Welcome to our Parish Community.
St. Denis Catholic Church started with six families in 1958. The idea came into being when Chief S.O. Adenuga met Rev. Fr. D.J. Slattery at St. Paul’s Catholic School Ebute-Metta, Lagos; where he was a junior Principal of the school. The school had twenty classrooms of which Rev. Fr. D. J. Slattery used four classrooms to start St. Finbarr’s College. This indicated that the original idea of moving to Akoka was not to start St. Denis as a parish; but was purely to start St. Finbarr’s College and St. Denis Parish was started as a necessity as demanded by the people.
According to Chief Dr. S.O. Adenuga, St. Denis Parish started in Rev. Fr. D. J. Slattery’s chapel in St. Finbarr’s. The Mass was only being attended by six families who were all teachers and Catholics. The six are: Pa. Babajide who is a knight, who is now late (He got his Papal knight from St. Denis Catholic Church) and was the first knight produced by the Parish. Chief S.O. Adenuga was the first Parish Pastoral Council Secretary, others were Pa Dehinbo, Pa Adenuga (another person) and two Bankoles (these two families are not related) one is a baker at Abeokuta street and Mr. Akinsete who was also Fr. D. J. Slattery’s carpenter. Also worthy to be mentioned is the Irish priest who worked and assisted Fr. D. J. Slattery before Fr. Burke came.
Thereafter, they moved to St. Finbarr’s dining room to celebrate Masses. This was when local families started joining on Sunday Masses and the Chapel could no longer contain them. There, they had their first harvest and realized one pound and fifteen shillings; which was what the little congregation used to start St. Denis Parish. After a while, Rev. Fr. D. J. Slattery traveled to overseas (Irish), where he raised funds through some friends for a Church building. The Bishop of Lagos then was Arch Bishop Taylor who actually commissioned the demolished Church building.
In 1964, the small congregation purchased more plots in the same land to make it nine plots all together and it was a swampy land. The bush was then cleared to demarcate the boundary on the land. A fifteen feet crocodile was killed by Rev. Fr. D. J. Slattery where the old parish office was situated then. The first society of the parish was St. Joseph Society of which most of them now are elders of the Church. Mr. Ogunmodede and Mr. Adeleye were members who joined the first six and the congregation later swelled to 1000 people.
The First Baptism of St. Denis Parishioners:
As the congregation increased, Rev. Fr. D. J. Slattery sees the need for real baptized Catholics. In those days, there were a number of adult who were not baptized; it was not that easy to conduct a baptism; because you would have more people to conduct with. So wherever the congregation was ready for baptism, Fr. Slattery would register all of them at St. Dominic’s Parish. This continue up till 1968. In 1968, by Fr. Slattery own initiative the Parish priest of Shomolu took over jurisdiction of St. Denis Parish. They stopped registering candidate for baptism at St. Dominic’s Parish but thereafter, the Parish in Shomolu visited St. Denis Catholic Church once a month. As a result of this, the first baptism at St. Denis took place between 1968 to 1972.
How the name St. Denis was Chosen:
It was during the time of the first Harvest according to Chief Pa. Adenuga, who was the first PPC Secretary and Harvest Chairman of St. Denis, then, it was during the occasion that the people in appreciation to Rev. Fr. Denis Joseph Slattery's efforts, hoisted a banner bearing St. Denis's Catholic Church Akoka. The idea of a name had not come out of a board room discussion of PPC, members and Rev. Fr. Denis Joseph slattery, it came to be first of the people's choice, which connotes, love, thanksgiving, call it appreciation if you like.
The Tussle for St. Denis Land:
With the money realized from the harvest, Rev. Fr. Denis Joseph Slattery decided to purchase land near the only collections of building in the area, the C.M.S. Grammer school (Those were the nine plots in quote). the land was purchased from Pa. Tunji Jemi Alade's family. There was dispute about the land and Mrs. Kuye the executor of Jemi Alade's will, wrettled some of the lands from the Church but the parish was compensated for their loss with another four plots in less acceptable places. Those four now were the Parish Hall and the Nursery and Primary School. The foundation of the Parish Hall was laid then in 1973 by His Grace Archbishop Okogie on March 11th 1974.
In the same year, there were romours of take over of schools by the government and a decision was reached to move the congregation of St. Finbarr's College to the newly built Parish Hall. It was a welcome move as the new site was more central and not like St. Finbarr's which was on the periphery of Akoka. This means that while the congregation were meeting in St. Denis, other small congregation were meeting and worshipping in other places close to them; a congregation was meeting in St. Denis and another congregation was meeting in St. Finbarr's; a preview of what persisted and precipitated as St. Augustine today.
The story of St. Denis will not be complete without mentioning worthy supporters - people like Rev. Mosignor John Aniagwu, one time Rector of Project Time for many years in the 70's and early 80's who was always handy to help Fr. Slattery in covering the outstation on Sundays. Rev. Fr. Stephen Obiukwu who later took over from Rev. Mosignor Aniagwu as Rector of St. Augustine's College of Education in 1981 continued the assistance in evangelization and spiritual lives of the parishioners.
He went an extra mile to re-open yet another Mass center at St. Augustines college of Education. It was first named St. Finbarr's Church (remember the old Church started meeting in Finbarr's) Now this second St. Finbarr's Church became another outstation of St. Denis Parish, but now however, it has been elevated to a Chaplaincy serving St. Augustine's College of Education.