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St Augustine : Children, Nigeria
Children, Nigeria
The activities of Portuguese Augustinians in the sixteenth century in Eastern Africa, and particularly in Warri, seeded in Nigeria the first Augustinian presence.
Centuries later, the Irish Augustinian Provincial Chapter of 1936 decided to look for a mission territory in Nigeria.
In 1940 two Irish Augustinian, John Berchmans Power and Patrick Dalton, and an English Augustinian, Gabriel Broder, went to Yola in the northeastern province of Adamawa, Nigeria.
They learned the Fulani and Hausa languages and began their mission.
Since 1940 about 123 Irish Augustinians have gone to help build the Nigerian Church. (In fact, seven also came variously from Australia, England, Scotland, and Spain)
Some remained for a year or two, and others for over forty years. In all over 2,000 years of service were given by these men to helping the Church in Nigeria.
In 1953 a new mission was started in Maiduguri. Since then (and before Nigerian-born bishops were subsequently appointed), a total of four Irish Augustinians were consecrated bishops of Yola and Maiduguri.
In 1967 the Order assumed responsibility for the major seminary at Jos to prepare young Nigerians for the diocesan priesthood.
At the Irish Provincial Chapter in 1974, it was decided to establish an Augustinian house of study for Nigerians.
This resulted in the building of what today has become Saint Augustine's Seminary at Jos, Nigeria.
In 1977 Nigeria became a vice-province in the Order of Saint Augustine.
In 1995 the Diocese of Jalingo was created from a part of the Diocese of Yola. The first bishop was Ignatius Kaigama, a Nigerian who from his earliest years was educated by the Augustinians.
His ordination began the final chapter in the Irish involvement in Yola, namely the total indigenization of the local church.
Another page in this final chapter was the election of a Nigerian Vice-Provincial who steered the Augustinian Order in Nigeria into the twenty-first century.
A Nigerian, James Daman O.S.A., assumed this position in the summer of 1997.
In 2001 the Augustinian international chapter in Rome declared Nigeria a Province of the Order. It is the first one based on the African continent in the 750 years of the history of the Order.
In 2003 there were 41 professed affiliated Nigerians with Augustinian solemn vows, and four more about make solemn vows in that year.
In 2003 there were also six Irish Augustinian priests working in the Nigerian Province.
(Continued on the next page.)

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