Sister Helena Adaku Ogbuji
IT IS THE LORD’S DOING
It all started as a joke, when as a young girl I used to tell my elder brother that I would like to be a Sister. And I praise God that I am a Catholic Sister today, not because I am worthy of the calling, but because God’s grace is sufficient for me. I am the second child and the first daughter of a Catholic family of five, a Nigerian by nationality. My father died when we were still very young and my Mum continued with the noble work of bringing us up in the Catholic faith. Her firm belief in God made me a strong and committed Catholic to the glory of God.
The strong desire to join religious life came after my secondary (high) school education. But, my brother, who was then in the seminary would not hear me mention it. He told me that unless I attended an institution of higher learning, I should not join. I obeyed him and waited for God’s time.
At that time, I was employed in a bank as a cashier, and I worked there for seven years. During that time, I was communicating with some Congregations in Nigeria. When these seven years elapsed, I went back to school according to my brother’s plan and studied political science and public administration. His hope was that before I graduated from the university, I would meet “Mr. Right.” Actually, the burning desire to join religious life faded away during that time. It was reawakened when I got to know the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, through my elder brother, and I started communicating with them.
Sister Francesca Kearns was then the Vocation Director for the African Region. The thing that captured my attention in her first letter to me, apart from her quick reply, was the call of our beloved Founder Bishop Dubuis: “Our Lord Jesus Christ, suffering in the multitude of sick and infirm of every kind, seeks relief at your hands.” We continued to communicate with each other until she visited my home. Her simplicity made me conclude that this Congregation was the right place to be, and I stopped communicating with the Congregations that I was aspiring to in Nigeria.
Before I joined, I had many doubts and fears about foreign Congregations. But, when I was invited to Kenya, I experienced the hospitality, generosity and concern of the Sisters, which made me feel at home immediately. I became a Postulant in January 2005, and a Novice on December 8, 2005.
During these years, I got to know more about religious life in general, and our way of life, charism and spirituality in particular. I grew and continue to grow in my prayer life, which facilitates my personal relationship with the Incarnate Word; for I know a prayer-less religious person is a powerless religious person. I also learned how to balance and integrate prayer with community life and ministry. I know that it is in community that we support, encourage and challenge one another to greatness; bearing in mind that no one is an island and no one can make it alone. We live our vows faithfully within the context and support of community members.
On December 8, 2007, to the glory of God, I made my First Profession of Vows, and consecrated my life totally and gladly to God, the Church and my Congregation. Our Congregational Leader, Sister Lillian Anne Healy received my vows. I am so grateful to God that my Mum and my younger sister witnessed this great event despite the distance. This was just the beginning of the journey ahead, the stepping out on faith and becoming the body of Jesus broken for the world; to share my gift and who I am generously and to live my commitment faithfully and with gladness. The conviction of and the confidence in the love of God has sustained me and made me request to make my Perpetual Vows which the Leadership Team graciously granted. And on April 27, 2013, I made my final commitment to God in the hands of Sister Lillian Anne Healy, our Congregational Leader.
Currently, my ministry is the religious formation of our Sisters in annual vows in the U.S., as well as the International Formation Coordination. I am grateful to God who accepted me to serve Him in spite of my unworthiness. I thank God for my family members who supported me in many ways, especially my elder brother, Fr. Vincent Udo, who discovered our Congregation for me. That is why whenever people wonder how I got to know our Congregation, since we are not currently in Nigeria, I always answer, it is the Lord’s doing. I appreciate and praise God for our Congregational leaders and my Sisters who are there for me in prayer, support and love. Praised be the Incarnate Word for His love and care.