History of the Chaplaincy

History of St. Peter's Catholic Chaplaincy by Prof. Inno Uzoma Nwadike, (KSM)

In his first letter to the Corinthians (ch. 12 vs 27 – 30), St. Paul did a great treatise on the various gifts of The Holy Spirit in the Church of Christ, apostleship, prophecy, pedagogy, miracle working healing, followership, administration, speaking in tongues etc. In like manner, the Spirit has endowed St. Peter’s Chaplaincy, UNN with bounteous enviable gifts. This Chaplaincy, opened in 1961 after the founding of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1960, is the biggest Chaplaincy in Nigeria taking into consideration Chapel size, activities, involvements, opportunities and what have you. I am, like St. Paul, not boasting or exaggerating, but writing and expounding as the Holy Spirit guides me to present these facts as they are to the glory of God. The Chaplaincy, which occupies land space of about 10 acres, had the blessing and privilege of its lofty Chapel built by Messrs E. M. Micheletti and Sons (Nigeria) Ltd. The Chapel which is in I shape with two parallel wing expansions, has about 2000 sitting capacity. From 1961 to the present, the Chaplaincy has been administrated by 10 Chaplains in the following order:

  1. Rev. Fr. Bernard Russell, CSSP (1960 – 1963)
  2. Msgr. Stephen Ezeanya (late Archbishop of Onitsha Archd.) (1963 – 1965)
  3. Rev. Fr. Mactton Mahon, S. J. (1965 – 1967)
  4. Msgr. Stephen Ezeanya (late Archbishop of Onitsha Archd.) (1970 – 1974)
  5. Rev. Fr. Justin Orjiako, (1974 – 1977)
  6. Rev. Fr. Ezeonyia, CSSP- (later Bishop of Aba Docese), (1977 – 1980)
  7. Late Rev. Fr. Damian Nwanyia, CSSP (1980 – 1990)
  8. Rev. Fr. Barr. Mich. O. Onwuemelie, CSSP, (1990 – 1993)
  9. Rev. Fr. (Dr.) Augustine Onyeneke, CSSP (1993 – 2000)
  10. Rt. Rev. Msgr. (Dr.) Taddeo Onoyima ( 2000 – 2015)
  11. Very Rev. Fr. (Dr.) Amuluche-Greg Nnamani. (2015 – till present)

St. Peter’s Chaplaincy is a Chaplaincy with a difference. The activities that go on in it are of the beehive type. It is initiative-oriented and possesses the gift of service through her members. Two years after its founding, it started to publish Sunday Bulletin, which has continued till today. It has a mighty hall, the Seat of Wisdom Hall, which has about 1000 sitting capacity and serves as a social center for various purposes as well as a place of worship for the children of the Chaplaincy on Sundays. Six Masses are celebrated every Sunday, two 6am Masses, 7.30am, two 10am (one Community and one children’s) and 6pm. On weekdays and important feasts, two Masses are said 6am and 6pm. The number that attends the morning and evening Masses on daily basis is astonishing except in Lent, there is hardly any Saturday that does not have couples being joined together in Holy Matrimony. On some Saturdays, there are up to 10 marriages as many people see getting married at the Chaplaincy as a special privilege and moral booster. Catechism classes and marriage courses are regular activities where distinguished members of the Chaplaincy offer themselves freely to serve. Sodalities or all types obtained in the Church are all present in the Chaplaincy and each carries out its functions and obligations within the guidelines and specifications of the Church. St. Peter’s Chaplaincy is blessed with great talents, people who rule and administer and direct the affairs of the University, ranging from professors to all categories of administrators, office workers, businessmen and students. Apart from the morning Mass singing group and the children’s choir, there are two giant choirs: The Community Choir and The Students’ Choir, each of which has won accolades and prizes in different choir competitions at different times in the past. The Community choir is peopled with high academics and administrators some of whom play at the organ, lead or direct the choir. The same is said of the Church Wardens’ Corps where many are professors, high academics, administrators and businessmen. The team of Altar Boys numbering nearly 100 is led and directed by a high academic, Prof. Peter Uzoegwu (KSM) who never grows old in that apostolate. He started serving Mass in the Chaplaincy in 1972 as an undergraduate. Harvest and Bazaar at St. Peter’s is quite a grandeur affair where members display their love for God. The affair lasts 3 days (Sunday to Tuesday) and each year a ‘’Chairman of Chairmen’’ and two Chairmen are appointed to man the occasions. There are also 2 Mothers of the day. The Chaplaincy is sub-divided into 14 Zones for easy and efficient administration, and The Chaplaincy Council is drawn from the 14 Zones. The CMO and the CWO of the Chaplaincy are first among equals. The CWO in particular has a magazine Mothers’ Voice which is published annually. She equally has 2 commuter buses and an official car for her President. Both the CMO and the CWO have thousands of plastic chairs for social occasions. The CWO is organized in 4 sweeping groups: St. Monica, St. Rita, St. Theresa and St. Ann. The Nigeria Federation of Catholic Students (NFCS) is at its highest performance in this Chaplaincy. Her female members team up with the CWO in cleaning the Chapel every Saturday. NFCS has to its credit a mini-bus with which it runs its affairs, and has helped the Chaplains in the fight against indecent dressing in the Chaplaincy. St. Peter’s is a panorama of various congregational colours of Rev. Sisters (students and lecturers) attires on Sundays when they attend Mass. There are not less than 10 different congregations of Rev. Sisters within the Chaplaincy. St. Peter’s Chaplaincy is the only one I know of that carries out commentaries at Mass. There is a commentators’ corps that introduces the readings in liturgically documented commentaries to lead the congregation into contemplative mood and getting them ready to listen to the words of God. The Chaplaincy of St. Peter’s has 2 grottos of the B.V.M and St. Anthony of Padua. During the days of pilgrimages to Aokpe and Umunya, the direction of the Holy Spirit fell on a Priest in the Chaplaincy – Msgr. Prof. F.C. Okafor to direct and guide the proceedings in the two centers. The population of Christians in the Chaplaincy is such that during the Stations of the Cross, the Church building becomes inconvenient to be used; hence an outdoor Station-to-Station visitation is made, with various appointed sodalities leading the journeys each Friday. The two Knighthoods: KSM and KSJ and The Oblates of St. Benedict are very active in the Chaplaincy. KSM and KSJ has a Hall each. St. Peter’s Chaplaincy is a survival Center for very many beggars on daily and weekly basis. The Chaplaincy is a Chaplaincy of opportunities and upliftment for the Chaplains and the Priests. Virtually, all the Chaplains have been called for higher services within the Church. Here is a litany of such blessings:

  1. Msgr. Stephen Ezeanya, the first African Chaplain of the Chaplaincy, was in 1963 called on by His Lordship the Rt. Rev. Dr. G.M.P. Okoye, CSSP, Bishop of Enugu to assist him as his special assistant. This position prepared Ezeanya for his future appointment as the Archbishop of Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province later in life.
  2. From St. Peter’s Chaplaincy. Rev. Fr. Ezeonyia, CSSP was elevated to the Bishopric of Aba Diocese.
  3. Rev. Fr. Barr. Mich. O. Onwuemelie, CSSP was from here appointed the Nigerian Provincial Superior of The Spiritan Congregation.
  4. Fr. Onoyima’s Assistant/Co-Chaplain, Rev. Fr. Barr. Emma Onu was appointed the Secretary – Judge of the Catholic Marriage Tribunal for Nsukka, Enugu and Abakaliki Diocese.
  5. From here, Rev. Fr. Austine Nwosu, CSSP and Rev. Fr. Don Onyeke, CSSP, both Assistants to Fr. Onyeneke at different times were sent on foreign missions to Puerto Rico and Papua. New Guinea respectively to evangelize those young Christian lands. Dear Reader, what blessings and what achievements! To whom much is given much is expected.St. Peter’s Chaplaincy is indeed a gift to the Church and to Nigeria. To God be the glory.
  6. From here Rev. Fr. Onoyima was appointed the Vicar General of Nsukka Diocese and was further uplifted to the Ecclesiastical rank of a Monsignor.
  7. Very Rev. Fr. Amuluche-Greg Nnamani stepped into the shoes of his predecessor as the Vicar General of the Diocese in 2015.
  8. Rev. Fr. Onyeneke was uplifted to the position of Provincial Superior of the Spiritan Congregation.
  9. Rev. Fr. Ikenna, Assistant Chaplain, was sent on foreign mission to Uyo Diocese.
  10. Rev. Fr. Gabriel Otegbulu was posted to St. John’s Cross Seminary as seminarians’ formator. So also was Rev. Fr. Osita Iziga.
  11. Both Rev. Frs. Asadu and Luke Eze were transferred out to go and become Parish Priests to some Parishes.
  12. Fr. Makata was posted out to the Government Quarters, Nsukka to prepare grounds for the establishment of a new Chaplaincy. Meanwhile, Rev. Fr. Vitus Ugwu is the present Assistant Chaplain to Very Rev. Fr. Amuluche-Greg Nnamani, the Vicar General.

Dear Reader, what blessings and what achievements! To whom much is given much is expected. St. Peter’s Chaplaincy is indeed a gift to the Church and to Nigeria. To God be the glory.

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Past Chaplains

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Rt. Rev. Msgr. Taddeo Onoyima

Chaplain (2000- 2015) 9th

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Rev. Fr. Dr. Augustine O. Onyeneke. C.S.Sp

Chaplain 8th

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Rev. Fr. M. O. Onwuemelie C. S. Sp

Chaplain ( 1990 - 1993) 7th

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Rev. Fr. Damian Nwanyia C.S.Sp

Chaplain (1980 - 1988) 6th

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Rev. Fr. Vincent Ezeonyia C.S.Sp

Chaplain ( 1977- 1980) 5th

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Rev. Fr. J. Ojiako

Chaplain (1974 - 1977) 4th

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Rev. Fr. E. J. Mc Mahon S.J.

Chaplain (1965-1967) 3rd

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Rt. Rev. Msgr. Ezeanya

Chaplain ( 1963- 1965 & 1970 - 1984) 2nd

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Rev. Fr. B. Russel, C.S.Sp

Chaplain (1960-1963) 1st