Mr. Martins died at the age of 103.
The oldest Catholic priest in Nigeria, the late Pedro Martins, a Monsignor, was on Tuesday laid to rest in Lagos amidst tributes by clerics, friends, and relatives.
Mr. Martins, aged 103, was laid to rest at the Vaults and Gardens Cemetery, Ikoyi, Lagos, after a funeral mass at the Holy Cross Cathedral, Lagos.
The retired colonel died on May 17.
He was born on November 16 , 1910, and spent 70 years as a Catholic priest, having been ordained on August 8, 1943, by the late P.F. Kelly, the then Vicar Apostolic of Asaba and Benin.
Mr. Martins, an old student of King’s College, Lagos, was one of the first 11 indigenous priests.
The Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Alfred Martins, was the chief celebrant at the mass. He was assisted by bishops and reverend fathers.
In his sermon, the archbishop advised Nigerians to emulate the courage and selfless service of the late Mr. Martins.
“His life from birth to death combined courage, compassion, determination, generosity, discipline and discharge of duties in the church and the nation,” he said.
The archbishop described the late cleric as a committed priest, an exemplary soldier, a good leader, an inspiration and a competent worker.
He noted that Mr. Martins was the first ordained priest from Lagos State and the first Nigerian Roman Catholic Chaplain of the Nigerian Army.
The Archbishop Emeritus of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Anthony Okogie, said that the late Mr. Martins dedicated his long life to selfless service to mankind.
“It is difficult to put into words his role to the church and the state. He was an embodiment of discipline, principle and morals. He built bridges across parallel lines,” Mr. Okogie, a cardinal, said.
The Archbishop Emeritus of the Catholic Archdiocese of Ibadan, Alaba Job, described the late cleric as the patriarch of Catholic priesthood in Nigeria.
“Pedro Martins, the fearless soldier and scout, urged Nigerians to work for peace without counting the cost or looking for rewards,” h said.
He said that the late Mr. Martins, the first African Chairman of the
World Military Council, made a distinctive mark.
Other Catholic clerics who participated at the mass included the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Ibadan, Gabriel Abegunrin; Albert Fasina, Bishop of the Diocese of Ijebu-Ode; and Emmanuel Badejo,
Bishop of the Diocese of Osogbo.
The others included Felix Ajakaye, Bishop of the Diocese of Ekiti; Michael Fagun, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Ekiti; and Ayo-Maria Atoyebi, Bishop of the Diocese of Ilorin.
Other dignitaries at the event include Ndubuisi Kanu, Helen Ekwueme and the Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism and Intergovernmental Relations, Disu Holloway, who represented the state governor, Babatunde Fashola.
Charles Iroegbu, a colonel and the Director of the Nigerian Army Chaplaincy Services (Catholic) also attended the event.
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