How It Began
After receiving a mandate from the Archbishop to evangelize, Fr. Adegbite left Abeokuta and arrived in Lekki on the 1st of May, 1998.
The only catholic church in the Lekki axis at the time was St. Theresa’s Ikota. Fr. Adegbite stayed at St. Michael's Catholic Church, Lafiaji with Monsignor Anthony Obanla and commuted for evangelical work until he was able to secure accommodation. He was given a tour of Lekki by Mrs. Henrrieta Obinugwu and searched the area for a place where he could hold mass. He met Chief Evaristus Bassey, a catholic who lived in Agungi. After listening to the priest and hearing his intention to open a new church in the area, Chief Bassey offered his lawn to be used for the first mass. Fr. Adegbite arranged for a canopy and some chairs and set up the lawn for mass to be celebrated the following morning. Word of this quickly spread among the catholic community.
The First Mass
The first mass was held on the 3rd of May, 1998 on Chief Bassey’s lawn with some dining chairs taken from the houses of Chief Bassey and Dr. Allotey, another catholic who lived in the area The mass started at 10am and the children of Chief Bassey, Dr. Allotey and Mr. Obinugwu performed the duties of lectors and mass servers. Attendance at the first mass was 60. The first mass was celebrated on the feast of Saints Philip and James, so it was decided that the new church will be named SS Philip and James.
After the success of the first mass, news spread and Fr. Adegbite met more Catholics living in the area, including O. M. Otabor, who later became a member and key player in the development of Saint Philip and James.
Attendance at the second mass was very impressive. There was no prior plan to build a church so the early worshipers provided the funds for the establishment of the church; Mr. Obinugwu donated the first set of benches, Mrs. Nwadulu and Mrs. Fowler donated canopies. The canopies did not provide much shelter from the rain and worshippers occasionally had to move to Dr. Nwadulu’s house which was close by and had a bigger lawn and a roofed garage where mass could be celebrated.
Fr Adegbite soon started the evening mass and the healing mass and consequently, there was a need for a bigger venue. He secured a place in Igbo Efon and the church was moved there. News of this spread around the Lekki environs and soon, communities within the Lekki axis were eager to have masses celebrated in their area. Fr. Adegbite assisted in opening outstations/mass centres; among the first ones were Ave Maria Catholic Church Ikate, Our Lady Mother Of Perpetual Help, Ajah, St Peter’s Catholic Church Langbasa and Catholic Church Of Divine mercy, Lekki
A Church Is Built
Fr. Adegbite coordinated the purchase of 16 plots of land in Ikate Elegushi and afterwards, an additional 13 plots of land in Idado Lekki, where the church is now located. It was decided that the SS Philip and James would be located in Idado Lekki, because it was more accessible and closer in proximity to the early members. Half of the cost of land acquisition in Idado was raised by the early worshippers and the other half was paid by the Lagos Archdiocese. After the purchase of the land, the church proceeded to finalize documentation. Lady Dr. Kolawole facilitated this. The foundation was laid and work began on the building. The first challenge was water logged land. The funds were insufficient to sand-fill the land. Support came from parishioners, the Archdiocese and Fr. Adegbite who started small business ventures including the sales of recharge cards, poultry and fishery to raise money for the church. The building work was finalized and thus; the first catholic church in Lekki was built.
As the years flew by and parishioners keep increasing, efforts were made to construct a new church. The Catholic Men’s Guild, under the chairmanship of Engr. Otabor assumed the responsibility of delivering the foundation of the church up to DPC ( Damp-proof Course) level. On the 9th of September 2006, the Men’s Guild in conjunction with the Confraternity of Christian Mothers (CCM), organized a formal fund raising event at The Blue Island to build the church. The event was successful and work began. The new church building was designed by Arch. Ahimie and on the 23rd of November 2006, a builder, Mr. Joseph Durodola was engaged by the church to work on the new building.
Fr. Adegbite's Demise
On the 31st of October 2007, the Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Patrick Adegbite was tragically shot and killed by robbers at a drug store in Agungi. His death was a big loss not only to his family, friends and parishioners, but to the Archdiocese of Lagos. Fr. Adegbite was buried at the Ikoyi cemetery after a befitting burial organized by Archdiocese of Lagos at the Holy Cross Cathedral. His sudden death brought to a halt the new church building which was already underway.
Very Rev Msgr. (prf.) Ishola Ogunmodede was instructed by the Archbishop to become the acting parish priest. He had just returned from a year sabbatical after his retirement from the seminary where he had worked both at home and abroad for 32 years. He was the pioneering Rector of the Seminary of All Saints, Ekpoma. Edo State. Incidentally, he was Fr. Adegbite’s lecturer in the minor and major seminary. Msgr. Ogunmodede started working in the parish and on the 21st on November 2007, he was confirmed as the new parish priest.
His first project as the new parish priest of SS Philip and James was the construction of the Priests' residence behind the new church building. Fr. Adegbite oversaw the laying of the foundation of the building thought at the time, it was intended to be a parish hall. A building committee headed by Mr. Peter Iwegbu was instituted. Parishioners showed tremendous support and the building completed within a year. The new Priests' residence was commissioned the 29th of November 2009 by His Eminence Cardinal Anthony Okogie. In honor of Fr. Adegbite, it was named ‘Father Patrick Adegbite House."
The parish decided to retain the Priests' residence building committee as the new church building committee and over time, new members were added to the committee. The church building committee had to be reconstituted according to the Archdiocesan Laity council Rules. A new building committee was set up, headed by Engr. M. Otabor. Work progressed and soon the church was completed.
The new church was dedicated on the 3rd of December 2016, by His Grace Most Rev. Dr Adewale Martins, The Catholic Archbishop of the Metropolitan Sea of Lagos.