African Sisters come home to Ireland

22 May 2005


22 MAY 2005


The official Diocesan welcome for the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
Mother of Christ Missionary Order took place in Kildare Parish Church today,
Sunday 22nd May 2005.

The Sisters are taking up residence in Kildare Town in the house formally
occupied by the De la Salle Brothers at the invitation of Dr James Moriarty
the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin.

The Sisters will be part of the on-going effort in the Diocese of Kildare
and Leighlin to develop a ministry to the very large migrant population.

Welcoming the Sisters on behalf of the diocese Fr Adrian Carbery, Parish
Priest of Kildare said: “I look forward to the mutual enrichment that will
take place for us all as the Sisters unite their experiences and their gifts
with ours in the parish and the diocese.”

The Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ Order was founded in 1937
by Archbishop Charles Heerey C.S.S.p a native of County Cavan. Archbishop
Heerey’s vision for the Order was to uplift the status of women in an
environment where only boys attended school and to provide education and
support for Christian family life. He instilled in the Order the same
missionary spirit that brought him to Nigeria from Ireland. The Order
currently has a presence in Africa, Italy, Germany, England, Canada,
America and the Caribbean.

Speaking at the welcome ceremony in Kildare Sr Merilyn Umunnakwe Superior
of the Order said: “Our homecoming to Ireland, the land of our founding
father Archbishop Heerey is the realisation of a long-term dream of the
Sisters. We look forward to working with the parish and the diocese in
furthering the development of a ministry to the many people who have
come from different parts of the world to settle here in Kildare and
in the surrounding areas.”

The official welcome ceremony comprised a special Mass concelebrated by
Dr James Moriarty, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin and a reception afterwards
in Kildare parish hall during which the Sisters were able to meet people
from the parish and the diocese.

22 May2005

Further information:
Brenda Drumm, Communications Officer (087 233 7797)
Fr Mícheál Murphy, Diocesan Communications Officer (086 8244629)

* The Sisters from the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ Order
settling in Kildare are:
Sr. Marilyn Umannakwe (Superior)
Sr. Mary Mildred Umeh
Sr. Maria Ifechukwu Gloria Chinyere Osuizugbe
Sr. Chinyere Eucharia Udeh and
Sr. Maria Giovani Philips

* The Mission Statement of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ
Order is: We, the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ
are a community of women religious who draw strength from our closeness to
Jesus and Mary. Called to imitate Christ in the humble and loving service
of all people, we strive to empower women and children, uplift family values
and respond to the missionary call of the Church.

* The Biography of Archbishop Charles Heerey, C.S.S.p follows below.

* The website of the order is:

* The Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin has:
56 parishes; 110 priests/parish pastoral workers;
a Catholic population of approximately 200,000 and 117 Catholic Churches.
The Patrons of the Diocese are St Brigid, St Conleth and St Lazerain.
The Diocese includes County Carlow and parts of Counties Kildare, Laois,
Offaly, Kilkenny, Wicklow and Wexford.

Biography: Archbishop Charles Heerey, C.S.Sp.
1890 – 1967

“You are to be Missionaries. To be a good Missionary, you must be entirely unselfish.”

Charles Heerey was born November 29, 1890, in County Cavan, Ireland, in the
diocese of Kilmore. He received his high school education in Blackrock College,
Dublin. He matriculated in 1910 and entered the Novitiate of the Holy Ghost
Congregation. He enrolled in the Faculty of Arts in University College, Dublin,
where he graduated in Theology. He was ordained a priest on September 24, 1921.

In 1922, he was appointed to the Vicariate of Southern Nigeria. He arrived in
Calabar and was appointed a curate in Calabar township where he worked zealously
for two years. He was then posted to Saint Paul’s Seminary in Igbariam where
he taught Philosophy. On February 27, 1927, he was appointed co-adjutor to
Bishop Shanahan. In May 27, he was consecrated a Bishop. He succeeded Bishop
Shanahan as Vicar Apostolic of Onitsha on May 21, 1931.

Archbishop Charles Heerey was deeply devoted to the Rosary throughout his
life, the devotion which his flock inherited. Constant pastoral vigilance
was one of the outstanding charms of his long reign of forty years. His
courageous spirit was never daunted by illnesses. He was never idle. Prayer,
preaching, administration of the sacraments and writings filled his days.

The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ is a child of
the inspiration he had when he went on a pilgrimage to Lourdes in the early
1930s. As he was praying, he was thinking of the needs of the women of Nigeria.
He got an inspiration: “Found a Congregation of indigenous women.” He also
founded the Saint Peter Claver Brothers, the All Hallows’ Junior Seminary
at Onitsha and the Bigard Memorial Senior Seminary at Enugu. He established
2,761 primary schools, 36 teacher-training colleges and 108 high schools.
He also founded several Catholic hospitals.

His Grace, Archbishop Charles Heerey, C.S.Sp, died on February 7, 1967.