September 12th, 2009 was an historic day in the life of the Nigerian Region. Six sisters took Final Vows as Sisters of Charity in the parish church of Christ the King, Port Harcourt – Sisters Laeticia Amadi, Mary Balogun, Eucharia Eya, Gloria Ozuluoke, Francisca Ahumibe and Prisca Acholonu. Sr. Mary Christian, the Superior General, was present to receive their vows.
Preparations for this special occasion began quite some time ago. The sisters made a ‘30-Day Retreat’ and attended a two month intensive preparation programme. The other arrangements for the ceremony were also ongoing since early in the year. The parish of Christ the King was very welcoming and the Sisters of Charity Convent and Centre opened all doors to provide hospitality for all who came – family members and sisters from many different congregations.
The occasion was truly memorable. It was enhanced by the chief celebrant, Fr. George Quickley, S.J. Provincial of the West Africa Jesuit Community. Always a ‘charismatic’ speaker, his homily centred on ‘Ten Stupid Things’ he had read about that people can do that ‘mess up’ their lives:
1. Have faith in people
2. Never pray
3. Be master of your life
4. Always be selfish
5. Avoid suffering
6. Keep the world before you
7. Keep the cross behind you
8. Hide your faith
9. Always seek worldly pleasures
10. Hate your enemies and love your friends
The vows, prayer, mission and community were woven around these points, providing challenge and encouragement to all present in a wonderfully lively and engaging manner.
The ceremony in itself is deeply moving both for those who are familiar with such events and those for whom it is a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience. As each sister proclaimed her vows to ‘Almighty and Eternal God’ the significance of the occasion touched people’s hearts.
The Eucharistic Liturgy was solemn, awesome, joyous and prayerful. Gratitude to God overflowed in music, dance and colourful processions. Children carrying incense bowls added another dimension with graceful gestures and movement at key moments of the Mass.
After mass and photographs, the sisters and their guests moved to the newly constructed hall for the Reception. The families and friends gathered to share the meal, cut the cake, present gifts and sing and dance. In all they gave glory to God for this day of blessings.
Eventually those who had to travel set out and arrived home safely, while others returned to Sancta Maria Convent and Compassion Centre to stay the night in the same spirit of appreciation and celebration.
Below are a seclection of photgraphs from the day: