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It was another joyful day in the life of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart Mary, Mother of Christ when 12 Postulants were received as Novices at the Novitiate Chapel, Nkpor on 16th July, 2014.

After two and a half years of formation as Postulants, they were ready to go further in Religious life.  Sr. Mary Agnita Maduka, the Vicar General of the Congregation, representing the Superior General, conducted the ceremony.  In the company of the Vicar General and the Postulant Mistress, Sr. Miriam Agatha Ikpa, the Postulants solemnly processed to the altar with lighted candles chanting the vesicle – Show us your mercy O Lord …’.  They made their request to be received as Novices in the Institute.  After the Vicar General accepted their request, they went out and came back in clothed with the Novice dresses.

Continuing the ceremony, the Novices took the readings, the first from the Old Testament – the call and mission of Abraham (Gen. 12), the second from 2Tim3 and the Novice Mistress, Sr. Maria Philippo Obi, read a gospel passage.  The new Novices angelically rendered the responsorial psalm; “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord God of Host.”   

Admonishing the New Novices, the Vicar General told them that Religious life is simply “a community of men or women who have taken the evangelical councils under one Superior pursuing the same goal.”  Although God is the giver of vocation and the Holy Spirit play a principal role in the religious formation, the Vicar General also emphasized for the New Novices the importance of their cooperation in the formation.  At the end, the new Novices went up to the Vicar General to receive a copy of the Institute’s Constitution each and she handed them over to the Novice Mistress.

The Novitiate Community with some other Sisters was there to witness the occasion.  It was of course a day for the Postulants; a day of ‘looking forward to’ for most of them.  They were all there and watched out as their colleagues, friends and Sisters took a step higher in Religious life. 

When the Reception ceremony was over, there were group photographs and all went down to St Joseph’s Hall where the Postulants entertained everyone.   Sr. Mary Stella Ohaegbulem said the opening prayer and the Postulants presented songs in solos, duets and as a group, opera and a dance.  To emphasize the missionary spirit of the Congregation, they presented a drama titled, ‘Successful Missionary’, highlighting the relevance of accepting and going wherever one is sent as doing God’s will irrespective of the place or country. 

In appreciation, the newly received Novices sang and offered spiritual bouquet to all those who have been part of their formation up to this level: the Superior General, the Vicar, the Novice Mistresses and the entire Novitiate and Postulate formation teams.

Mother Mary Joseph Ann Anochie, IHM, the Superior General Emerita, thanked all present and encouraged the new Novices.  She said the closing prayer and all dispersed leaving the newly received Novices to embrace and embark on the formation to the Religious life with their new community.


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