Society of the Holy Child Jesus @ 175, An Opportunity to “return to our roots”: Member

A poster announcing the 175th Anniversary celebration of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus (SHCJ) in the African Province. Credit: SHCJ

As Sisters of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus (SHCJ) celebrate 175 years since the Society was founded, a member belonging to the African Province has said the anniversary celebrations offer an opportunity to look back at the Society’s “roots”.

In an interview with ACI Africa, Sr. Teresa Okure said the anniversary provides an occasion for SHCJ members to thank God for their Society.

“Our celebration of the 175th anniversary of the foundation of our Society of the Holy Child Jesus (SHCJ) is an occasion for us to express our profound gratitude to God for the gift of the Society to the Church in the world,” Sr. Okure told ACI Africa Tuesday, August 17.

“In the Spirit of the Biblical Jubilee (Lev 25:8-22), we return to our SHCJ roots,” the Nigerian-born Sister added, describing the SHCJ roots as “God's foundational gift to the Society as contained in our Foundation Texts and Constructions approved by the Church.”

During the anniversary celebrations, Sr. Okure further said, “We evaluate how faithfully we have lived true to our charism and mission in the community and in all our diverse ministries and interactions at all levels; and express gratitude for what we did well and repentance for our failings.”


Founded in 1846 in Derby, England by Cornelia Connelly, SHCJ seeks to help others to believe that God lives and acts in them and in our world, and to rejoice in God's presence.

Throughout Africa, Europe, North America, and South America, close to 400 SHCJ members advocate for the dignity of women, men, and children through ministries in education, spirituality, health care, social work, pastoral care, parish administration, and law.

Headquartered in Rome, the Society comprises European, American, and African Provinces.

In the August 17 interview, Sr. Okure who is a professor of Scripture and gender hermeneutics at the Catholic Institute of West Africa (CIWA) in Port Harcourt expressed gratitude to God for bring the Society to Africa.

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“We thank God for bringing and establishing the Society of the Holy Child Jesus in Africa, for the many multifaceted works that the Society has been given to accomplish globally and in many countries in Africa, for the multiplier effects of these ministries, especially in training church personnel, laity, lay leaders, religious and clergy,” Sr. Okure told ACI Africa.

She continued, “We thank God for our many and diverse collaborators in our different ministries.”

In the African Province, several activities have been organized to mark the anniversary celebrations.

On July 30, SHCJ members held a virtual meeting to reflect on the 175 years of the existence of the Society.


Speaking at the virtual event, Sr. Okure encouraged her colleagues in the Society to use the anniversary celebrations to deepen their relationship with God and by becoming “Eucharist for others”.

“We cannot truly deepen our relationship with God in Christ unless we set ourselves to become Eucharist for others to eat and have life in its fullness,” she said, and added, “We cannot deepen our relationship with God in Christ, yet stay put in our ghettos and cliques and comfort zones.”

Sr. Okure continued, “We cannot be in Christ, develop and deepen our relationship with God through the Holy Child and at the same time promote racism, tribalism, sexism, all the anthropological isms that Jesus demolished, bulldozed and destroyed by his death on the cross, creating a new humanity a new anthropology in him.”

“We need to review our actions and make up our minds to live in all respects as Christ lived, to do nothing except what we see God in Christ doing; we need to buttress our faith in this reality, to support one another in this truth and to proclaim this truth to others,” she further said during the July 30 webinar. 

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On August 7, SHCJ members of the African Province gathered at the Epiphany Catholic Parish of Nigeria’s Lagos Archdiocese for Holy Mass, thanking God for His unconditional love, grace and fidelity for the past 175 years.

Five Sisters made their perpetual profession and another set of five Sisters celebrated their Silver Jubilee during the Eucharistic celebration that was presided over by Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins of Lagos Archdiocese.

In his homily during the August 7 event, Archbishop Adewale noted 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 encouraged SHCJ members to “remain relevant and committed to the mission and to community living, to pursue holiness of life, and to be constant in prayer.”

In the August 17 interview with ACI Africa, Sr. Okure noted that SHCJ members have “gained from the events that mark this celebration (the jubilee prayer, community, celebrations at the community, zones and Province levels) with renewed zeal and impetus to move into the future with faith, hope and courage.”

She added, “We discern with the guidance of the Spirit new ways to live out our charism and mission in today's world, paying particular attention to new calls in the universal church, as spearhead by Pope Francis, and the call of Venerable Cornelia Connelly (Founders of the SHCJ) always to strive to meet the wants of the age in our ministries.”

The Nigerian Sister urged the people of God in Africa to “assume personal responsibility to discover and believe that God lives and acts in them and in our world and to rejoice in God's presence.”

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.