Dominicans, Nigeria & Ghana
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Brief History

The Order of Preachers and its Foundation in Nigeria and Ghana

The Order of Preachers more commonly known as the Dominican Order is a Roman Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic de Guzman in France, and approved by Pope Honorius III on December 22, 1216. The Order was founded basically for preaching and the salvation of souls. The Order is famed for its intellectual tradition, having produced many leading theologians and philosophers.

Dominic inspired his followers with loyalty to learning and virtue, a deep recognition of the spiritual power of worldly deprivation and the religious state, and a highly developed governmental structure. At the same time, Dominic inspired the members of his Order to develop a "mixed" spirituality or a fine blend of contemplation and action. They were both active in preaching, and contemplative in study, prayer and meditation.

Although very few in numbers, Dominic dispersed his brothers to various cities in Europe where there were centers of learning. And within a short time, the Order spread to the major cities of Europe. From Europe, it spread to other parts of the world.

The foundation of the Dominican Province of Nigeria and Ghana began with the arrival in February 27, 1951 of Fr Michael J. Dempsey, OP (later Bishop), Fr Edward T. Lawton, OP (later Bishop) and Fr Arthur Kinsella, OP in Yaba. Little did these three pioneer Dominicans realize that from such ordinary beginnings, a large and sturdy branch of the Dominican Order would develop in West Africa, and in fact, still be the only Province of the Order on the African continent.

Having been invited to the Archdiocese of Lagos by the then Archbishop of Lagos, Archbishop Leo Hale Taylor, they spread the Good News not only by their preaching, but their exemplary simple life style. In the words of Anthony Cardinal Okogie, they introduced a new epoch in the history of the Church in the Archdiocese in terms of innovative, planned and enhanced development both spiritually and physically. No sooner had they arrived Lagos than they moved to the North of Nigeria. So, it must not go without mention that the Dominicans assisted immensely in the evangelisation of Northern Nigeria.

From one house in Yaba in 1951, there are now several Dominican communities in Nigeria and Ghana. And since the arrival of the Dominicans in Nigeria, the lay faithful who worship in our parishes have responded enthusiastically to our preaching and have supported us so generously. In fact, many of them identify with us so closely that it is not unusual for them to refer to themselves as "Dominicans".

There have been some transformation from the then Lagos foundation in 1951 to the full-fleshed Province in 1993. Frs. Michael Dempsey, Nadeau, Klapperich, Bert Ebben, Windbacher and Callistus Iheme served as vicars at various times. In May, 1985, Fr Callistus Iheme became the first Vice Provincial. Fr Gilbert Thesing succeeded him in 1989. When the petition for the elevation of the Vice Province to a Province was granted, Fr Chris Angelo Otuibe became its first Provincial in May, 1993. Fr Thomas McDermott succeeded him in July 1997. After him, Fr Cletus Nwabuzo took on the baton, after which Fr Ignatius Madumere succeeded him. Fr Charles Ukwe took over from Fr Ignatius in 2009 and is still the current Provincial.

The Dominican Province of St. Joseph the Worker, Nigeria & Ghana, comprises 189 friars. Blessed with an abundance of vocations, we strive to live out our Dominican and Thomistic traditions as we face the challenges of modern-day West Africa. No doubt, the Province is emerging as one of the largest and fastest growing entities of the Order.




Read about the Dominican Spirituality


In our Institute, the Thomist tradition is brought into conversation with other philosophical and theological approaches in addressing the problems of our time.


Owing to our rich intellectual heritage, we propose to have a Dominican University in Nigeria. Integrity, Ideas, Skill, Passion and Faith come together in training a person.


How wonderful are the feet of those who bring Good News. Lend us a hand in training the future heralds of Good News.


The Catholic Faith Forum has been taken to over 20 higher institutions across the country. This brings the Dominicans to bear on the Nigerian Audience.


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