Society of the Holy Child Jesus

Society of the Holy Child Jesus

Founded, Date/Place 1846, England
Foundress Venerable Mother Cornelia Connelly
Canonical Status Pontifical Right, 1887
Motto Actions not words
Charism To imitate and follow the Holy Child Jesus in the way of simplicity, humility, obedience, charity, joy accepted suffering and zeal in the apostolate
Mission Statement To help others to believe that God lives and acts in them and in our world, and to rejoice in his presence
Purpose To be God's mercy and Mary's compassion in the world especially through the apostolate of education and related Pastoral and Spiritual Ministries

Sr. Philomina Aidoo, SHCJ
Province Leader: Sr. Philomina Aidoo, SHCJ

Society of the Holy Child Jesus
Cornelian House
16 Keffi Street, (Off Awolowo Street)
P. O. Box 52465,
Ikoyi Post Office, Lagos State

Mobile: +234 808 402 5272, +2348084025272



Our Apostolate

Foundation and the Foundress
Cornelia Connelly prayed for a name to give the Congregation she founded. She received the inspiration and grace to name it Society of the Holy Child Jesus. The Society was founded in Derby, England, by Cornelia Connelly, an American woman, a wife, mother, convert, religious, foundress, and an educationist in 1846. Cornelia was invited by Bishop, later, Cardinal Wiseman, to begin a religious Congregation for the education of girls.

It was at a time when Catholics did not have access to education in Protestant England. On October 13, 1840, Pierce Connelly, Cornelia's husband, announced to her his desire to become a priest. After praying, discerning and testing his vocation, in March 1944, Pope Gregory gave Pierce permission to become a Catholic priest.

In June 1845 Cornelia was requested to make a solemn public vow of chastity and went to live with the nuns of Sacred Heart, at Trinita Dei Monti, Rome where she would receive instruction on the religious life. On July 6th Pierce was ordained. On October 13th, 1846 Cornelia moved into an old deserted mansion, which would become the first SHCJ convent in Derby. The next day October 14 was spent cleaning and scrubbing the house in readiness to welcome the Lord and make a home for Him in the Society of the Holy Child Jesus as the mainstream of the sisters' lives and their diverse ministries. On October 15th the first Mass was celebrated in the first SHCJ convent and the Blessed Sacrament installed. Thus October 13th, feast of St Edward of England, and October 15th, feast of St. Teresa of Avila became the foundational feast days of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus.

Spirit, Mission, Charism, and Spirituality
The basic and foundational inspiration of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus was Cornelia's awareness that God is a merciful and compassionate God. She experienced and received God's mercy and compassion herself in her life. She saw the Soc iety a s God' s channel of mercy at work in the world. It is from her knowledge of the child as a mo the r tha t she rooted the Society in the Holy Child Jesus and wanted her sisters to dip and model their lives in the well-springs of the Divine Child. The spirit and charism of the Society is that of the child: simplicity, humility, dependence based on trust born of helplessness, candour, charity, joy, innocence, unlimited elasticity of spirit, and openness to growth.

In Cornelia's conception, "the Society's primary mission was to live the Incarnation by being the presence of God's merciful love in the world. This took priority over any specific work (Informatio 228). The mission statement of the Society is "to help others believe that God lives and acts in them and in our world and to rejoice in His presence." The spirituality of the Society is apostolic spirituality in which the members identify with Christ sent by the Father to proclaim the reign of God through a life of fidelity to prayer by which they have intimate encounter and relationship with God, a life of dedication to their apostolates and preaching the gospel. It is also an incarnational spirituality of using every gift of God in creation as sources of revelation, discernment, wisdom and grace. Gospel values are highly priced and made the guide of life by the members.

To live and carry out the mission of the Society of God's mercy Cornelia chose three main ways, namely, education - of females of all classes as mandated by Pope Gregory, retreat, and parish work. Her motto for the Society of the Holy Child Jesus is "Actions not words." The ministries/apostolates of the Society in Africa over the years beginning in the thirties centred on primary evangelization through primary, secondary and Teacher Training Colleges, marriage preparations, domestic, and hygiene centres, and care of rejected twins and their mothers. Today in Nigeria as in other parts of the world we engage in different ministries ranging from teaching at all levels of education and seminary training, community, educational and human development, pastoral work in retreat, counseling, renewal programmes, catechesis, leadership, interpersonal and communication workshops, training of spiritual directors, medical (nursing, doctors and administration), secretarial work, agricultural projects.

Arrival in Nigeria
In 1928-29 when Archbishop Hinsley, Apostolic Visitor for Africa visited West Africa and saw the enormous work being done by Sr Magdalene Walker, originally Sr. Charles Walker of the Irish Sisters of Charity, in Calabar, he requested the Holy Child Sisters to come to Nigeria and help, as well as undertake the formation of the proposed Native Sisterhood, which was to be the Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus (HHCJ) and play a crucial role in its canonical formation. On 20th September 1930 two sisters of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus arrived Calabar, Nigeria, and were received by Sr. Magdalene Walker who piloted them in their early days. Soon the Holy Child Sisters began their ministry of education, pastoral work and retreat at Anua, Oron, essene, Asong, Edem Ekpat, Ndon Ebom, Ikot ekpene, Abakaliki, Afikpo, Ututu, Uyo, and Onitsha.

Special Contribution of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus to the Church in Nigeria
The Society of the Holy Child Jesus, being an institute of the consecrated life, primarily contributes to the holiness of the Church in Nigeria by the religious life of her members. We are a presence of God's mercy in the Church and of God's power in the world. We contributed to the formation of the first indigenous religious sisters, the Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus. The Institute for Teacher Training in Moral and Religious Education known as Project Time in Akoka, Lagos which today houses St Augustine's University owes its beginnings to the Society of the Holy Child Jesus. The Society has contributed in the formation of priests, seminarians, religious men and women, and the laity through seminary training, retreat direction, human development and renewal programmes, counseling, running and facilitating seminars, conferences, chapters and workshops to religious congregations and priests, and training lay people, priests and religious men and women in Spiritual direction.

The Society of the Holy Child Jesus has her Generalate at Casa Cornelia, Via della Maglianella 379, Rome, and is made up of three provinces: African, American and European Provinces. The whole Society is governed by a General Council consisting of four Sisters: the Society Leader (Superior General) and three members of her Council. Each Province is governed by a Provincial Council who oversees the affairs of the entire province and is accountable to the General Council. The Provincial House in Africa is located at 16 Keffi Street, Off Awolowo Road, South West Ikoyi, Lagos State, Nigeria, West Africa. Sr. Rose Uchenna Nwosu is the current Province Leader in the African Province.

Currently, the Sisters in the African Province are working in three countries: Nigeria, Ghana and Chad with a community of mainly student Sisters in Kenya. The Postulancy of the African Province is located in Cape Coast, Central Region of Ghana while the Novitiate is located in Jos, Plateau State, North-central of Nigeria.

As we look to the future, we, the Sisters of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, do so with enthusiasm and a spirit full of hope and trust in God who has called each of us to His special mission of serving Him in the whole of creation.

Sisters in Perpetual Vows

  1. Sr. Schulte, Ann
  2. Sr. Okure, Teresa
  3. Sr. Nya, Cecilia
  4. Sr. Ashibuogwu, Clementina
  5. Sr. Openibo, Veronica
  6. Sr. Nwosu, Rose Uchenna
  7. Sr. Atuegbu, Rosemary Ifeyinwa
  8. Sr. Okure, Bernadette Eyewan
  9. Sr. Onuora, Sophia Chizo
  10. Sr. Olagunju, Josephine
  11. Sr. Nduh, Amarachi
  12. Sr. Adigwe, Monica
  13. Sr. Adindu, Henrietta
  14. Sr. Umana, Teresa
  15. Sr. Akinwale, Mary
  16. Sr. Anto, Josephine
  17. Sr. Ekeng, Irene
  18. Sr. Huni-Dadzie, Louisa
  19. Sr. Eguh, Cecilia
  20. Sr. Solomon, Agnes
  21. Sr. Manu, Ogochukwu
  22. Sr. Onuoha, Eunice
  23. Sr. Onyemere, Angela
  24. Sr. Aidoo, Philomena
  25. Sr. Ekwedike, Ogochukwu
  26. Sr. Adinnu, Emmanuella
  27. Sr. Denkabe, Gertrude
  28. Sr. Duru, Lelia
  29. Sr. Akpan, Margaret
  30. Sr. Conney, Marian Stella
  31. Sr. Igelle, Susan
  32. Sr. Nwaenyi, Magdalena
  33. Sr. Bonle, Alberta
  34. Sr. Duker, Joana
  35. Sr. Maduagwu, Martina
  36. Sr. Thomas, Patricia
  37. Sr. Attakruh, Martha
  38. Sr. Awuni, Letitia
  39. Sr. Tanko, Theresa
  40. Sr. Ukwa, Martina
  41. Sr. Njoku, Elizabeth
  42. Sr. Jackson, Margaret
  43. Sr. Unogu, Mary
  44. Sr. Ekpo, Anita Dominic
  45. Sr. Okafor, Roseanna
  46. Sr. Zoot, Regina
  47. Sr. Ibekwe, Pauline
  48. Sr. Nweke, Virginia
  49. Sr. Ogunlade, Margaret
  50. Sr. Eze, Chikadibia
  51. Sr. Ugwu, Justina
  52. Sr. Ahachi, Callista
  53. Sr. Chikezie, Justina
  54. Sr. Mberekpe, Caroline
  1. Sr. Okoli, Roseline
  2. Sr. Opara, Antoinette
  3. Sr. Duru, Patricia
  4. Sr. Ufomba, Veronica
  5. Sr. Okpunor, Stella
  6. Sr. Okwori, Oyidu
  7. Sr. Onyeocha, Patricia
  8. Sr. Owuamanam, Florence
  9. Sr. Okolo, Emelda
  10. Sr. Fianlong, Anne
  11. Sr. Igwenagum, Rita
  12. Sr. Awoniyi, Florence
  13. Sr. Onochie, Ebele
  14. Sr. Onyia, Celestina
  15. Sr. Enendu, Sylvia
  16. Sr. Ezaga, Ewoma
  17. Sr. Mgbaramuko, Elizabeth
  18. Sr. Okwechime, Lilian
  19. Sr. Oliobi, Chinyere
  20. Sr. Uzogara, Clarence
  21. Sr. Okoh, Gloria
  22. Sr. Okwaraji, Loretto
  23. Sr. Onyeoke, Juliana
  24. Sr. Ebede, Helen
  25. Sr. Elijah, Theresa
  26. Sr. Nenuwa, Priscilla
  27. Sr. Odeh, Margaret
  28. Sr. James, Esther
  29. Sr. Okwori, Elizabeth
  30. Sr. Olagunju, Christiana
  31. Sr. Abane, Gifty
  32. Sr. Agwuike, Grace Ngozi
  33. Sr. Akweongo, Emmanuella
  34. Sr. Envulu, Stella
  35. Sr. Ihenacho, Genevieve
  36. Sr. Ochieze, Helen
  37. Sr. Ugwu, Jacintha
  38. Sr. Ujah, Josephine
  39. Sr. Umo-Udofia, Idongesit
  40. Sr. Adimazoya, Angela
  41. Sr. Agbo, Mary
  42. Sr. Offor, Juliet
  43. Sr. Agwuoke, Stella
  44. Sr. Azure, Martina
  45. Sr. Nwafor, Rufina Chinyere
  46. Sr. Umeh, Pauline
  47. Sr. Yilbial, Fatima
  48. Sr. Akpakpan, Justina
  49. Sr. Eboh, Lilian
  50. Sr. Ejeagu, Faustina
  51. Sr. Okonkwo, Anthonia Ijeoma
  52. Sr. Okoli, Assumpta
  53. Sr. Omudu, Juliana Abahi
  54. Sr. Akweongo, Evelyn

Number of Sisters in Temporary Vows – 44


  1. Sr. Justina Nwoke Nov 11, 1986
  2. Sr. Winifred Wilson Jan 11, 1987
  3. Sr. Grace Ellis Dec 1, 1997
  4. Sr. Helen Moore Jan, 2001
  1. Sr. Bridget Ekpenyong Sept 20, 2006
  2. Sr. Assumpta Aamagr Jan 5, 2009
  3. Sr. Rosemary Ifeyinwa Atuegbu March 16, 2017