His Grace, Most Rev. Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, was on a two-day (14th-15th January, 2017) Pastoral Visit to St Thomas’ Parish, Shen to mark the Silver Jubilee Celebration of the Parish. High points of the celebration were the commissioning of a Rectory at St Francis’ Catholic Church, Fwapwa, an outstation of the Parish, planting of an anniversary Tree and cutting of an anniversary Cake. His Grace also wedded 24 couples, confirmed 245 cathcumens and gave First Holy Communion to 25 candidates.
Excerpts from the homily:
Your church is shining, your parish is shining, you are all shining. We are here to pray for God’s grace to continue to make our souls shine before him.
I am here to celebrate with you for your good works for the church. The number of those for confirmation (245) holy matrimony (24) and holy communion shows you are growing.
Looking across the road to the school at the other side we can learn that we still have more work to do to make our community better. Because the school is not as shining as your church.
We call on the Government of Plateau to remember their promise of returning some of our schools about 25 out of 70 back to us so we can collaborate in educating the next generation.
In the gospel we see John a forerunner of Christ reminding us that Christ has come to take away the sins of the world.
John was honest and sincere even to the government of the day and he lost his life for that. We too like John must be honest in school, work and in our families.
We recently established 9 pastoral areas in our desire that the priest will be very close to the people.
Because when we are closer we are stronger and when we are stronger we will grow better.
I promise as the Archbishop of Metropolitan See of Jos to do my best, the priest will always do their best, will you do yours?
In your marriage do your best, in your work do your best, in your school do your best and progress will be recorded.
Do your work with the fear of God.
We call on government officials to do their work and we call on the masses to give them maximum support.
Let us return to the times when we see ourselves as brothers and sisters. When we don’t have to suspect our neighbors and friends of harming us. Let us in the name of God do what is expected of us without fear or favour. God bless you!
HISTORY OF ST THOMAS’ PARISH, SHEN
St. Thomas’ Catholic Church, Shen, formally called Holy Cross Church of God, Shen, had a humble beginning, first, with the teaching of catechism and other Church doctrines by teachers and religious instructors at Rakok- Shen, under an olive (Itili) tree. It later moved from here to Lo Dong Gwom house, where a room was given out to be used temporarily for the same purpose. This was through the instrumentality of one of the religious instructors, Late Maurice Musa Davou, who hailed from Zawan. This was as far back as 1945. He was later transferred and replaced by Late Da Daniel Kadani, also from Zawan, followed by Late Pinta Gyang Du of Shen.
In the year 1956, the missionaries built a classroom and some round huts to accommodate the teachers. This time, one Late Da Christopher Nyam Kyeng from Kabong was posted to Shen,who doubled as catechism teacher and class teacher. Later, Late Da Richard Datong from Shendam was posted as a teacher. At this time, a classroom was being used for both teaching and as a Church.
One of the teachers and a religious instructor, an Igbo man named, Thomas asked the missionaries to change the name of the Church from Holy Cross Church of God to St. Thomas’ Catholic Church, Shen in the 1970’s and they unanimously agreed and adopted the name St. Thomas.
All this while, St. Thomas’ Catholic Church, Shen was an outstation of St. William’s Parish, Zawan. Some of the priests who worked in St. William’s Parish, Zawan then and helped in the spiritual as well as the physical growth of St. Thomas’ Catholic Church, Shen were Rev. Frs. Bennett, Hues,J and Murphy who served to 1955.
In 1966 a new Church was built, where the present Church stands by late Rev. Fr. (Dr) Morotini, SMA.
Among all the teachers and religious instructors mentioned earlier, all of them were reporting the day to day running of the new Church to the Parish Priest at Zawan, except Da Patrick Gyang who the Missionaries gave the responsibilities of teaching catechism in Berom Language and was later confirmed Evangelist in 1963.
While working utside Shen, the following people stood in for Da Patrick Gyang: Da Michael Tok, Da Thomas Pam, Da William Nyam, Da Julius Danboyi and Da Sanda Nyap, all of Blessed memory. Others were Da Stephen Davou and Da Peter Chara who struggled alongside others to have St. Francis FwaPwa.
In the 1980s, Late Bishop G. G. Ganaka, then, visited Shen twice. The first time he came, he only went round, saw things for himself, and went back. The second time he came, while he was going round, he met Da Patrick Gyang and without him knowing he was the Catechist, he asked him how often was a priest coming to St. Thomas’ Catholic Church, Shen for Masses from Zawan and was told sometimes once in a month or fortnightly. This happened before the commencement of the building of the Parish house and the boys’ quarters.
In June 1991, the Bishop again visited Shen to see the effort being made by the people. When he came the Parish house which was under construction was at the lintel level.
Not satisfied with the status of an outstation, the Church Council chairman then, Late Da G. G. Bot on May 4, 1991 appealed to his Lordship, Rt. Rev. G. G. Ganaka for the creation of St. Thomas’ Parish, Shen out of St. William’s Parish, Zawan. This appeal came to fruition with the posting of Late Rev. Fr. Daniel O’Neil, SMA, on 1/1/1992 as the first Parish Priest.
Rev. Fr. Daniel O’Neil spearheaded a lot of developmental projects such as extension of the present Church building, fencing of the Church premises, supplied the Church with electricity, built an outstation at Ret (Tim Tim), Guchuet and assisted almost all the Churches within the Parish with one thing or the other. He was transferred in 1995 and Rev. Fr. Elias Gogwang, took over from 1995 to July 1999.
The Parishhad 37 outstations then cutting across three Local Government Areas, namely: Jos South, Jos East and Barkin Ladi. These include:
- St. Thomas’ Catholic Church, Shen
- Area A (Ratt): Consists of Six Churches, which are:
- Peter’s Catholic Church, Ratt
- Vincent’s Catholic Church, Koro
- Mathias’ Catholic Church,Kugyieng
- Stephen’s Catholic Church,ZotForum
- Charles’ Catholic Church,Guchuet
- All Saints Catholic Church, Ret
3. Area B (Fwapwa): Consists of Seven (7) Churches:
- Francis’ Catholic Church,Fwapwa
- Joseph’s Catholic Church, Doi
- Christ the King’s Catholic Church, Dura
- Fidelis’ Catholic Church,Dogon Nahawa
- Clement’s Catholic Church,Zot-Shen
- Luke’s Catholic Church,Lafwi
- Dominic’s Catholic Church, Rachis
4. Area C (Maijuju): Consists of thirteen (13) Churches:
- Mary’s Catholic Church, Maijuju
- Raymond’s Catholic Church, Doss
- Mark’s Catholic Church,FebasKasa
- Anne’s Catholic Church,ZabirKasa
- Augustine’s Catholic Church, Gora SabonLayi
- Andrew’s Catholic Church, Zandi
- Anthony’s Catholic Church,Zigam
- Agatha’s Catholic Church,Fursum
- Paul’s Catholic Church, Nitseng
- Gabriel’s Catholic Church, FadanFursum
- Lucy’s Catholic Church, AngwanRogo
- Leos’ Catholic Church,ZabirDutse
- Oliver’s Catholic Church,Dorong
- Area D (Kamang): Consists of twelve (12) Churches:
- Louis’ Catholic Church,Kamang
- Philip’s Catholic Church,Nafok
- Cyril’s Catholic Church,Nawoh
- Theresa’s Catholic Church, Zayit
- James’ Catholic Church,Bek
- Michael’s Catholic Church, Fusa
- Mathew’s Catholic Church,Fewit
- Monica’s Catholic Church,Udeh
- John’s Catholic Church,Vatt
- Pius’ Catholic Church, Dan Tsoho
- Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Ribung
- Kevin’s Catholic Church, Njong
To the glory of God, in 2012, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Maijuju was pronounced a Pastoral Area by His Grace, Most Rev. Ignatius A. Kaigama. This development necessitated the restructuring of the Parish to her present form, with St. Thomas’ Catholic Church, Shen being the Headquarters, Area “A” Rattsix (6) Churches Area “B” Fwapwaseven (7) Churches, Area “C” Kamangsix (6)Churches and Area “D” Ribungsix (6) Churches.
The priests who haveworked and are still working in St. Thomas’ Parish, Shen include the following:
- Fr. Daniel O’Neil, SMA – 1991 – 1995
- Fr. Elias Gogwang – 1995 – July 1999
- Fr. Gabriel Gowak – July 1999 – 1st Feb. 2001
- Fr. Michael Alanga – 1st Feb. 2001 – 1st Sept. 2005
- Fr. Augustine Gotus – 1st Sept. 2005 – 6th Oct. 2006
- Fr. Percy Baamlong – 19th Dec. 2006 – 23rd July 2007
- Fr. Philip Jamang – 23rd July 2007 – 2010
- Fr. Denis Kaye – 2010 – 30th Nov. 2013
- Fr. Richard Dilli – 30th Sept. 2010 – Date
- Fr. Moses Gyang (Asst Parish Priest) – 12th Nov. 2015 – 1st June 2016
- Fr. Anthony Oparaji (AsstParish Priest) – 1st June 2016 – 5th Dec. 2016
- Fr. John EmekaIlonah (AsstParish Priest) – 23rd Nov. 2016 – Date
So many Catechists and Evangelists who have workedand some are still working for the physical and spiritual growth of the Parish.
First trained male catechist was Late Da Joseph G. Nyam(1980s).
First female Catechist is Cat. Margret Zang (2015 till date).
Other Catechists include: Joseph A. Nyam, James Arin, David Nyango, Paul Gwom,DaudaYakubu Shut and Late James Chuwang.
Parish Council Chairmen at a glance:
- G. G. Bot 1991 – 1998
- Da Moses D. Sha 1998 – 2002
- Da Peter D. Pwajok 2002 – 2005
- Victor J. N. Gyang 2005 – 2011
- John G. Chuwang 2011 – 2014
- Peter B. Gyang 2014 – 2017
- Joshua Gwom 2017 – Date
TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!