Mother Mary Claude Oguh, the Superior General of IHM Sisters along with seven other Priests of the Onitsha Archdiocese received Papal Awards on 1st September, 2022 at the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity, Onitsha. While the priests were elevated to the honor of Papal Chamberlains (Monsignori), the IHM Superior General received the Benemerenti Medal.
The Benemerenti Medal is a medal awarded by the Pope to members of the clergy and laity for long and exceptional service to the Catholic Church. It was established in 1832 by Pope Gregory XIV.
Recipients of the awards were invested within the Holy Mass presided over by Most Rev. Valerian Maduka Okeke. Priests, Religious, parishes, friends and families attended the occasion in numbers to participate in the celebration.
“Hand on the baton of faith. Be good fathers.” These are part of the advice the Archbishop gave to the recipients of the awards in his homily.
After the Mass, IHM Institute organized a reception for the Superior General at the Basilica’s Shanahan Hall. Some Executive members of NCWR (Nigerian Conference of Women Religious) to which Mother Mary Claude is the President, with some other members were there to share the joy. All the Sisters present showered her with love, appreciation and encouragement.
In reply, the Superior General appreciated the Archbishop for recommending her for the honor. “Honour to me is honor to the Institute”, she said. She thanked the Institute for the support at all times. She attributed the honor given her to the collaborative efforts of the Sisters at different places of apostolates at different times. Therefore, it is a collective honor. She was grateful to God who made it possible.
The Religious Institute of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ was grateful to Most Rev. Valerian Maduka Okeke who recognize the efforts and hard work of the Superior General and nominated her for the award. He proved true to one of the mantras of his ministry – ‘Gratitude’, gratitude to the contributions in the Archdiocese and the Church at large.
It was an encouraging celebration for the Church in the Archdiocese and IHM Sisters.