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The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary had the funeral ceremony of two of their members, Srs. Justina Mary Okolo and Mary Berchmans Ibekwe on 7th December, 2015 at IHM Novitiate Nkpor, Anambra State.  They died on the 12th and 13th November at IHM Hospital, Nkpor.

His Eminence Francis Cardinal Arinze presided over the funeral Mass with four other bishops: Archbishop Valerian Okeke – Archbishop of Onitsha Archdiocese and Metropolitan, Most Rev. Jude Okolo, Most Rev. Denis Isuzoh – Auxiliary Bishop of Onitsha Archdiocese, and Most Rev. Gregory Ochiagha, Bishop Emeritus of Orlu diocese.  They were joined by some Monsignori and a host of Priests.  Very Rev. Fr. Godwin Okolo, the cousin to Sr. Justina Okolo was present.  Men and Women Religious of different Congregations were there for the ceremony.  Most Rev. Hillary Okeke, the bishop of Nnewi diocese was the chief celebrant with other priests at the Vigil Mass.

In his homily, His Eminence said, “These two Sisters sacrificed three great things that people hold dear in life – Marriage, Possession of wealth and personal will to do things as one wishes”.  This is certainly by their lives and Vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience.  He said that as they trained many others in Christian Faith, God will be with them in heaven.  He enjoined each person present to look into and examine his or her life to see that no one regrets anything in life.   He prayed that Mary, Mother of Mercy will intercede for them as the Church begins the Holy Year of Mercy the next day.

By the end of the Mass, Mother Mary Claude Oguh, IHM, the Superior General welcomed and thanked all who attended the funeral on behalf of the IHM Sisters.  Most Rev. Okolo said the prayers of Commendation and all accompanied the Corpses to the grave yard.  Archbishop Okeke did the Blessing of the Grave and the remains of the Sisters were laid to rest.

Families, friends, parishioners, societies and people that these two Sisters touched their lives were there to pray for them. 

The two Sisters were formators for years.  They trained many Sisters and served as teachers of the Faith at other times. Coincidentally, they worked together as Formators at some point.  They both led exemplary life as Religious.

Sr. Justina Mary who was born in 1942 was a native of Umuagu-Ngo of Nnobi in Anambra State.  Her First Profession was on 1st July, 1971.  After serving years in formation houses she studied at Pontifical University - Regina Mundi, Rome from 1979 to 1982.  After, she continued with her formation work and Catechetical services in Schools.  Sr. Justina Mary was living at the Villa Mater Christi IHm Retirement Home by the time of her death.

Sr. Mary Berchmans Ibekwe was born in 1929 and a native of Odida of Nnewi in Anambra State.  She professed on 2nd February, 1957 and celebrated her Golden Jubilee in 2007.  Sr. ibekwe also served several years in the Formation Houses.  She did a formation course in Ireland from 1972 to 73. She was in her 10th year at the Generalate Community before her death.

May God grant them peace in His Eternal Kingdom.


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