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It’s another year of thanksgiving for 18 of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ who celebrated their Golden and Silver Jubilee at the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity, Onitsha on 21st September, 2014. 

14 Sisters who did their First Profession in 1989 celebrated their Silver Jubilee while those who professed in 1964 celebrated their 50years in the Lord’s Vineyard.  Four of the Silver jubilarians are Kenyans while others come from different parts of Nigeria.  The Golden Jubilarians include, Srs. Miriam Regina Onyeka from Ihialla, Mary Euphrasia Okeke from Orsumoghu, Mary Paul Asuzu from Arondizuogu and Mary Germaine Nwobodo from Enugu.  While the Golden Jubilarians are resting from their years of major services, the Silver Jubiilarians are still working in different parts of the world; Kenya, Germany, Italy and Nigeria.

The celebration started with a gala night on the 20th at Madonna Renewal Centre, Nkpor where the members of the Congregation, thanked God for the Sisters, appreciated and entertained them.  The culmination of the celebration was on Sunday the 21st.  It was a grand occasion which attracted dignitaries from around the Dioceses of Nigeria as well as friends, relatives, parishioners and well-wishers of the Sisters who celebrated.

His Eminence, Francis Cardinal Arinze presided over the solemn Holy Mass with the hosting Archbishop, Most Rev. Valerian Okeke and Most Rev. Martin Uzoukwu, the Bishop of Minna Diocese.   Many other priests of the Archdiocese and others of the parishes and home towns of the celebrating Sisters joined the celebration.

Most Rev. Okeke took the homily with the theme, ‘God’s nature of Mercy and Forgiveness’.  

According to him, “We have reason to thank God, he started.  God is calling us to be like Him- to be merciful.  The oracle of Salvation; In spite of Isreal’s sins, God forgave them … “My ways are not your ways”.   God assures all of us that his own ways are not ours.  He is God to all. 

The Archbishop went on to say that Scripture scholars noted Paul have written 2Philipians in serenity while in prison and awaiting martyrdom.  For Paul, anything is motivated by selflessness … “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

Speaking about the Gospel of the day, the Archbishop said, “God is our Father. His justice goes with mercy and compassion.  We draw from it that we should not go after rewards when we work because some work for gain.  Like Paul, let’s put aside every benefit attached to any work given because all of us are latecomers.  We are called to be fatherly as our heavenly Father.  The owner of the vineyard bothered about what will be beneficial to the workers”.

Continuing, the Archbishop noted that Jubilee is a time of thanksgiving, a time of discovering that initial innocence as when we were baptized, did first profession and in our younger years of angelic life.  It is a time of conversion – going home.

The Jubilarians among other gifts offered symbolic offerings of a palm tree and a broom which they joyously presented.  At the end of the Mass, the Superior General, Mother Mary Claude Oguh, IHM, on behalf of the Congregation thanked everyone who came.  After group pictures at the end of the Mass, the Jubilarians were accompanied with dances to the Basilica field where they were received.  Fr Asuzu who stayed to the end led in the opening prayer while Prof.  Ilozumba chaired the occasion.  There were cutting of Silver and Golden Jubilee cakes.  The Jubilarians said their Jubilee prayer along the line Relatives and parishes of the Sisters expressed their gratitude to God and for the Sisters with different gifts and entertainments.

Sr. Mary Anselm, the Regional Superior of the Western Region, thanked everyone on behalf of the Jubilarians.  “We shall remain ever grateful to our Congregation, parents, Associate Members, friends and well wishers”, she said.   After that, the Superior General once again thanked everyone who contributed to the success of the celebration.  She thanked God for the Sisters,  and the Sisters too for remaining faithful in God’s service all these years.  She recognized the contribution of Regional Superiors, families, parish priests and parishioners, Associate Members, the Social Committees and all the Sisters to the success of the day.  She thanked the parents and relatives for their gifts and support.  The celebration came to a close with a closing prayer and all happily went away thanking God for such a day.


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