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About Queen of apostles seminary

How it began
“A tremendous though glorious task confronts all seminaries. When a boy leaves the world” and enters the seminary to be trained for the priesthood, he ventures into a New World, a different atmosphere with its humanly speaking impossible rules and aims. The step he has taken is a formal renunciation of things cherished by the present world as the only pre-requisites of happiness. And yet, the renunciation is just the first step. Inspite of all his faults, he must be moulded to conform to the image of Christ, the criterion of all that is holy and sacred, the Great High Priest”. From the Editorial of the Seminarian (1964) – A yearly publication by Queen Of Apostles Seminary, Afaha Obong)

These were the sentiments in the mind of late Bishop James Moynagh who had the Episcopal jurisdiction over Calabar Diocese under which Ikot Ekpene Diocese belonged. He had the initial idea of raising indigenous clergy for Calabar Diocese which materialized in the founding of the Seminary.
The history of the Seminary since 1948 is obviously long and winding. It is important at this outset to acknowledge all those who have been of help to the redactors of this history. We wish to present this Narrative in Periods: from 1948 to date Viz:
A.      Pre- War Period   (1948 – 1967)
B.      Post-War Period   (1967 – 1974)


The Seminary started from Holy Family College as early as 1948. Within the college, there was a special group of students who showed special interest as different from the general student body. This special group was “set aside” and kept in a different COTTAGE within the school compound; governed by their special “Code of Conduct” especially the Rule of Silence – MAGNUM SILENTIUM..

The Principal of Holy Family College, Michael Hays was not favourably disposed towards this special group even though her existence was licit and legitimate. Dissatisfied with this ugly situation, Fr. Dominic Ekadem who then served at Abak, relocated “the Seminarians” to the Teachers’ Training College, Ediene Abak in 1952.

At Ediene, the Seminarians, twenty in number, also lived in a designated COTTAGE, still governed by their special Bylaws. From Ediene, they attended school in Holy Family College. One of the students, Msgr. Etok in an interview related his experience:

We had to do our meditation on the road, so we did not greet anyone on the road. We had no time in the Cottage to do our meditation… people would think that we were ghosts …but we looked like little angels in our white and white … we were quite Ok at Ediene, it was a little nice group, little nice family. Msgr. Umoh and I were in Class 5.

With the posting of Fr. Ekadem to Afaha Obong, he was able to consolidate even more extensively the relationship he had already established with the people of Abak. He was conversant with the land owners and village Chiefs. Most of the church structures on ground today within Abak Area have their origin in the work of Father Ekadem. About this Msgr. Etok continued
Fr. Ekadem rose up to the task and said well, I have to cut off these people completely from Holy Family Cottage. He then started negotiation, going from parish to parish, begging for money, and started building at Afaha Obong at the end of the year 1952 … so we would say that the Seminary at Afaha Obong started in 1952 after the building of the dormitory … it can be rightly said that Fr. Ekadem was the first Rector of the Seminary.

With him was Rev. Fr. Brendan Bolger and the First set of Students admitted into the seminary at Afaha Obong in 1952 include:

Timothy Abraham Nwaosu, Bede Bernard
Bartholomew Onu,        Clement Tinkang
Paulinus Jonah Essien and Nestor Nicholas  
Others are Clement John and Thomas Senen Umanah

Assisting Fr. Ekadem was Fr. Kior. Sylvanus Etok served as Senior Seminarian Auxiliary teacher of Latin and Mathematics. On the staff too was Fr. Quickly, Fr. Ekadem handed over to Fr. Matthew Graham in 1954. the pioneer set of Queen of Apostles Seminary Afaha Obong wrote the first General Certificate of Education Examination in 1958 when Fr. Kior was Rector. Among the candidates were Fr. Patrick Udom Ukpong, Fr. L. V. Ntai and Msgr. J. F. Iyire. The first result was exceptionally good inspite of the existing difficult conditions like lack of light, water and accommodation conveniences.

The study of SCIENCE in Afaha Obong began in February 1962 when Fr. P. Hagan was the Rector. According to an Old Boy Alponsus G. Akpan in “THE SEMINARIAN – 1964”

…we who are now in Class 3 were privileged to be the first class to study science. We do all branches: Physics, Biology and Chemistry …we have a well equipped laboratory with first class apparatus. Our physics section is particularly well equipped with the complete German apparatus. We like physics best of all, because it deals with material things which we observe in our everyday life. The experiments in electricity, we find it particularly interesting. We look forward to proving our worth in science in the G.C.E. from 1965 onwards.

The seminary life in general was well organized and structured with activities. There were societies and clubs for the students’ general growth and development like: the Debating Society, with Ignatius Eyo as President and Kenneth Enang as Secretary. Other societies were the Red Cross Society with Joseph M. Efiok as President, the Pioneer total Abstinence Association, (which had taken root since 1960 when father Fitgerald was Rector with Ignatius Eyo as President and C. S. Umoh as Secretary. There was the Boys’ Scout Organized by Fr. S. T. Umoh , and the Photography Club, among others. On the staff were Fr. P. Hagan (Rector), Rev. Fr. S. T. Umoh, B. Byrne, P. Flanagan, Mr. Africanus B. Okon and Silas Bassey. There were sixty-one students on Roll in the five classes of the institution.
The “Editorial of THE SEMINARY (1965) opens with the following words:

This year we feel particularly happy, for it has been an historic one in the life the Seminary. We refer, of course to the Ordination of Father Joseph Nwankwo to the altar. … proud as we are of this achievement, we realize that it is only a beginning and in the years ahead we hope to have an unbroken succession of Ordinations … in January, we hope to open our new Chapel which has taken so long to build, while the old one gives way to extra class halls … all things considered, we dare to say that there are bright days ahead and it is our prayer that God may bless our hopes with abundant fruits.

Obviously, the year 1965 was a year of memorable events. The history of Queen of Apostles Seminary, Afaha Obong is complete without highlighting the event of Ordination of the First Priest of the Institution; Rev. Fr. Joseph Nwankwo, on 25th April, 1965. Fr. Nwankwo hails from Ututu in Abakaliki Diocese. We congratulate Fr. Nwankwo too, “the first fruit of the seminary” on this celebration.

Since the introduction of THE BAND in 1962, the Society, had held prominent place among societies in the Seminary. It began with two side drums, a base drum and a few flutes. The Senior Seminarian who served that year Mr. Sebastian Eboh (Late Fr. Prof. Eboh) was appointed the First Band Master. On his departure he handed over the Band to Mr. Wilfred Essien. That year, the Band witnessed a great improvement due to the invaluable assistance of the Rector, Fr. O’Hara.

“He has brought improvement to the band, such as how to use the flute c correctly, new styles in drumming and marching. In fact he has made the band more interesting to the students than ever before … we are confident that in future our Band will be listed among the best school bands.”

These events cannot be forgotten in the history of the Seminary and these prophecies are coming true. The number of students on Roll stood at ninety two, with students from Calabar, Umauhia, Port Harcourt and Ikot Ekpene, five of which were Ordained in 1967. they are L. Ntia (RIP), P. Udom, P. P. Essien (RIP) J. F. Iyire and E. Asuquo Akpan

The Nigerian Civil War was characterized by unrest, incessant bombings and terrorism. Obviously, no meaningful progress was recorded in this atmosphere. The Seminarians in their various classes took refuge in far away Edem Ekpat. Two academic sessions were lost apart from the physio-psychological damage done by the war. But God continued to protect the seminarians wherever they were dispersed.

B.      WAR/ POST – WAR ERA – 1967 – 1972
TThe War started precisely in January 1967. Unfortunately, the seminary was one of the very serious victims of the war. When she was helpless unable to cope with such realities, the seminarians were sent home indefinitely. The whole of 1967 was lost to the war. During this time, Refugees had started flocking in thousands into the Seminary from the whole of Central Annang. Some students of Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu with their staff took refuge in the Seminary.

A ray of light stone in 1968 when Afaha Obong and Abak area were liberated. Inspite of this, it was not very easy for the Seminarians to go back to the Seminary. The ray of light came in form of Relief materials to the Refugees, which came from Pope Paul VI, Red Cross and CARITAS international to the Refugees who camped at the Seminary.

The First and Second year Seminarians were sent to Loreto Girls’ Juniorate Afaha Obong while the Third and Fourth years went to Edem Mkpat to continue their studies, but as the war prevailed, “The Seminary“ at Loreto fled to Ediene Abak, the place she was brought up during her early beginning in 1952.

At the wake of 1969, the Seminarians in Diaspora returned from their compulsory exile to Edem Ekpat and Loreto. On return, Fr. Obot, an ex-student of the seminary who studied in Rome was posted as Rector to the Seminary after Fr. Kior who took over from Fr. Ekadem in 1954. 1969 can be termed as the Dark years of Queen of Apostles Seminary, Afaha Obong. Due to the ravages of the war, the Seminarians were extremely indigent, thank to the CARITAS who continued to take care of the war surviors. We recall that some of the books for Rev. Fr. John Paul Essien were sent to the Refugees Seminarians at that time.

There was an obvious problem of discipline and wildness, which the Rector had to battle with. Some of the returning Seminarians were “Biafra Soldiers“ and some were of the Civil Defence Force. Thanks to the problem was properly handled. Fr. Obot lasted only for one year and handed over to Fr. S. U. Etok in 1970.

Fr. Etok himself was saddled with the task of finally Rehabilitating the war influenced Seminarians. His regime marked a paradigm shift in the seminary life. At a time when the Seminary life was not understood and even misunderstood, a period when it was difficult to register the London GCE for the students because of the influence of the war, when the Seminary was considered unfit for the Nigerian System because of her programme of studies, Fr. Etok brought a definite turn-around into the Seminary Curriculum of studies. He for the first time, inserted the Seminary into the Nigerian Education System and built a modern Science laboratory which was approved in 1971. the laboratory first came into use when the first set of students took WASC Practical with resounding results.

It therefore seems that “A New Dawn” shone on the Seminary in the 70’s. the Seminary of Afaha Obong reached her apogee.

In the area of music: one of the happy events of the 70’s was the indigenization of Church Music which climaxed at the Ordination of the 1st Bishop Ex-student and Past Rector of Queen Of Apostles Seminary, Bishop E. S. Obot. It was at this occasion that the XYLOPHONE made her maiden epiphany in Church Music in Nigeria. Because of this feat, the Seminary became a centre of inculturation of Church music and liturgical innovations, a place to be looked upon and learnt from in terms of Church Music and inculturated liturgy.

It was during the 70’s that Q.A.S. witnessed her INTERNALIZATION because of her break-through in Cultural Songs. This era engraved the name of the Seminary in Gold on the Nigerian and World maps. The year 1971 is placed on record when Queen of Apostles Seminary, won the s OUTH Eastern State Golder Gong during the Nigeria Festival of Arts and Culture in Lagos. Five years later Q.A.S. represented Nigeria at the World Youth Pilgrimage to Europe where she performed in all the four Basilicas in Rome, and before Pope Paul VI at his Summer Resort at Castel Gandolfo, and in Australia, Switzerland and Germany.

Another important event of Seminary that cannot be forgotten in the 70’s was the benevolence of Kenneth Enang (a student in Germany) who sent down a brand new set of Band to her alma mater. This went a long way in boosting the morale of the Seminary “in her own class” at outings and parades.

On February, 1972, the MARIANUM SEMINARY opened (for a period of one year” ad experimentum) as an Inter-Diocesan Philosophy Seminary, to carter for the needs of the Diocese of Calabar, Ogojo, Ikot Ekpene and Port Harcourt. This school was accommodated in a section of Queen of Apostles Seminary grounds. The purpose of this formation, according to the journal of “GENERAL INFORMATION”, Published by Mariamm Philosophy Seminary (1972 page 2).

… is to form and develop young men preparing to dedicate themselves to the service of God in the Priesthood. Their life in the Seminary will enable them to live according to the Gospel, to grow strong in faith, hope and love and to become men of prayer. Their study of philosophy will help them to acquire a solid and coherent understanding of man, of the world and of God … it will also prepare them for the study of Theology and for the life they will lead afterwards as priests.

With the establishment of the MARIAANUM, Fr. S. U. Etok became the first Rector while Rev. Fr. S. T. Umoh took charge of the Junior Seminary, both on the same ground. The Administrative Board of MARIAANUM comprised the Bishops of Ikot Ekpene, Most Rev. D. I. Ekadem and Most Rev. E. S. Obot (Auxiliary); Bishop T. J. McGettrick (Ogoja); Bishop B. D. Usanga (Calabar) and Bishop J. E. Ukpo (Ogoja).

On the academic Council were the Rector, Rev. Sylvanus Etok, Revs. John Barry, John McCuiness I. P. Umanah, S. T. Umoh, Patrick Duffy, Francis Una and Brian Byrne.

At a meeting of the Bishops of the Onisha Ecclesiastical Province – (that is, Onitsha, Calabar, Owerri, Ogoja, Umuahia, Port Harcourt, Enugu and Ikot Ekpene), a decision was taken to reunite all the major Seminaries of the Ecclesiastical Province and to separate the House of Philosophy from that of Theology. The House of Theology was to remain at Bigard – Enugu while that of Philosophy (the MARIAANUM ) was to be located at Ikot Ekpene. The philosophy course was expected to start at the proposed site in October 1973. a total of forty two (42) Seminarians enrolled for Philosophy. Ikot Ekpene (17); Calabar (14); Ogoja (7); Port Harcourt (2) and Claratian Mission (1).

The existence of the MARIAANUM in Q.A.S. was something of great blessing and booster to the Seminary in the 70’s. It was an inspiration to the junior Seminarians who prayed they would one day be like their SENIORS in the Mariaanum. Speaking with one of the Mariaanum students, he recalls the investiture ceremony at Mariaanum. This ceremony almost assumed the dimension of Priestly Ordination, when one of the parents of the Seminarians presented his son with a bicycle. The Mariaanum was a galvanizer of vocations. The Senior Seminarians were given the opportunity to give brief reflections before morning masses, which was not only challenging to themselves but a great source of encouragement to the young ones. This indeed is one of the success stories of the 70’s

This success story reached its climax in the 80’s when three of our most industrious alumni were consecrated Bishops: Michael Okoro of Abakiliki, Joseph Ekuwem (Uyo) and Camilus A. Etokudoh who is the Catholic Bishop of Ikot Ekpene and today the Proprietor of his Alma Mater. Q.A.S. is proud to present to the Church the first Nigerian Papal Diplomat in the person of Bishop Etokudoh and other Great Alumni from all walks of life, who have always owed their success in life to the discipline and firm foundaution built from the Seminary. The major objective of the Seminary was the training of candidates for the Catholic Priesthood. At 50, she has produced 3 bishops, a huge number of priests and a multiple of students.

We are counting our blessings. But the success story is incomplete without the hard work of past Rectors:–
Rev. Fr. J. C. McGuinness (1977)
Msgr. Kenneth Enang (1989)
Rev. Fr. Matthew Aquo-owo (1991 – 1994)
Rev. Fr. P. X. Ekutt (1994-1997)
Rev. Fr. Michael Mendie (1997 – 2000)
Rev. Fr. Matthew Ibok (Ag) (2000)
Rev. Fr. Anselem Etok Akpan  (2000 – 2003), the Jubilee Rector
Rev. Fr. Moses P. Ibok (2003), the incumbent.

OUR MOTHER Queen Apostles Seminary wears a new look at 50. Your span has spread to the utmost bounds of the world. This is yet 50, at Diamond, the Sky is the limit.

Long life the Pope
Long life the Catholic Diocese of Ikot Ekpene
Long life the Queen of Apostles Seminary, Afaha Obong

Ad Majorem Dei Gloria

Sources:      Oral   i         Rt. Rev. Msgr S. U. Etok (Rector, 1970 – 72)
ii        Rt. Rev.  Msgr. S. T. Umoh (Rector 1972 – 75)
iii       Rev. Fr. John Bosco Ekanem (1966 – 71) (Marianum 1972 – 1974)

Written       THE SEMINARIAN – JOURNAL OF Q.A.S. (1964)
MARIANUM PHILOSOPHY SEMINARY: “General Information” (1972)

Compiled by:  Rev. Fr. Moses P. Ibok (1977 – 1982)
Rev. Fr. James F. Essiet (1980-1985)

1953           –        Rev. Fr. Brendan Bolger

  1. Rev. Fr. Dominic I. Ekandem
  2. Rev. Fr. Matthew Granham1958
  3. Rev. Fr. Cure1962
  4. Rev. Fr. P. Hagan1965
  5. Rev. Fr. O’Hara1967
  6. Rev. Fr. G. Laler1969
  7. Rev. Fr. Ephraim Obot1970
  8. Rev. Fr. S. U. Etok1972
  9. Rev. Fr. S. T. Umoh 1977
  10. Rev. Fr. J. C. Macguiness1978
  11. Rev. Fr. J. Enang1991
  12. Rev. Fr. M. Aquaowo1994
  13. Rev. Fr. P. X. Ekutt1997
  14. Rev. Fr. M. Mendie2000
  15. Rev. Fr. M. Ibok (Ag)2001
  16. Rev. Fr. Anselem Etokakpan