I was just doing my own jeje sometime in 2007 when my then Parish Priest at St. Agnes Maryland, Lagos, Rev. Fr. Raphael Adebayo called me to say ‘one priest’ had been looking for me. I asked him, “Who is the priest and ‘wetin’ I do?”
Well, there was imminently an event where several bishops had come to celebrate in the parish and I went to the sacristy and this Fada, with several other priests. To my surprise, Fr. Anthony Akinwale told everyone present that I was the one who helped him get student visa to Canada in 1989 and he had been looking for me since he returned. He had just stumbled on a harvest brochure in his sister’s house which contained my photograph as chairman of the harvest committee in 2006 at Maryland, hence his link up with Fr. Adebayo to locate me.
Well, I was a bit at a loss because I could not recollect assisting him with visa but he took me through what happened and I then recalled that it was late Dr. Francis Olopade of St. Francis Hospital, Bode Thomas, Surulere, who was guardian to one of our Cameroonian friends in the College of Medicine, idi-Araba, that brought Fr. Tony’s to see me when I was working in the High Commission. That must have been 1991 when he as a young priest and wanted to further his education. It is possible I put in a word with the Immigration people, him being a Dominican Catholic priest and from Dr. Olopade too, who was like an uncle to us, but that would have been in a day’s job, not as much stress as what he said when he introduced me to Bishop Emmanuel Badejo, saying that without me, he would not have been able to further his studies. But his show of appreciation was amazing.
But back to 2007 – from then we have maintained a strong and friendly relationship built on mutual respect and brotherly love and we seek advice from each other on various projects and activities that we are involved in. He it is, who wrote the Foreword to my yet to be published book, “The Mass is Truly Ours”. In 2017, after much strategising and discussions, he asked me to set up and chair the new Dominican University Ibadan Inauguration Committee, after he was appointed pioneer Vice-Chancellor.
Fr. Tony is a man of many parts and has received recognition at home and abroad for his intellectual prowess and scholarly approach to several issues. As a Guest Writer for Epa.com.ng, his articles attract much readership and comments on them usually over flow.
Born in Lagos on June 10, 1962, Rev. Fr. Professor Anthony Alaba Akinwale, O. P, studied Philosophy at the Seminary of Ss Peter and Paul, Bodija, Ibadan.
A Dominican priest of the Order of Preachers, OP, he was ordained in 1987. He has Bachelor of Theology (Universite Catholique de Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; Master of Arts in Theology (College Universitaire des Dominicains, Ottawa, Canada); Licentiate in Theology (College Universitaire des Dominicains, Ottawa, Canada); Doctor of Philosophy in Theology (Boston College, USA).
Fr. Akinwale began his university teaching career at Boston College in 1993 and became member of the faculty at the Dominican Institute, Ibadan (an affiliate school of the University of Ibadan) in 1996:
*Professor of Systematic Theology and Thomistic Studies since 2006.
*Visiting Professor at Institut Saint Thomas d’Aquin de Yamoussoukro, Cote d’Ivoire (an affiliate of the Universite Catholique d’Afrique de l’Ouest, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
*Pioneer Dean of Studies at the Dominican Institute, Ibadan (1996-2000).
*President, Dominican Institute, Ibadan (2004-2016) and during his tenure the Dominican Institute received full accreditation of its Philosophy programme from the National Universities Commission for two consecutive times and full accreditation of its pontifical Theology programme.
*Scholar of national and international repute and a proponent of quality education.
*Past President of the Catholic Theological Association of Nigeria (2001-04).
*Past Editor-in-Chief of the Nigerian Journal of Theology (1999-2002).
*Member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Inculturation Theology of the Catholic Institute of West Africa, Port Harcourt since 2000.
*Fellow of the DePaul University Centre for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology in Chicago since 2014.
*Consultant to the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (1999-2001).
*Consultant to the Nigerian Anglican Roman Catholic Commission since 2004, and to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (2007-2015).
*Chairman of the Planning and Implementation Committee of the then proposed Dominican University (2013-2017)
*Member, Board of Advisors of Nova et Vetera, an international academic journal of Ave Maria University in Florida, USA.
*Member, Board of Advisors of the Abuja Journal of Philosophy and Theology.
*Member, Permanent Commission for the Promotion of Intellectual Life in the Order of Preachers, a Commission of eight professors in the Dominican Order chosen from around the world to advise the Master of the Order on issues relating to the Order’s universities.
*Founder of Patristic Association of Nigeria, Dominican University Ibadan.
*Chairman of the Editorial Board of Catholic Weekly Independent newspaper and an unwavering writer since 2008 of the popular and widely-read column “Thought for the Week” in the Catholic Weekly Independent newspaper.
*Nationally and internationally known author of three books, co-editor of three, author of over 100 academic essays and conference papers covering the areas of religion, theology, philosophy, politics, education and development.
Rev. Fr. Prof. Akinwale was appointed pioneer Vice-Chancellor of the Dominican University on August 21, 2017 and he is fluent in Yoruba, English and French, with reading knowledge of Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, and Spanish and Hausa.
Part of his 60th birthday celebration yesterday was the launch of a book titled, “Truth in the Waters of Wisdom” and he wrote later:
“The celebration was by far beyond my expectation and imagination. The outpouring of love was quite immense. Prayers flowed in torrents. They are still pouring as I write. New messages appear on my Facebook page by the second, their words exquisitely kind. I am grateful to God. Without him, what would my life have been? I am grateful to you, friends, family and associates, God’s channels of mercy in my life. Without you what, would have I been? I ask the Lord to bless you all. To all who are over 60 may he grant renewed strength. To all who are under 60 may he grant wisdom. To our land may he grant peace, the peace he alone can give.”
Happy birthday to a great friend and brother, and father to many. 60 hearty cheers, Fr. Tony!