Serra club maryland

The History of Serra Club of Maryland

By Serran Smarts Uddy EBHODAGHE


The history of Serra in Nigeria dates back to 1987, when the then Archbishop of the Lagos Metropolitan See, Anthony Cardinal Okogie (retired), put machineries in motion for the establishment of the first Serra Club in the Archdiocese. It was named Serra Club of Lagos, domiciled at the Holy Cross Cathedral, Church Mission Street, Lagos.

The club went through the formative stages and became chartered in January 1989, under the watch of Serran (Sir) Alphonsus Obilana KSG as the Charter President and Rev Fr Patrick Obayomi as its Chaplain. After its charter, the club began spreading the evangelism of Serra to other parts of Nigeria and Lagos Archdiocese in particular.

Birth of Serra Club of Maryland

During one of such evangelisation missions, the team from Serra Club of Lagos led by Serrans John ‘Tomi Asenuga and Patrick Ugbana stopped over at St Agnes Catholic Church in the Maryland area of Lagos. They made publications in the parish weekly bulletin and altar calls (announcements) during Sunday Masses for parishioners interested in joining Serra Club to put down their names at a designated place within the parish.

As at February 22, 2009, sixty four (64) persons had responded to the calls and their names published on the parish notice boards. Announcement was then made in the parish weekly bulletin convening a meeting for March 29, 2009, to formally inaugurate the club.

But the number of persons that responded to the call was considered too poor to form a quorum, thus causing the meeting to be called off and rescheduled for April 26, 2009, with the notice also put in the bulletin. On the rescheduled date, the story of poor attendance was not different from the previous one as only a handful of persons were present for the meeting.

As a quorum could not be achieved again, it was suggested and agreed amongst the few persons present that another date be fixed for the meeting and text messages sent out to everyone on the list, inviting them to the meeting. Even as the response to the meeting calls was not encouraging, the number of persons indicating interest was increasing as more names were being added to the existing list.

The seventy five (75) names that the list had risen to were shared into three volumes for volunteers to send text messages, inviting them to the meeting on May 31, 2009. Three volunteers picked the names and telephone numbers for the assignment, as the announcement was also put in the parish bulletin.

On that faithful Sunday, May 31, 2009, the response was a lot better than the previous attempts to meet, with a good number of persons showing up for the meeting. Serran John ‘Tomi Asenuga, the Serra International President-elect then, was also present for the meeting on that day.

The convergence turned out to be the inaugural meeting of Serra Club of Maryland (in- formation), presided over by Serran Fred Chijuka (a member of Serra Club of Lagos, who had been appointed by his club to be the formator of the new Club in Maryland). Before the meeting commenced, a volunteer was requested for to take the minutes of proceedings. Mr Smarts Ebhodaghe volunteered, while Serran Fred Chijuka said the opening prayer.

The members present were taken through the purposes and objectives of Serra by Serran Asenuga who informed the gathering that effort had been made years earlier to establish a club in Maryland. The attempt could not yield a positive result as the promoter was said to have died before the club could stabilize.

At the end of the meeting, twenty one (21) persons were in attendance, while one person sent an apology. Those in attendance were Mrs Josephine Chijuka, Mrs Felicia Enigbokan, Mrs Veronica N. Ifetu, Miss Maritha O. Eke, Mrs Stella Winifred Ikediashi, Miss Evelyn C. Chinevuzor and Mr Ignatius C. Onwumere.

Others were Miss Maria Ohiero Mbidowu, Miss Rosemary Abugu, Mrs Rose Florence Igbedion, Mrs Patience Duru, Dr (Mrs) Christine O. Adebajo, Mrs Francisca Odele and Miss Glory Amara Enyinnaya. Also present for the meeting were Mr Chinedu Momah, Mr Jarlath O. Agwulonu, Mr Henry Osaigbovo, Mr Augustine Edet, Mr Joseph Onwuaduegbo, Miss Gerty Nnadozie and Mr Smarts Ebhodaghe, while Mr Paul Azegbeobor was on apology.

Considering the difficulty in getting members to attend the previous meetings scheduled for the last Sunday of the month, it was agreed that the first Sunday of the month be considered, going forward. So the next meeting was scheduled for Sunday, June 7, 2009, with the agreement that sending text messages to everyone whose name appeared on the master list be sustained.

Attendance at the second meeting was quite encouraging as twenty nine (29) persons were present, while five (5) sent apologies. This number was appreciated by Serran Felix Johnson from Serra Club of Lagos, who was also present to assist Serran Chijuka in co-ordinating the meeting.

The club was advised to put an interim leadership in place consisting of a Captain, Secretary and Treasurer, to co-ordinate its activities pending when an election would hold to choose the substantive officers. But the members reasoned otherwise and resolved that a few more meetings be held over time for further acquaintances with each other to determine those to be entrusted with the club’s leadership.

In that regard, Smarts Ebhodaghe was encouraged to continue with taking the minutes of meetings for the time being, while Serran Chijuka presided. Members were then asked to show commitment and make sacrifices that would help the club to grow fast.

In the club’s third meeting held on July 5, 2009, the Serra handbook, prayer cards and information leaflets were brought by Serrans Johnson and Chijuka to further educate members of the club. They were encouraged to study the handbook and leaflets to be able to know more about the Serra Movement.

During the meeting, members were informed that their basic contributions to the club are their time, talent and treasure, popularly referred to as 3Ts that make the tripod upon which successful clubs stand. On that day, a secret bag collection was organised to help the club buy stationery for secretariat use and communications with members.

At the end of the exercise, the sum of two thousand five hundred and fifty naira (N2,550) was realised and handed over to Miss Blessing Ebhodaghe (no relation of Smarts Ebhodaghe) who took the minutes of the meeting on that day in the absence of Smarts Ebhodaghe. She was directed by the house to use one thousand naira (N1,000) out of the said amount to buy recharge card to send notice of the next meeting to all the names on the master list.

Election of Officers

After meeting for five months and some members showing an appreciable level of consistency, September 20, 2009 was then chosen as the date for the election of officers for the club. Unfortunately the election could not hold as the Archbishop, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, was on pastoral visit to the old Ikeja Deanery, where Maryland belonged, and various church activities were affected.

The date was then shifted by one week to September 27, 2009, which happened to be the Children/Youth Harvest day in St Agnes Parish. Serran Chijuka insisted on the date, saying that time was of the essence and the fact that it was a harvest day, more members could be available to participate in the election.

Behold, on the day of the rescheduled election, most members were more engrossed with the harvest activities such that only eight (8) turned up for the meeting, which was scheduled for the sole purpose of conducting the election of officers. Despite the low turnout, Serran Chijuka stood his ground that the business of the day must be carried out as proposed.

Those present in the meeting were Mr Lucky Iyare, Mrs Francisca Odele, Mr Joseph Onwuaduegbo, Mrs Cecilia Akindele, Mr Smarts Ebhodaghe, Mrs Stella Ikediashi, Mr Vincent Nwadiorun and Miss Evelyn Chinevuzor, while Mr K.B. Mark Anthony and Miss Agatha Ekwueme sent their apologies. At the end of the exercise, the following officers were elected to pilot the affairs of the club: Mr Smarts Ebhodaghe (Captain), Mrs Cecilia Akindele (Secretary), Mr Lucky Iyare (Treasurer), Mrs Stella Ikediashi (Vice Captain – Programmes and Vocations), Mrs Francisca Odele (Vice Captain – Membership, female) and Mr Joseph Onwuaduegbo (Vice Captain – Membership, male).

The newly elected officers were inaugurated as members of the club’s Board of Trustees on Sunday, October 4, 2009 by Serran Patrick Ugbana, who was the President of Serra Club of Lagos. He noted that all the available offices had not been occupied and advised that the remainder be filled at a later date for the smooth running of the club.

After the inauguration, Serran Ugbana asked the Captain to make an acceptance statement on behalf of the other officers. The Captain assured him that the club would not disappoint, and that every effort would be geared towards attaining the charter status, possibly before the Serra International Convention scheduled for September 2010 in Alaska, USA.

With the leadership structure put in place, the club was advised to increase the frequency of its meetings to twice monthly, in line with the dictate of Serra International. This was complied with and meetings scheduled for the first and third Sundays of every month.

In the meeting of November 15, 2009, the positions of some club officers were adjusted to see Mr Joseph Onwuaduegbo become the Vice Captain (Communications) and Mrs Francisca Odele, Vice Captain (Membership). The next meeting held on December 6, 2009 saw the emergence of Dr (Mrs) Christine Adebajo as the Vice Captain (Vocations).

Thereafter, Miss Agatha Ekwueme was appointed the Assistant Secretary, Mr Benjamin Ogboyi became the Financial Secretary and Mr K.B Mark Anthony was made the trustee. With this development, the leadership structure of the club was fully in place to implement its programmes and activities.

Not fully informed about the workings of Serra, the club’s leadership approached the Parish Priest of St Agnes, Very Rev Fr Raphael Adebayo, to request for a chaplain. Fr Adebayo responded pronto by assigning one of his Associate Priests, Rev Fr Gabriel Agule, to the work with the club as its Chaplain.

Rev Fr Agule embraced the assignment warmly and joyfully, and started working with the club almost immediately, attending its meetings when it was convenient for him. But not quite long after, a letter came from the desk of the Archbishop, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, appointing Rev Fr Ethelbert Ukpabi, Priest-in-Charge at Catholic Church of the Presentation Quasi Parish, Ikeja -GRA, Lagos, as the club’s Chaplain.

Journey to Charter status

Impressed by how Serra Club of Maryland (in-formation) had carried on within a few months of its existence, the sponsoring club, Serra Club of Lagos, began the process of its charter, in collaboration with the Serra International District 130, Nigeria. By the end of March 2010, all the documents and active membership strength requirements from a club in-formation for charter application were met and sent to Serra International headquarters in Chicago, USA.

At the time of the application for charter, the club had an active membership strength of forty two (42) persons whose names were included in the application documents. The members were Miss Rosemary Abugu, Mr Patrick Adah, Dr (Mrs) Christine Adebajo, Mrs Cecilia Akindele, Miss Evelyn Chinevuzor, Miss Blessing Ebhodaghe, Mr Smarts Ebhodaghe, Mr Augustine Edet, Mrs Felicia Ejiah, Mrs Scholasticar Ejimofor, Miss Maritha Eke, Miss Agatha Ekwueme, Miss Doris Erebor, Mr Cajetan Ezema and Mrs Veronica Ifetu.

Also on the list were Mrs RoseFlorence Igbedion, Mrs Stella Ikediashi, Miss Victoria Isidahomhen, Mr Lucky Iyare, Ms Nkechi Lord, Mr KB Mark Anthony, Mrs Azunka Menkiti, Mr Mark Monye, Miss Gerty Nnadozie, Mr Vincent Nwadiorun, Mrs Rose Nzenwa, Mrs Francisca Odele, Miss Obarike Ogbeche, Mr Benjamin Ogboyi and Mr Ernest Okolo. Others were Dr (Mrs) Loretta Okosieme, Mr Joseph Onwuaduegbo, Mrs Stella Onwuaduegbo, Mr Ignatius Onwumere, Mr Henry Osaigbovo, Mrs Cynthia Oseni-Elamah, Mrs Maureen Ozuzu, Miss Celestina Eze, Mrs Veronica Sonuga, Mrs Ifeyiwa Udegbe, Mrs Gloria Udeh and Miss Joyce Ufor.

Having scrutinised the application submitted, members of the international Board of Trustees certified that, “Serra Club of Maryland has met all the requirements of and has agreed to undertake the worthy purposes of Serra International”. By the acceptance of the charter, the club assumed the full obligations of a member club, invested with all the rights and privileges of an affiliated Serra Club to the global body.

The club was then issued with a Charter Certificate numbered 1140, dated May 16, 2010 and signed by Serra International President, Serran Alajandro Carbajal and Secretary, Serran Janet Freeman. The Certificate, Gavel and a Statue of St Junipero Serra were then couriered to Nigeria ahead of the Charter Presentation ceremony by the Local Ordinary.

The Charter Presentation ceremony was held on Sunday, June 6, 2010 during the Holy Mass at St Leo’s Catholic Church, Ikeja, Lagos, celebrated by His Eminence, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, the Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos. Apart from Serra Club of Maryland, four others namely Serra Clubs of Agege, Ikeja, Ikorodu and Lekki were also at the Mass to receive their charter materials.

During the charter presentation ceremony, the club members in attendance were inducted, presented with their certificates and lapel pins, and then became qualified to be called Serrans. Similarly, the officers were formally installed into the club’s Board of Trustees with the charter materials handed over to the Club’s Charter President, Serran Smarts Ebhodaghe, whose status changed from being Captain to President, and the Vice Captains became Vice Presidents.

The build-up to the club’s charter status was however not a bed of roses, as it had to contend with financial constraints because some members could not meet up with their obligations. The obligations had to do with payment for lapel pins, international initiation fee, production of the club’s customized lemon uniform, etc.

To avoid a clog in the wheel, the club’s leadership had to request for a loan of one hundred thousand naira (N100,000) from a member, Mr K.B Mark Anthony, to carry on with the process. Interestingly, the loan request was granted, money released and spent as planned to achieve the set purpose.

The club had every reason to thank God for the seamless process of transiting from a club in- formation to being chartered within a space of one year, and actualising the inauguration day promise to attain the charter status before the 2010 international convention. The thanksgiving exercise was held on August 29, 2010 at St Agnes Catholic Church, Maryland.

Serrans from the sponsoring club, Serra Club of Lagos, family members and other guests joined the new Serrans in the Mass to thank God for the attainment of the charter status. There was celebration and refreshments with the guests in the church compound after the Mass.

In the course of time, the club’s Secretary, Serran Cecilia Akindele, went on a sabbatical vacation and the Assistant Secretary, Serran Agatha Ekwueme, went on maternity break, then leaving the secretariat vacant. The vacancies were filled during the meeting of October 17, 2010 with the appointment of Serrans Maureen Ozuzu and Gerty Nnadozie as acting secretary and assistant secretary respectively.

After serving in acting capacity for about a year, Serrans Maureen Ozuzu and Gerty Nnadozie in February 2012 relinquished the positions of secretary and assistant secretary respectively, as the elected holders of the offices resumed their duties. They were both commended for holding forth diligently as no gap was felt throughout the period, bringing to the fore, the quality that the club is made of in members.

Vocational Works

The first major vocation obligation the club engaged in was to celebrate Christmas for the priests in St Agnes Parish and the Sisters of Our Lady of the Apostles (OLA), both in Maryland. Cakes were presented to them with goodwill messages from the club.

Next was the 90th birthday celebration of Monsignor Patrick Somide, which coincided with the St Agnes Feast Day celebration in January 2010. Although the club keyed into the plans of St Agnes Parish for the birthday celebration, it eventually stood out in the crowd with the production of a customised birthday card plus T-shirts with the celebrant’s photograph embossed and distributed to his family members and friends.

The club made its existence felt when two members of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Apostles (OLA) had their final profession of vow on February 11, 2010 inside the St Agnes Catholic Church, Maryland, Lagos. Apart from the physical presence of its members at the ceremony, the club presented gift items and cash to the Rev. Sisters to mark the occasion.

A few weeks after the final profession of vow by the OLA Sisters, five deacons in the Archdiocese of Lagos were ordained priests by Anthony Cardinal Okogie. Serra Club of Maryland printed a big banner to welcome and play host to other Serra Clubs that came for the ordination ceremony, which took place on March 20, 2010 at the Archdiocesan Marian Shrine in Maryland.

As part of its vocation activities of caring for priests and religious, the club organised a vintage party for old priests and reverend sisters in the Lagos Archdiocese on January 27, 2012 inside the McGovern Hall of St Agnes Parish. Although the club put in so much in planning the exclusive party, the attendance on the part of the invitees was not quite encouraging, thus causing the club to jettison the programme after that first outing.     

The club made a mark globally by winning the Serra International Cocations Competition organised for clubs all over the world, to commemorate the 300th birthday anniversary of Junipero Serra in 2013. The competition was put together by Serra International to encourage its affiliate clubs in taking the fostering and promotion of priestly and religious vocations very seriously. 

Serra Club of Maryland put in for competition, compiling some of the vocations activities it had organised for students of some Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Lagos and Altar Servers in some parishes in Maryland Deanery. The activities included Altar Servers Award ceremonies at the Catholic Church of the Presentation, Ikeja GRA, Lagos, St Raphael Catholic Church, Anthony Village, Lagos, St Michael Catholic Church, Ketu, Lagos and St Agnes Catholic Church, Maryland, Lagos.

Others were the Vocations Talks at Holy Child College, Ikoyi, Lagos, St Gregory’s College, Obalende, Lagos, Marywood Girls College, Ebute Metta, Lagos and Maryland Comprehensive College in Lagos. The club also organised a Vocations Seminar for youths in and around the St Agnes Catholic Church community to encourage their considering discerning the priestly and religious vocations.

The results of the competition were unveiled during the 2014 International Convention in Sacramento, USA, where Serra Club of Maryland was announced as a winner. The winning came with a prize of a large crucifix and one thousand dollars ($1,000) cash, which must be used for a vocation project of the club’s choice.

The Club President, Serran Cecilia Akindele, who attended the International Convention, received the prizes on the club’s behalf. The club then added money to the cash prize to buy assorted books, which it donated to the library of St Albert the Great Seminary in Idowu-Ofanran, Abeokuta, Ogun State.

To publicise its activities and further propagate the gospel of the Serra Apostolate, the club commenced the publication of a quarterly newsletter called The Crusader. With its contents and print qualities, the publication soon became a sought-after document by Serrans and non-Serrans alike.

Dinner with Priests and Religious

Considering the enormity of the task of fostering and promoting the priestly and religious vocations, the club thought of how to raise funds for the challenges ahead. At the meeting of November 21, 2010, the club president came up with the idea of organising a fundraising luncheon and put it on the table for members’ consideration.

After weeks of deliberations on the acceptability and viability of a fundraising luncheon by the club, an agreement was reached that it be given a try, but as a dinner. A committee was then set up with Serran Joseph Onwuaduegbo as the chairman, to plan the programme and report to the house as it progressed.

Having met for several weeks, the committee came with a plan for the programme, christened Dinner with Priests and Religious, with the theme: “Priestly Vocation and Laity in One Family of God’s Love”. It suggested Sunday, June 11, 2011 as the date for the dinner inside the McGovern Hall of St Agnes Parish, Maryland, with Sir Steve Omojafor KSS, Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, as chairman of occasion.

The committee’s report was accepted by the general house and all hands went on deck, working for the success of the programme. Sub-committees were created to carry out different assignments geared towards a hitch free programme.

Priests and Reverend Sisters from across the Lagos Archdiocese were invited to join the laity in the dinner that was full of fun and excitement, with varieties to eat and drink. At the end of the day, the club realised a net income of over one million naira (N1,000,000) from sales of entry tickets and donations by guests to the Endowment Fund that was launched during the occasion.

While planning the dinner, the club sought to know how long and what it costs to train a priest and a reverend sister respectively. It was informed that it takes nine years and an average of two million seven hundred thousand naira (N2,700,000) and seven years and an average of seven hundred and seventy thousand naira (N770,000) respectively.

From the proceeds of the dinner, the club made a donation of three hundred thousand naira (N300,000) to His Eminence, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, the Archbishop of Lagos, for the training of priests in the Archdiocese. Similarly, a donation of one hundred and ten thousand naira (N110,000) was made to the Sisters of Our Lady of the Apostles (OLA) for the training of reverend sisters.

With the success recorded from the dinner, especially the institution of the endowment fund, the club decided to make it an annual event, which has been sustained over the years. It also informed the Archbishop and the Superior General of the OLA that the donation would be done annually to offset the training of a priest and a religious respectively within the training periods.

After the first donation to the Archbishop and the assurance that it would be an annual exercise as had never been done by a Serra Club to support the continuous training of priests in the Archdiocese, there was a priestly ordination on December 17, 2011 at Divine Mercy Catholic Church in the Lekki area of Lagos. At the end of the ordination ceremony and while the Archbishop, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, was making his remarks, he credited Serra Club of Maryland with the training of Rev Fr John Nutayi, one of the priests ordained on that day.

That pronouncement by the Archbishop was like a catalyst for the club as it soon swung into action for the second edition of the dinner as a committee headed by Serran Henry Osaigbovo was then set up. The committee began to work and came up with the event date of June 6, 2012, choosing Mr Jimi Agbaje, Chairman of JayKay Pharmacy Limited as chairman of the occasion.

The second edition, though did not have a theme, came with even a greater measure of success than the maiden one, in terms of attendance by the priests, religious and the laity, as well as the volume of donations into the endowment fund. The club promptly and gladly made remittances of three hundred thousand naira (N300,000) and one hundred and ten thousand naira (N110,000) to the Archbishop and the OLA Sisters respectively.

The third edition with the theme: “Youth and Vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life”, was held on May 26, 2013, under the watch of the organising committee headed by Serran Rose Nzenwa, with Prof. J. C Ezigbo, Managing Director of Falcon Petroleum Limited, as chairman of the occasion. This was followed by the fourth that had the theme: “You did not Choose Me, I Chose You”, which held on June 21, 2014, as organised by the committee headed by Serran K.B Mark Anthony, bringing Mr John Bosco Ade Ogunlesi, Chairman of Sofisticat to chair the occasion.

It was the turn of Serran Gerty Nnadozie-Oyeyinka to head the organising committee for the fifth edition that had the theme: “I am the good Shepard, a good Shepard lays his life for his sheep”. It came up on June 14, 2015 under the chairmanship of Dr Fabian Ajogwu SAN, The Principal at Kenna Partners.

The sixth edition with the theme: “Steps to Sainthood, the examples of St Junipero Serra”, was supervised by the Serran Nkechi Lord led committee and held on July 3, 2016 under the chairmanship of Mr Oluseye Oladejo, Honourable Commissioner for Special Duties and Inter Government Relations in Lagos State. On Sunday, June 11, 2017, Serran Benjamin Ogboyi led his organising committee members to welcome guests for the seventh edition, under the chairmanship of Chief Oseni Elamah, Former Chairman of the Edo State Internal Revenue Board.

The eighth edition was held on June 10, 2018 as the Serran Felix Ehiorobo-Oni led organising committee fine-tuned the club members’ participation by insisting that they contribute the required seed money, rather than taking from the club’s purse. The committee went further to look within and chose Serran K.B Mark Anthony, Managing Director of Jpaac Printing Company Limited, as chairman of the occasion that turned out to be a huge success.

The level to which the bar was raised in 2018 was the benchmark that the Serran Ijeoma Theo-Nwangwu headed organising committee for the ninth edition set its focus ahead of June 9, 2019 inside the McGovern Hall of St Agnes Catholic Church, Maryland, Lagos. True to expectation, the committee did not disappoint as it put up a satisfactory package that excited the guests and club members.

The club has continued to improve on the organisation of the annual dinner, which has become its blue ribbon activity with encouraging acceptability and attendance by the clergy and laity. However, the 2020 edition could not hold as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic that ravaged the world and put virtually every activity on hold throughout the year.

June 20, 2021 was a remarkable day as priests, religious and the laity again came together to wine and dine after two years since such last happened. It was even a more remarkable day as the Archbishop of the Lagos Metropolitan See, Most Revd. (Dr) Alfred Adewale Martins, was physically attending the dinner for first time.

The Serran Agnes Ogungbesan led planning committee put in so much efforts and sacrifices to make the event a memorable one. The chairman of the day was Prof and Dr (Mrs) Sylvester Oluwafeyisola Adegoke, a geologist and national merit award scholar.

After the club was, in 2011, credited with training a priest and its fortune from the dinner programme improved, it resolved to fast track the payment to the Archdiocese, which had become an arrear. On September 1, 2013, the club decided to make a remittance of nine hundred thousand naira (N900,000) to the Archdiocese and three hundred and thirty thousand naira (N330,000) to the OLA Sisters respectively to cover three years each.

Thereafter the annual contribution was increased to five hundred thousand naira (N500,000) for the Archdiocese, while that of the OLA Sisters was also increased to three hundred thousand naira (N300,000). This was as a result of the improved fortunes of the club based on the increased patronage of the endowment fund launched earlier for its vocational works.

After two years of donating five hundred thousand naira annually to the Archdiocese, the club again increased it to one million naira (N1,000,000) per annum, in line with the exigencies of time. The OLA Sisters were not left out of the new order as theirs also increased to five hundred thousand naira (N500,000) annually.

With the club’s consistency in the annual donations for the training of priests and religious, its name continues to reverberate during ordinations and profession of vow in the Lagos Archdiocese. This has further attracted the club to religious groups like the Pauline Sisters, Daughters of Charity, etc, who regularly benefit from the club for their programmes and activities.

Despite the club’s inability to hold the fundraising dinner in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, it still met its obligations to all the beneficiaries. Before the date for the 2021 (post Covid-19) edition of the dinner, the club performed the annual ritual of remittance to the Archdiocese and the OLA Sisters respectively.

Associating with the District and International Boards

The endearing commitment and growth of Serra Club of Maryland excited the leadership of Serra International District 130 Nigeria that in its annual convention held from August 5 – 6, 2011 at the Ss Peter and Paul Major Seminary in Ibadan, it awarded the hosting right for the 2012 edition to the club. The club’s Board of Trustees swung into action soon after the return from Ibadan, by setting up a Local Organising Committee for the convention, to ensure a hitch free and satisfactory hosting.

The committee was headed by Serran K.B Mark Anthony as Chairman, with Serran Lucky Iyare as Secretary, Serrans Stella Onwuaduegbo, Benjamin Ogboyi, Rose Udoh, Nkechi Lord and Chinedu Momah as members. Others members were Serrans Victoria Isidahomhen, Evelyn Chinevuzor, Stella Ikediashi, Anna Chinye, Vincent Nwadiorun and Obarike Ogbeche.

The convention was held from June 8 – 9, 2012 inside the McGovern Hall of St Agnes Catholic Church, Maryland, Lagos, with all the clubs in Nigeria attending. At the end of the convention, Serra Club of Maryland got commendations from across board for being a good host worthy of emulation.

Five years down the line, an opportunity beckoned again for the club to host another district convention, but this time that of Serra International District 130-B Nigeria, as the former District 130 had been split into three (130-A, 130-B and 130-C) by Serra International headquarters in Chicago, USA. As usual, the club’s leadership set up a Local Organising Committee head by Serran Cecilia Akindele as Chairman, Serran Anthonia Maduagwu as Secretary and other members, to plan and implement the hosting, working with the Convention Committee at the district level.

The convention was scheduled for May 5-7, 2017 at St Agnes Catholic Church, Maryland, Lagos. With the experience garnered during the first hosting in 2012, the club did not encounter many challenges, as it even did better than the first time.  

The sterling leadership qualities inherent in the club caught the district stakeholders’ attention when three members of the club were chosen to serve in the District Executive Committee for the 2015 – 2017 board year. They were Serrans Smarts Ebhodaghe as District Governor, Lucky Iyare as District Secretary and Benjamin Ogboyi as District Financial Secretary.

This was followed by the election of Serran Cecilia Akindele as the District Officer (Programmes) for the 2017 – 2019 board year; and the choice of Serran Agatha Ekwueme as the Deputy District Governor (Programmes) for the 2019 – 2021 board year. Following the resignation of the Deputy District Governor (Membership), Serran Henry Nwagbo, another member from Serra Club of Maryland, Serran Sebastian Casmir was chosen by the district leadership to complete the remainder of the tenure.

At the international level, Serran K.B Mark Anthony was elected to the Board of Trustees of Serra International as its trustee for Africa, while Serran Cecilia Akindele was elected as the Nigeria representative to the board of Serra International Foundation, both in 2018.

Leadership Succession

Since the installation of the club’s charter Board of Trustees in June 2010, the leadership succession plan has remained unbroken. The club had resolved in its general meeting, and included same in its local byelaws, that the tenure on the Board of Trustees would be for two years only, after which a new set of leaders would come on board.

As the tenure of the charter board was coming to an end, a Nominating Committee was put in place, with Serran Joseph Onwuaduegbo as the chairman, to constitute the next board. The committee interacted with cross sections of the club’s members and came up with a slate for the 2012 – 2014 board year.

The slate presented by the committee had Serrans Cecilia Akindele as President, Stella Onwuaduegbo (Vice President – Programmes), Lucky Iyare (Vice President – Communications), Stella Ikediashi (Vice President – Membership), Bolatito Adegunle (Vice President – Vocations), Henry Osaigbovo (Secretary), Sebastian Casmir (Assistant Secretary), Benjamin Ogboyi (Financial Secretary) and Maureen Ozuzu (Treasurer). Also included on the slate were Serrans Christine Adebajo and Loretta Okosieme to join Serran K.B Mark Anthony as trustees, as well as the sitting president, Serran Smarts Ebhodaghe, who would be on the board as the Immediate Past President.

Satisfied with the slate presented to it by the committee, the Board of Trustees then laid it before the general house for consideration, amendment, where necessary, and ratification. Majority of the club members present in the meeting also expressed satisfaction with the composition on the slate and gave their nod for the ratification.

The second Board of Trustees for the club, as approved by the members, was installed on Sunday, September 9, 2012 by the Chaplain, Rev Fr Ethelbert Ukpabi, in a ceremony held at St Agnes Catholic Church, Maryland, Lagos. The board members assumed office and continue from where their predecessors stopped, building on the available foundation laid by the communal efforts of the club members through programmes and activities.

Based on the already established policy, the Serran Akindele led board also set up a nominating committee to midwife the next board for the 2014 – 2016 tenure. The committee did its job accordingly, interacting with eligible members and came up with a slate for consideration.

The slate submitted by the committee was made of Serrans Rose Nzenwa as President, Maureen Ozuzu (Vice President – Programmes), Francisca Odele (Vice President – Communications), Gerty Nnadozie-Oyeyinka (Vice President – Membership), Benjamin Ogboyi (Vice President – Vocations), Joseph Suwa (Secretary), Sebastian Casmir (Assistant Secretary), Anthonia Maduagwu (Financial Secretary) and Felicia Ejiah (Treasurer). Serran K.B Mark Anthony, having completed his tenure as a trustee, gave way for Serran Joseph Onwuaduegbo to join Serrans Christine Adebajo and Loretta Okosieme, while Serran Akindele remained on the board as the Immediate Past President.

The committee’s report got to the club members through the Board of Trustees for affirmation, if the nominated persons were capable of piloting the affairs of the club or otherwise. They considered the list and gave it a mark of acceptance and endorsement, thereby paving the way for the installation of the board by club’s new Chaplain, Rev Fr Augustine Ikuomola, on September 21, 2014 in St Agnes Parish, Maryland.

Before the composition of the board, the new Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev (Dr) Alfred Adewale Martins, had assigned Rev Fr Ikuomola to the club as its new Chaplain. He replaced Rev Fr Ethelbert Ukpabi in the club and also as Parish Priest in the Church of the Presentation Parish, Ikeja GRA, Lagos, on the latter’s transfer to The Catholic Church of the Annunciation, Ajah, Lagos.

The board was unfortunately depleted on the 5th day of May 2015 when one of the trustees, Serran Joseph Kainebi Onwuaduegbo, was snatched away by the cold hands of death. This happened just a few weeks after the club received the sad news of the demise of another charter member, Serran Veronica Ifetu.

The Serran Nzenwa led board looked at the sky, and convinced that it was achievable to touch it, continued to nurture the club for greater heights by improving on the programmes and activities already established. Having done so much, it was time to look ahead and around for who gets the baton to continue the race by constituting a Nominating Committee.

Following the template used by the previous committees, the members settled down to work and later came up with a slate of the Board of Trustees members nominated for the 2016 – 2018 board year. Looking further ahead, the committee attempted and succeeded in nominating a President-elect for the penultimate (2018 – 2020) board year.

The slate had Serrans Lucky Iyare as President, Maureen Ozuzu (President-elect), Sebastian Casmir (Vice President – Programmes), Isioma Afiari (Vice President – Communications), Ignatius Onwumere (Vice President – Membership), Agatha Ekwueme (Vice President – Vocations), Anthonia Maduagwu (Secretary), Rebecca Amadasun (Assistant Secretary), Cajetan Ezema (Financial Secretary) and Tessy Pulife (Treasurer). As Serran Joseph Onwuaduegbo was lost to death and Serrans Christine Adebajo and Loretta Okosieme had completed their tenure, three new trustees, Serrans Bolatito Adegunle, Stella Onwuaduegbo and Cecilia Akindele, entered the slate.

The committee’s report journeyed through the Board of Trustees to the general house where it was highly commended, especially in the aspect of a President-elect for the penultimate board year. The club members then unanimously approved the nominations for the board members to be installed on October 2, 2016 by club’s Chaplain, Rev Fr Augustine Ikuomola.

Four months into the life of the board, the club suffered a loss in the death of the Vice President (Membership), Serran Ignatius Chinenyeze Onwumere, on January 7, 2017. After his funeral activities a replacement was made on the board with Serran Angela Nkechi Lord as the new Vice President for membership.

When the club had the Dinner with Priests and Religious on June 11, 2017, the Vice President for communications, Serran Isioma Afiari, committed an infraction against the fundamental principles of the club in a manner that could bring the club’s image to disrepute. She was alleged to have verbally and vehemently attacked another club member over the sharing of surplus food to members.

She was caused to appear before a three-man Ad-hoc Disciplinary Committee set up by the Board of Trustees and headed by Serran Cajetan Ezema, to unravel what happened and make recommendations.

The committee interacted with Serran Afiari, the other member involved and some invited Serran witnesses, and found her guilty of the alleged misconduct. She was recommended to be striped of her position as Vice President for communications and asked to write an apology letter to the club within four weeks.

The club accepted the committee’s recommendations, striped her of the position accordingly and eventually expelled her from the club as she refused to write the apology letter. The Assistant Secretary, Serran Rebecca Amadasun, was asked to handle the affairs of the office of the Vice President for communications in acting capacity, alongside her secretariat duties.

Before the end of the tenure of the board, the Secretary, Serran Anthonia Maduagwu, had cause to travel overseas for further studies. Her assistant, Serran Amadasun, had to assume the position of the secretary, still acting as vice president, while Serran Prisca Attah was appointed the Assistant Secretary.

In the course of the tenure, the club again suffered the loss of another dedicated, active and loveable member in the person of Serran Emily Alimasuya, otherwise known as Emily Ali, in an auto crash on August 24, 2017 in Lagos.

As the board entered its homeward stretch, a Nominating Committee was put in place to do the usual for the 2018 – 2020 board year. The committee carried out its assignment and came up with a slate that was put before club members by the Board of Trustees.

The slate had Serrans Maureen Ozuzu as President, Felicia Ejiah (President-elect), Cajetan Ezema (Vice President – Programmes), Prisca Attah (Vice President – Communications), Felix Ehiorobo-Oni (Vice President – Membership), Stella Ikediashi (Vice President – Vocations), Odiase Airiavbere (Secretary), Judith Onowighose (Assistant Secretary), Tessy Pulife (Financial Secretary) and Evelyn Chinevuzor (Treasurer). Serran Stella Onwuaduegbo completed her tenure and yielded the floor for Serran Rose Nzenwa to join Serrans Bolatito Adegunle and Cecilia Akindele on the board as trustees.

The house found members listed on the slate worthy of managing the programmes and activities of the club and endorsed their installation as the next Board of Trustees. On Sunday, October 28, 2018, Rev Fr Edwin Obiora from Awka Diocese in Anambra State was on hand to oversee the installation ceremony in the Conference Hall of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Apostles (OLA) Covent, Maryland, Lagos.  

As the Serran Ozuzu led Board of Trustees began to approach the finishing line, it also put a Nominating Committee in place to midwife the next board for the 2020-2022 board year. The committee got caught in the web of the Covid-19 pandemic, but was not deterred as it carried out its assignment virtually.

After interacting with different members of the club, using communication technology, the committee came up with a slate for the 2020 – 2022 board year. The slate had Serrans Felicia Ejiah  (President) Stella Ikediashi (President-elect), Agatha Ekwueme (Vice President – Programmes), Ijeoma Theo-Nwangwu (Vice President – Communications), Odiase Airiavbere (Vice President – Membership), and Sebastian Casmir (Vice President – Vocations).

Others on the were Serrans Esi Alimikhena (Secretary), Obarike Bello (Assistant Secretary), Folarin Afuwape (Financial Secretary) and Chinelo Anwunah (Treasurer). Serrans Christine Adebajo, Lucky Iyare and Smarts Ebhodaghe also made the list as trustees, to replace Serrans Bolatito Adegunle and Cecilia Akindele on the board.

As it was with the previous nominations over the years, the slate of nominees went through the same route of committee to the Board of Trustees and to the general house. Still in the season of the Covid-19 pandemic, the entire process was virtual as the club had not commenced physical meetings.

The various nominations were adopted and ratified by the club members through the online platforms of communication. A date was then fixed for the installation ceremony, and a committee put in place to plan the programmes for the day.

On Saturday, October 31, 2020, club members, invited guests, the Club Chaplain, Rev Fr Augustine Ikuomolah and the Parish Priest of St Agnes Catholic Church, Maryland, Lagos, Very Rev Fr Anthony Fadairo all converged at the venue for the installation ceremony. The District Governor, Serra International District 130-B Nigeria, Serran Remigius Nwadike, together with the club chaplain performed the installation ceremony.

Sponsoring New Clubs

As the club was soaring high, it did not stay alone as it gave rise to other clubs such as Serra Club of Ketu, which was chartered on May 21, 2017 and Serra Club of Somolu, chartered on April 28, 2019. Others are Serra Club of Ojota, Serra Club of Ilupeju, Serra Club of Magogo and Serra Club of Calabar, Cross River State (all still in-formation), but looking towards being chartered at a later date.

Sadly in the history of the club, between 2019 and 2020, death came calling again as the club lost two young members, Mr Michael Ogbole and Prince Abiodun Adebayo, who had shown prospects of quality Serrans awaiting induction. Within the same period two charter members, Serrans Loretta Okosieme and Veronica Sonuga also passed on, but at ripe ages in their 80s though also painful.