Ikorodu (Nigeria). On 8 December 2022, on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, in Ikorodu (Immole kekele) the canonical erection of Mary Help of Christians Community took place, the first Community of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Nigeria, established by Sr. Dieudonne Jean Louis, the Animator, Sr. Jacqueline George, and Sr. Dagba Vida.
On 15 November 2019, the day when Blessed Maddalena Morano is commemorated, Sr. Justina Egbedike and Sr. Dieudonne Jean Louis set foot on Nigerian soil for the first time, sent as a simple presence among the young people through parish service, and had been welcomed by the Salesians of Don Bosco of St. Artemide Zatti Province (AFW), present in Nigeria since 2011. Three years later, on the day of the Immaculate Conception, the dream of the Mother of God Province (AFO), cultivated for several years, became a reality.
About seventy of the faithful from the parishes of Divine Mercy and the Blessed Virgin Mary of Ikorodu took part in the inaugural Eucharistic celebration. Fr. Joe Ben, pastor of Divine Mercy Parish, presided over the celebration on behalf of the Archbishop of Lagos, Msgr. Alfred Adewale Martins, and seven priests concelebrated, including two SDBs.
The welcoming ceremony began with the blessing of the altar, the tabernacle, and the pulpit of the new community chapel, which was followed by Holy Mass. In his homily, Fr. Joe Ben recalled Johnny Bosco’s dream at nine years of age, and Don Bosco’s meeting with Bartolomeo Garelli as significant events at the beginning of the Salesian work. In concluding, he thanked the Provincial, Sr. Yvette Badini; Sr. Yvonne Ouedraogo, Animator of the Community of Cotonou in Benin; Sr. Frances Xavier Mbamara and Sr. Mary Dominica Uzoeto, who were present to support the nascent Community.
Subsequently, the Provincial, in the name of the Mother General of the FMA Institute, Sr. Chiara Cazzuola, read the decree of canonical erection of the new Community, followed by words of gratitude from the Animator, Sr. Dieudonne Jean Louis, who recalled the coincidence with the events of the 150th anniversary of the Foundation of the Institute (1872-2022) and of the birth of the 1st Oratory on 8 December 1841, and continued by saying:
“We cannot stop thanking God for the marvels accomplished in the life of this first FMA community in Nigeria. Three years after our arrival in the country and in a moment of crisis for the world and for Nigeria itself, the Lord, through the Virgin Help of Christians, granted us the grace to be able to construct this building which we inaugurate today. She’s the one who did it all. We are witnesses of this”.
She then expressed her gratitude, in particular to Msgr. Martin Adwele for his warm welcome in the Archdiocese and to the Salesian confreres who were the first to welcome them; to the FMA Institute, to Mother General emeritus, Sr. Yvonne Reungoat; and to the former Provincial, Sr. Yolande Kikange who supported and accompanied them in all the steps; to Sr. Yvette and the current Council; to all the communities of the AFO Province who contributed with sacrifices and prayers to the construction and furnishing of the house; to the children and to the young people, parishioners, benefactors, and all who have contributed in various ways to the realization of this dream.
As an expression of communion with the whole Institute, the FMA present at the Ceremony sang the hymn “Oh qual sorte”.
After the Holy Mass, the priests, the faithful, and the FMA went to the Marian grotto for the blessing, which was followed by the blessing of the house. The happy event of grace concluded with a fraternal lunch.
The FMA of Mary Help of Christians Community and the whole AFO Province continue to count on the prayers of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and of the whole Salesian Family, so that this mission may flourish and bear abundant fruit, for the glory of God and the salvation of the young.