The Augustinian Monastery, JOS is now about 41 years (1976 – 2017). It is the mother house of all Augustinians in Nigeria, and has played host and home to almost all Nigerian Augustinians during formation and for some after formation. The decision to situate the Monastery at its present location came with the relocation of St Augustine’s Major Seminary from its temporary quarters in St. Michael’s, Nasarawa (Sabon Gwong) to the permanent site at Laranto, Jos in 1970. With the resolution taken at the Irish Augustinian Intermediate Chapter in 1971 that “the Order be founded in Nigeria, it was clear that an Augustinian student house close to the seminary would provide for Nigerian vocations to the Order and, accordingly, the present site of the Monastery was applied for in May 1972.
After the Monastery site was duly acquired and later enlarged in June 1978. The building of the monastery as we have today was done under the supervision of Fr. Vincent Bertie Hickey and lasted for two years. In 1976, the monastery was occupied as a home for the Nigerian pioneer students, their formators and the home for the Vice Provincial. The Monastery is truly the mother house of the Nigerian Province. The earlier houses in Mubi and Iwaro-Oka were Irish efforts to incarnate the Order in Nigeria, but the Monastery from the very beginning had a mainly Nigerian community.
Furthermore, the memories of our Nigerian brothers are nearly all related to the Monastery, and it was there that the first Chapters of the Vice-Province (1981, 1985, and 1989) were held. It was there also that Augustinian Publications was established by Bro. Cyril Counihane in 1979, with the first booklets being published in 1980. The Augustinian Federation of Africa (AFA) also held its first meeting, in the Monastery in 1984 (after an exploratory gathering in Hippo in 1979); and the Monastery would again be the venue for the AFA meeting in 1995. The Monastery also contains the mortal remains of the first member of the Vice Province to die in Nigeria, Fr. Clement Danock, who died on 17th January 2007.
From the beginning the Monastery had a healthy role in uniting the friars in their various scattered apostolates: those who served as missionaries in Yola and Maiduguri dioceses, the somewhat isolated friars in Iwaro-Oka and Benin City, the communities of the Major Seminary and the Monastery in Jos. The first joint retreat for all Augustinians in the country was held in January 1980 and was directed by the Provincial of the Anglo-Scottish Province, Fr. Bernard O’Connor. This retreat was the start of a long tradition which brought the friars from all over Nigeria together for their retreat, and so strengthened their sense of Augustinian Identity. The retreat was followed by the first Vice provincial Chapter in June 1981, at which Fr. Declan Brosnan was confirmed in office.
The other main developments during the 1980s were as follows: the building of separate quarters for the Novitiate in 1984 and of the octagonal library in 1987. The new entrance defined the Monastery’s separate identity from that of the Major Seminary, which received its first Nigerian Rector when Fr. James Downey OSA handed over to, Fr. Cletus Gotan in 1984.
Again the Monastery again played host to the Chapter of 1989, during which the long tenure in office of our first Vice Provincial (1977 – 1989), Fr. Declan Tom Brosnan, came to an end and a new Vice Province, none other than Fr. Vincent B. Hickey, assumed office. By the end of 1989, 18 Nigerian Augustinians were in solemn vows and 13 had been ordained priests and all drank from the life-giving spring of the Monastery community.
Later developments had the home and office of the Provincial relocated to Rantya, leaving the monastery as the home of the professed students and the formators. This trend continues till date to the extent that many Augustinians of the province have a fond memory of the Monastery, the kind that reminds them of the years of formation with their hustle and bustles. She is like a mother who after giving birth to many children is left in old age with the memory of how many she has suckled with a few at hand to cuddle and feel motherly again.