Little Sisters of Jesus
|Founded, Date/Place||Sept. 8 1939, Algeria|
|Foundress||Lsr. Magdalene of Jesus, following the footsteps of Blessed Charles de Foucauld|
|Canonical Status||Pontifical Right|
|Charism||Complative Life in the midst of the World, Centered on the Eucharist, Friendship, Presence and Love|
|Mission Statement||Cry the Gospel with Your Life|
|Purpose||To be Sister to the People of God especially the poor and the least considered in the Society|
|Nigerians working outside the country||The Little Sisters of Jesus have three Nigerian Little Sisters working outside Nigeria.|
|Location of Principal house in Nigeria||The regional house of the Little Sisters of Jesus in Nigeria is located in Awka Diocese - Isuaniocha precisely.|
Little Sister of Jesus
P. O. Box 328
Awka, Anambra State
Little Sister Magdeleine of Jesus 1898 - 1989
Madeleine Hutin, a French woman, taking the name Little Sister Magdeleine of Jesus, founded the Little Sisters of Jesus on September 8, 1939, in Touggourt, Algeria, following the path marked out by Charles de Foucauld (also known as Father de Foucauld or Brother Charles of Jesus).
She began by sharing the life of semi-nomads on the outskirts of a Saharan oasis. Little Sisters of Jesus now live in sixty-three countries throughout the world.
Little Sister Magdeleine wrote:
"I felt initially that I was only being called to found a congregation of little sisters who would live as nomads in the Sahara, their lives wholly consecrated to the Islamic people. They would spend part of the year in tents in conditions of extreme poverty."
But Later Decided:
"I will go to the ends of the earth to say again to everyone that we must love one another and to leave behind little sisters who will say this after I have gone" (written on August 31, 1951).
September 8th 1939. On the 8th September 1939, a few days after the declaration of the Second World War, Magdeleine and her companion, Anne, took their first step as religious sisters. Magdeleine was 41.
In October1939 the first community was founded on the outskirts of Touggourt, Algeria. Many young people were attracted by the ideal and wanted to join her. But before leaving for the Sahara they needed to be formed in this new way of contemplative life at the heart of the world and also to have a place to live.
On the 26 July 1946, Little Sister Magdeleine became convinced that the Community of the Little sisters should extend to every country. In the Sahara, they were already nomads living alongside other nomads. Other communities lived and worked among factory and craft workers, those who worked on the land, with the sick, with shepherds, Travelers, Pygmies, fairground and circus people. Communities began in Switzerland, Brazil, Morocco, the Middle East, Central Africa, India, and Vietnam... In 1951 She received permission to found a community in a very poor neighborhood of Rome, Borgata Prenestina, in a temporary dwelling like that of the neighbors.
To live alongside in friendship and solidarity following Jesus of Nazareth was the key to this new vocation in the Church. Little Sister Magdeleine boldly and tenaciously defended this new form of religious life when questioned by the authorities of the Church and made three appeals to Pope Pius XII: The Little Sisters ask to be allowed to live as the leaven in the dough of humanity. They desire to integrate totally with other human beings, while leading a deeply contemplative life, like that of Jesus in the carpenter's shop at Nazareth and on the highways and byways of his public life.
A World Tour:
In 1949, she handed over the responsibility of the community to Little Sister Jeanne, ten years after the foundation. She wanted to be free and available to make new foundations, retaining her role as Foundress. She undertook a tour of the world and communities were started on every continent. This led to vocations from every race and culture and rite. In 1948 there were 75 Little Sisters of Jesus living in 13 communities. By 1953 there were over 300 sisters in 100 communities. Having already travelled to more than forty countries, in August 1953 Little Sister Magdeleine and Little Sister Jeanne undertook a last world tour, crossing the five continents in one year. They travelled across Niger, Cameroons', East Africa, South Africa, and then West Africa from where they took a boat for South America and Mexico. From there they went to Martinique, Cuba and Haiti, arriving in North America and reaching Alaska and from there to Asia. They travelled through Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Vietnam, going to Australia and Papua-New Guinea, continuing with Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan, even entering into Afghanistan. They finished by Iran and Turkey.
Behind the Iron Curtain 1957
Eastern Europe: Her passion for unity forced her to take a further step. As soon as she heard about a country whose frontiers were closed she wanted to go there. Believing that even an iron curtain could open, from 1957 onwards, with Stalin still in power, she began her journeys to Eastern Europe. Every year she left discreetly with a small group of Little Sisters to visit friends in the different countries behind the iron curtain. Such journeys prepared for the present day communities in these countries.
In 1964 when Russia started to be more open to tourism, she began to include Russia in her travels.
Tre Fontane, Rome 1956:
In 1956 a collection of wooden prefabricated houses were built under the eucalyptus trees on a piece of ground belonging to the Trappist Fathers of Tre Fontane, near the site of the beheading of St Paul, which became the Generalate in 1964. The Little sisters built this family house where they could gather from every corner of the world and where Little Sisters of every nationality could come to prepare for final vows. From such diverse cultures it was a unique occasion to share and to broaden their vision.
The Little Sisters of Jesus were recognized as of being of Pontifical Right on March 25, 1964 and the Generalate was established at Tre Fontane, Rome on May 31, 1964. Pope Paul VI made a surprise visit on September 28, 1973 when he told them: "I have come to give you recognition on behalf of the Church, to tell you that the Church is truly happy about your existence, about your presence, happy for you to be what you are."
Little Sisters of Jesus Today
There are communities of Little Sisters of Jesus scattered around the world in 63 countries. There are about 1400 members of 65 different nationalities.
Vocation of the Little Sisters of Jesus
Living in small communities, Little Sisters of Jesus seek to lead a contemplative life in the midst of people. They are inspired by the thirty years Jesus spent in Nazareth and by his humble birth in Bethlehem.
They understand Nazareth not as a particular place, but as the ordinariness of peoples' lives. They share day to day life, living conditions, work and dreams, especially of the less privileged and of those who are on the fringes of society. Often staying in rented accommodation or where poorer people live, they take ordinary jobs or work alongside their neighbors and practice hospitality. Their contemplative life is one of intercession for their neighbors and friends and for everyone, recognizing that the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist (which is present in each community's home) cannot be separated from his presence among people, especially among those who are suffering.
"If I were told to define the mission of our community in a single word, I would not hesitate for a single moment to cry, Unity" All our vocation can be summed up in the word, 'Unity'
Arrival date in Nigeria:
The Little Sisters of Jesus arrived in Nigeria in 1976 in Onitsha Archdiocese. They are presently at St Charles Luwanga Parish-Okpoko-Onitsha Archdiocese, Awka Diocese: Christ the King Parish, Isuaniocha. Eungu Diocese: Our Lady of Lourdes' Parish, Maryland.
Special contribution to the Church in Nigeria:
By their life of prayer, respectful presence and friendship with the people wherever they live and work, they try to be a living sign and witness of fraternal and universal love among the people.
Through various forms of work that the little sisters do with their neighbors and others among whom they live, they take active part in the efforts of the people to transform the unjust and dehumanizing conditions around them and often become the voice of the voiceless.
Through the style of their community life they proclaim the mystery of the hidden life of Jesus in Bethlehem and Nazareth. They offer hospitality to people and leave their doors always open to welcome the poor and the needy that come to them for various needs and assistance. They do home visitation, listen to the people and offer material and Spiritual help to the sick people they encounter. Through their presence among the people they share in their joys and in their sorrows. They are present in different offices, being with the people and working in hospitals and in schools. They also serve as Spiritual advisers to various groups and associations in the parishes where they live. They help in the Christian formation of the youth through faith sharing and Christian moral instruction. And they proclaim the Gospel by their life. ("Cry out the Gospel with your Life". Charles de Foucauld).
Location of formation Houses:
Their formation house here in Nigeria is at Isuaniocha, in Awka Diocese, (Awka-north Local Government Area of Anambra State).
- LSr. Josephine O Nwaezeakor of Jesus
- LSr. Ngozi Okoye of Jesus
- LSr. Caroline Egwuatu of Jesus
- LSr. Florence Nnaji of Jesus
- LSr. Maureen Ejiofor of Jesus
- LSr. Ngozi Colette Duruigbo of Jesus
- LSr. Theresa Nwoye of Jesus
- LSr. Celestina Azuh of Jesus
- LSr. Monica Aladiuba of Jesus
- LSr. Chinwe Celine of Jesus
- LSr. Livina Obiekie of Jesus
- LSr.Anastasia Ojeh of Jesus
- LSr. Faina Kabusheshi of Jesus
- LSr. Sarojini Minj of Jesus
Number of Sisters in Temporary Vows – 8