The day finally came. It was a blessed Saturday, 7th August 2021. The weather was clement throughout. All roads led to the Catholic Church of the Epiphany, Ologolo, Lekki-Lagos, Nigeria. There, almost all the Sisters of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus (SHCJ) African Province joyfully gathered with the Parish community, invited guests, friends and well-wishers from all over the world, in a splendid Thanksgiving Mass for God’s unconditional love, grace and fidelity to the SHCJ global and her Sisters for the past 175 years.
It was a three-fold Eucharistic Celebration of tremendous thanksgiving, perpetual Profession of Vows of five Sisters and Renewal of Vows of another set of five Sisters, who have lived the life for the past 25 years – the Silver Jubilarians.
Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins, Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos was the Principal Celebrant and he concelebrated with a galaxy of priests present. The Congregation was ubiquitous and joyful.
In his homily, Archbishop Martins said that the factors responsible for the SHCJ to be in continuous existence for the past 175 years were the grace of God and his fidelity to those whom he called and chose for his mission. He said that the same grace God gave to the people of Israel in spite of their unfaithfulness was what he granted to the SHCJ Sisters that enabled them to be formidable for the past 175 years and that even today, the people of Israel were still a formidable force in the world. He urged the sisters to remain relevant and committed to the Mission and to community living, to pursue holiness of life and to be constant in prayer.
His Grace said that he decided to ask Google, the name for 175th Anniversary and Google told him “it is Demi-semi-sept-centennial”. He said that the difficulties in calling out the name of the anniversary symbolized the difficulties the SHCJ must have gone through in the past 175 years of continuous existence.
“Coming to give thanks to God is the very least you can do” he said, and also to renew your commitment to his mission. He reminded the Sisters and all present that the call of God was a call to love God and God’s people and a call to holiness of life.
He wished all the SHCJs a happy Demisemiseptcentennial Anniversary.
Present at the celebration were the SHCJ Leader, Sr. Veronica Openibo and one of her team members, Sr. Cecilia Nya (both from Rome) and other important dignitaries from all works of life, home and abroad.
The Sisters with all present after the ‘Three-fold Thanksgiving Mass’, crossed over to the spacious Arena within the compound of the same Church of Epiphany where the grand reception was held with pomp and pageantry, through the immense generosity of the dynamic Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Benjamin Ekpo, his able Assistant Parish Priest and the entire Parishioners.