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Opus Dei Story: How did it start in Nigeria?

Ayodele Oyebanji Written by Ayodele Oyebanji · 2 min read >

I had never heard of Opus Dei before my admission to Lagos Business School, so I decided to do my research. Officially known as the Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei, Opus Dei is an institution of the Roman Catholic Church that preaches that everyone is called to holiness and ordinary life is a path to holiness. It was founded under divine inspiration on October 2, 1928 by Josemaría Escrivá during a spiritual retreat in Madrid. Opus Dei offers spiritual formation to help people develop their spiritual life and apostolate. It is currently being implemented in sixty-six (66) countries. The first center was opened in Madrid, the DVA Academy, mainly for students, where law and architecture classes were given.

It has been suggested that Opus Dei has a large number of important and powerful members, both religiously and politically. However, Opus Dei does not publish official membership lists, believing that membership is a private matter.

TIMELINE

1928 Josemaría Escrivá, a 26-year-old Spanish priest, creates Opus Dei. His vision is to extend the Sunday religiosity of working people into their everyday lives. He is initially seen as a heretic by the church hierarchy.

1933 The first Opus Dei center opens in Madrid, an academy teaching law and architecture.

1936 The Spanish civil war unleashes anti-clerical persecution and Escrivá goes into hiding.

1939 Escrivá supports General Franco’s victory and starts to proselytize throughout Spain.

1946 Opus Dei extends to Britain, Portugal, and Italy. Escrivá regularly visits Britain and calls it a “crossroads of the world”

1950 Opus Dei’s secretive constitution is published. It states: “No one must reveal to anyone that they themselves belong to Opus Dei.” Opus Dei is given final and complete approval by Pope Pius XII.

Opus Dei was brought to Nigeria at the direction of the founder. Josemaría on October 19, 1965 by Jeremy White, who had been sent to the University of Ibadan on a postgraduate scholarship. He preached his firm faith to his colleagues and students and led them to an encounter with God; he also helped establish the first apostolic works of the Prelature of Opus Dei before his death twenty-five (25) years later. In the early years (1965-1975), repeated military coups and civil wars made it difficult to establish Opus Dei in Nigeria. Opus Dei has overcome the difficult times and is now fully established with thirty centers in different cities such as Lagos, Ibadan, Enugu and Ogun.

There are also plans to spread the faith in Abuja and the northern parts of the country. . .Opus Dei is exclusively for the Catholic denomination, but non-Catholic Christians can be collaborators; it is open to Catholic priests and lay people, men and women, young and old, married and single, of all professions and walks of life. Employees pray for Opus Dei, donate to educational and social projects around the world. Currently they are Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist collaborators of Opus Dei as well as people without religion. Our prestigious Lagos Business School (LBS) is one of the Opus Dei initiatives, other initiatives are Iroto Rural Development Center, IjebuOde, Institute for Industrial Technology (IIT), The Lagoon Secondary School, Lekki, Lagos, White Sand School, Lekki, Lagos , Wavecrest College of Catering and Hospitality Management, Niger Foundation Hospital, also in Enugu, and other rural health centers and clinics in Anambra and Ogun states; Opus Dei promotes prayer, sacrifice, unity of life, charity, freedom and personal responsibility, sacred work with Jesus Christ, living an ordinary life while imitating the virtues of Christ.

This time next year Opus Dei would be celebrating fifty (58) years of its existence in Nigeria.

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