A BRIEF HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
Located on the South Bank of River Benue in the heart of Makurdi, the capital of Benue State in Central Nigeria, Mt. St. Gabriel’s Secondary School, Makurdi had a humble beginning about 57 years ago, precisely, on the 14th of January, 1964 when the then Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Makurdi, Bishop James Hagan, C.S.Sp., established the school in order to cater for the educational needs of communities within and near the town. He appointed Father Stanislaus Roman, C.S.Sp., as the foundation principal of the school. Since the permanent site was not yet developed at that time, it was decided that the school should use one of the buildings belonging to the Spiritan Press within Holy Ghost Cathedral as housing and class rooms. This place is now called Holy Ghost Parish, Makurdi.
Mount Saint Gabriel’s started with a group of seventy-two boys in a temporary class hall. Father Stanislaus Roman C.S.Sp., the pioneer principal, together with Michael O’Neill Brian Hall – both British Voluntary Service Officers (V.S.O’s)- were the first tutors the school had.
The pioneer students studied very hard and in their spare time, some of them volunteered to assist in the carrying of blocks to lay the foundation of four new blocks of burnt brick buildings on the permanent site, located to the south of Holy Ghost Parish. When the four buildings were completed by the end of 1964, the school moved to its permanent site and the four burnt brick buildings were the first set of buildings that were used. These buildings still stand and are currently being used as Saint Lwanga, Saint Mukassa, Saint Tuzinde and Saint Mugaga dormitories.
More students were admitted after the school moved to its permanent site. In the following years, additional buildings were erected to accommodate the increasing number of students.
Since inception, the school has had only four principals namely: Rev. Fr. Stanislaus Roman, C.S.Sp.,(1964 – 1968), Mr. Eugene O’Connor (1968 – 1971), Rev. Fr. Angus Fraser, C.S.Sp.,(1971 – 2014), and Rev. Fr. John Asen (2014 to date).
Rev. Fr. Stanislaus Roman, C.S.Sp. was the Principal of Mount Saint Michael’s Secondary School, Aliade before he was appointed the foundation principal of Mount Saint Gabriel’s Secondary School, Makurdi in 1964. He served as principal of the school until 1968. It was during the administration of Fr. Roman that the first four buildings of the school were constructed, thus facilitating the relocation of the school from its temporary site to its permanent site.
Mr. Eugene O’Connor: was an Irishman who succeeded Fr. Roman in 1968. Mr. O’Connor was principal of the school until 1971.
Rev. Fr. Angus Fraser, C.S.Sp.: is the longest serving principal of the school. He was appointed principal of the school on July 9, 1971. It was during his tenure as principal that additional blocks of buildings, including the staff quarters and the iconic-two storey building itself were built. By so doing, he expanded upon the initial foundation that was laid by his predecessors to much of what is still obtainable in the school compound today. Father Fraser served as principal of the school for 43 years during which he ensured that the standards of academic excellence, the fear of God the Father Almighty, discipline, morality and much of the standards which the school is known for, were properly laid and secured for the benefit of the students and the society.
As a priest, Father Fraser regarded all students as his children in Christ Jesus such that he spared nothing in working to ensure that they received the best standard of education. While he was principal, many of the students whom he admitted were inspired to the Catholic Priesthood. They later graduated and went on to become priests. Two of them are now Catholic Bishops, namely: Bishop William Amove Avenya of Gboko Diocese and Bishop Peter Iorzuul Adobo of Katsina-Ala Diocese. Father Fraser made sure that all students were put through a rigorous regime of academic exercises that were punctuated at regularly intervals by prayers and other spiritual activities approved by the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi. Thus, out of the about 10,000 students that the school has graduated so far, most of them benefitted from the discipline they learnt under him. Illustrious old boys reflect this training in their attitudes, and their accomplishments are a living testimony to everyone that hard work, honesty, dedication to duty, the fear of God and the disposition to serve instead of being served is what is expected of them by Jesus Christ. Father Angus Fraser retired as principal of the school in 2014.
Rev. Fr. John Asen was appointed Principal of the school to succeed Very Rev. Fr. Angus Fraser,C.S.Sp. and he assumed duty on September 12, 2014. Interestingly, however, like Father Stanislaus Roman, Father John Asen also taught and gave chaplaincy services at Mount Saint Michael’s Secondary School, Aliade for nine years before his appointment as Principal of Mount Saint Gabriel’s Secondary School, Makurdi. He was the Vice Rector of St. James’ Junior Seminary, Yandev for five years before his transfer to Mount Saint Michael’s Secondary School, Aliade in 2005. Father Asen worked very hard to maintain the standards set by Father Fraser as it is evidenced in the continued outstanding performance of students in Competitions within the State and at the National Levels as well as in their performances in WAEC and NECO examinations as well as in the Basic Education Certificate Exams (BECE) ecxams
Under him, the school was converted to full boarding, the iconic two-storey building belonging to the school was renovated, Saint Gonzaga Gonza’s dormitory was expanded and relocated and Saint Kibuka’s dormitory were added to the list of dormitories. Also science laboratories were relocated to more conducive structures and upgraded to conform to modern standards for the benefit of students. A borehole has been sunk in addition to repairs and steady maintenance of water pipe lines linking to the Benue State Water Works to provide portable water for students..
Father Asen also established the Mount Saint Gabriel’s Nursery and Primary School which is located in the staff quarters.
OF THE SCHOOL
Mount Saint Gabriel’s Secondary School has written her name in gold in view of the very rigorous academic, interpersonal and spiritual training, excellent performances in external examinations like Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), MOCK Senior School School Certificate Examination, West African Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), National Examination Council Secondary School Certificate Examination (NECO,SSCE), inter school debates, quizzes, essays and other competitions including sports. The school was recently adjudged one of the best secondary schools in Nigeria. The Old boys of the school are found all over the world including the United States of America, Britain and other European, Asian and African countries where they work and have established themselves as captains in their respective endeavours. In Nigeria alone,they have made their mark by occupying high political positions at the Federal, State and Local government levels as well as in other professional fields. Many of them are priests with two of them rising to the position of bishop in the Catholic Church. The school has achieved so much in the last 53 years.