The first missionaries that took the challenge to open a mission in Adamawa were the Irish Augustinian missionaries. The first three Augustinian missionaries arrived Nigeria in October 1938. They arrived at Jos to spend some time with their Society of Missionaries of Africa (hereafter SMA) colleagues. To be precise, they spend one year with the SMA and with the arrival of these Augustinian missionaries, it necessarily caused boundary adjustment and thus the boundary between the prefectures of Jos and Benue was adjusted, to bring all of Adamawa province under the jurisdiction of Msgr. William Lumley SMA, the Prefect Apostolic of Jos. At that time, that is around 1938 onwards Wukari was visited as an outstation from Gboko parish. Other outstations visited regularly include Donga, lbi, and Takum. In 1939, a Certificate of Occupancy was granted for the present compound in Wukari. The early community was made up of people of Cameroonian and Igbo origin. Wukari can thus claim to be the second oldest Catholic community in the Diocese. In 1941 Zing and the Mumuye districts were classified as ‘unsettled areas’ and hence no immediate Catholic missionary activity was undertaken for the time been. In February 1944, Irish Augustinians from Yola marked sites at Lau andJauro Yinu, villages not far from Jalingo. The first was abandoned because it became waterlogged in the rainy season. So the lot for the development of the Church in the area of Jalingo fell upon Jauro Yinu. A fathers’ house with a thatched roof was built and it was occupied on St. Augustine’s Day, August 28, 1945.Earlier that same year, the late Frs. Tom Broder OSA and Malachy Cullen OSA made their way up to the Mambila P1ateau andmarked a site for mission and thus forged the unbroken link between the Augustinians and Mambila. In October 1946, Fr. A. B. Kennedy OSA opened a Vernacular Training Center in Jauro Yinu and many local boys enrolled, among the early students were the late Michael Nokya and the late Raphael Kaigama (Archbishop I.A. Kaigama’s eldest brother). This also opened the floodgate of missionary engagement in education in the area. On 14th July 1950, Adamawa became an independent Prefecture with one of the pioneer Order of Saint Augustine missionaries, the late Fr. Patrick Dalton OSA as the Prefect Apostolic of Yola. At this time, there were 17 priests and a community of Franciscan Sisters in Adamawa, while two priests were in the remote mission of Jauro Yinu. This remote mission was in fact the first mission in the present Taraba State and Diocese of Jalingo. In 1954, the Zing area and the Mumuye environment was declared ‘settled in’ and no time was lost in commencing intensive missionary activity and in securing a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) for Yakoko and the task of building the place fell to Fr Denis Coleman who had arrived the country in 1949. At this time Jauro Yinu was closed as a mission (i.e. 1956). From the year 1956-1957, Fr- Timothy Cotter (later Bishop of Maiduguri) was alone in Yakoko. Outstations included Zing, Jalingo, Mutum Biyu, and Bali. During Fr. Cotter’s time in Yakoko contacts were made with the Tiv farmers in the Bali area and so the seeds were sown for the huge future expansion in the southern end of the territory. Soon Jalingo, Kona and Zing, and later Lamma became parishes. Wukari became a Parish in 1957. It is worth noting that the breakthrough for the Catholic mission among the Mumuye occurred during the six years that Fr Hugh Garman spent in Yakoko from 1963 to 1969. The church in Jalingo was built in 1956 by Fr Coleman OSA and dedicated to St Patrick. However, its administration was from Jauro Yinu until 1962 when Fr Justin (Andy) Hanly was appointed as its first resident priest. Fr Hanly built the first small residence and moved into in April 1963. Fr T.D. Hegarty worked between 1975- 1980 in Jalingo and it was around that period that the church was rededicated and changed from St Patrick to St Augustine. June 1968 saw the arrival of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood (FMDM) to Yakoko. They are a modern religious institute based in Surrey, England. They were to remain the only sisters in the Prefecture for the next twenty years.TheFMDM Sisters undertook to care for the sick with St. Monica’s Health and Maternity Centre in Yakoko. In the field of Education many Primary Schools were open and in January 1970, St Paul’s Boys Secondary School Wukari came into been on a 134 acre site along the Ibi road. However, during the taking over of missionaries schools in Nigeria in the late 1970s, the government of the then Gongola State took over the School in 1976. In Ireland, on 29th November, 1969, the first Bishop of Yola, Bishop Dalton died. So ended the life of a great pioneer missionary and apostle of Yola diocese. January 6th, l971 saw the ordination and installation of Rev. Fr. Patrick Francis Sheehan as the 2nd Bishop of Yola and this marked the beginning of unprecedented growth in the Church. TheNigerian Civil War was over and the Catholic Igbos who had been displaced in the 1966-1970 war have begun to return. More so, at a general meeting of the Diocese of Yola in 1971, a momentous decision to open a parish at Bali was taken. Hitherto,priests had been accustomed tocommunicating in Hausa with Jukuns, Mumuyes, Chambas and Verres. Now a new and powerful group began to emerge that is the Tiv. The year 1973 saw the ordination of the first Nigerian Diocesan priest in person of the late Fr Aloysius Jella a young man from the Mumuye extraction. In 1976, Gongola state was created and the Wukari Division became part of the new state which implies that two Church jurisdictions were in operation here. This led to a mutual discussion between the late Bishop Murray of Makurdi and the late Bishop P.F. Sheehan of Yola to let Wukari Parish and Takum which became a parish in 1976 be added to the Diocese of Yola, thereby making the civil and ecclesiastical boundaries the same. This amalgamation brought about an unpreceded growth and development of the faith in the then Yola diocese until 1995. Birth of Jalingo Diocese February 1994, saw the Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Nigeria, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, came on a Pastoral visit to Yola Diocese. He celebrated the English Mass in St Augustine Jalingo on 13th February, 1994. This visit, thanks to the ingenuity of the Bishop P.F. Sheehan of Yola, led to the birth of a new diocese with the name of Jalingo. Jalingo Diocese was officially carved out of former Yola Diocese on 3rd February, 1995. This was shortly after Taraba State was created from the then Gongola State (now Adamawa State) on 27th August, 1991. The Diocesan boundary of Jalingo falls in place with the state boundary. From inception till date, the diocese has witnessed the leadership of three bishops:
4th of July, 2008 was yet another day of leadership change in the young diocese. This was the day for the ordination and installation of Msgr Charles Michael Hammawa as the 3rd Bishop of the diocese after the transfer of the Late Bishop James N. Daman to the new diocese of Shendam. Before his appointment, ordination, and installation, he was the substantive Rector of the St Augustine Major Seminary, Laranto, Jos, Plateau State.The new Bishop chose for his motto: The almighty works marvels for me.
One of the first thing the new Bishop did was to have an interactive session with all leaders of societies and organizations in the diocese. He also met with all Catholic Professionals. The aim of the meeting was to read out his manifesto to the diocese and get to know his flock. More so, as soon as Bishop Charles settled down, he continued in the strides of his predecessors in respect of the completion and dedication of the proposed Cathedral. A launching was held to the effect in March of 2009, under the distinguish chairmanship of Barr Damian D Dodo, SAN. The new Cathedral was eventually solemnly dedicated on Friday 30th March, 2012 and named Our Lady Queen of Peace Cathedral. Again, in 2012, the diocese witnessed the silver jubilee celebration of Bishop Charles. It was an occasion that brought people from near and far to celebrate with the diocese. 7th-15th September, 2017 is for ever going to remain indelible in the life of the diocese. It was the moment that the diocese hosted the Catholic Bishops Conference. The preparation and organization was a huge success. It not only brought about spiritual up-liftmen of the diocese, it also brought a face lift to the structures in the diocesan pastoral center
Jalingo has a Catechetical Training Center at Jimlari called St Charles Borromeow Institute of Catechesis and Religious Instruction, a Women Vocational Training Centre at Mayo Dassa Jalingo, (which is run by the Infant Jesus Sisters). The center was blessed and commissioned by Bishop I.A. Kaigama on 9th December, 1999. More to these, the diocese also hasa Youth Vocational Training Center in Jauro Yinu (St Joseph Youth Vocational Training Center) and a Polio Center in Yakoko [run by the Our Lady of Fatimah Sisters (OLF)]. The center in Mayo Dassa is where young and less privileged and disadvantaged young girls/ women are trained so that they can be empowered, while the youth center at Jauro- Yinu is where young men are trained in various skills like carpentry, building etc. so that they too can be empowered. The polio center in Yakoko is aim in rendering assistance to children incapacitated by polio with literacy and skill acquisition to enable them compete favorably with their peers in the society.
Since its creation, the diocese has had its security challengies and tragedies. On a horrific scale were the feuds of Karim Lamido, Takum and Bali, Gassol and Ardo-Kola Local Government Areas. In each case the Parish Priests stood admirably with the suffering masses, giving refuge and ministering to them. Bishop Charles and others in the diocese also assisted with prayers, peace missions and aid raised throughout the diocese and sent by other friends of Jalingo Diocese. Furthermore, Jalingo as a diocese would have grown more than what it is now if not for the fact that series of tribal wars/crises have always retarded its growth. One crises that constantly come to mind is the Tiv, Jukun/Fulani crises of 2001 which is one of the worst that the diocese has ever experienced, so many of our parish houses, schools and clinics were destroyed and property worth millions of Naira were looted or destroyed. One can understand why talking about the history of this young diocese when at her 10th anniversary in 2005, the former Bishop James N. Daman maintains that “Jalingo Diocese at ten is a story of sweat, tears and toil, success and failure, a story of bishops, priests, religious, teachers, catechists and laity”. One can also talk about the lingering crises in the southern part of the diocese which killed so many innocent people including a priest, the late Fr David Tanko who was killed and set ablaze by unknown assailants.
The underlying tensions in Jalingo Diocese centered largely on the questions of land-especially farm lands-ownership. There are also the perennial problem of the respective rights of the normadic herders and the settled farming communities, sometimes paraded as a clash between ‘indigenes’ and ‘settlers’.
2020 is the year for another synod and the silver jubilee of the diocese. The theme of the synod is: Faithful witnessing to the Gospel in challenging times.The synod is expected to begin from 19th to 23rd April 2020, while the silver jubilee is schedule 24th April 2020. To God be the glory !
Below is the Diocesan pastoral Team.