News : Bishop Adelakun turns 81

Posted on: 2015-11-05
Source: Comms Dept, Oyo Diocese

More than Strong

In the fifth chapter of the book of Genesis, we read of the length of days of the patriarchs before the deluge. Many of them lived close to half a millennium; some above. However, shortly after the flood, the lifespan became reduced. For instance, Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years (read Gen 25:7); and his children never lived up to that. As a result of some challenges human beings faced and so many disasters they imposed on themselves, in the time of Moses, as seen in Psalm 90:10, the human lifespan became seventy while eighty is reserved for those who are strong. In advanced societies, with better and improved health cum medical sciences and technologies to attend to some of the things that send people to graves early, to see people living up to seventy or close to eighty might not be seen as something to make a history out of. However, considering the social and cultural terrains in which many countries in Africa, and more specifically, going by some of the peculiarities of the situation of our country Nigeria where our roads have become death traps; our hospitals run with no equipments or less capable hands; religious and cultural tensions; and many others; if one finds someone who lives up to eighty, one can hire some world singers to come around for the celebration. If living up to eighty calls for a magnificent celebration in Nigeria, what then shall we make of living beyond eighty?

It is the Lord’s Doing

There is no better way of explaining the life of the Bishop Emeritus of the Catholic Diocese of Oyo, His Lordship, the Most Rev Dr Julius Babatunde Adelakun, who turns eighty-one on 4th November, 2015, than taking it as the Lord’s doing. He was born on the 4th November, 1934; ordained a Catholic priest 27th June, 1965 and was elected in December, 1972, as the auxiliary bishop of Oyo, in place of Bishop (now Cardinal) Okogie, who was transferred to Lagos Archdiocese, to succeed Archbishop Aggey, who died. Eventually, on 11th February, 1973, he became the substantive Bishop of the Diocese. He administered the Diocese from his seat in Osogbo, where he was until the creation of Osogbo Diocese in 1995. As a humble, pastorally experienced, and good shepherd, he agreed to move down to Oyo Diocese to start almost from the scratch; leaving the already fairly established Osogbo Diocese, to one of the priests ordained by him, as the Bishop of Osogbo Diocese, His Lordship, Most Revd Dr Gabriel ‘Leke Abegurin (Now the Metropolitan of the See of Ibadan). Throughout his life till his retirement in 2009, Bishop Adelakun was well involved in the life of the Church locally and nationally. Last year, when he became an Octogenarian, the Diocese gathered to celebrate him; with prayers that God should bless him with more healthy and fruitful years.

What we witness as he adds another year this year is the “yes” of God to the prayers of the people of God. Looking at the vigour of Bishop Adelakun and the happiness that his face radiates @81, one cannot but say of him with the psalmist in pss 118:24; 126:3: “this is the day that Yahweh has made, a day for us to rejoice and be glad;” indeed, “Yahweh did great deeds for us and we were overjoyed.”

The Celebration at a Glance

Since his retirement in 2009, the celebration of his birthday has always been encompassing layers of events: visits to prisons, homes and centres of the physically challenged, celebration of the Holy Mass, birthday lectures and so on. This year’s also followed the same pattern. On Tuesday, 3rd November, 2015, accompanied by some of the members of Bishop Adelakun Foundation (BAF), the celebrant went to feast with some of the physically challenged and shared some gifts for them. The D-day itself was opened with the celebration of the Holy Mass, at Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral, Asogo, Oyo, presided over by the celebrant himself; with Priests, Religious and Lay Faithful in attendance.

In his homily, the celebrant appreciated God for giving him the opportunity to make it to eighty one: an age he called venerable and an extra time. According to him, the celebration is a two in one kind: the celebration of his eighty first birthday and that of Bishop Adelakun Foundation (BAF) day. He thanked all the members of that board and encouraged more people to join the board whose aim is to give joy and hope to the needy. Commenting on the first reading of the day, Rom...he invited all to live in love which is the greatest of all the commandments. He rounded off the reflection with a touch on the just concluded Synod of the Bishops on Family. While encouraging all to pray for the Church to continue to uphold the dignity and the sanctity of the family institution, he nevertheless, stressed the need to still show love to those in peculiar family situations: the divorcees and the re-married.

At the conclusion of the Eucharistic celebration, the stage was set for the birthday lecture. In a paper well rooted in the scriptural and psychological analysis of the family institution, presented by Fr John Oyejola, of the Diocese, titled: “The Response of the Church to Family Institution in the World Today,” those present were led to the knowledge of the tough time facing the family institution in our world today raging from the attempts to redefine family to accommodate same sex unions, high rate of divorce, infertility and lot others. The speaker identified the root of these as lack of proper formation of children from homes which can be traced to a bad environment which is permissive of all kinds of vices. As a panacea to these, he advocated responsible parenthood wherein parents rise to their duties as parents. This requires of them becoming teachers, in his word catechists of faith and moral, to their children. At the end of the lecture, the speaker answered some of the questions and issues raised from and by the audience. The session was closed with an award given to an indigent student, Adebayo Abidemi, from St Francis Catholic College, Oyo.

The Voice of the Celebrant

The best way to present everything said by the celebrant is by learning to sing his best song: “what shall I say unto the Lord? All I have to say is thank you Lord”. In a clear voice like someone of forty, Bishop Adelakun appreciated God for making him who is today. He did not forget to appreciate the good will of the Bishop of the Diocese, the Most Rev Dr Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo, the loving presence of the Priests and Religious and the generosity as well as the commitment of the Lay Faithful of the Catholic Diocese of Oyo.

What Else?

Just one more thing that has to be said here is what “Baba” Adelakun (as many call him) needs from all of us: PRAYER. As a man of prayer, he prays for all but all must also pray for him that in his old age, he may continue to be a sign of hope and the emblem of the blessedness of a life spent in the service of God to all; and that at the end of everything, he may have the crown of a faithful servant.

Ad multos annos Baba!