St. Mary’s Catholic Church Isolo, the United and Family, is located at 38 Ire-Akari Estate Road Isolo, Lagos. The Parish is placed under the Patronage of Our Lady Mediatrix of all Graces; and the parish Feast day is celebrated on the Feast of the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary 8th September.
In the Beginning
The beginning of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Isolo dates back to 1963 when priests from Regina Mundi Catholic Church, Mushin began celebrating masses for a handful of the faithful at the residence of Pa Famakinwa at no. 2, Shonibare Street, Isolo, Lagos.
When Pa Famakinwa’s sitting room could no longer accommodate them; the venue was then moved to a primary school at Ile-Iwe Meta – very close to Lagos State Polytechnic and the SOS Village in 1971. In April 1975 after the transfer of Rev. Fr. Paul, they relocated to Metropolitan College, Isolo. In that same year, Pa Famakinwa handed over the chairmanship band to Late Pa Rowland Oatah. By late 1979, when the then Lagos State Governor, Alhaji Lateef Jakande barred religious groups from using Government Schools in Lagos State as venues for worship, the Mass centre moved into a classroom at the nearby Gideon Secondary School with the help of Late Pa Rowland Oatah who was then a teacher at Gideon Secondary school.
Between 1980 and 1981, despite initial challenges, the land on which the present Church is built at Ire-Akari Estate Road was secured. Within this period, plywood shed with aluminum roofing was constructed, marking the cessation of worship at the Gideon Secondary School and a new beginning for the parish. In 1981, the then Parish Priest of Regina Mundi Catholic Church, Mushin, Late Rev. Fr. Jeremiah Coakley, SMA christened the budding parish SAINT MARY’S and by 1982, she held her first harvest and bazaar.
In August 1983, His Eminence, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, the then Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos Archdiocese came on a pastoral visit to Regina Mundi Catholic Church, Mushin and seized the opportunity. During this visit His Eminence performed the turning of the SOD of the present Church assisted by Rev. Fr. Murphy.
In the second half of 1985, Rev. Fr. now Msgr. Philip Hoteyin became the new Parish Priest of Regina Mundi. He introduced two Masses here on Sundays - 8.00am and 10.00am and built the Church from foundation to window level with the erection of pillars. By late 1988, Rev. Fr. Alphonsus Obi became the Parish Priest and tackled the Church building in grand style with the constitution of an elected and enlarged Church committee headed by Sir Aloysius Onyekwuo following the retirement of late Pa Rowland Oatah.
In the second half of 1991, Rev. Fr. Obi was replaced by Rev. Fr. Edmond Akpala who introduced the second collection to fund the completion of the Church building. In 1992 with the Church building completed, Rev. Fr. Akpala laid the foundation stone for the Rev. Fathers’ house and built it up to the roofing level before Rev. Fr. now Msgr. Christopher Ajala took over from him and eventually supervised the completion of the Rev. Fathers’ house.
The last steps to becoming a full fledged Parish were taken by Rev. Fr. Gabriel Amolegbe who covered the entire floor of the Church with terrazzo and handed over the entire premises to the Oblates of St. Joseph through Rev. Fr. Mario Cueto, OSJ in the evening of 26th April 1996. On taking over, Rev. Fr. Mario Cueto OSJ, the first ever parish priest introduced daily morning and evening masses as well as three Masses on Sundays. During his tenure the Church building was completed and dedicated on September 8th, 2001 the Feast day of the Parish, together with the blessing of the Parish Office Complex. The Parish also had the birth of two outstations: SS Peter and Paul Oke-afa which become a Parish on July 22, 2007 and St. Joseph’s Agodo Egbe. The team brought a lot of organization and creativity to the Parish and which became a very vibrant worshipping community. Our harvests became more colourful and the land of the Church annex was purchased.
The United and Holy Family of St. Mary’s which Rev. Fr. Dory Tubesa, OSJ took charge of in 2003 has witnessed monumental growth on all fronts. To give the parish a positive sense of direction and purpose, Rev. Fr. Dory Tubesa, OSJ crafted and gave the parish befitting vision and mission statements as well as core values for the parish.
The tenure of Fr. Dory Tubesa, OSJ saw the foundation laying ceremony of the Ultra Modern Social Complex and Parish Clinic in 2003 and the construction formally commenced in May 2006. Thanks to him for taking the construction to a very great and appreciable stage. With his team there was the introduction of communion to the sick and aged every first Friday of the month and mid-day masses from Wednesdays to Fridays.
Rev. Fr. Sunil Kallarakal, OSJ served the shortest tenure as parish priest in St. Mary’s from January 5, 2011 to May 15 2012 and coordinated the beautiful grotto of the Blessed Virgin Mary which was blessed on May 1, 2012.
Rev. Fr. Ethelbert Arua, OSJ took over the mantle of leadership from the 15th of May, 2012 and since his tenure, the Parish and the Church annex now wear new looks with many constructions and renovations. Fr. Ethelbert and his team introduced the Sunday evening Mass and mid-day Masses Mondays and Tuesdays, thereby bringing the schedule of weekday Masses to three: Mondays to Fridays.
Today under the tutelage of priests of the Oblates of St. Joseph, the parish has made remarkable progress both physical and spiritual thus signaling a sudden upsurge in membership of the Church from about two thousand in 1996 to about fifteen thousand of today. It now has five Masses on Sundays inclusive of evening Mass, three Masses daily from Mondays to Fridays and 6.30a.m on Saturdays to cater for the ever-increasing numbers of worshippers.