16th January, 2017
By Ann Schulte, SHCJ
Across the sand they travelled, not the three Wise Men but the SHCJ sisters, from Lagos and Abeokuta, not on camels but in their vehicles across the sandy area in front of the SHCJ community house in Ajegunle, and parked outside the house.
Inside the house and then in the Church the sisters were preparing to offer their three gifts, not of gold, frankincense and myrrh, but to renew the offering of the three vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience to the Holy Child Jesus, first made anywhere from one year ago, up to over fifty years ago.
As they arrived at their journey’s end all were happy to meet and greet each other, with much laughter and happiness. In all there were 24 SHCJ Sisters celebrating on January 6. Very kindly the Parish Priest had accepted that we would have the Mass of the Epiphany for our celebration and renewal of our vows. Fr. Patrick Agbodi, SMA celebrated the Mass for us, and expressed how happy he was to do so, as he knew a number of SHCJ sisters. Together with the sisters in the Church were some Associates from Ajegunle and friends, as well as a relative of Sr. Ann Schulte, Leonie Brumby, who was over from England to attend a wedding of a good friend of hers. Actually in the 1970’s Sr. Ify Atuegbu had met her mother, Gay Brumby, even before Leonie was born, when Sr. Ify was studying in England, so it was an interesting meeting for the two of them!
Leaflets had been prepared for the singing in different languages, during the Mass , to represent the diversity of places from which the sisters had been called by the Lord, to live together in His service and carry out the different apostolates in which they are engaged. After the Gospel each group stood in turn to renew their vows, the Finally Professed, the Temporary Professed and the Associates made their own special renewal. In his homily Father Patrick noted the importance of what had just taken place, and urged us to a renewed enthusiasm in living out the Lord’s call to us in Religious Life.
A festive meal had been prepared for us in the Women’s Centre and was beautifully served in the decorated room. The place buzzed with chat and laughter as the sisters, the associates and friends, mixed up at the tables to enjoy one another’s company. All were given a gift to take home with them, as a memory of this happy celebration of the renewal of our vows in 2017 for the Sisters in the Lagos Area.