By Rev. Fr. Henry Obiagbalasi

The Catholic Diocese of Ijebu mourns the departure of a great Icon of Mission and the oldest Priest of the Diocese; Late Very Rev. Msgr. Gabriel Kole Oloyede Ayankoya  who was born 30th August 1945 and died 28th May, 2022. There were special Masses celebrated for him across the Diocese at the Parishes of his affiliations on daily basis, and most especially at the Clergy House in the JDPC Complex. He was the former Vicar General and Vocations Director of the Diocese for decades.

The burial rites were celebrated from Thursday 9th June to Friday 10th June, 2022. It began with three Requiem Masses on Thursday 9th June 2022. The first took place by 2:00pm at St. Anthony Catholic Church, Ayegbami- Olororo Sagamu. The second was by 6:00pm at St. Sebastian Catholic Cathedral, Odo Egbo Ijebu Ode while the thirdtook place by 9: 00pm at same Cathedral Church.

The funeral Mass on 10th June 2022 had in attendance the Archbishop of Lagos Ecclesiastical Province; Most Rev. Adewale Martins, the Archbishop of Ibadan Most Rev. Gabriel Leke Abegunrin, the Bishop of Abeokuta Diocese; Most Rev. Peter Kayode Odetoyinbo, the Bishop of Oyo Diocese; Most Rev. Emmanuel Badejo, and the host Bishop Most Rev. Francis Obafemi Adesina. Also present were the rector of SS. Peter and Paul Seminary Bodija; Very Rev. Fr. Anthony Ewherido, and Priests, Religious, Lay faithful of the Diocese and the symbolic presence of the Kabiyesi Orimolusi of Ijebu-Igbo.

Given his remarks at the second Mass of the wake which he celebrated, the Bishop Most Rev. Francis Adesina stated that Late Msgr. Gabriel Kole Oloyede “was the Aaron who stood by the Moses of Ijebu Ode Diocese. He stated this as he reflected on the life and death of the late Msgr. Gabriel Ayankoya. From the testimony of the Bishop and many priests and the people, it was gathered that he was an astute builder, a missionary, a defender of the Catholic faith in the land of Ijebu, Sagamu, Remo and a great preserver of the Church’s temporal goods. His missionary activities were so fruitful that he birthed the many churches especially in the axis of Sagamu / Remo and Mowe. The then (BCC) Basic Christian Communities and out-stations started by late Msgr. Ayankoya are now big Parishes today.

On further reflections on his death, the Bishop noted that the events surrounding the departure of Msgr. Ayankoya was a “Divine Coincidence” which only God can give the grace of such to those who truly love him. Buttressing on the ‘Divine Coincidence’ is the best honour God can give to any priest. The Divine Coincidence is a gift of grace for those who love God. He, therefore, pointed out that Msgr. died on the eve of 53th Diocese anniversary of the creation of the Diocese of Ijebu Ode which he worked tirelessly to build with the Patriarchs of the Diocese as the Vicar General for late Bishop Anthony Saliu Sanusi and late Bishop Albert Fasina; he was indeed the Aaron by Moses of Ijebu Ode Diocese, and now he has gone to be with his friend and partner Bishop Albert Fasina.

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