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Sr. Mary John Paul Okoro is laid to rest

The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ have laid to rest the body of Sr. Mary John Paul Okoro, IHM. Sr. Mary John Paul was buried on 6th January in the graveyard of the Sisters at Nkpor, Onitsha Archdiocese, Nigeria.

Sr. Mary John Paul Okoro was born on March 24, 1958 to late Mr. Christopher and Mrs. Louisa Mary Okoro of Ihite, Amano Obohia Ahiazu Mbaise.  She was born in Lagos and in gratitude for her survival, the Catholic parents baptized her at the hospital and gave her the names, Charity Augustina and Chioma.  She received Holy Communion at the age of 8 and Confirmation at 14 years. 

Due to interactions with the Priests and Religious who prepared her for the Sacraments and with whom she decorated altars she developed interest in Religious life early in years.  This interest was nurtured when she frequented Sisters’ convent and finally joined the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Congregation. She was received as a Postulant on 4th November 1980,and later as a Novice on the 22nd August 1982.  At the completion of her novitiate years, Sr. Mary John Paul did her first profession on the 29th July 1984 fulfilling her desire to be a Religious.  Having lived and worked as an Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister for a number of years, Sister did her final profession on the 14th September, 1992.

Sr Mary John Paul attended Baptist Primary School, Apapa Lagos from 1968 to 1974.  She went on for training at St Monica’s Women Training Centre in Aguleri. She later became the Director and Proprietor of St Monica’s Training Center, Aba.  She embarked on Religious Studies (BA) at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Nairobi, Kenya in 2003.  Sr. Mary John Paul completed the Masters programme at Imo State University in 2008.  Considering the relevance of Religious Education in our time, Sister proceeded to do her Doctorate in Pastoral Theology at Ignatian Institute of Religious Education, in the Philippines from 2008 to 2010.

Sr. Mary John Paul lived and served the Lord in different dioceses and communities of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ Congregation.  Sr. Mary John Paul’s religious and pastoral zeal were evidenced in the life she lived in her religious family and the services she rendered to the parishes where she found herself.  She contributed greatly to the religious education of different bodies before her death.  Her engagement with different Women’s Training Centers among other Pastoral duties highlighted the injunction of Our Father Founder, Archbishop Charles Heerey (CSSp) – “… to  work for the upliftment of womanhood, promote religious education, family life and preparation of the sacraments.

Many individuals and groups experienced her selflessness and compassion.  Sr. Mary John Paul’s total trust in God’s providence principally motivated her daily life.  As Mary, the Mother of God, lived to praise God for His goodness, Sr. Mary John Paul, in imitation, expressed her gratitude to God for her life and God’s love and mercy by living out her baptismal name - Charity.  The love of God was her strength together with devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.  In the footsteps of John the Evangelist and St Paul, the preacher to the nations, Sister engaged closely with the spreading of the Gospel in her life time.

The funeral Mass was celebrated at the Novitiate compound. Present at the Mass was His Grace, Most Rev. Valerian Maduka Okeke of Onitsha Archdiocese. In a sermon preached by Very Rev. Msgr. Hypolite Adigwe, all present, especially the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ, were reminded of the need for collaboration in the services rendered in Church. He presented Sr. Mary John Paul as one who recognized the importance of collaborative ministry in the Church and did all she could to maintain it in her assignment as the Coordinator of Religious Education in all the schools run by the Immaculate Heart Sisters.

Until her death on the 9th December, 2013, Sr. Mary John Paul Okoro happily lived her Religious life to the full.  She will be greatly missed.  May God grant her eternal rest through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Amen.



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