Early years, 1916-1929
has been shown the Roman Catholic Mission was resuscitated at Warri
in the second decade of this century. During the period 1914-19, it was
placed on a firm footing by the efforts of Cavagnera,
an italian Father, andOlier,
a French, both of whom were sent by Bishop Broderick from Asaba,
the headquarters of the R.C.M. in Nigeria
at that time. It was not until after 1916, however, that Roman Catholicism
penetrated the hinterland, through the work especially of one J. A. Eyube,
an Itsekiri from Igbogidi,
with an Urhobo mother from Ekiugbo,
was attending the Government School at Warri
which was under Protestant influence when he and his colleagues wee met
and converted by Cavagnea in1913. They were
converted by the argument that the Holy Catholic Church which they had
so long been repeating in the Apostles’ Creed was none other than the Roman
Catholic Church. Consequently when Eyube
came to Ekiugbo in 1917 to visit his mother
who was stricken with illness, Olier baptised
her as a Roman Catholic. Thereafter he proceeded to Ovwo
to convert a relation, one D. F. Sadjere,
from the Niger Delta Pastorate, by the same argument of the Holy Catholic
conversion was so thorough going that his uncle, Chief Ovedje,
who desired him to be a polygamist, proved antagonistic. But Sadjere,
in the bid to avoid being coerced to life of polygamy, packed bag and baggage
and fled to a neighbouring town, Ophorigbala,
where he was baptised in December 1921.
He returned to organise a Roman Catholic
Church at Ovwo, at a time when Eyube
was doing a similar thing forEkigbo.
Roman Catholic Churches were springing up in other places, at Igbogidi, Ophori
in Agbarho, Ouname, Ovu,
and Evwreni. At Evwreni,
the Church was introduced by one M. Pinnick
around 1917. But Pinnick died shortly after,
and Sadjere was posted there as Catechist
in 1921. From here he not only supervised other churches which had emerged
in Ewu, Arhavwarien
and neighbourhood, but also received and
instructed inquirers who came from IllueOlogbo
in Isoko. While Sadjere
was active in this area, Eyube stationed
at Ughevwughe, was organising
the churches in Igbogidi,Ughievwe, Polomu,
and Ughelli areas. As more hands were needed
for this kind of organisation and supervision
of churches, aspirants who wanted to help in this way were given some training
by Eyube at Igbogidi.
In Western Urhobo,
now Ethiope Local Government Area Ovu
became a centre of activities. Here the faith was introduced by one J.
E. E. Enaohwo, who converted the AfricanBethelChurch
there to R.C.M. in January 1921.
Next to Ovu is Eku
where the R.C.M. was introduced at about the same time by one Peter U.Inweh,
ofOkurekpo, after an ugly incident in which at
Christmas time he and his followers beat up Aganbi and seceded
from the C.M.S.
the R.C.M. was introduced by one Okpikimu
in 1927. Okpikimu
who was to be the first Urhobo
priest, as second in command. Between them they organised
the church here, and invited especially young children to catechism.
Catholicism was carried to Okwagbe by Obudu, Ganagana, Irorobayeghie,
and Okopheghe in 1924, three years after
the C.M.S. had been brought by Babeido.
Here, and in many other places where roman Catholicism was introduced in Urhobo,
there seemed to have been mutual understanding between traditionalists
and the converts.
This should not be surprising because, as has been shown, Roman Catholicism
did not reach the hinterland until after 1916, which was the year of great
persecution. According to Ganagana, whenever Okwagbe
town suspended Okpa (palm nut collecting)
and intended to resume it, it was done on any day but Sunday so that Christians
could participate. Even during esemo
worship, says Ganagana, no attempt was made
to persuade Christians at Okwagve to take
part. Food prohibited by edjo, or
even those held sacred by the entire community, were eaten with impunity
by the Christians. A number of esedjo,
we are told, even released their children to go to church while they themselves
are already too deep in the water
later in the period the Christians at Okwagbe
were called upon to destroy anyedijo
which proved unhelpful. Thus in the period just before 1961 three edijo
were destroyed on the invitation of the people. These were Eloho
for fertility, Arigbo for protection
against lions and other carnivores, and Igegen
for war. Although the Christians at Okwagbe
give this as an example of cordiality between Christians and traditionalists
the invitation to destroy these edjo
can be accounted for on other grounds. A few hospitals and maternity homes
had been built to make the people less dependent on Eloho.Similarlylions
and other carnivores were scarcely now existing in Urhoboland,
nor were there inter-clan wars any more to require the help of Igagen.If
a different situation arose, the civil war, for instance, those who had
allegedly turned their backs on traditional medicines might call for a
resuscitation of Igegenit is, however
alleged that the Okwagve who had become
aware of the possible blessings forfeited by their forbears’ legendary
rejection of Crowther, cooperated with the
various denominations, not least with the Roman Catholics, when the new
faith was introduced there. The period 1916-29 thus witnessed a rapid spread
of Roman Catholicism among the Urhobo.
the Isoko section, Roman Catholicism was
neither as widespread nor as deep rooted as in Urhobo.Roman
Catholicism reached Isoko in 1918, six years
after the arrival of the C.M.S.AtUzere
(Uze) the C.M.S. had been introduced by Eda.
But when one Alexander Obuseri, an ex-service
man from Ase, paid one B. Adaka
of Uze a visit, both of them attended the
only church then at Uzere. Since Alexander
was a Roman Catholic, he made a sign of the cross-a sign unknown to the
Protestants, and viewed by them as savouring
of Edho practice. Alexander was therefore
expelled from the Church. He was followed by his host, Adaka,
and others-M. OsaOboravo, G. OriegeEgoro,
P. ObraOtefe etc. these started a Roman
Catholic Church adjacent to the C.M.S. compound.
the R.C.M. spread to the rest of Isoko.
Through one Odhu it reached Illue-Ologbo,
from where one G. Okoloko who had separated
from the C.M.S. at Ozoro, took it. Together
with one Erimu, a fellow secessionist from
the C.M.S., Okoloko
erected a hut at Alla
in Ozoro for a place of worship.
1922, according to Itugbu, who claimed
to be the first Roman Catholic Catechist in Isoko,
one Stub, a Rev. Father from Asaba, visited Ozoro
and baptised a few persons in Erimu’s
house. In that same year Itugbu, who had
been educated at Onitsha, was made a Catechist, and placed in charge of
a number of Roman Catholic churches in Isoko
which was at the time under Warri Parish.Itugbu
said that, stationed at Olomoro, he supervised Olomoro, Ofagba,Orien, Oleh, Irri, Ellu, Ovrode,Adadje, Oyode, Ewekpaka, Emede,
and even Uzere. He mentioned B. Adaka,
S. Ovuoronye, and P. Omonyowoma,
as others who were his contemporaries in the field, while L. Ojakovo
of Iyede, and M. IsololoofUzere,
both of whom trained at Asaba under Broderick
taught the new converts at Ozoro, which
later became the headquarters of R.C.M. work in Isoko.
Method of Evangelisation
must be palpable by now, unlike the Protestant Churches, Roman Catholics
did not depend on open air preaching to win members to their fold. Their
method was a less emotional and more subtle one of appealing to individuals
at their places of work and wherever they were met, to come to church.
This method was used extensively later by members of a particular society-the
Society of the Legion of Mary. Secondly, any traditionalist who was at
the point of death was quickly approached and offered baptism. Once baptised,
if he happened to recover, he generally became attached to the church.
In this way Sadjere, during his tenure of
office as Catechist, between 1921 and 1964, with a break from 1934-54,
administered private baptism to the sick on the average of twelve per year!
Although some of them lapsed, many became faithful.
third and more significant method employed to win converts was the school.
True, the C.M.S. antedates the R.C.M in Urhobo,
but it was the latter, which by 1935 planted schools in myriads of Urhobo
villages and towns in most of which places the C.M.S. maintained only worshipping
congregations. As pupils flocked to schools they were coaxed or compelled
to attend the Roman Catholic Church.For
instance, B. M. Ogagan of Ephron,
who as a boy attended the AfricanChurch
introduced by Omofeye, crossed tot he roman
Catholic Church at Warri when in 1924, he
enrolled in an R.C.M.School there. S. Umurie,
who, in 1927, was assisting Okpikimu at Ephron,
gave Ogagan and his colleagues notes as
testimony of their attendance at church when the church was introduced
to Ephron. Failure to tender such notes
at school on Mondays earned the youngsters not a few strokes.Umurie
painstakingly carried out this ministry of ensuring which of the children
were regular at such services, and which were not, until 1928 when he entered IbuzorTrainingCollege.
School was thus used as an effective instrument of evangelisation.
Hence also at Okwagbe, where the C.M.S.
preceded the R.C.M., it was also the latter which, with a characteristic
competitive spirit, introduced a school in 1932. This was through the help
of Father Kelly, then stationed at Warri.
The significance attached by Roman Catholics to schools cannot be over emphasised.
It was in the firm belief that once the children were converted, the continuity
of roman Catholicism in the land would be assured. The stratagem of the
Roman Catholic authorities appeared to be “instruct the child the way to
go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it”. Once they had a child
for the first seven years of his life, they were generally sure that he
would remain a Roman Catholic for ever.
process of “Roman Catholicising” did not
end with the alluring invitation to attend school; it was sustained by
an offer of baptism and promoted by encouragement to attend confessions
regularly once baptised, and to be present
at Mass without fail. This contrasted sharply with the C.M.S. practice
where after baptism even of adults, the baptised
were expected to wail for at least another two years before confirmation,
without which they were not qualified to participate in the Lord’s
supper. The Roman Catholic approach was surely more effective, and in a
situation where the C.M.S. were not very active, as in the Urhobo
section, the former stood to gain.
the initial penetration of the hinterland the question of organisation
of the churches became urgent. From what has been said, it is evident that
the authorities were at first satisfied to place newly baptised
converts as Catechists in charge of young churches. Hence, as we have seen, Sadjere
became Catechist at Evwreni after his baptism,
as was the case with Itugbu at Olomoro.
But as yet all the young churches were under a single Parish—Warri
Parish. For, apart from Orogu (Arhagba)
Parish created in 1919,
there was no other parish in the hinterland. From Warri
the pioneer Rev. Fathers, like Cavagnera, Olier,
and their successors came to itinerate the Urhobo
and Ijo countries. Their itineration was
obviously attended with grave difficulties. For, covering a vast area as
it did, it necessarily lasted for weeks and sometimes months.
their arrival in any town, the Catechists went as harbingers to prepare
the converts. On the arrival of the priest, candidates were presented for
baptism, confessions were made, and Holy Mass said. The Catechists were
therefore placed on strategic points only to hold the fort pending the
arrival of a priest, whose visits needed to be frequent if the work of evangelisation
was to be thorough. But covering a large area as they did, and with the
scarcity of priests, these visits could not be but far between. Thee was
therefore a dire need for more priests and more parishes.
till 1921, Father G. Kraught was alone
at Warri, but in December of that year,
two young Irish priests, Fathers J. Cadogan
and P. J. Kelly, were sent to assist him. Eku
Parish was consequently created in 1922, and Kelly was stationed there
as the resident priest. From here he itinerated and supervised Eku, Ovu,
and Sapele areas. Under his leadership an R.C.M.Church
was planted in the Urhobovillage of Ovu
in 1922. Eku Parish, was, however, shortlived.
Kelly moved to Sapele in 1925. The decision
to leave Eku was consequent upon the decline
of the R.C.M. there. After the introduction of the BaptistChurch
and the subsequent conflicts of 1927, Roman Catholic membership at Eku
dwindled even further. The unavailability of properly trained workers,
especially indigenous and capable priests who could compete effectively
with the Baptists, for instance, was no doubt a contributory factor to
the decline of Roman Catholicism at Eku.
latter period 1929-61
met the need for priests, particularly indigenous ones, there was a major
breakthrough in 1929. In that year, it was said, Umurie
implored the Principal of Ibuzor Teacher
Training College to recommend him to the seminary.
He was happily recommended to the seminary at Asaba,
from where the students later transferred to Benin.
After thirteen years of training in the seminary, he was ordained on 20
December 1942, the first Urhobo
his ordination, despite the acute shortage of money which was consequent
upon the continuing world war, the Urhobo
Roman Catholics expressed their joy by presenting him with as much as £26.
they gave him a charge to keep. He was to be for ever conscious of the
important role he started henceforth to assume. In the words of their Welcome
are now for the public as the Master did and commanded to be done. In the
execution of your official duties, we are brimful of
that you will certainly follow the Lord’s
splendid examples…Obedience, Humility, Diligence,
Tactfulness and other
of good qualities which hitherto endear and make you lovable, should still
be bone in mind and practised continuously.
the number of priests at Warri had now
increased by one, it was still not possible to create more parishes in
the hinterland until 1945, when one was granted to Ozoro,
and another to Okpara in 1947. In the case
of Ozoro, thee was even no resident priest
until 1953. Ughelli, which was the only
other parish created before the end of the period, had a resident priest
at the close of 1954, with one Styles as the first priest, followed in
1955 by R.O. ‘Regan who first organised
the parish on a proper footing.
of the difficulty of creating more parishes in the hinterland, was, as
has been shown, the unavailability of priests, which was in turn partly
a result of World War II, which resulted in the withdrawal of as many as
five priests from the Warri area. But it
was also partly because no indigenous priests had been trained. Although
Father Umurie was atWarri
from 1943 to 46, he could not alone make up for the loss of five priests.
Catechists and other lay helpers therefore carried out much of the work
in the hinterland. It is in this connection that the Urhobo
Catholic General Committee (U.C.G.C.) calls for attention.
Catholic General Committee (U.C.G.C.)
body was, from the laity’s view point,
a vital functionary in the government of the Church. It concerned itself
with the discipline, correction and encouragement of weak Roman Catholics.
Its chief aim was to work for the growth of Roman Catholicism in the Urhobo
area. For this reason, this body also interested itself inter alia
in settling disputes and disagreements among married couples, and between
the laity and the priests. For instance, it investigated a case between
one James Adjari and Clara, his wife, as
it did in another case of an anonymous and scandalous letter in which two
priests, Heally and Umurie, were accused of various malpractices.
In the latter case after a meticulous investigation the unknown writer
was identified as one Orghere, and on admitting
that his accusations were unfounded and based on hearsay, he was disciplined.
the Adjari-Clara case, the cause of dispute
was a complaint by Clara of her husband’s
inability to consummate their marriage, a statement denied by the husband
but used by the wife with the support of her father to justify her meeting
other men, and dissolving the marriage. This case provides an example of
the stresses which resulted from the African setting of Christianity. In
the African context Clara would have had no difficulty in deserting her
husband and marrying another man, once she was satisfied, and could convince
her father, that her first husband was incapable of playing the man. But
the Christian faith, particularly the Roman Catholic brand of it, did not
permit divorce on any score. And this was a veritable, indeed an insurmountable,
difficulty for the U.C.G.C. which had no alternative but to refer it to
participation of the laity in church work designated “Catholic Action”
was a policy which the U.C.G.C. pursued vigorously. As will subsequently
be shown, this body also concerned itself with translation work. Its functions
were therefore clearly varied and vital. For the purpose of its working
and of organising the Roman Catholic Church
among Urhobo speakers, Urhobo
area was divided into eight sub division: Urhiephron , Adagbrassah, Agbadu
(Agbarho), Olomu, Ewu, Ogelle,Oginibo,
Committee which at first met only at Urhiephron
later decided to rotate its meetings to each of the sub-divisions. But
when the Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Kelly, learnt of this decision, he, to the
amazement of the Committee, vehemently opposed it, apparently because the
Bishop was informed that the Committee’s
rotational meeting adversely affected attendance at Mass when a priest
was at Ughelli to offer Holy Mass. The Bishop
consequently decreed that the meeting should hold only either at Warri
or Okpara inland, neither of which places
was included in the eight sub-divisions.
U.C.G.C. wrote several letters
to the Bishop to explain their own position and affirm their common intention
of promoting Roman Catholicism in the area, and of carrying out Catholic
Action. The Bishop remained adamant for a long time, arguing that Catholic
Action was better pursued through Societies like the Legion of Mary. More
through the persistence of the Committee than by his own volition, he eventually
yielded but gave the Committee certain provisos. First a priest must always
be present at meetings to say Holy Mass for the members. Secondly, no member
to should leave his town for the Committee meeting if a priest is visiting
his town for Mass.
And thirdly, no bad Catholics should become active members of the U.C.G.C.
U.C.G.C. has since then been a very powerful organ of the Roman Catholic
Church in Urhobo, an organ through which
the works of evangelisation, translation,
and reconciliation have been carried out. Despite the hierarchy’s
initial doubt of its usefulness, Catholic Action has since then been effectively
pursued through it.
The Legion of Mary
from the U.C.G.C., Catholic Action also found expression in a Society like
the Legion of Mary. This Society was founded by Fanrank
Duff in Ireland
in 1921. It was not until 1931 that it was introduced to Warri
from where it reached the hinterland thorough Biakolo
in 1943. The Legionaries moved from house to house convincing fallen Roman
Catholics to repent and come back to the Church. They not only administered
baptism to dying “pagans” but persuaded Protestants to become Roman Catholics.
According to Biakolo, this lay organisation
was geared specifically to the evangelisation
of the masses.
the Legion of Mary among the Urhobo was
concerned about safeguarding the authentic teaching of the church. Hence,
when the members at Warri felt that a Catechist
named Ukoli was disseminating teaching which
they deemed repugnant to the church’s position,
especially with regards to interpretation the Catechist gave the Lord’s
Prayer, the Legionaries, in a missive addressed to the U.C.G.C. expressed
their deep concern and urged that an immediate stop be put to the teaching.
Legionaries demanded that “all Urhobo Catholics”
should agree on a common and acceptable translation of “the Lord’s
They requested their brothers in the hinterland to send members to instruct
and advise their erring of “preaching” rather than “catechising”
the Christians. Moreover, those at Warri
indicated that an earlier translation of the Lord’s
Prayer in the first edition of the catechism, which Bishop Kelly also approved
of, was to be preferred to the one in use. Together with the hinterlanders,
they desired to appeal “in the Urhobo Voice in general”
to the Bishop for a peaceful settlement of the misunderstanding and a curbing
of the heretical tendencies, if the present Catechist was not to be dismissed.
In English this would literally read:
Father who is in heaven, Hallowed is thy name thy Kingdom is come
has come), thy will being done on the each as it is in heaven. For today
us your food for each day that is ours.
concern of the Legionaries about the authentic Roman Catholic teaching
is unmistakable and laudable. Uniformity of purpose and meaning in prayers
and teaching was indeed a prerequisite for a young church in need of growth,
a church which must therefore be wary of uncertain doctrines and fluctuating
interpretations. For to do otherwise, to permit cross purposes and diversified
interpretations, was to be tossed about by ever wind of doctrine-a thing
which would have been ruinous to the young Church and the struggling converts
who as yet needed no more than milk.
conflict underlined the necessity for a translation Committee whose translation
of prayers or catechism would be accepted as authoritative and final.
work of translation had started early in the twenties.
For like the other denominations the Roman Catholics needed to translate
some songs, prayers and the catechism at least if not the Mass into Urhobo
for the benefit of the illiterate converts. The Mass had always, till very
recently, been said only in Latin. Igbogidi,
where Eyube trained Catechists, became the
first centre of translation. When in 1924 he was transferred toOphoriAgbarho,
the translation committee, over which he presided, moved its activities
there. In that year Little Key of Heaven was translated under the
title UmusiavwreR’Oduvwu. It contained
about forty prayers. At about this same time a few songs were also translated,
although the Urhobo versions were seldom
used during church services. The translation centre later moved to Ovu,
where the catechism was translated and published in 1929 under the title
was not until much later that a second form of the Catechism was translated
and published on 22nd
March, 1954. This work
was largely undertaken by the laity, although as Bishop Kelly indicated,
it was necessary to submit any translation made to a priest who is adroit
in the English language for vetting.
If there was a priest who was not only erudite in English but was also
an Urhobo indigene, accuracy in translation
would have been guaranteed. Because there were no such priests yet, the
translations could not be regarded as classic. Hence it was possible for
men like Ukoli to give their own interpretations,
and for frequent changes to be made in earlier translations.
this kind of situation the need to train indigenous workers as catechists
and priests was urgent. For indigenous and well trained catechists and
priests would not only be in a better position to impart the correct and
acceptable teaching of the church to her members; their presence could
also make for the indigenisation of the
church in such a way as to avert the kind of friction which sometimes occurred
between white missionaries and local christians.
create funds for the training of priests, a period of about four weeks,
beginning from Trinity Sunday, was set apart for collecting two shillings
or more from each church member. This levy was designated “seminary collection”
and used by the Bishop for the training of indigenous priests. In this
regard, Father Heally, in one of his general
letters to the Urhobo churches, declared:
all stations in Urhobo know that the time
for “Seminary Collection”
be closed. There are many towns and villages where no contribution
yet been made. Yet you all know and understand the necessity of a
recognition of this necessity also impelled the U.C.G.C. to write to the
Bishop of Asaba-Benin Vicariate through Heally.
The Committee raised the question of the need for a resident priest in
the hinterland. The presence of a priest was vital, they argued, “in order
to make the propagation of faith (sic) more effective”. Again the U.C.G.C.
prepared a memorandum embodying their demand, and presented it to the randum
embodying their demand, and presented it to the Provincial during his visit
to Warri on 21
May 1945. It appeared,
however, that the Committee was asking for any priests, and not particularly
for indigenous ones, which were as yet, apart from Umurie,
non-existent. Heally, through whom the
letter to the Bishop was forwarded, gave a discouraging, if realist reply.
The extreme scarcity of priests consequent on the continuing war, and the
doubtful ability of the Urhobo to support
a priest needed to be carefully considered. He reminded them that if they
must have a priest, then they needed a residential house for him. What
was more, the Urhobo were not, according
to him, even able, from their meagre collection,
to support their catechists, let alone a priest. They should therefore,
until possibly after the war, depend on the newly created Ozoro
Parish, only eighteen miles away from Ughelli.
But even the new Parish was to have no priest for a long time.
view of the desire of the Urhobo for a
resident priest Heally in his letter appealing
for Seminary Collection trusted that they would not only contribute generously
but also find “good boys who are willing to go there to become priests,
and girls to become nuns”.
For it was not enough to demand for a priest, it was even more important,
and indeed imperative, that indigenous youths should offer themselves for
the priesthood. But one of the obvious difficulties was the question of
compulsory celibacy attaching the Roman Catholic priesthood. Another was
the long period of training involved, during which time the trainee was
not only cut off from his relations but also virtually from the society.
It was bad enough that
there was a dearth of priests, but worse still that suitable catechists
should be extremely few. In the Ughelli, Olomu,
and Ephron areas no qualified resident catechist
existed between 1934 and 1954. The U.C.G.C. though painfully aware of the
reasons for the inadequacy of qualified catechists in these areas, wrote
nonetheless to Foley, the Father Superior, at Warri
requesting for catechists.
His obvious reaction was to throw the ball into their court. If the people
were able to suggest three suitable men he would speedily test them and
appoint them. He even offered to send any two willing young men for a catechist
training at Ashaka. But no suitable or qualified
person was available for appointment or for training.
no other immediate solution was found, Biakolo
had to itinerate those stations (Ughelli,Ewu, Ephron,
and Olomu) which wee without catechist,
in addition to those stations under him in Ughievwe,
until 1954 when Sadjere repented and was
reappointed for Ughelli and Olomu
areas. Okpara, as has been shown, was sent
a resident priest, though not an indigene, on 25
October 1947, while Ughelli
had to wait till after the forties. By the close of the forties there were
however, at least three indigenous persons from the Urhobo
section in seminaries, training for the priesthood.
Growth Towards Maturity
new decade opened with a bright hope. The Vatican
celebrated 1950 as a Holy Year. Umure was
permitted by Kelly to go to Rome
for celebrations connected with the Holy Year. He therefore appealed to
the church members for financial aid with which to pay his passage to Rome,
which aid was readily given. When he returned to Warri,
it was with renewedvigour that he resumed
his ministry. Consequently Roman Catholicism witnessed considerable growth
among Urhobo speakers throughout the fifties,
a fact attested to by M. J. Bane who wrote in 1955:
many towns pupils attending schools are now numbered in
In Warri town there are over 300 catechumens
in the evenings while more than 7,000 pupils attend Parish
In Sapele more than 1,200 receive Holy Communion
growth was enhanced by the building of more schools, primary and secondary.
A secondary school, St. Peter Claver’s,
was opened at Aghalokpe in 1951; a Teachers’ TrainingCollege
for girls (Queen of Apostles), to which was attached a minor nunnery, was
opened at Ughelli in 1954, when Ughelli
Parish was also created. Mother Agnes, the first Urhobo
nun, was the Principal of the College. By 1960, when the Anglicans opened
a Girls’ Secondary School at Ughelli, the
Roman Catholics also opened one-Our Lady’s
High School-at Ephron.
after the granting of Ozoro Parish in 1945,it
was not, as has been indicated, until 1953 that the first resident Rev.
Father,oneCavangh, arrived. Breslim,
who succeeded Cavangh, was the one who,
according to Itugbu, caused two Colleges
to be built: St. Joseph’s Teachers’ TrainingCollege
in 1954, and Notre DameCollege in 1957.
The latter was the result of rivalry with the C.M.S. who in that same year
at Emervor. Before 1961, a new church building
was started at Ozoro, and a maternity home
set up. Ozoro has since then continued to
function as the headquarters for all the Roman Catholics in Isoo.
And from here that church has continued to struggle to maintain her own
in Isoko country. But in Isoko,
the Anglicans from whom the members of the R.C.M. separated, are still
in a much stronger position.
Roman Catholics had made considerable impact on Urhoboland
by 1961, especially through the building of schools. But their influence
was felt more in the Urhobo section than
in Isoko. This was no doubt because of the
gross neglect of C.M.S. work in the former place. But it was also perhaps
because Urhobo was nearer to the centre
of activities which for a long time was Warri.
Apart from Orogun area, all other parts
of Urhobo were always under Warri
Parish, until first Okpara, and then Ughelli
had their own Parishes. The Urhobo section did not
therefore oscillate between one Parish and another as happened in Isoko.
By 1961, whereas there were already three Urhobo
ordained Roman Catholic priests-Umurie, Obudu,
and P. Enyowheoma-there was none from Isoko,
even up till the time of writing. While there was still much to be done
to supply adequate personnel, the future of the R.C.M. was very promising.
For by the end of the period nearly ten young men were in seminaries training
for the priesthood.