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The First Religious Profession of 16 Novices of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ, Institute took place at the Immaculate Heart Novitate Chapel, Nkpor in Anambra State, Nigeria on 2nd August, 2014.

The ceremony started with a solemn Holy Mass officiated by his Excellency, Most Rev. Valerian Okeke, the Archbishop of Onitsha Archdiocese.  In his homily, Most Rev. Valerian Okeke, dwelt on living consecrated life and its consequences and rewards.  He said; “Every human act has an end – the intention of the doer.  There is moral and natural end.”   He went on to say that the natural end of Religious Profession is to worship God and to follow Christ more closely.  It depends on the candidates then to define their moral end but it is important that they be in line with what the Church wants.   The candidates need to ensure that their moral motive is not far away from the intention of the Congregation, the Church and Religious life.  According to him, the Institute has to hand over the Spirit, the Charism and the Culture of the Congregation.  He stressed that there is a reward for obedience; in other words, the relevance of sticking to what God wants.  “The Church has brought out for us the means to the end”, he added.  The Archbishop enjoined the parents and relatives of the Sisters to pray for them and assist them to live their lives of consecration.

The diversity of the Nigerian Church and nation is demonstrated in the celebration having sisters come from different parts of the country and Catholic dioceses of Nigeria.  This time there was an international Candidate, Sr. Maria Fabiana Ojong who hails from Mamfe diocese in Cameroon.  She becomes the first Cameroonian to join the Congregation. 

Such was also the mixture of the people that attended the cerebration to support and pray for their daughters and sisters.  Parents were filled with joy to see their children offer themselves to God.  There were jubilations at different phases of the celebration: when their request to be consecrated was received in the name of the Church by the Archbishop and the Superior General, when the sisters received new names for the new life they were taking up and their mission in the Church and the world, when they pronounced their vows and they were accepted.

At the end of the Holy Mass, there were group pictures with the celebrants, the Archbishop and the congregational Councillors.  In attendance were priests from different dioceses of the Sisters who made their first profession; Minna, Abakaliki, Mamfe - Cameroon, Nnewi, Awka, Onitsha, Owerri, Okigwe, Nsukka and Ahiara dioceses.  The superior General, Mother Mary Claude Oguh and her Councilors, IHM Sisters and members of other Religious Institutes were present.

The newly professed Sisters were then accompanied with dance by the Sisters, families, friends and their parishes to the field where they were received under one umbrella of Immaculate Heart of Mary Congregation.  Sr. Mary Amanda Nwagbo, IHM who was the Master of Ceremony facilitated the second part of the occasion.  There were entertainment which included breaking of kola-nut, dance by the new sisters, presentation of gifts and vote of thanks.   Sir Austin Nwosu, KSM from Ihiala was the Chairman of the occasion.

The Superior General, Mother Mary Claude Oguh, thanked everyone especially the Sisters for answering the call.  She particularly thanked the parish Priests that prepared for the occasion on the Parish levels.  With a closing prayer, the ceremony came to a close and all went joyfully away.


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