FOUNDER’S VOICE:

The defects l have pointed and that you pointed out, will with the necessary watchfulness disappear. All will depend on the diligence of the Superiors and this too will improve when you have more mature Sisters to be placed in positions of responsibility.

(Meeting with Superiors and Formators) 15th OCT, 2020
REFLECTION BY SR. MARIA OLUEBUBE OBULE, IHM

During the time l was reflecting on Our Father Founder’s letter of today, l asked myself too important questions………

What are the defects in Our Institute, which Our Father Founder pointed out…….

And those we ourselves pointed out…….

From the book “Some letters of Our Founder to his IHM daughters and their Formators (1937_1966) pg 34. Some of the defects listed out includes:

1. Disunion among the members: We have to pay serious attention to this because most times in our communities, we see sister’s quelling, calling themselves different negative names, shouting at each other, living in biting and tearing. Today, we are reminded that we are supposed to live in closest union with one another. There should be Peace, unity and love among ourselves. We should develop team spirit of togetherness. Our communities should be a home and not a house. We should remember that “IN UNITY WE STAND”.

Living in Disunion is never healthy to any human life because it does not promote prosperity and this is why our Father Founder said that “Nothing is more detrimental to the congregation than Disunion among the members and lf it is among the councillors, it is disastrous. He aslo said that Superiors are in the best position to promote this unity. Knowing fully well that we are all Superiors in our various places of work. Even the Sister that is assigned to take care of the toilet is also a superior there. May we always strive to bloom wherever God has planted us by Himself.

2. PAYING TOO MUCH ATTENTION TO WORLDLY QUALIFICATION: We Should equally pay serious attention to this because most times, we forget our main purpose of becoming a religious. We see sisters crying and being unhappy simply because they were assigned to work in the kitchen and when you approach them, they will tell you that all their sets members have been sent to school.

My dear young heererians, Are we called to be sent to school in order to achieve worldly qualifications or to work for God? If all the Srs should go to school at the same time, who will now look after their stomach? who will also sew their habits?. May we always tell ourselves that any apostolate given to us at a particular point in time in the year is where God wants me to work for Him and we should try to do it with divine Joy.

3. Living with Pride: We should avoid all sorts of pride so that we
be able to live in HUMILITY. The legitimate pride we should only cultivate is loving our congregation, maintaining it’s Spirit, Nature, Charism, Secret and Objectives.

4. NOT ATTENDING MASS, CONFESSION, AND RETREAT REGULARLY: All Srs should always go for the Holy Mass daily. In Jesus, we draw more strength to live for Him.

Moreover, We should also avoid any prolonged visit of Priests in the parlour and never Solus cum sola( a lonely man with a lonely woman). Hence as superiors we are, we should strive to be on guard so as to bring about an effective disappearance of these defects through the powerful intercession of Our Lady, Amen.

“You Superiors must be so imbued with humility that all the members would easily catch the spirit and practical* *humility radiating from* *you.” (15th Oct. 1959 ).

REFLECTION:BY SR. MARIA JULIET NWACHUKWU

Today our Father Founder calls our attention to the core of our Spirit which is HUMILITY. This identifies who we are as religious belonging to the Sisters of Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ. This is the value of our calling; that Gospel value; an aspect of JESUS’ life that our Founder wants us to live – a mark and flavour that colours all our actions and interactions with others. Incidentally our superiors are meeting today for a workshop and we wish them happy learning with a promise of our prayers. Our Founder, though addressing the Superiors, we must bear in mind that our Founder speaks to all of as we are all superiors in our respective areas. It will be wonderful if you will join me to dig deep into this message. Our Founder is only pointing at one thing repeatedly, *the mark of a good religious, which is* *_humility_*. He was quite straightforward to use the image of a *Superior* as one who has greater responsibility in leading and directing others. The core of this message is that our lives (practically) lead others to God, whether as a Leader or a follower. Our God given responsibilities as religious has in no little measure, made us superiors and we must be the fairest in virtues especially that of humility which is living the TRUTH. Truth like a light lightens everywhere. Our Founder insists that our life of humility must be such that others will easily be attracted to God by our lives. To be a Superior also requires us to be quite exceptional in goodness and in simplicity so as to be effective in preaching and in living the gospel value. To be Superior is not limited to being in charge of people. By our calling, all of us are expected to lead others in their faith in God. By our calling to religious life, we are also called to collective responsibility to edify others as a special group. In this way, our religious life achieves its purpose through collective responsibility, where every member has a quota to contribute towards the up building of our religious family and God’s kingdom here on earth.  Finally our Father Founder further stressed that … *practical humility* *must radiate* *from us so that others* *can easily catch the* *spirit*. This simply implies that we owe a lot to people who come in contact with us. Our live of humility need to be such that no one will be in doubt to spot us out as humble and compassionate Sisters. People will not need to ask us “which is your congregation? because our actions will convince them of our identity. Let us therefore strive to acquire the virtue of humility. Let us stick to the good we know and let others come to know the good we know. Remember as Superiors we have to be firm in goodness, especially as pertaining to our religious calling. May God help us to be faithful, available and responsible in carrying out our Mission as religious and be God’s representative in our different areas of life.

*THURSDAY 22ND OCTOBER, 2020*

**BUT I WARN YOU TO BE SURE THAT THE HOUSE IS SUCH AS WILL BE CONDUCIVE TO THE  LIFE OF A RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY.** (8th Jan. 1963)

*Reflection:* BY. SR. Maria Juliet Nwachukwu, IHM

Whenever it comes to the matter of material and spiritual needs, there is always a tendency to be meticulous in the use of terms, in other to be absolute and direct.

I have strictly observed that all the words of our Father Founder is deep rooted in both human and spiritual growth.

He fully envisioned what religious life is and what it will be, and made it clearer that there should be material and spiritual support in order to be proficient in our ministry.

For our convents to be conducive, what does it imply? Conducive does not necessarily mean how equipped and how well furnished our communities should be.  The *conducive* I perceived here, is the peace and tranquillity we transmit in our various communities, and how far we are able to accept and make it our home.

Of course, He was very keen in addressing the issue of our physical structure, because he wants the best for his daughters.

In making our convents conducive requires the collaborative support of every member in the community, bringing in our individual gifts and talents. The furniture in the community, for example, need to be clean and repaired on time before they get too bad. Sometimes, these are neglected and newer ones are procured only to be neglected again until they get too bad. Maintenance culture is part of making the convent physically conducive for religious life.  Such neglects infringes on our collective poverty. 

Secondly for our communities to be conducive does not require luxury, not extravagance, nor unnecessary relaxation. Rather, those comforts is important for our physical and spiritual nourishment to be effective in our *Mission* and *Ministry*.

“… It should be conducive to the life of a religious community” means it should be a holy place dedicated for those aspiring for holiness.

Thanks to our leaders both past and present for their illustrious supports in ensuring that they meet the demands of our Founder… God bless them for their efforts.

Finally to my fellow Young Heerians, the future is already bright let us keep the flag flying Let us love and cherish our God given communities and make them a place to live and conducive for others  bearing in mind that it is a holy place too. Remember! to be conducive is not only to be *_okay,_* but to be *_okay_* and available for *Mission* and **Ministry* as an Apostolic Religious…*God bless us all. As we join in prayer for the anniversary of the Dedication of our Novitiate Chapel Nkpor, let us equally commend our Institute and individual communities to the hand of God. Amen!

*THURSDAY 15 OCTOBER, 2020*

*ST. TERESA OF AVILA, V AND D Mem*

“There is a legitimate pride in one’s Congregation that is a virtue: loving one’s Congregation, maintaining its spirit, charism, nature, secret, objectives, being satisfied and fulfilled in it as well as helping to promote all these. This type of pride you should strive to promote from the early stage of formation and continued in all stages of on-going religious formation.” (15TH OCTOBER 1959)

*REFLECTION: LET’S BUILD RATHER THAN DESTROY*

By Sr. Philo Mariette Ifeanyi 

There is this popular Igbo saying that “only a foolish child comes out in public to say that his/her mother’s soup is not sweet.” And St. Teresa of Avila whose memorial we celebrate today said that *“Humility is truth.”* That is, humility is the moral virtue by which we have an accurate opinion of ourselves, seeing ourselves as God sees us.

Our beloved Founder knew that in the quest to practice humility, many may fall into *false humility.* This is why He said that we should strive for this type of pride of loving our Congregation and being interested in the affairs of the Congregation. We should be careful not to confuse humility with timidity and mediocrity.

Today our Founder is encouraging us to have a sense of  belongingness, build, promote and love our own religious family. We need to avoid nonchalant attitudes towards the affairs of our Congregation. We are called to refrain from using some unbecoming words like, ‘I don’t care’, ‘that is their business’, ‘they didn’t accept my own opinion’, ‘it is their fault,’ ‘it is the fault of the leaders’, ‘they are not doing well at all’ etc. Let us with true humility help to build up our congregation by making good suggestions because this is our home, our husband’s house, it is our collective business.

There are many things to take pride of in our Religious Institute. Dear Sisters, let us make out time to admire both our spiritual and material gifts; our name, Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ; our habit, veil, it’s style and shape; our Congregational prayers; our formation; our charism and spirit; our mission and apostolates; our leaders, etc. We should bear in mind that true humility is truth, not timidity, not mediocrity; it’s God’s gifts and we are to be grateful to God by loving His gifts to us. 

I wrap up this reflection by quoting Most Rev. Valerian Okeke, on the 29th day of September during the opening of our International Secretariat, he said, *“it is awkward for a giant to behavior like a dwarf, and vice versa.”* Lack of interest, holy pride can make a giant to act like a dwarf.  God in his infinite goodness has blessed our congregation in many ways; the first indigenous congregation in Igboland. We have all it takes to be the light bears of what religious like stands for. We are to really strive to be that fairest among others in virtues and fidelity to the values of religious life. We must take pride in our customs and traditions and truly love them. 

Let us pray through our Lady, whose name we bear and on whom our beloved Founder placed our care to help us and teach us the best way to practice virtues especially humility.

Immaculate Heart of Mary… Pray for us

*The Holy Rosary similarly helps devotion and love for our Blessed Mother.*( Lenten Pastoral 1961)

*REFLECTION* By Sr. Rose Marilyn Onwurah, IHM

Here indeed are refined words, ensuing from a heart that was truly devoted to the Holy Queen of Heaven. We hear the  testimony of a man whose love for the Blessed Mother of God conquered the usual slothfulness that is often the challenge of praying the Rosary. For regardless the hustle and rustle of each day, our heroic father Heerey never hesitated to adorn the glorious Queen with the wreaths of roses from the complete decade of the Rosary.

He was never satisfied with his love for Mary, he sought each day the best way of being intimately devoted to her, for he seemed to grasp the truth of those convincing words of Saint John Paul ll that “from Mary we learn to trust even when all hope seems gone. From Mary we learn to love Christ Her Son   and the Son of God.” And it is with the Rosary among other means that we can express our ardent love for Mary since nothing is as pleasing to Her as the Angelic Psalter (Rosary) with which she promised to obtain peace for the world, conversion of hearts, grace of holiness and God’s blessings.

Our Founder invites us today to be faithful to the praying of the Rosary devoutly, to learn to pray the Rosary even when we’re walking on the streets, and not to be ashamed of what people will think or say.  He expects us to be the greatest lovers of Mary who will lead others to Her through a life of virtues.

Let us resolve this day to avoid every distractions during the praying of the Rosary, to learn to offer many rosaries to our Lady and to encourage others to do same. And above all to pray always through the intercession of Mary our Mother for the grace of true devotion to Her and a burning love for God. Amen

Immaculate Heart of Mary….Pray for us.

*FEAST OF THE MOST HOLY ROSARY*

 *What was my spirit in founding the congregation?. My intention was that of the Holy See, namely to have a body of the sisters consecrated to God, taken from among the people of the country, who would serve the people in schools, in hospitals, in clinics, in leproseries, in orphanages, helping to sanctify the people by their teaching and* *examples.( 30th May, 1966)

*REFLECTION* By Sr. Rose Marilyn Onwurah, IHM

In a society where both religious and secular institutions are founded for the founders’ prestige and honour, there our own founder says ” my intention was that of the Holy See, to have a body of Sisters consecrated to God…who would serve and sanctify the people by their teaching and examples. “

Of course such intention may seem awkward for one who knows little or nothing of Heerey’s love for his beloved Nigerians and precisely the Igbo race whose ignorance before their emancipation barred them from certain privileges. And so the purpose of our foundation is that we continue that mission of love which aims at saving souls for God through a life of service. In other words, our founder’s intention was not that we become workers in our various places of apostolate, but that we become servants and saviours, for it by serving that we sanctify and by sanctifying we save.

As we celebrate the 83rd anniversary of our foundation today, let us resolve to descend from our various ‘donkeys, ‘ gird ourselves with the cords of humility and compassion woven for us by our holy founder, and serve the people entrusted to our care in such a manner that will  make them holier and nearer to God. Let us avoid scandalizing them with unbecoming expressions and ill-mannered behaviours. AND TRY TO BE THE FAIREST IN ALL THINGS AND AT ALL TIMES.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY THE GREAT HEERIANS.

May the Immaculate Heart of Mary be our refuge and strength, Amen.

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