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Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters Kick Off Diamond Jubilee Celebration of their Congregation

Every year, the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ celebrate the 7th of February as a special day, a day they commemorate the death of their Father Founder, Archbishop Charles Heerey, CSSp. However, the celebration for this year took a different turn and shape. This year, 2012, marks exactly 45 years the venerable Archbishop died and was laid to rest inside the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria. At the same time, the Congregation is celebrating Diamond Jubilee at the 75th year of her Foundation. On 7th February, 2012 the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary celebrated not just with their beloved Father Founder, Archbishop Charles Heerey, but also with all the IHM Sisters who have departed from this world into eternity. This is in the spirit of the Communion of Saints which unites both the living and the dead who share in the salvation brought us by Christ.

Shortly before 9.00am, the Sisters processed into the Basilica for an hour of prayer for and with Archbishop Charles Heerey. A reflection on the life of the revered Archbishop was delivered by one of the youngest Professed Sister in the Congregation, Sr. M. Immaculata Fides Idoko. She described Archbishop Heerey as one who nurtured his vocation from early childhood, a man of strong faith, full of compassion and humility; a fearless missionary who gave all to God. The elderly Sisters who were opportune to have met Archbishop Heerey spoke of their encounters with him and the humility which marked all his actions.

Preaching the sermon at the Mass which followed immediately after this special moment, Rev. Fr. Justine Dike, CSSp, described Archbishop Heerey as a man of great faith and conviction who fearlessly embarked on missionary journey with fellow missionaries to Nigeria at a time when there were no running water, no electricity, no good sanitation, etc. He was consumed with apostolic zeal and compassion for the poor and less privileged, especially the women, who were at that time terribly marginalized. Archbishop Heerey therefore founded a Congregation which would help him flood the world with compassion especially in the care of women and children. He enjoined the Sisters not to relent in their effort to carry on their founder’s legacy because the world is very much in need of it and to remain ever grateful to the Foundation members who shouldered the initial difficulties with remarkable courage and thus laid a solid foundation on which the Congregation stands today.

At the end of the celebration at the Basilica, the Sisters proceeded to the Sisters’ grave yard located at the Immaculate Heart Novitiate compound, Nkpor, Anambra State. There, they prayed for all the members of the Congregation who have departed this life. The Superior General, Rev. Mother Mary Claude Oguh, thanked all the Sister who participated in the celebration with the dead. She reminded all that death was an inevitable end but also a gateway into eternity. She therefore enjoined all to live the life worthy of Brides of Christ who live in the hope of life without end with the Lord Jesus when He comes calling.


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