Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish P.O.Box 338, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria.
The parish now known as OUR LADY QUEEN OF PEACE today came into existence in the late 80’s. Sources hold that the early Christian community worship on campus pre-dates October 1962, when the then Nigerian college of Arts, Science and Technology, Zaria became what is today known as Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. However, the Catholic Parish was specifically founded at the inception of the institution in 1962.
During this period, it was simply a chapel jointly used by both the Catholic and Protestant communities, a situation described as a unique symbol of inter-denominational co-existence and a perfect example of the true picture of Christ on earth. At the initial stage, the church which was just a chaplaincy under St. Mary’s Parish Samaru, was a make shift structure of wood and zinc material, located close to the present Ahmadu Bello University Bookshop.
In terms of membership composition, it was a handful of expatriate, Nigerian University staffers as well as students, all numbering about forty.
As a result of continuous growth witnessed during this period (in terms of membership), the make shift structure of wood and zinc was abandoned in favour of lecture theatres AB and BC (located between the departments of Geography and Biological Sciences). These theatres were shared between Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox Christians.
The persistent need for a larger and permanent place of worship to accommodate the ever-increasing congregation finally led to the construction of the Joint Chapel, through the joint efforts of the Christian communities, the university authority and the then Arch bishop of Kaduna Archdiocese, Bishop McCarthy in 1974.
Both Catholics and Protestants used this structure under the Joint Chapel committee until 11th March 1987, when it was burnt down as a result of a religious crisis in Zaria, which also saw the burning down of other churches in and around Zaria.
Although the chapel was burnt down, it will be described as a blessing in disguise because on the debris of the Joint Chapel stands the new Catholic Parish, one of the most beautiful in this part of the country.
It is worthy to mention that, immediately after the burning of the Joint Chapel, the catholic community had to move to the Assembly Hall close to the university Senate Building, while our protestant brethren had to make use of the university Gymnasium. It was during this period that the construction of the parish began. Hitherto, the joint effort of Catholics and Protestants started the construction of a new chapel, which is situated right behind the Catholic Church (i.e. before the 1987 crisis). It was while using the Assembly Hall that the name Our Lady Queen of Peace, was chosen for the new emerging parish (a name which reflects the intention of the church for the university community), and it was dedicated by the late cardinal Dominic Ekanem, Bishop of Abuja on 9th November, 1991 and since then the community has continued to grow and wax stronger. Its population is very well above two thousand in number, at present.
Hence the statement by Jesus, that “if you destroy this temple, I’ll rebuild it in three days” came into fulfilment in the campus catholic community from 11th March 1987.
PRIESTS THAT HAVE SERVED IN THE PARISH
The first Priest was Rev. Fr. White, of Irish descent and of the order of the Society of Missionaries for Africa (SMA) followed by Rev. Fr. Fitz Patrick, from Poland, of the order of the SMA and a Holy Ghost Father (CSSP). Both took care of the chaplaincy from St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Samaru.
Rev. Fr. O’ Connell was the first stationed Priest, who was Irish and a lecturer in the Department of Political Science (then Department of Government). He left service for home in 1975. After Fr. O’ Connell came Rev. Fr. Sean Rafferty in 1975. He too was of Irish descent and a lecturer in the then school of Basic Studies. He served the parish from 1975-1989 and he introduced the use of the Bulletin in the chaplaincy.
Rev. Fr. Joseph Haruna Mamman took over from Fr. S. Rafferty in 1989 as the first indigenous parish priest (ordained 1979). He is also a lecturer in the Faculty of Education and during his tenure; the magnificent church edifice was completed. He is still the parish priest up to date.
Rev. Fr. Billyack came in 1989 as assistant parish priest and was later transferred the same year. Next came Fr. Anthony Sabo who served as a deacon before his ordination in 1990 and stayed till December 1990.
Rev. Fr. John Abashiya came to the parish in 1991 and served till 1993. He returned later in 2000 and stayed till 2001. Rev. Fr. Thomas Shekarau came next (ordained 1984); he served from 1993 to 1995.
Rev. Fr. Dominic Oliagba ordained priest in 1984 served from 1995 to 1999. After him came Rev. Fr. Victor Achi (ordained 1997) and he served the parish as assistant from 1999 to 2000.
Rev. Fr. Victor Yakubu is the current assistant parish priest (ordained 1996). He came in 2001 and took over from Rev. Fr. Abashiya.