80-year-old Bishop Adelakun: When I was appointed Bishop at 38, I had little pastoral experience


His lordship, Julius Babatunde Adelakun, retired Bishop of Oyo Catholic Diocese, is a very warm and energetic person.
The octogenarian is a hard working, caring leader, father and teacher to all people, including those who practise the Roman Catholic Faith and non-Catholics alike.
Adelakun has never been afraid to stick his neck out for justice, and he always stands for the truth. In spite of his extremely busy schedule, the 80-year-old cleric was able to grant audience to BODE DUROJAIYE, where he spoke on his life history, experiences of more than four decades as a priest, achievements and other national issues.
Born on November 4, 1934 to the Adelakun family from the Nubego extended family of Oyo town, he attended St.
Joseph’s Primary School, Oyo between 1943 and 1951, Junior Secondary School at Oke-Are, Ibadan 1952-1957, and seminary of SS peter and Paul Bodija, Ibadan between 1957 to 1965.
He was ordained a priest at Oyo in 1965, Assistant priest at SS Peter and Paul Parish, Ile-Ife between 1965-1966, attended the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife) between 1966-1969 where he graduated with Bachelor’s degree in English, combined with religious study, and philosophy.
Bishop Adelakun’s interdisciplinary comments and remarks on religions, political and social issues may have had their rubrics in his deep and prismatic learnings, and knowledge of those declines.
Besides this unprecedented opportunity of a university education to a black priest no doubt, added another (new) dimension to Father Adelakun’s experience and directly preparing him for future assignments.
The university, being a secular institution and he probably being the first priest to go there for studies, made his case unique, interesting and challenging.
He later obtained a scholarship for his post graduate studies at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA, between
1969-1971 where he studied American Literature with Mass
This led to his submitting a thesis on human communication for his Master in Arts Degree.
Returning to Nigeria, Bishop Adelakun was appointed
lecturer in his Alma mater, SS Peter and Paul seminary, Ibadan for one year.
In December 1972, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Oyo, at the age of 38 and ordained Bishop in February, 1973.
The eminent cleric administered old Oyo Diocese from Osogbo, (now Oshogbo and Oyo Dioceses) for 22 years (1973-1995).
Other positions held include Secretary to Catholic Bishops
Conference of Nigeria (1976-1982), Bishop chairman of Justice Development and Peace Department of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (1990-1996), President,
Osun State CAN (1990-!995), Oyo State CAN
(2004-2006), and final movement to Oyo as Bishop of new Oyo comprising
of 19 local governments in Oyo State for 14 and a half years .
As a leader, he is versed in the work of
evangelisation, education, mass communication and social development.
The bishop brought the Christian ethics of leadership as service into play in his administration. As a man of vision, he demonstrated his creativity in his governmental system. He brought his priest and laity into position of responsibility in a division of labour system, through the sharing of powers.
Bishop Adelakun introduced some innovation to enhance proper administration, and thus placed the diocese on sound foundation.
His magic wards that did the wonders include grassroots approach, harmony, dialogue and participation by every parishioner in the programmes and project of the diocese.
To date, the diocese has six private grammar schools, 12 primary schools (both in urban and semi-urban areas), two hospitals (one specialist in eye treatment), wood workshop where over 500 jobless youths are being trained, as well as a Microfinance system, which caters for marker men and women in Oyo/Ogbomoso and Oke-Ogun areas of
Oyo State.
Equally too is the Bishop Adelakun Foundation (BAF), a
non-profit organisation focusing in promoting improved quality of live for indigents, disabled person and widows in the society or community.
Assistance given to the needy covers scholarship, bursaries, vocation training, counseling and social welfare service, while other activities of foundation include employment, research, evangelization, and constant service.
Sharing his over four and a half decades experience as a Bishop, he said the most dramatic event was his
appointment by the Pope, as Auxiliary Bishop in1972 for old Oyo
Diocese, which then comprised the present Osun State, and 19 local governments in Oyo State.
“My ministry as Bishop began at the very young age of 38. I was just eight years a priest with little pastoral experience. The period was very challenging due to lack of experience. Two thirds of those who I worked with were missionaries. The interesting thing about Catholic Church is that it does not follow seniority in appointment, but rather appoint the most suitable, after through assessment, through consultation and performance. When I was ordained in 1973, about 16 of
the priests in the diocese were African missionaries, while 15 were native clerics. The African missionaries were extremely patient with me, some of them knew me as their mass server but now become their Bishop. They accepted me with faith, and carried out my instruction without fail. They
continued to support the diocese of Oyo and Osogbo spiritually and materially, even long after retiring home”.
Bishop Adelakun hinted that about 40 priests now serving in Oyo and Osogbo Diocese were ordained by him, in addition to 14 women religious
community serving in various apostolates in the Diocese.
“Among the priests ordained were present Catholic Bishop of Osun Diocese, Most Reverend Leke Abegunrin, and the co-adjuctor Bishop of Oyo Diocese, Most Reverend Dr. Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo. To God be the glory”.
He attributed his greatest accomplishment to pressure mounted on the Pope in Rome, to create a new Diocese to be known as Oyo Diocese
“This request was granted in 1995. The division of the old Diocese into Oyo and Osogbo Dioceses has been a source of rich blessings for both. Osogbo Diocese, which started with 16 native priests in 1995, now has 56. Oyo started with nine but now has 27. Indigenes of Oyo Diocese in
various congregations are on the increase”.
He specifically noted that what interest him most is the spirit of purity, a family spirit and solidarity which have been permeating the length and breath of the vast area the Diocese covers.
“Oyo Diocese is also being guided by the principle that as Christians, their economic dealings must be truly and genuinely influenced by the gospel of Christ.This has no doubt, put the thrust on every committed faithful, the responsibility of being active, in the amelioration of the economic plight of the Diocese”.
On Freedom of Information (FoI) Bill, Bishop Adelakun described it as essential to democracy, adding that “if those who rule us are robed in secrecy, they can even auction the nation without our knowledge. Hence, the apprehension and dragging of cold feet by the lawmakers unwarranted.”
On re-branding, he said it was unfortunate that the
Federal Government has put the cart before the horse, pointing out that “instead of re-branding a bad product, which is an illusion, government should check the mentality of an average citizen that is fraudulent why the mentality is so negative and awkward. It is a pity that some of our youths have become criminals so quickly”.
He advised President Goodluck Jonathan to give power sector a 24-hour attention, noting that if properly addressed, “that one item can improve the unemployment situation and reduced crime prevalence”.
On life after retirement, the minister said the future remains in the hand of the Creator, adding that he vowed to remain in the House of the Lord all the days of his life.
“Besides, I hope to devote time to promotion of Bishop Adelakun Foundation. I appeal to everyone to join it, and become active promoters for human advancement”.


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