26 October, 2016
By Patricia Chidiuto Duru, SHCJ, Candidate Directress
In the African tradition, ‘Send forth and Engagement’ is a special ceremony marked to bid farewell to couples before they leave their family to start a new home. Different cultures in Africa celebrate this differently but there is something that cuts across all these cultures. It is the fact that the ceremony is an advice-giving occasion where parents, friends, and older members of the family advise the couple-to-be on how to achieve a happy marital life based on experiences. The story is not different for young women who choose the Religious life as a vocation. The Formation team of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus has a carefully designed programme to initiate young women who join the Society.
In the month of September this year, eight dynamic young women were received into the Candidacy programme in Cape Coast after a guided retreat. They are: Veronica Akumsigiya, Augustina Ayinga, Mercy Duru, Bernadine Ekeh, Celine Chidiogo Ezeoke, Mercy Oveghawo, Philomena Sam and Chinyere Ugwoke.
As stated above, though the Candidacy journey in Cape Coast officially began on 31st August, 2016, these young women had a lot of interactions with some Sisters of the SHCJ in Nigeria on their arrival at Keffi Street Ikoyi Lagos on the 27th day of August. Sr. Stella Envulu the Vocation Directress in Nigeria and her assistant Sr. Faustina Ejeagu advised the young women to be open to formation. They also encouraged them to love one another and to relate well with one another. They were also asked to work collaboratively instead of competitively; to be prayerful and listen attentively to instructions.
In the same vein, Sr. Teresa Okure fondly advised the ladies not to judge or condemn people’s culture and told them that the initiative to the Religious life begins with God. She also told them that faith is not in what God does, it is in the goodness of God, encouraging them to read the Scriptures always, because there they will find Jesus.
The young women finally arrived the Candidacy House in Cape Coast on 31st August, 2016, rested and had orientation with Sr. Patricia Duru, the Candidate Directress. They were on time to experience the “Afeshe” Festival celebration of the Cape Coast people (See photo).
Thus, the formal reception of the eight young women into the Candidacy Program was on the 7th September, 2016. Present at that special ceremony was the Province Leader, Sr. Philomena Aidoo, the Candidates Directress and other Sisters who continued what started at Keffi Street, Lagos, by giving the Candidates insights into prayer, community life, ministry, neatness and trust in Jesus.
The Candidates presented different symbols which ranged from the Holy Bible, sandals, wrist-watch, crucifix, cloth among others. Explaining one of the presented symbols, a Candidate whose symbol was a sandal said it represented the feet of Jesus and she prayed to God for evangelical spirit. Another Candidate who presented a wrist-watch symbolizing time prayed for the grace to keep moving like time in her journey as a religious.
The Candidate Directress told the Candidates to put fear aside and walk trustingly with Jesus. Affirming that formation in the Society of the Holy Child Jesus is indeed a team work, she thanked God for the gift of our eight Candidates and prayed that they may cooperate with the Holy Spirit the Formator. It was indeed a remarkable day for the Candidates.