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Immaculate Heart Sisters celebrate the Legacies of Archbishop Charles Heerey 50 years after

BUILDING: Sustaining the legacy of Archbishop Charles Heerey, CSSp, 50 years after.

The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ have organized the 2nd Symposium in honour of ARCHBISHOP CHARLES HEERY, CSSp. (1890-1967). This was to mark the 50th anniversary of his death. The symposium which has as its theme: MISSIONARY STRATEGIES FOR EVANGELISATION AND NATION-BUILDING: Sustaining the legacy of Archbishop Charles Heerey, CSSp, 50 years after, was held from February 8-11, 2017 at the Madonna Renewal Centre, Nkpor-Agu in Idemili North, LGA, Anambra State Nigeria.

 The first day of the symposium was chaired by His Excellency, Most Rev. Godfrey Onah, Bishop of Nsukka Diocese. In his opening remarks, Bishop Onah noted that this symposium was a way of recalling the memory of Archbishop Heerey. He recalled vividly the reaction of his late father at the announcement of the death of Archbishop Heerey on February 7, 1967, when he exclaimed that: "There is going to be trouble in this country because good men are dying". Shortly after that, Bishop Anyogu of Enugu diocese died. Five months later, the civil war broke out. In his opinion, Religious persons of today are supposed to follow the example of Archbishop Heerey and redirect the steps of this present society. They should be antidotes to the excesses we find in families and the world in general. Therefore, there is urgent need to review the missionary strategies and identify other ways and methods to move Christianity forward. This is because a religion that is not missionary stagnates, decays, and dies.

 

His Excellency, Most Rev. Valerian Maduka Okeke, Archbishop of Onitsha noted in his welcome address to the participants that  Archbishop Charles Heerey was the longest serving Bishop in the Archdiocese of Onitsha and the first Archbishop of Onitsha ecclesiastical province. According to him, Archbishop Heerey made remarkable progress especially in post-primary education and healthcare services and though the Catholic Church arrived later than other denominations, she overtook them in evangelization through education, youth formation and healthcare services which still upholds till date.

In his Keynote address, Most Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto listed what he called the five missionary strategies. He congratulated the Immaculate Heart Sisters for living out the first strategy which is to love God and neighbor, exemplified by their continued stay with the people in Maiduguri despite the Boko Haram menace.

Other papers delivered were on “THE FOUNDATIONS OF ARCHBISHOP CHARLES HEERY'S MISSIONARY STRATEGY’ presented by Sr. Mary Noelle Ezeh, IHM and CHRISTIAN FAITH AND MORALS IN ARCHBISHOP CHARLES HEEREY’S MISSIONARY STRATEGIES presented by Msgr. Hypolite Adigwe; ARCHBISHOP CHARLES HEEREY AND EDUCATION FOR YOUTH EMPOWERMENT AND NATION BUILDING presented by Hon. Lady Grace Amobi; COLLABORATIVE MINISTRY IN ARCHBISHOP CHARLES HEEREY'S MISSIONARY STRATEGY by Rev. Fr. Dr. Ignatius Obinwa; HEALTHCARE FOR NATION BUILDING IN ARCHBISHOP CHARLES HEERY'S MISSIONARY STRATEGY by Lady Grace Amilo; and WOMEN  IN ARCHBISHOP CHARLES HEERY’S MISSIONARY STRATEGY by Sr. Mary Felicia Opara, IHM

The former Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Mr. Peter Obi while addressing the participants lamented that the problem with Nigeria today is that of poor education. According to him, countries which are smaller than Nigeria are doing better economically because they sell and celebrate knowledge while Nigeria still operates on what he described as baggage economy which breeds corruption and all other vices. He repeated his apology to the Catholic Church for whoever it was that withdrew the schools from the Church. He further stated that what Archbishop Charles Heerey achieved in Nigeria would have taken Africa out of the woods had it been continued. He therefore urged the IHM Sisters to concentrate on education in the footsteps of their Founder.

The two-day symposium was attended by Bishops, Priests, Sisters, Brothers, Professors, dignitaries from within and outside Anambra State, the CWO, Old Boy and Girls as well as students from schools founded by Archbishop Heerey.

The event was concluded with the Eucharistic celebration presided over by His Grace, Most Rev. Valerian Maduka Okeke, Archbishop of Onitsha at the Holy Trinity Basilica, Onitsha. Preaching the sermon at the Mass, His Lordship Bishop Hilary Okeke, extolled the missionary zeal of Archbishop Charles Heerey and encouraged the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to continue in the endeavor to immortalize the achievements of Arhbishop Heerey, their founder.

 


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