11th of April, 2023 was a day among others in the history and life of the Religious Institute of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ when a long dreamt Hospital which came to reality was officially opened.
The official opening of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Specialist Hospital, Nkpor, Anambra State, Nigeria was held at the hospital premises. It attracted dignitaries from around the State, the Church and the Health Sector.
The feeling in the atmosphere of the day was captured in the statement by Mother Mary Claude Oguh, IHM, the Superior General of the IHM Religious Institute when she said; “Today, we are happy that God has brought us to yet another milestone in the healthcare ministry by the establishment of this Immaculate Heart of Mary Hospital situated here at Nkpor-Agu.”
Most Rev. Valerian Maduka Okeke, the Archbishop of Onitsha Archdiocese and the Metropolitan of Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province led in the Opening Mass. He concelebrated with Most Rev. Augustine Ukwuoma, bishop of Orlu Diocese and Most Rev. Denis Chidi Isuzoh, the bishop of Aguleri Diocese. A host of Monsignors and Priests from the Archdiocese and the neighboring dioceses joined in the celebration.
Other dignitaries include the representative of the Anambra State Governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, Mr. Peter Obi, the Labour Party Presidential candidate and ex- governor of Anambra State, the State Commissioner for Health, Dr Afam Obidike, the chairman of the occasion Dr. ABC Orjiakor, Nkpor traditional ruler and members of his cabinet, members of IHM Sisters’ Hospitals Board, many others from different walks of life with religious men and women.
In his homily, Archbishop Okeke expounded the need for ‘Service of Excellence’ in the establishment and other apostolates. According to him, “excellence is ongoing, it is goodness maintained as a lifestyle and it satisfies expectations and gives joy. In the health apostolate, it is one of the areas that calls for service of excellence especially when it comes from the Church.” He encouraged the administration to work as a team in order to render a service of excellence.
The Superior General, highlighting further the Hospital as a progressive accomplishment of the ‘founding reason’ of the IHM Religious Institute, with God behind every step said: “We recognize the great gift of God and grace. It can only be by his grace. What we are doing today is one of those legacies left for us by our Congregation. In his founding statement (Archbishop Heerey), he said that he has established a Congregation of the native people taken from among the people to minister to the people in education and health care.”
Prof. Emmanuel Esenwa, the chairman of the IHM Sisters’ Healthcare System Board expressing his delight in the facility and the occasion said, “I am happy. This is the first of its kind by a faith-based organization in Nigeria. In fact, I felt the spirit and courage of Immaculate Heart Sisters. The size of this project is enough to discourage anybody.”
Other highlights of the day were an Award ceremony, unveiling of the statue of Archbishop Charles Heerey, the founder of IHM Sisters, unveiling of the Foundation Plaque and the cutting of the ribbon which declares the hospital open.
The day kick-started with Free Medical Checks and Treatment by the Medical personnel of the Hospital and ended with entertainment of dance by the members of Staff of the Hospital. It was certainly a day to remember by all who witnessed the celebration.
Sr. Mary Judith Ezeogu, IHM