Our History

On Sunday, 18th September, 1977, the Maryland chaplain, Fr. Frank McGovern informed the congregation that he has been appointed by the Archbishop as Reverend Father in charge of a new parish based in Maryland. The new parish naturally became known as St. Agnes as the college chapel continued to be the parish church until Christmas eve of 1984 when weekend Holy Masses were moved to the new Parish Hall.

The new parish priest stated that his motto was to be: "make haste slowly". There was no ready accommodation for Fr. McGovern. As a result, the staff quarters for some tutors at St. Agnes Teachers Training College was released by the principal, Mr. Amenechi, for Father's lodging. Rev. Fr. McGovern moved into the bungalow with Rev. Father Ford as his assistant. The two pioneer priests of the Parish toiled fruitfully to retain the expanse of land which today makes up St. Agnes Church complex. They took the Lagos State Government to court when following the latter's take over of schools, the government under Alhaji Lateef Jakande forcibly acquired most of the original Mary's Land. But for Fr. McGovern, the present Marian Shrine would not have survived.

The tussle for St. Agnes' land complex was facilitated by devout parishioners including a few who were then within the government establishment of the State.

On what originally was Mary's Land existed or still stands the church complex, St. Agnes TTC, Maryland Comprehensive Secondary School which was started by the OLA sisters in 1969, the Immaculate Heart Secondary School carved from the Comprehensive School around 1980, St. Agnes Primary School which was College Demonstration School from 1950, Maryland Convent Primary School founded by OLA Sisters in 1968, Maryland Primary School and St. Francis Primary School both belonging to the universal primary education generation schools. The state primary education board took over the modern school (three years post-primary school) buildings and compound in the late 1970s.

OLA Sisters

When in January 1950, the St. Agnes Teachers Training College opened on its new site in Maryland, it became known as St. Agnes T.T.C, Maryland. The convent and college stood alone in all that is now Okupe, Mende, etc. The present Convent Chapel, which was where the parishes of St. Leo's, Ikeja and St. Agnes , Maryland started was completed in September, 1949. The Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles moved into the convent on 21st December, 1949 (Feast of St. Thomas). The first Holy Mass was celebrated on 24th December, 1949 by Rev. Fr. Florence McCarthy, S.M.A the Rev. Father in charge of St. Patrick's Parish (St. Dominic's), Yaba.

The official opening ceremony of the new St. Agnes T.T.C, Maryland took place on the 20 th of May, 1950 . The occasion included the blessing of the college complex and its consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary. The event was officiated by Rev. Fr. James Young, S.M.A - the Pro-Vicar of the Vicarate of Lagos. A solemn High Mass followed, and was celebrated by Rev. Fr. Florence McCarthy, S.M.A, assisted by Rev. Frs. D. Maguire, S.M.A and Denis J. Slattery, S.M.A.

Pastoral Care

While at Yaba, the priests of St. Patrick's Parish (now St. Dominic's) were chaplains to the St. Agnes College. Following the relocation, St. Dominic's priests came to celebrate Masses in the college Chapel at Maryland. Dominicans who served Maryland were first Fr. Lawton who later became the first Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, then Fr. Dempsey, O.P. who also succeeded him as second Bishop of Sokoto. Others included Fr. Ambrose Windbacher.

Mass services to the college and Catholic worshippers within the slowly-developing environs were provided by the Dominican priests from Yaba until Rev. Fr. James Morrison, S.M.A. came from St. Peter's College, Abeokuta to start, St. Leo's Parish, Ikeja from St. Agnes T.T.C Chapel, Maryland. This was in 1973. St. Leo's Parish activities were centred mainly on the college chapel, Maryland from where it operated, as well as the Police Training College , Ikeja. Rev. Fr. Morrison resided at No. 3, Oba Akran Street, Ikeja with his cook and two servers - Christopher Mensah and Segun Spencer.

The parishioners in Maryland then had to worship at the Police College where regular Sunday Masses were held, since the chapel at Maryland was not large enough to contain the growing congregation. The Army Chaplain in the Military Cantonment, Ikeja - Monsignor Pedro Martins (rtd) also provided a helping hand in the pastoral care of the catholics around. Holy Masses were celebrated in schools such as St. John's , Shogunle which has metamorphosed into a big church, as well as in another smaller school down in Agege which developed into St. Sabina's Parish, Idi-Mangoro.

Fr. Morrison organized the various groups from the three zones - Police College, Maryland Chapel and St. John's Shogunle in order to start off a big church building. When St. Leo's Church Hall was completed in 1974, the squatting ended, and most of the activities hitherto held in the Convent Chapel shifted to Ikeja. This was the first parish for Marylanders, with Fr. Morrison as the first parish priest.

However, the hard-working priest had an accident near Fadeyi bus stop which resulted in his repatriation home. Father Morrison was then replaced by Fr. T. Healy, S.M.A at Ikeja.

It was not very convenient for worshippers in Maryland, Onigbongbo, Mende, Obanikoro, Ilupeju, etc to attend Masses at Ikeja. Fr. Healy therefore organized and encouraged the parishioners to yearn for a parish of their own in Maryland. During his pastorate, the site of the proposed Maryland Parish was fenced off from the remainder of the St. Agnes Teachers Training College holding.

At that time, Rev. Fr. Frank McGovern was a tutor at St. Gregory's College, Lagos. Occasionally, he visited the students at Maryland and offered Masses until he was transferred to Maryland as a science teacher and later Vice Principal of Maryland Comprehensive High School. During the same period, the Archbishop authorized him to run a chaplaincy Mass at the OLA Convent Chapel, with worshippers around Maryland attending Sunday Masses and other devotions during the weekdays. The chaplaincy Mass ran from 1975.