7 September 2016
By Sr. Stephanie Ugwu, SHCJ
The SHCJ came to Africa in 1930, and by 1946 we began the foundation in Ghana. We started work in Cape Coast then spread to Takoradi, Bolgatanga, Accra and Walembelle. We have opened communities in Goaso, Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana.
That seed sown 70 years ago has sprouted exceedingly. Specifically, this year marks 45 years in the Navrongo-Bolgatanga region and those years have attracted many young women including two sets of twins from Bolgatanga to join the Society.
On 27th August, 2016 Sisters, friends, families, the clergy and Religious gathered at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Bolgantanga to thank God for SHCJ presence these past years. They brought one of the fruits, as Sr. Evelyn Akweongo, twin of Sr. Emmanuella Akweongo, SHCJ, made her perpetual profession of vows, promising to live and die living the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience in the Society of the Holy Child Jesus.
The Holy Mass of Thanksgiving was presided over by His Lordship, Most Rev. Dr. Alfred Agyenta, Bishop of Navrongo- Bolgatanga diocese, upper East of Ghana. After the penitential rites, The Society Leader, Sr. Veronica Openibo and Province Leader; Sr. Philomena Aidoo presented Sr. Evelyn to the church, to state her intention to which the congregation responded in thanksgiving to God.
In his homily, the Bishop thanked God for 40 years of presence of SHCJ in Ghana. He affirmed the immeasurable contributions of the sisters to the pastoral life of the diocese. He also thanked the Akweongo’s family for their generosity in giving their daughters, Emmanuella and Evelyn to serve God specially.
He reminded all SHCJ that in celebrating this anniversary, we needed to measure our fidelity to the charism of our founder Cornelia Connelly as well as our survival as a congregation. He then noted that God has not called us to be successful, we are simply called to be faithful not necessarily successful. He used the occasion to speak to all Religious present of the fact that we live in a world of ambiguity. Therefore there is need for men and women Religious to send a clear picture of who they are, namely as people who belong to the Lord. He emphasized the identity of the Religious is at stake unless we rise up to make this clear by our life style. Our identity as Religious ought to be redefined by our life style. According to him, professing the evangelical counsels is not an immunity, as such the Religious still faces temptations and that is why Jesus calls us to remain in His love. In awareness of our struggles and limitations, we should remain in Christ love.
The highpoint of the Rite of Perpetual Profession of Vows was Sr. Evelyn vowing to God to live in chastity, poverty and obedience for the rest of her life in the SHCJ. These vows were received by the Society Leader. she was worn a ring as a sign of membership in the SHCJ. With that the perpetually professed now made a covenant with her, promising her support in the journey together.
At the end of the mass, Her family and the entire Diocese of Bolgatanga responded in joy by presenting symbolic gifts to the Society of the Holy Child Jesus. Sr Martha Attakruh in the vote of thanks on behalf of the SHCJ expressed profound gratitude to God, the family of the Akweongos and the good people of Bolgatanga with whom the sisters have enjoyed good working relationship. There was reception immediately after mass at Social centre. Indeed, groups demonstrated their love and appreciation to the Society in presentation of gifts and cultural displays. The beautiful celebration was also a vocation rally whose fruits in the coming years are expected.