Honoring the devoted life of Bishop Peter Olukayode Odetoyinbo

Bishop Peter Olukayode Odetoyinbo

By John Ajayi

"Devotion is a certain act of the will by which man gives himself promptly to divine service." St Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas, the great Dominican priest and scriptural theologian, described one who is devoted as one who “surrenders himself readily to the service of God". Put simply, devotion is essentially an act because it is something that an individual deliberately chooses to do in total submission to the will of God.

Since the beginning of time, God in His mercy has been using several godly men to balance humanity off, free humankind up and open their eyes to the light of what it means to be truly human. 

In a selfish and insanely materialistic world where it is increasingly becoming an uphill task to cultivate the virtue of devotion, Bishop Peter Olukayode Odetoyinbo is one of the few men who epitomizes devotion in all its ramifications.

As his 60th birthday comes up on January 28, 2024, it is a fitting moment to reflect on the remarkable journey of this esteemed clergyman and leader.

Born on January 28, 1964, the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas, Bishop Odetoyinbo's life journey commenced as a New Year gift to the Odetoyinbo family. Under the guidance of his parents, Pa Clement Olarenwaju Odetoyinbo and Madam Catherine Olaitan Odetoyinbo, he laid the foundation for a life devoted to faith and service. His early education at St. Michael Catholic Church School in Ibadan set the stage for a divine calling. Despite initial challenges, gaining admission to the Minor Seminary marked the beginning of a distinguished path towards priesthood.

Bishop Odetoyinbo's journey continued at the Major Seminary of St. Peter and Paul, Bodija Ibadan, where he deepened his theological knowledge. Completing his studies with distinction, he was ordained to the priesthood on October 7, 1989, at Holy Cross Catholic Church, Ikire.

Embarking on his pastoral mission, Fr. Peter served as an Associate Priest at Holy Cross Catholic Church Ikire and later at St. Theresa’s Minor Seminary Oke-Are, his alma mater. His influential role as a teacher in Religious Knowledge left an indelible mark on young minds. Students affectionately nicknamed him "Man Pito," reflecting his simple and gentle demeanor. His commitment extended to various parishes, including St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Bashorun, and St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish. Further studies in Rome and a licentiate in Ecclesiastical History enhanced his expertise, making him a respected figure in the Church.

Recognizing his fervent service, Pope Benedict XVI invested Fr. Odetoyinbo as Prelate of Honor on March 22, 2012. A prayerful theologian and erudite scholar, he contributed significantly to the academic realm with publications such as "The History of the Church in Yoruba Land" and "The Catholic Archdiocese of Ibadan 1888 – 2008." In a significant turn of events, Bishop Odetoyinbo became the Second Bishop of the Abeokuta Diocese on April 19, 2012, succeeding Bishop Alfred Adewale Martins. His episcopal motto, "To Love and Serve," encapsulates his dedication to shepherding the flock in Abeokuta.

Bishop Odetoyinbo's multifaceted contributions extend beyond pastoral duties. From serving as Vicar General to holding academic positions, including teaching at SS. Peter and Paul Major Seminary, he has been a guiding force in both spiritual and educational realms. Beyond his ecclesiastical roles, Bishop Odetoyinbo actively participates in social initiatives. He serves as the Chairman of the Oke-Are Old Students Association, Ibadan Branch, and Chancellor of "For His Glory Association." Proficient in Yoruba, English, and Italian, his linguistic skills reflect his broad engagement.

His 60th birthday celebration holds even more significance as the Bishop reaches this milestone age. It is a testament to his seminal impact, not only on the bishopric but on humanity as a whole. His legacy will undoubtedly inspire and uplift generations to come, strengthening and leaving an indelible mark on the world.

What's more, Bishop Odetoyinbo's legacy extends to his extensive publications and lectures. From historical surveys to challenges in evangelization, his intellectual contributions enrich the theological discourse within and beyond the Church. His involvement in conferences, congresses, synods, and retreats underscores his commitment to collaborative efforts within the Church. As a delegate to national and international events, he remains an influential voice in shaping the Church's direction.

Words will not suffice to pay homage to the amazing devout and devoted man Bishop Odetoyinbo truly is. His everyday life of humility, self-denial, renunciation of the world, poverty of spirit and heavenly affection manifestly demonstrates this assertion.

In celebrating his 60th birthday, therefore, we honour a life dedicated to faith, scholarship, and service. May his continued journey be blessed with the grace and fulfillment that has characterized his remarkable years in the service of God and humanity.
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