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A new Convent for IHM Sisters in Onitsha Ado was formally blessed on the 13th of April, 2015.

It was a grand occasion that attracted some dignitaries of Onitsha town.  His Royal Majesty, Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe Agbogidi, Obi of Onitsha and his Council attended the ceremony.  Other traditional title holders of the town added color to the occasion with their presence: Ndi Agbalenze, Ndi Ichie, ndi Odu, Ikporo Onitsha, the Enyis and other people of Onitsha.

The new Convent takes care of Mother Bernadette Centre which is within the compound.   Late Mother Mary Bernadette Anyiogu, after whom the Centre was named, is one of the Foundation Members of the Religious Institute of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ.  She was from Onitsha and the number one of the IHM Congregation.  The Centre is part of the wish of our Father Founder, Archbishop Charles Heerey who had passion to uplift girls, women and children of our land through education.

Rev. Fr. JohnBosco Okafor, the Parish Priest of St Mary’s Catholic Church, Onitsha celebrated the Holy Mass for the occasion. He started with the blessing of the Crucifixes designated for each room in the building. 

In his homily, he thanked God for the presence of the IHM Sisters in Onitsha Ado.  He said that the Church is a life giving structure that permeates the society when given the chance.  As such, the people of Onitsha Ado have allowed the Sisters in their town and the Convent has brought a new dawn to the environment.  He added, “The Convent is like a resurrection to the people of Onitsha Ado.”  Fr. Okafor urged the people to assist the Sisters and offer prayers for them.  He thanked Mother Mary Dominica who was instrumental to the start of the building and the subsequent Superiors General who took over the baton to finish it.

At the end of the Holy Mass the priest went round the house with the members of the Central and Regional Administration, few Sisters and His Royal Majesty with two of Ndi Ichie to bless the house.   All converged at the Chapel for the blessing of the Tabernacle and installment of the Most Holy Eucharist. 

Entertainment followed after the final blessing.  Mother Mary Claude Oguh, the Superior General welcomed all.   She said that the presence of the Obi of Onitsha marked the acceptance of the IHM Sisters by the people of Onitsha and support for their mission.  She also pointed out the beauty of Igbo culture show-cased in the range of the traditional dignitaries present.  Chief Chiloo Asika, one of the members of the Obi’s cabinet gave the opening remarks.  Sr. Mary De Chantal Onuoha, the superior of the community read a welcome address.  Among other things, she emphasized on the reason for the Centre and the benefits for the Students and their family. “We have built a catering school for the training of women for acquisition of skills.”  She went on: “With what they learn in this Centre, they will sew their children's dresses, mend their husbands’ suits, with beads they can create to augment their fashion and designing.  We teach them to cook and serve, to keep their husbands at home. Young girls for wedding will knock at their doors for wedding dresses.”

Along the line all went to view the handiwork of the students trained at the Centre which included: liquid soap, Izal, sanitizers, pomade, range of hand bags, flower vessels, snacks and many more. 

Mrs. Virginia Modebe, a renowned Dietician from Onitsha and Mrs. Chinwe Azokwu, Overseer of the Catholic Schools returned to the Church in the State, spoke on the importance of the Centre for women and families.  Mrs. Modebe said: “Food brings the family together.  It needs brains to plan and keeps the husband at home.  It evokes hygiene and service.”

The Postulants and the Children of Queen of Saints Block Rosary entertained the guests with dances and an opera.  Mother Mary Dominica said the closing prayers and all departed.


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