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Mother Mary Claude Addresses Sisters on Syposium Day

AN ADDRESS PRESENTED ON THE OCCASION OF DIAMONF JUBILEE SYMPOSIUM FOR IHM SISTERS BY MOTHER MARY CLAUDE OGUH THIS DAY 27TH SEPTEMBER 2012 AT MADONNA RENEWAL CENTRE NKPOR AGU

On this occasion of the 75th anniversary of our foundation, we praise and thank our Almighty and Gracious God, the prime mover of all things for the life of our Institute Immaculate Heart of Mary Mother of Christ. May He reward with eternal joy our beloved Father Founder for the untold Sacrifices He made, to give us life.  On a day like this, mention must be made of our pioneers who like Abraham courageously left home for a land that will be shown them and for many years hoped and waited almost against hope for the many Children that will be theirs. Their endurance demonstrated that they not only believed in God, but that they believed God.  To His own glory God has vindicated them and today we celebrate the many fruits of their unalloyed faith in God.

            My dearly beloved Sisters in this noble family of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I salute and welcome you all from the depth of my heart. I appreciate you for who you are- brides of the eternal king. I praise and respect you for the generosity with which you have responded to God’s invitation and the tenacity with which you have held on to the traditions and values of our religious family. I have always listened with a certain sense of pride and contentment as many people including those whose opinions we cannot ignore, tell us publicly and privately that we are doing well, that we as a religious Congregation are focused and mature. In thanksgiving to God and in deep humility we say with the psalmist “Not to us Lord not to us, But to your name give the glory “Ps115:1

            Often it appears that the ovation is loud and people hold us in very high esteem that we tend to become oblivious of the realities on the ground. Often too, when in our sober moments of reflection, we examine the fundamentals of religious life and stand before God naked ( cf. letter of our Founder 5th Oct 1937), it seems to come clear to us that we fall short  of our expectations in many ways. Could it therefore, be that we are living on past glory? The answer to this question to be real must not be given in chorus. It must be taken individually. If Archbishop Charles Heerey were to come back today, would he be as sure as he was, presenting the first two aspirants in his Letter of 5th October 1937? Could he look at us individually and say that each of us is good material for this life? If the feedback we give to ourselves is anything to go by, it would seem that we are losing many of our traditions and values and seem to be operating now on a much lower standard than in earlier years.

            As we appreciate our pioneers, we want equally to recognize the contribution of our Sisters who have steered the boat of our Congregation at different points in its history. Rev Mother Mary Bernadette Anyogu, our number one and first Superior General. She, it was who at the dawn of our autonomy took over the administration. She courageously, purposefully, elegantly and quietly led the young Congregation in such a way that it weathered the challenges of transition without breaking up.

 We salute Mother Mary Joseph Uzoigwe who as boisterous young women took over the mantle of leadership during the war. She rivaled the war generals in strategic planning, and so was able to lead the Sisters in and out of war zones without losing any of them. She doggedly saw to post- war reconstructions of our Convents and Church institutions particularly in the South Eastern area of the country where there was untold human and infrastructural destruction. She equally embarked on serious personnel development of our Sisters.

Mother Louis Marie them came on board, a more quiet and reflective personality. She saw our Congregation through the all important period of searching for our identity that led to the sure and happy rediscovery that we are apostolic religious of Marian Spirituality. She pursued the formation of our members to Apostolic Spirituality without counting the cost.

Mother Mary Joseph Ann Anochie took over the Leadership of our Congregation at the appointed time. She continued with formation of the Sisters to Apostolic Spirituality. To provide enabling environment for the practice of Apostolic Spirituality, she renovated Convents and built new ones so that Sisters have Comfortable accommodation. Seeing that self reliance was becoming a serious issue, she fortified already existing Congregational projects and established new ones.

Then came Mother Mary Dominica Odita. She continued with the effort towards the infrastructural development and self reliance of our Congregation. She also directed her attention to the social image laundering of our Congregation in some quarters.  All in all, it is clear from the above that our one year prayer preceding each of our general chapters was answered fully by God. Each time, he gave us persons and structures best suited for the realization of his will for us his Children. May his name be praised forever.

We must not forget to appreciate in a special way, the outstanding contributions of two of our Sisters who have served our congregation, one as the Secretary General and the other as the Bursar General and are still not tired. We are talking of no other than Srs. Mary Stella Ohaegbulem and Mary John Cecil Idigo. Sr. Mary Stella served longest as the Secretary General of our Congregation. She could decipher the minutest intricacies in any document she handled and has the language to put across the correct message. Sr. Mary John Cecil served as the Bursar General under the previous Central Administration and continued with the last one and is still making her earnest contribution. You can agree with me that this Sister is one in a million and is richly endowed by God. The energy, zeal, tact, forthrightness, selflessness and loyalty with which she applies herself to any task in hand are second to none. Sr. Mary Berchmas Ibekwe deserves our appreciation as the longest served Novices Mistress. She is a religious to the core and had the ability to impart the values of religious life to all the Novices who passed through her. We all can attest to the fact that the generation of Sisters who passed through her have remained solid religious, both in the communities and in their places of work.

Our prayer is that God may reward these Sisters abundantly in this world and in the next crown them with eternal life of bliss.

 

According to biblical and ecclesial usage, Jubilee is a holy year and invokes the sense of celebration in thanksgiving to God for Favours received. (cf Lev:25).  It is a celebration of freedom for all those concerned. It calls for deep introspection so that the freedom can be fully understood in all its elements. The essential elements of Jubilee include: repentance, liberation, freedom, joy, forgivingness, and restitution/restoration. For thanksgiving to make sense or be meaningful it is important to pay attention to the above elements, particularly the aspects of forgiveness and restitution. That we are to forgive real /imagined injuries cannot be over emphasized and we have been told about this in different ways. Another aspect we must look at very closely is the one of restitution. We do not talk of restitution only in terms of money stolen from community/ Congregational funds. Restitution must be done in terms of restoring broken or strained relationships, peoples good image / name deprived them, through calumny, defamation of character and slander, talents/ time misused or wasted etc. When all these things have been restored, then we are free indeed and able to make a new beginning which a jubilee is all about.

            I wish each one of you a very happy, hearty and fruitful jubilee celebration. May God bless all of us through Christ our Lord. Amen.

        

 


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