History of STAC
St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Chaplaincy (STAC) started as a community centre in 1975 after the establishment of then University College of Ilorin which was affiliated to the University of Ibadan but attained its full autonomous status as University of Ilorin in October 1977.
The pioneering Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ilorin, Rt. Rev. Dr. William Mahony (SMA) was so much committed to this chaplaincy and with his help, permission was granted the chaplaincy to make use of the college’s African Hall as a place of worship. Despite this permission, the Bishop still desired a befitting place of worship for the community; with the assistance of the first serving priest Rev. Fr. Cormac Breatnach (SMA), the Bishop was able to raise fund that led to the foundation stone laying of STAC mini campus on 26th June, 1982. Shortly after this (1982), the leadership of the University ordered the movement of the main administration and some faculties (Science and Engineering) to the permanent site which was near completion. Staffs and students who were affected by this decision moved to the main campus thus leading to the formation of STAC (main campus) which currently houses the chaplains that service both campuses. It is worthy of note that then (1982) all religious activities and Sunday masses were carried out at Lecture Theatre (IV) until 1994 when the current chaplaincy after tremendous efforts and sacrifices from students, parents and chaplains was commissioned by the then Bishop of Ilorin Diocese Rt. Rev. Dr. John Onaiyekan.
In 1983, STAC was made a parish which made her capable of carrying out its activities independently and was fully represented in the Catholic Diocese of Ilorin. STAC had other outstations such as St. Albert the Great Kwara Polytechnic, School of Nursing, St. Patrick’s Kulende, and St. Michael’s Catholic Church Sobi-Barracks which is now a chaplaincy.
Rev. Fr. Breatnach (SMA) worked tirelessly to lay a solid spiritual foundation for STAC to grow and towards the end of 1982 he handed over to his successor Rev. Fr. Peter McCawille (SMA) who continued from where his predecessor had stopped, laying good and solid foundation.
SMA fathers were so instrumental to STAC especially at the foundation level, Fr. McCawille (SMA) ensured that the virtue of love and togetherness radiate among members; he promoted spirituality and encouraged members to embrace the sacraments. In 1985, a new chapter of history was opened in STAC when the then Bishop of Ilorin diocese Rt. Rev. Dr. John Onaiyekan approved the request of the Spiritan Fathers to take over the running of the of STAC. Since then, the spiritans have dedicatedly and spiritually taken the chaplaincy to greater heights. The first appointed spiritan father to handle the affairs of stac was Rev. Fr. Alexander Ekechukwu (CSSp) who was assisted by Rev. Fr. Tobias Eneremadu (CSSp) but in 1986 Fr. Ekechukwu was elected Superior by the Spiritan Community so he left to assume his position. This made his assistant Fr. Eneremadu the Chaplain and Rev. Fr. Nicholas Nnabuaku (CSSp) was posted down to assist him. Since then, STAC has been properly shepherd by various gifted spiritans fathers who ensured that the legacy of the founding fathers (the SMA fathers) continues to grow. Fr. Alexander Ekechukwu (CSSp) will always be remembered in STAC as one father who understood and fitted well into the academic community, through gentle persuasion and exemplary leadership, he succeeded in making majority of the catholic university members identify with STAC.
Therefore, it will be said that the SMA fathers had planted a seed and the spiritan fathers is ensuring that they continue to nurture it until it becomes a fully grown plant.
The laity also contributed positively to the growth and development of STAC. The first church council chairman was Late Professor John Oyinloye who later became the Vice Chancellor of University of Ilorin. He initiated so many developmental efforts and brought about good rapport between the clergy and the laity. He was succeeded by Mr. Raphael Ukoh. It was in Mr. Ukoh’s tenure that STAC was transformed into a parish; and so he doubled as parish and church chairman. As STAC assumed parish status, a catechist was chosen in the person of Dr. G.A. Olatunji who is now a Professor. As a foundation catechist, he contributed immensely to the development of STAC.
The Catholic students are the integral members of STAC; they live as a family and operate under the umbrella of Nigeria Federation of Catholic Students’ (NFCS). Her executives serve as a bridge between the students, the council members and the chaplains.
You can view the following: