Following the inauguration of the Catholic Diocese of Awgu on September 29, 2005, the pioneer bishop of the new diocese, Most Rev. Dr. John Ifeanyichukwu Okoye, recognized the need for thorough evangelization in the young diocese. Consequently, he decided to establish a new minor seminary to significantly contribute to the increase in the number of clergies, addressing the issue of insufficient priests.
In this regard, the diocese faced the controversial question of the appropriate location for the dreamed seminary. Numerous locations were suggested, and mappings ensued, but none proved as suitable for the desired quest as the dilapidated remains of the Old St. Vincent College in Agbogugu.
An appeal was made to the Agbogugu community, who gave their consent but directed the diocese to the state government, which had authority over the school. The demand and the processes for the handover of the school to the church became more intense and expedited with the assistance of the bishop, under whom priests like Very Rev. Frs. Jacob Okoye, Stan Okonkwo, and Mathew Eze worked diligently to achieve the dream of establishing the seminary.
With the necessary moves made and every due process followed for the handover, the right part of the Old St. Vincent secondary school ground was handed over to the Catholic Diocese of Awgu for the establishment of a seminary. Entrance examinations and interviews were conducted, and 44 students qualified for admission into the young citadel of learning. Consequently, the school now seeks the guidance of the dynamic bishop of the diocese and other priests in addressing most of its challenges. Very Rev Fr. Bartholomew Nze was appointed as the pioneer Rector, along with other fathers of the staff: Frs. Jude Njoku and Ikenna Onovo, forming the foundation crew.
Today, with the help of God and the good intentions of the bishop, the seminary has witnessed the administration of four (4) rectors, namely:
- Very Rev. Fr. Bartholomew Nze (2007-2008)
- Very Rev. Fr. Jude Njoku (2008-2013)
- Very Rev. Fr. Anthony Anioke (2013-2014)
- Fr. Jonathan Nweke (2014-2016)
- Fr. Felix Eze (2016–2019)
- Fr. Zikodi Okwuosa (2019 to the present time).
THE SCHOOL ACHIEVEMENTS
At the onset of the seminary, it presented a disheartening sight as young seminarians entered a compound overrun with vegetation and dotted with dilapidated buildings. The lack of infrastructure and essential facilities, including a designated dormitory, refectory, classrooms, and chapel, rendered the physical appearance of the school less than ideal. Despite these challenges, the formation and discipline of the students were impressive, even though they lived, prayed, ate, and studied under a single roof.
Despite these setbacks, the school has achieved notable milestones, exemplified by the following accomplishments:
- Academic Excellence: The seminary prioritizes proper education for its seminarians, sparing no effort to provide a conducive environment for studies. The young seminarians engage in morning classes from 8 am to 1 pm, followed by afternoon prep lasting from 3 pm to 5 pm, and night prep from 9 pm to 10:30 pm. Notably, the school proudly holds the 1st position in the 2009/2010 Junior Secondary School Certificate Examination (JSSCE) in the state. Additionally, the seminary aims to enhance the students’ versatility in learning, evident in the acquisition of several computer sets to facilitate computer literacy.
- SPORTS: Sporting activities hold a prominent place in the seminary’s agenda, encouraging seminarians to participate for the sake of their well-being. Notably, in the 2009 All Minor Seminary Sports Competition at St. John Bosco Seminary, Isianiocha, Awka Diocese, the seminary excelled. Similarly, in the 2013 competition held at St John Cross Seminary Nsukka, the seminary secured an impressive overall third position.
- MUSIC: Recognizing music as the language of the soul, the seminary places significant emphasis on its role in personal orientation and formation. Through the generosity of the bishop, the seminary acquired a full orchestra, becoming a hub of musical talent in the diocese. The commitment to musical education resulted in the seminary clinching the overall third position in the 2011 Onitsha Ecclesiastical All Minor Seminary Music Competition at Holy Ghost Juniorate, Ihiala.
- AGRICULTURE: The school actively contributes to the field of agriculture, maintaining a piggery, poultry, and fish pond farm that serves both academic and economic purposes.
- POWER SUPPLY: Faced with erratic power supply from the PHCN, the seminary, through the generosity of a benefactor, procured a brand new soundproof 40KVA generator set to ensure a constant power supply.
- INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGES: The seminary provides opportunities for seminarians to learn international languages such as French and Latin. Latin, being the official language of the Roman Catholic Church, is taught from JSS 1 to SS2. Seminarians are examined in their 5th year, undergoing a certificate examination from the Urban University Rome. The seminary takes pride in consistently leading in this examination among all minor seminaries nationwide.
- ACCOMMODATION: Currently, the seminary offers accommodation in six hostels, namely St. Paul’s, St Michael’s, Santa Maria, St Thomas Aquinas, St John’s, and St Anthony hostels. In response to the growing number of students, the seminary is actively constructing a state-of-the-art hostel.
We extend our eternal gratitude to the Almighty God for His blessings and guidance throughout this journey. Our heartfelt appreciation goes to the fatherly care provided by the Catholic Bishop of Awgu Diocese. We express deep gratitude to the dedicated seminary formators and acknowledge the invaluable support from the members of the PTA. The St. Vincent De Paul Seminary, Agbogugu family remains profoundly thankful to its benefactors and benefactresses for their charitable deeds that have greatly enriched the life of the seminary. May the good Lord graciously fulfill all your virtuous desires.
MODE OF ADMISSION
Prospective candidates aspiring to gain admission to the seminary must adhere to a series of steps outlined below. Initially, they are required to acquire the seminary entrance form, typically available before mid-February. Subsequently, candidates must sit for an examination, usually scheduled for the month of May. The examination assesses proficiency in the following subjects: English language, mathematics, and CRK. Successful candidates proceed to a 2-day interview, encompassing both oral and written examinations. Those who excel in this phase are then provided with a prospectus and notified of the scheduled resumption date.
The present administrative staff of the seminary comprises two priest formators: Rev. Fr. Zikodi Okwuosa, currently serving as the Rector of the seminary, and Rev. Fr. Martin Onyeali, holding the position of Vice-Rector.
In its commitment to nurturing seminarians equipped with the four aspects of formation outlined in Pastores Dabo Vobis, the seminary organizes a variety of activities, including:
1. SPORTS: Recognizing the significance of sports in promoting societal unity and stability, the seminary actively engages students in activities such as football, volleyball, badminton, and table tennis on a regular basis. Game sessions occur five days a week, with track events held every day except Sundays.
2. MUSIC: The seminary places a strong emphasis on musical pursuits, exemplified by its third-place achievement in the 2011 All Minor Seminary Singing Competition at Holy Ghost Juniorate, Ihiala. With a full orchestra at its disposal, the seminary boasts the best choir in the diocesan and provincial levels.
3. ACADEMICS: Acknowledging that a seminarian must excel in both sanctity and learning, the seminary boasts an ultra-modern, fully-equipped library. Students are provided with required textbooks and exercise books to aid them in their academic pursuits. The seminary consistently excels in periodic academic contests with other seminaries under the Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province, particularly in mock and Latin exams.
4. FARM WORK: Understanding the significance of agriculture in the nation’s economy, the seminary actively engages in diverse agricultural activities, cultivating cash and arable crops. Additionally, the seminary maintains a poultry and piggery farm, along with a fish pond, utilizing the produce for both subsistence and commercial purposes.
5. LABOR: The seminary incorporates labor into its weekly schedule, with students participating in labor activities on Mondays and Saturdays, emphasizing the ethos that to work is to pray.
6. PRAYER LIFE: Sanctity is a focal point in the seminary, reflected in the prayer life of young seminarians. They are required to pray at least five times daily, including morning and night prayers. Regular meetings with spiritual directors are facilitated, and monthly recollections and “Days with the Lord” occur on the first Sunday of each month. Weekly adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is held every Thursday, accompanied by a daily celebration of the Holy Mass, underscoring the seriousness with which the seminary approaches the prayer life of its students.