Diamond Jubilee Joy in Nigeria Province 1963-2023

Mar 13, 2024 | News & Events

1963 – 2023 — Diamond Jubilee Joy in Nigeria Province

By Sr. Priscilla Aliu, SNDdeN

 

On February 2, 2023, as Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN), we opened our Diamond Jubilee with Associates, and Friends in Mission. The Jubilee gong echoed in our Communities and Ministries, in remembering St. Julie Billiart and the goodness of God in the life of our Province. We lit candles to celebrate six themes in the decades of our SNDdeN History.

Jubilee Joy: 2023 Timeline

On April 15, Sisters explored with a Jesuit our “Ignatian & Notre Dame Spirituality.”

On May 13, Sisters joined in mini-celebrations across the four zones in Nigeria.

On August 10, Sisters and Friends gathered at the Redemptorist Pilgrimage Centre in Enugu, to thank Mary, whose name we bear as “Notre Dame.”

August 12, 2023, Eucharistic Liturgy and Reception for Diamond Jubilee Year.


Highlights of Jubilee Liturgy

The entire Province gathered to celebrate a Eucharistic Liturgy of Thanksgiving at Holy Ghost Cathedral at Enugu, with Most Reverend Anselm Umoren, MSP, officiating Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Abuja. The procession included two bishops, 50 priest-celebrants, the Province Leadership Team (PLT), and two Sisters of the Congregational Leadership Team (CLT). This threefold celebration included:

  • Perpetual Vow ceremony
  • Silver Jubilee of 5 Sisters
  • SNDdeN Diamond Jubilee.

Most Reverend Callistus Onaga, Bishop of the Diocese of Enugu, gave the welcome. He congratulated our Congregation for our Mission: “to serve the poor in the most abandoned places.” Bishop Onaga recalled his first meeting with our Sisters in Enugu Diocese. In 2001, having returned from Europe, he saw our Sisters living on a small stipend while teaching children, living in dire poverty, in the remote village of Ugwuomu, a place without water, roads and electricity. So impressed by our Sisters, he marvels still at our St. Julie Billiart, who gave such witness to her Sisters. He stressed the need NOW for SNDdeN, as followers of Jesus, to inspire more Religious Vocations in order to reach more people living in poverty and suffering from multiple crises in today’s world. Bishop Onaga praised and thanked our Sisters for our “work for humanity,” on our Diamond Jubilee!

Sisters Miriam Montero Bereche and Amarachi Ezeonu, SNDdeN (CLT from Rome) recognized with pride and joy the Nigerian Daughters of St. Julie, proclaiming God’s goodness through various ministries. She thanked the Province Leadership Team, Sisters Fidelia Chukwu (Province Moderator), Prisca Igbozulike and Monica Umeh, SNDdeN for their Leadership and growth in the Province. Sr. Miriam encouraged the Sisters in their ministries for children and adults. She asked us to invite more young women to join our Congregation, in becoming, like St. Julie, women of faith filled with love for God and God’s people! Sr. Amarachi Ezeonu brought a Blessing from Pope Francis to the Nigeria Province. This papal gift is a symbol of prophesy and witness of St. Julie’s ongoing commitment through her Sisters in Nigeria. The Sisters recognized and honored staff serving for many years in the Nigeria Province… province drivers, teachers in different schools, hospitals, clinics. The Jubilee Celebration concluded with a joyful reception at the arena of the Cathedral with cultural dance – a day of thanksgiving for the Sisters, Friends, Families and good people of God at the Liturgy and Reception.

 

Growth of the Nigeria Province

We remember 1963, with the arrival by boat from the United Kingdom of three Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in Oro, Kwara State. Sisters Ellen Gielty, Joan Mary Brown and Mary Dolores Greeley opened Notre Dame Girls’ Secondary School at the invitation of Monsignor William Mahoney, SMA. In 1967, we went to Edo State at the request of Bishop Kelly in Benin Archdiocese. He had travelled to the Generalate in Rome to beg Sr. Loretto Julia Carroll (Superior General) for Sisters to manage St. Angela’s Girls’ School in Uzairue. Later Families and Friends built there a Notre Dame Hospital.

 

We celebrate our Sisters in Nigeria

In 1980, the Congregation invited and received young Nigerian women to become SNDdeN. Through the following years more Nigerian women came. Our communities grew and our ministries expanded with formation and education as a priority for our Sisters and their ministries. In 2000, we were 67 Nigerian Sisters, 7 British and 3 American SNDdeN serving in 13 Communities in the Nigeria Province.

On September 23, 2023, 9 Novices made First Vows. We are now 121 Professed Nigerian SNDdeN, with most serving in 18 Communities in Nigeria. Two British Sisters minister with us. Nigerian Sisters are also studying or giving service in other countries. Sr. Amarachi Ezeonu is a member of our Leadership Team for the Congregation.

Eight Sisters who make FINAL VOWS as SNDdeN at Cathedral in Enugu. (L to R) Sisters Angela NNAMANI, Jacinta OJILIMOBE, Lilian ORAMAH, Nanadein PABOR, Rita OSIGWE, Saratu BAKO, Veronica PASCHAL and Virginia NNADI.

In September 2023, L-R: Sisters Mary OLIKAGU, Chinaza NNEJI, Florence BAMEYI, Lilian UWAH, Ngozichukwu EGBO, Genevieve UGOCHUKWU, Edna CHUKWUEMEKA, Grace LAWRENCE, and Blessing AGBONLAHOR made FIRST VOWS as SNDdeN at St. Philip Neri Church in Jattu.

 

We celebrate our Communities and Ministries

We now live in 17 communities in Nigeria and serve in 9 Catholic Dioceses in 7 states. We serve in the apostolates of Education, Health Care, Pastoral Ministry, Retreats, Spiritual Direction, Social Work, and Justice and Peace Communications. In collaboration with Church Leadership, the Province is growing. We open new communities and staff new ministries, as throughout these 60 years.

 

We celebrate our Mission and Growth into the Future

We move with hope into an unknown, challenging future. We face world crises: global warming and its tragic consequences in multiple deaths, wars, kidnappings, murders, trafficking of young people, with homeless and starving migrants and refugees, etc. We experience divisions in countries, religions and even our Church. Yet we look to a future where SNDdeN can make a difference, in UNITY with Pope Francis into spreading SYNODALITY around the Globe. Our prayer and ministries in this NEW MOMENT are a “labor of love” as in these past 60 years.

God is so good!