Our School History

Saint Augustine’s Seminary was founded in 1958 by His Lordship Most Rev. Dr. T. McGettrick  of blessed memory for then Ogoja Diocese.

The land was leased in 1957 from eight families of Amechi Ezzangbo viz, the families of Nweke Agbo, Obere Nworie, Otuoku Ituma, Agbo Okpoto and Omah Uzoke. This twenty acre piece of land was rented at £14 per annum.

The idea behind the founding of the seminary was the great need to train and raise indigenous clergy. All the priests and religious working in the then Ogoja Diocese were white, mainly Irish.

The founding Rector was Rev. Fr. Joesph Spillane. The Pioneer seminarians were five in number, viz; Gabriel Arua, Raphael Obasi, Eugene Obi, Peter Nwani, and Innocent Egwu.

It all started when the Bishop sent out Fr. Joseph Spillane to acquire a piece of land at a village called Amechi Ezzamgbo, clear apart of it and build a Rev. Father’s house on it; this Fr. Spillane did in 1957. That little father’s house, built 53 years ago and which housed the first Rector and staff of St. Augustine’s Seminary, is still standing at one corner of the huge compound today, but it has, over the years, metamorphosised into a convent now housing the sisters of the Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus teaching in the seminary. Now, let us swing back to 1954, after completing the little house, Fr. Spillane went to build one multi-purpose hall. By 1st of February 1958, Fr. Spillane had gathered together 5 seminarians and invited the Bishop McGettrick to perform the official opening of the Seminary which he did, with Fr. Spillane as its first Rector. The rest has become the history.

In 1962, the first chapel was erected by Mr. McKenna, a Dublin architect who spent 3 years helping the Kiltegan missionaries in Nigeria. It was dedicated in1963 by pope Paul V1 as a cardinal in charge of ‘propaganda fidae’. That Chapel has just been expanded and re-dedicated within the Golden Jubilee celebration.

Fr. Spillane was Rector when he handed over to Fr, McCormac S.P.S, who was rector from 1961 to 1964 assisted by Fr. Sean Mc Tierana S.P.S.  Fr. Jim Sheerin S.P.S took over the rectorship from 1964 – 1967 assisted by Rev.Fr. Raymond Reidy S.P.S and Fr. RemoCullruelli L.S.S, an Italian Priest from the diocese of Madona. When the Nigeria/Biafra Civil war broke out in 1967, the seminary was closed down for security purpose. Fr. Sheerin, however continued to co-ordinate the affairs of the seminary in the exile since the Ogoja side of the diocese enjoyed relative peace which enabled the secondary schools there to re-open and continue business as usual. Junior seminarians were distributed among the various secondary schools in Ogoja and to some parishes like Sharon and Afikpo to continue their studies.  When the fighting quitted down on Abakaliki side of the diocese in 1969, Fr. Sheerin came back in search of  some of  his lost sheep from the seminary in Ezzamgbo. When he discovered three of them, he gathered together at Saint Vincent’s  Hospital Ndubia; recruited some local graduates to teach them; and returned to Ogoja leaving Fr. Tim Vaughan S.P.S as the acting rector of this make-shif seminary in Ndubia. The three seminarians used the hospital theatre as their classroom while living in the part of the nurse’ hostel for the rest of the academic year.

When the war ended in 1970, some of the Nigerian soldiers were still camping in St. Augustine’s seminary so the seminarians were moved from Ndubia to Girls Secondary School, Sharon where they took refuge from 1970 to 1971 under the rectorship of Fr. Patrick Feeney.

From the early eighties, the seminary took the following shape. The seminary had as its first hostel, the St. Thomas’ Hostel before the advancement of the other hostels{ most of them upstairs}. The last hostel which is St. Albert’s Hostel was built in 2003. In 1989, the present auditorium served temporarily as the spiritual year centre after years of service as the Technology workshop. It has once served as the laboratory and took its present shape in 2000. The renovation of the chapel, the new administrative block and new fathers’ house began in the year 2005 and simultaneously and took their present shape in 2008. There was only one bungalow of about five rooms which served as the staff quarters with the catechist living there. This has metamorphosed and two other staff quarters were built.

Water and electricity came into the seminary in the year 1998 and 2000 respectively. At present, the seminary has 100KVA generator and small standby generators. Before the advent of pipe-borne water in 1998, the seminary suffered from an untold water scarcity. During dry season, the seminarians would trek to 135 Ezzamgbo in search of water daily. It was during Jim Nwobodo’s regime in early 80’s that a dam was built very close the seminary but it later collapsed. The students were exposed to various dangers and health hazards through drinking from unsafe water source. Thus, sharing the source of water with carnivores and herbivores.  In spite of the story told by Monsignor N. Egwu, about a man who died in the pond where the seminarians fetch water, the seminarians do not have other option than to go on drinking from the pond. It was later in 1983 with the advent of Fr. Dawling that the digging of the wells started so as to eliminate problem of water scarcity. However, it is quite remarkable to mention that the seminary has 12 wells, 6 functional boreholes and one gigantic reservoir which was built in 1996 under the rectorship  of Rev. Fr. Donatus Ofuluozor, the ninth and present rector of the seminary. With these, the seminary says “ Au revoir” to water scarcity.

Sports development in the institution is quitted glorious and worth commendable. The first game to be established in the seminary was soccer. It was later in the 1984 when seminarians started gaining interest towards sports and other games like Basketball and volleyball were introduced. With the arrival of Ofuluozor more sports facilities were introduced, like 3 Basketball court, 2 volleyball courts, 10 table tennis boards and one lawn tennis court to mention but a few. The first sports competition the seminary participated in was at Enugu where  the seminary represented Abakaliki Zone. Splendously, the seminary won some trophies, one of them was the best school trophy at Enugu under Anambra State. Presently, the seminary represents Ebonyi State in the National Nestle Milo Basketball competition and National Cowbell Volleyball competition at any moment and has remained excellent. It is good to remark that St. Augustine’s Seminary has produced numerous, both National and International sportsmen.

The seminary was not fenced initially. It was not until 1998 after armed robbery attack on the seminary that the parents helped and fenced the institution so as to ensure a better security for their wards. The security of the institution is adequately guided by  a private security company till date.

The final question is: After all said and done, how has St. Augustine’s Seminary Ezzamgbo lived up to its mission as the nursery ground for priests in the Diocese and for its goal of producing worthy citizens? St. Augustine’s Seminary serving as a mother to the breeding of the diocesan priests , during her silver jubilee celebration in 1983 could only boast of eight priests as her alumni, but as part of her golden jubilee, she can now boast of 82 priests out of 141 priests of the diocese. The above figures do not include those students of  St. Augustine’s Seminary who were ordained for Ogoja Diocese; nor do they include those  who joined one religious congregation or the other, nor those other ex student who are out in the world contributing their  share towards the building of God’s Kingdom as lay Catholics; some have risen to the rank of colonel in the Army, some are diplomats in the country’s embassies overseas; some are doctors, lawyers, politicians, businessmen et cetera. This is the seminary that did not take West African Examination Council { WAEC }, but London General Certificate Examination { G.C.E }. It was not until 1977 that the seminarians started taking WAEC and the seminary has always recorded hundred percent in her academic performances. Now, St. Augustine’s Seminary has about 40 suitable external teachers handling various subjects.

At the right hand  side of the classroom block, there is a huge mosaic of that African genius, St. Augustine, put together by Fr. Tom Frayne from Liverpool. In his hand, St. Augustine is holding up a volume of one of his classics titled: CIVITAS DEI meaning CITY OF GOD. In the 50 years of it existence, St. Augustine’s Seminary has faithfully fulfilled its goals of producing worthy citizens not only for the church but also for the secular society. Anyone who pass the institution is destined to become either a priest or gentleman.