A Reflection on 170 Years of Existence

October 10, 2106

The Society is celebrating 170 years this week.

By Maria Ogochukwu Manu, SHCJ

“For this is our mission: to help others to believe that he lives and acts in them and in our world, and to rejoice in his presence.” (SHCJ Constitutions #4) We are to carry out our mission as SHCJ in a spirit of humility, simplicity, obedience, charity and affectionate devotion to the works of zeal and charity which spring forth from the contemplation of the mystery of God hid in human beings.


Our mission statement is our existential statement. We live to help people who would be led by the Holy Spirit to know God’s boundless mercy and love to come to faith in God and God’s power. Our incarnational charism and spirituality drive us to seek, find and live God’s presence in us, in others and in all God’s creation, and to testify to the transforming power of God’s presence among us.

From the beginning, God has not only been present to us but God is in us for God created us, human beings, in God’s image to be godlike (Gen 1:26). It is this affinity to God that helps us to recognise God and His power in us and around us. No other creature bears such affinity to God! How much God loves us!

170 years ago Cornelia received the great insight and inspiration of our mission statement. No time in human history than now is it more urgent to wake people from the darkness of sin and death experienced in the negative happenings (wars, violence, migration, the plight of refugees, human trafficking, new forms of colonization and slavery, corruption, discrimination, secularism and materialism, abuse of human sanctity and dignity and life, to name only a few) that seem to envelop our world.

Unless we are grounded in the Mystery, unless we have eyes that see God present in our situations, unless we are able to discern, to distinguish God’s presence and what leads to God, we will not see what we are not doing. The darkness around us will continue to be a distraction from what God is asking of us.

Cornelia, contemplating the mystery of the Incarnation, was transformed by the Holy Spirit into strong spirit of simplicity, gentleness, obedience and trust. Thus she experienced God’s presence and power in her life and she was able to form her sisters in the same spirit.

As we celebrate our 170 years of existence in this Year of Mercy coming to an end, perhaps we can take time individually and or in groups to reflect on how we are called to be grateful to God:

  • Do I/we share life in prayer and worship with the vulnerability that reflects Jesus Christ’s kenosis and vulnerability in the Crib and on the Cross?
  • Like Cornelia, in my prayers, works of mercy and worship, how have I been transformed?
  • Is my love for God based more on certainty than on my desire for Him?
  • In this Year of Mercy, how has my concern for the Wants of the Age and Spiritual Works of Mercy led me to experience more deeply God’s presence and power in me, and how have my works of mercy been a cause for others to discover God and His power at work in them?

One Response to “A Reflection on 170 Years of Existence”

  1. Irene Ekeng

    Ogo dear, Thanks for this in depth reflection on our livesas Cornelia’s children especially as we mark 170 years of our foundation. God bless you for challenging us to look closely at our lives as we follow in Cornelia’s footsteps. God bless , Irene