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New York Province Jesuits Celebrate 50 Years of Service in North-West Africa

On August 16, 2012, the New York Province Jesuits will celebrate 50 years of service in North-West Africa.  It was on that date in 1962 that Fr. Joseph Schuh, SJ, landed in Lagos, Nigeria to assist in the opening of the University of Lagos and to teach biology.

Fr. Schuh’s arrival marked the start of an enduring legacy and brought to fruition the pledge made by Fr. John McGinty, SJ, provincial of the New York Province, to accept the mission in Nigeria, thereby nurturing the seeds of faith that would continue to prosper over the years.

More than 125 members of the Society of Jesus, mainly from the New York Province but including approximately 35 Jesuits from other provinces, contributed to spreading the Gospel to God’s people in Africa during these 50 years.  A number devoted many years of service in various works and apostolates. Their collective labor and example built upon the foundations prepared by earlier generations of missionaries to the continent.

The North-West Africa Province (ANW) today consists of the five English-speaking West African countries of Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Gambia, with approximately 106 Jesuits. Nearly all are indigenous, with many of that number currently in formation as novices and scholastics. This area was first a mission of  the New York Province and then was the Nigeria-Ghana dependent region until becoming an independent province in 2005, with Fr. George Quickley, SJ, as the first provincial.

The primary works and apostolates of the North-West Africa Province include: the five parishes of Saint Joseph’s, Benin City (Nigeria), Saint Anthony’s, Accra (Ghana), Christ the King, Lagos (Nigeria); Saint Francis, Lagos (Nigeria) and Holy Family in Caldwell, Liberia; two retreat centers in Benin City and Cape Coast, Ghana; three schools (Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja, Nigeria, St. Francis Secondary School in Lagos and Quaye Nungua Primary and Junior Secondary School in Accra), with a third secondary school under construction in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Jesuits of the ANW Province also serve the people of God as chaplains in the university system and as spiritual directors.

Fr. Jude Odiaka, SJ, has served as provincial of the ANW Jesuits since 2011. For more information on the works of the ANW Jesuits today, visit   http://www.jesuits-anw.org/

Click here to read a letter from Fr. Odiaka on this milestone and acknowledging those who played major roles in the province’s growth.