Despite the threats, Nigerian religious women carrying on

18 January 2019
Nigerian Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Image: Vatican News.


Religious Sisters in Nigeria say that fear of abductions is not stopping them from carrying out their responsibilities.

“It is frightening…but what can you do? It is not stopping us from carrying on with our responsibilities. We get up in the morning, give ourselves over to God that he takes care of the day, and then you go about your responsibilities. Whatever comes up, God will take absolute care of it.

That is our attitude,” says Mother Mary Claude Oguh, Superior General of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Mother of Christ. She was responding to a question on how women religious, in Nigeria, are coping in the face of kidnappings and abductions.

Thank God, apart from the depressing news of Boko Haram atrocities in the north-eastern part of Nigeria, Christmas and New Year festivities passed without a significant incident targeting the Church or its personnel.

Shocking abductions of Church personnel

In 2018 and the recent years before, priests and religious women have become targets of abductions in Nigeria. Criminals kidnap religious women and priests on the assumption that congregations or dioceses will pay a ransom for the release of one of their own.

It is not only Church personnel who are targets of kidnappings and abductions. Yet the abductions of Church personnel sends a chilling message about personal safety.

While Nigeria’s politicians, wealthy business people and foreign diplomats react with more armed security and blacked-out car windows, Church personnel and ordinary Nigerians do not have this option.

Religious women not succumbing to fear

It is disturbing to know that for all the good, that Nigerian religious women do, they have to live with the threat of being abducted at any time.

Mother Mary Claude says she has not changed any of her work routine in spite of the kidnappings. She still travels to visit her communities spread throughout Nigeria.

We cannot abandon our children in school

The Sisters do not go about putting themselves in harm’s way, says Mother Mary Claude. Consecrated women try to be security conscious and prudent as they go about their daily chores.

A few years ago, Mother Mary Claude says she tried to close one of their convents in a troubled region of Nigeria where the security of the Sisters could not be guaranteed. Her own Sisters declined to move. They told her, “But we have our children here in the school. We wouldn’t want to leave them and move.”

And so, they continue to work, travel and get on with their lives and apostolates.

With thanks to Vatican News and Paul Samasumo, where this article originally appeared.



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