Wednesday, June 11, 2014 7:14 am
Thousands of Catholic faithful from Lagos and across Nigeria gathered on Tuesday to bid Nigeria’s oldest Roman Catholic priest final farewell.
The Holy Cross Cathedral in Lagos overflowed with worshippers, relations and church members who attended the funeral mass for Rt. Reverend Monsignor Pedro Ayodele Martins who passed on last month at the age of 103, making him the oldest Roman Catholic priest in Nigeria.
Retired Archbishop of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, more than a dozen Catholic archbishops and bishops as well as over 200 priests and reverend sisters attended the mass, presided by Alfred Adewale Martins, the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos.
Scores of army officers and men, including the army band corps, were present to give the cleric the last honour.
Some of the other bishops present were Gabriel ‘Leke Abegunrin (Ibadan archdiocese), Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo (Oyo), Martin IgweUzoukwu (Minna), Felix Ajakaiye (Ekiti), Michael Fagun (Emeritus Ekiti), Francis Alonge (Emeritus Ondo), Albert Fasina (Ijebu-Ode), Jude Ayodeji Arogundade (Ondo), Ayo-Maria Atoyebi (Ilorin), Felix Alaba Job (Emeritus Ibadan).
In his 30-minute homily, Archbishop Alaba Job described the late cleric as the “patriarch of Catholic priests in Nigeria”.
“Right from his infancy, he was tough and daring…He had tried death several times,” Job said of Pedro Martins, born in 1910.
He cited two of the daring instances as when he rode a motorcycle from Lagos to Kano and when he joined the army and rose to become a Colonel.
Pedro Martins was the first Nigerian to celebrate 70 years in Catholic priesthoo
d in Nigeria
Born on November 16, 1910, Pedro Martins attended Kings College Lagos, St. Theresa’s Seminary Ibadan, Catholic Seminary in Asaba and University College, Cork, Ireland, where he obtained a B.SC in Zoology in 1950.
Ordained a priest in August 1943, he served in Asaba, Benin, Ijebu-Ode, Abeokuta, Ile-Ife and Lagos.
He was the Chaplain of the Nigerian contigent to the UN peacekeeping muission to the Congo in the 1960s andere the late Major General Thomas Aguyi-Ironsi.
A disciplinarian, he was for several years biology teacher at St Gregory’s College, Obalende, Lagos.
Pedro Martins also served as a member of Aguda Panel on the creation of a new federal capital (1975-76), chairman of the Corrective Review Panel on the mass retirements of the federal civil service in 1976 and member of the Constitution Drafting Committee (1978).
After his internment in Ikoyi Cemetery, a grand and colourful reception was held for him on the grounds of St. Gregory’s College, Obalende, Lagos.