul rest in peace.
After the demise of Rev. Fr. I. I. Martins Mbeledogu, Rev. Fr. James Nduka was appointed the substantive/interim Parish Priest. In the same year Rev. Fr. Cyril Nwafor was posted as Parish Priest and Late Fr. Alban Nwaikwu as Associate. They piloted the affairs of the Parish till 2006.
2006 witnessed the first missionary journey of Rev. Msgr. (Barr.) Festus E. Nwadiketo St. Charles Lwanga Parish, Apo. Unfortunately the then Apo Mechanic village was demolished and the Church was affected. With the development, the faithful were scattered and St. Charles Lwanga was reverted to an outstation of Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral, Area 3. As such the Cathedral Administrator, Most Rev. Dr. Donatus Akpan, now Bishop of Ogoja Diocese became the Parish Priest.
In 2010, the Parish was restored once more at its present location, New Garki Town, Apo and Rev. Fr. Solomon Uko was made the Parish Priest. Prior to his transfer in 2015, he commenced the construction of the new church edifice we are dedicating today.
Rev. Fr. Felix Anih succeeded him as Parish Priest from 2015 to 2019. After which Rev. Msgr. (Barr.) Festus E. Nwadike assumed office as the Parish Priest for the second time. To God be the glory he has pastored the flock and seen to the finishing of the Church building project.
It is worthy to note that St. Charles Lwanga Parish Apo through the relentless efforts and contributions of the past and present Priests and parishioners over the years, the parish has achieved a lot in the work of human development and evangelism. In education, some indigent children and orphans are enjoying scholarship courtesy of the parish, even now under the present Parish Priest, Rev. Msgr. (Barr.) Festus E. Nwadike.
In the area of evangelism, the parish conducts baptism monthly with lots of children receiving the sacrament. A good number have also received the sacraments of Holy Communion and Confirmation. A lot of couples have wedded and some non-Christians in the area have been converted.
The parish has produced an ordained Priest, Rev. Fr. Anthony Primus Okon and a Deacon, Rev. Ujullu Daniel and many other junior and senior seminarians at different minor and major seminaries.
The Parish has given birth to two Parishes, Holy Cross Parish, Apo and St. Theresa Parish, Wumba and one Pastoral area St. Mary, Dutse. The Parish also celebrates Mass weekly at the Government Secondary School close by. The numerical strength of the parishioners is about five thousand faithfuls.
The Parish like any community is faced with a number of challenges which are;
- Lack of space to erect a church hall and car parking space which may be a constraint in the future.
- Lack of funds resulting to the slow pace of the church completion.