The Nigeria Conference of Women Religious (NCWR), or Women Religious, assembled on Ash Wednesday at the Unity Fountain in the Abuja area following a call for a public gathering from the Major Superiors of Female Religious Congregations in Nigeria. The theme of the concourse was “Nigerian Catholic Nuns Uphold the Sacredness of Life,” and its purpose was to decry the disturbing rates of manslaughter and other social injustices within the country.
The gathering began with a Rosary Procession, followed by a talk delivered by Sr. Mary Onoshiokhie Ekwe, O.P, in which she expanded on the theme of the day by exalting the dignity of human life.
Proceeding Sr. Mary’s speech, other sisters made interventions that Women Religious should use the mediums of our respected ministries to conscientize our students, patients, and clients on the sacredness of human life and the need to protect and preserve it. The gathering concluded with the Prayer of the Faithful in which sisters from different Congregations prayed for various intentions that acknowledged the needs of the Nigerian nation.
Sr. Mary’s talk communicated the message of the event by identifying the injustices in Nigeria and addressing the necessity of obtaining national security. She noted that God created man in the image of himself and, consequently, the human person created in the image of God is sacred and no single life is more precious than another. She observed that the power to create and take life is reserved to God alone and no human being has the right to destroy what he can not create.
Sr. Mary revealed that our individual congregational mission statement calls us to share in Jesus’s life giving mission. Accordingly, she challenged Women Religious to seek ways to muster all of their God-given resources, in their various areas of apostolate and ministry, in order to uphold the dignity of human life, protect it from harm, and ensure that it thrives in accordance with God’s creation.
The talk also addressed the fears and concerns regarding the alarming wave of violent communal clashes including the kidnapping and trafficking of human persons. More importantly, Sr. Mary bemoaned the senseless killings and deliberate destruction of human lives that generate fear as well as a sense of helplessness among Nigerians.
She regretted that the Nigerian Government and Law Enforcement Agencies are unable or unwilling to prevent these criminal acts in their own land despite their reputation of bringing order into chaotic situations and establishing peace in the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS countries.
Sr. Mary proffered a way forward, though, by saying that Nigeria can be healed once more if we the people of God can turn to our creator and plead for his mercy. Additionally, Sr. Mary prompted us to call on the government to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice in a transparent process and equip the Law Enforcement Agencies with the resources they need to combat these evils, thereby reassuring Nigerians that they are safe in their own land.