“Let love be guiding virtue in all we do”: Nigerian Archbishop to the Consecrated

Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins of Lagos Archdiocese, Nigeria. Credit: Lagos Archdiocese

The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos in Nigeria has urged women and men Religious to found their lives and ministry on the virtue of love, in compliance with the teaching and life of St. Paul, St. Therese of Lisieux, and St. Francis of Assisi, among others.

In his statement for the annual World Day for Consecrated Life marked on February 2 since 1997, on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins encouraged the Consecrated to nurture and guide the youth to embrace Religious Life. 

“As you walk the path of consecrated life, the words of St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:1 must echo with profound relevance. Let love be the guiding virtue in all we do: correcting others with fraternal charity, welcoming with expected hospitality, kindliness in discussion about others, being considerate towards one another,” Archbishop Adewale says.

He adds, “As St. Therese of Lisieux would say: Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love." 

Love and being good examples “become the seeds that will blossom into a vibrant future for consecrated life on our continent,” the Nigerian Catholic Archbishop further says, adding that the Consecrated are “entrusted with the responsibility of nurturing and guiding the younger ones drawn to this sacred vocation.”


He goes on to caution women and men Religious against hypocrisy, saying, “In the spirit of self-awareness and humility, as you profess the evangelical vows and preach the word of life, you must also be embodiments of what you profess and preach. You must not be like billboards pointing at others without making a move. Let our lives mirror the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi, who urges us to: ‘Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.’"

In living what we profess and preach, he says in his message for the World Day for Consecrated Life 2024, “our actions become an authentic proclamation of the Gospel, inviting others to walk the path of holiness.”

The vows of counsels – obedience, poverty, and chastity are ways that religious men and women “enter into a deeper communion with Christ,” Archbishop Adewale further says.

He explains, “Chastity, modelled after the purity of the Holy Family, reflects undivided love and commitment to God. Poverty, mirrored in the simple presentation of the infant without worldly adornment, signifies detachment from material possessions in favor of reliance on God's providence. Obedience, as exemplified by Mary and Joseph's fulfillment of religious customs, mirrors the divine obedience of Christ.”

“Those called to Consecrated life, like the aged Simeon and Anna, bear witness to the presence of God in the world,” says the 64-year-old Nigerian Catholic Archbishop, who started his Episcopal Ministry in January 1998 as Bishop of Nigeria’s Abeokuta Diocese.

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He adds, “In the context of these sacred vows, (Pope John Paul II), in his Apostolic Exhortation ‘Vita Consecrata,’ calls you to recognize that consecrated life is a response to a divine call, transcending personal desires and will.”

“You must ensure that you do not lose sight of the one who called you. The profound message of St. Augustine should serve to keep us on our toes: our vocations do not guarantee automatic salvation, but they signify a special call and the grace to respond,” Archbishop Adewale says in the statement addressed to the Consecrated in Lagos Archdiocese.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.