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The solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was celebrated on August 15, 2016 in the whole Catholic World. For the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Mother of Christ, it was marked with the first religious profession of eleven novices at Nkpor, Anambra State, Nigeria.

 The celebration began with the Holy Mass officiated by His Grace, Most Rev. Valerian Maduka Okeke, the Archbishop of Onitsha and Metropolitan of Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province. In his sermon, the Archbishop pointed out that the consecrated life which the young novices were about to embrace, radiates beauty and goodness because it is the life of Christ. According to him, the love Jesus has for His Father informed the life he lived on earth, a life of perfect charity which manifested itself in the evangelical councils. To every reasonable person, even those who are not Christians, His life becomes attractive because they cannot resist the supreme goodness.

 At the beginning of the Mass, the candidates for profession made a request to the Superior of the Congregation, that they would want to be clothed in the religious habit and dedicate themselves to God and his kingdom. Archbishop Okeke pointed out that this was more of external response to God’s invitation. He encouraged them to look inwards to discover their inner intention which should be, to live a life of perfect charity in the footsteps of Jesus. According to him, this inner intention is very critical in this journey of faith. By nature, every act has a natural end, and in this situation the natural end is to live a life of perfect charity. But if there is a secondary motive attached to this, it can nullify this natural end. The natural end of this life is the Splendour of the life of consecration, radiating the life of Christ, the beauty of the closeness of the divine. But if there is an ulterior motive, the life is distorted, and a crisis sets in. He advised them to purify their intentions and allow God to use them as He wishes.

 Speaking further, the Archbishop noted that the church has earmarked the means to live this life: the vows and the constitutions of the congregation which they have learnt in the novitiate in the past two years. He reminded them that when they stick to their will or violate any of the vows, they have contradicted the very essence of the life of consecration. The religious habit is a part of the sacrifice they have made. It is a mark of ownership by God and warning that God has stamped them with His seal. It is also a sign of loyalty to God not a show of sanctimonious display. He enjoined the families and friends of the candidates to pray for them and give them counsels that will help them to live their vows and remain royal to Christ.

 After the Mass, the newly professed were entertained with songs and dances from the novices, postulants and families. The celebration was attended by many priests from many dioceses, religious men and women and hundreds of people from various towns.


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