Promotion of Faith that does Justice
We, the members of the North-West Africa Province of the Society of Jesus, realize, like our founder St. Ignatius, that we are weak and can do nothing good in the world except for the Spirit of God, which prompts us to works of faith and justice. Thus, like every other Jesuit formed in the spirit of the Spiritual Exercises, we strive to bring about the reign of God’s kingdom in whatever ministry we are involved, and wherever we are missioned. Our identity is related to our mission. A Jesuit sees himself as a sinner yet called by God to become a companion of Jesus. Under the banner of the cross, a Jesuit strives to promote a faith that does justice.
Ignatius begged the Blessed Virgin to “place him with her Son,” and who then saw the Father himself ask Jesus, carrying his Cross, to take this pilgrim into his company. What is it to be a companion of Jesus today? It is to engage, under the standard of the Cross, in the crucial struggle of our time: the struggle for faith and that struggle for justice which it includes. (32nd General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, held on December 2, 1974-March 7, 1975, 401).
History of Our Province
The story of the advent of the Jesuits in Nigeria and Ghana is closely linked to the aspirations of Archbishop Sergio Pignedoli, the then Apostolic Delegate to Nigeria. In 1961, he sent a request to Fr. Jean Baptiste Janssens, S.J., the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, inviting Jesuits to establish a Catholic center at the University of Lagos that was scheduled to open in September of 1962.
Though the New York Province of the Society of Jesus was already planning on opening a mission in South America, they gladly accepted to take up the Nigerian mission.
With the arrival of the Jesuits in Nigeria in 1962 and in Ghana in 1968, the stage was set for what was to become the Nigeria-Ghana region in 1992. The Nigeria-Ghana region was a dependent region of the New York Province. The years between 1962 and 2005 saw the influx of Jesuits from various provinces into the Nigeria-Ghana region. They worked tirelessly in spreading the gospel through educational, spiritual, and pastoral ministries under the successive leadership of three regional superior.
In the year 2005, the Nigeria-Ghana region of the Society of Jesus became an independent province with Fr. George Quickley, S.J. as the first provincial. The North-West Africa Province as it is now called comprises of Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Gambia.
By the year 2012, the North-West Africa Province was blessed with 106 Jesuits. 96.2% of these are indigenous Nigerian and Ghanaian Jesuits. The other 3.7% of the membership were expatriates drawing mainly from the United States. Also in 2012, Fr. Jude Odiaka, S.J. became the first indigenous Provincial of the North-west Africa Province of the Society of Jesus. The majority of the Jesuits of North-West Africa Province are still in formation as novices, brothers or scholastics.
The Jesuits in North-West Africa Province are involved in the following ministries: four parishes (St. Joseph Catholic church Benin city, St Anthony Catholic Church, Accra; Christ The King Catholic Church Lagos, St. Francis Catholic Church, Lagos); five schools (Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja, Jesuit Memorial College, PortHarcourt, St. Francis Secondary School, Lagos, Quaye Nungua Primary and Junior Secondary School, and Saint Ignatius of Loyola Basic School at Baatsona, both in Accra); two retreat centres; and a Catholic Chaplaincy at Lagos University Teaching Hospital and the College of Medicine of the University of Lagos (LUTH/CMUL).