Uplift the dignity of women
Founded, Date/Place: 1924, Ireland
Founder: Bishop Joseph Shanahan, Servant Of God
Canonical Status: Pontifical, 1938
Motto: He Has Sent Me To Bring The Good News To The Poor
Mission Statement: Through Our Ministries, We Promote God’s Reign, We Strive For Justice For The Poor And Marginalized Especially Women, Children And Youth
Purpose: Uplift The Dignity Of Women
Other Relevant Information Re MSHR Our Generalate Is Located At 23 Cross Avenue, Blackrock, Co Dublin, Ireland.
We Have Two Principal Houses In Our Two Regions In Nigeria Namely Southern Region Located At N0 1 Amesi Crescent, Independence Lay Out Enugu. Benue Region Located At Makurdi In Benue State.
The MSHR Formation Houses Are Situated In The Following Countries Kenya: Holy Rosary Candidacy In Njiani,
Cameroon: Holy Rosary Candidacy, Mankon, Bamenda,
N.W. Province, Cameroon,
Nigeria: Holy Rosary Novitiate, Trans-Ekulu, Enugu.
Provincial Superior: Sr. Grace Onah, MSHR
P. O. Box 9677
Enugu, Enugu State Nigeria,
Regional House Makurdi,
P. O. Box 824
Benue State, Nigeria
Missionary Sisters Of The Holy Rosary (MSHR):
are an apostolic Congregation of Women Religious founded by Bishop Joseph Shanahan on 7th March 1924.
The Charism/Spirituality Of MSHR:
Like our founder, our spirit is one of apostolic zeal. Women of faith, reflecting Mary, we seek the kingdom of God in this world. Ours is an essentially Missionary Charism. Today we express it by our pioneering spirit and readiness to be sent and to go beyond the borders of our own country and culture sharing the Good News with those in any kind of need especially the poor, oppressed and exploited. We also have a special awareness of injustices suffered by women in our world at large. Our Congregational motto sums up our missionary response to need in today’s world; ‘The spirit of the Lord is upon me.
He has sent me to bring the Good News to the poor.’ Like Christ, we are called to enter the specific social and cultural conditions of those among whom we live. We attempt to fulfil the vision our founder had for us when he said: “The members of the missionary society are first of all apostles. That is where their particular grace lies. If they do not concentrateon the apostolate and give it first place in all their works, they will deteriorate in grace and in fruit. God will never see a Congregation short of anything, if it accepts the grace peculiar to it”. Bishop Shanahan had a deep contemplative spirit and he is at the same time a man of action. He once said: “the missionary should be fulfilled and contemplative”. In faithfulness to him, we seek to promote a true integration of action and contemplation. Our 1960 General Chapter states: “we must be convinced that our interior life of union with God and our exterior life of apostolic activity are united in such a way that one is carried on to the advantage of the other”. Apostolic activity feeds and strengthens the interior spirit and animates it. From out of that reflective inner centre, we move into our busy apostolate. As a Congregation, we are called to an on-going process of action and reflection in our life.
Bishop Shanahan believed that graces of sanctification came to us not in withdrawal, but through the apostolate. He understood the apostolate to be the total response of the total person to God’s creative action. He was convinced that one has to be a fervent religious first, before being a useful instrument in the hands of God as a missionary. “The life that you are preparing to undertake is one that makes exceptional demands. There is needed a soul of profound spirituality with a clear vision of its great purpose”. It is an awareness we as a Congregation have inherited from him – that if missionaries are to bring to those under their care the key to Christian living, they must themselves have a deep sense of the supernatural in their own lives. This awareness is fostered in our communities by a deep spirit of prayer. The celebration of the Eucharist is central to our community life. Important also are periods for recollection, withdrawal, and silence. Emphasis is also placed on the reading of and reflection on Scripture. The rosary has a special place in our life. We nurture the spirit of our Congregation by prayer and contemplation.
Bishop Shanahan had a tremendous spirit of freedom, which was rare for his time. We see this same spirit at work in our Congregation today – in the ability to take risk, flexible and open to the grace of the moment. Our availability is to the whole church. Our fidelity and commitment are to mission. Since the departure of our first sisters to Nigeria in 1928, we have continued to respond to Christ’s directive, contained in the opening line of our Congregational hymn: “Go ye afar, go teach the nations…”
Central to our spirituality is a basic trust in Christ. We are called to entrust ourselves and our future to God as Bishop Shanahan did throughout his life. “The missionary feels and knows that, he has God alone as his support, his comfort, his life, his love, his all”. We believe that our only security is in Christ, So our sisters continue to invest time, energy, resources and personnel in their many diverse apostolate because our commitment is to Christ; to mission; to the needs of the people we are called to work among. In this too, we reflect the spirit of our founder who wrote: “How well I know that very special sense of nothingness in presence of what looms up, as an impossible, insuperable task. Stay where you are. Do what you can,”
Our desire to live the evangelical life as missionaries brings us together in community. In the words of Bishop Shanahan: “Be known by your unity and charity as the early Christians were known. See how they love one another”. Community life is central to the living out of our Charism. If our mission is to be fruitful, then it is essential that our community life be characterised by prayer, simplicity, hospitality, a spirit of hope, joy, trust, respect for the individual, and support of one another. Bishop Shanahan had a very deep sense of the value of community and assumed a fatherly role to us. He offers us a vision of what community living should be. ‘Be faithful to God, be faithful to your constitution, be faithful to your Congregation, and be faithful to each other.’ ‘Always forgive; it is the Christ-like thing.’ At the heart of community living means sharing our faith vision. We express this in our living of the liturgical life and common prayer. It is our way of witnessing to the world, that we are faithful to Christ’s mission-to love all members of the human family. As MSHR, ‘community is our home as well as mission.’
As MSHR we have a spiritual affinity because we are each attracted by the Charism of Bishop Shanahan. Each of us recognises that the spiritual and apostolic vision of our founder is able to encompass, to express and to support our own faith vision. And so we always pray ‘may the spirit of our founder, Bishop Shanahan, be renewed in us. Let his total dedication to mission, his zeal, courage, large-hearted generosity and forgiving spirit be ours in abundance. With him we pray, “Lord that we may see,” and that your word whom we see and touch in faith be the joy of our lives and the compelling force in our participation in your mission to peoples and nations.’ By sharing in that spirit, we createa “collective mentality,” which we call the spirit of the Congregation.
As a Congregation, we are constantly called to respond to the changing needs in today’s world.
Bishop Shanahan And The Missionary Sisters Of The Holy Rosary:
Bishop Shanahan was born on 6th June 1871 in Glankeen, Co. Tipperrary, Ireland. He was ordained a priest as a member of the Spiritan Congregation in 1900. He arrived in Onitsha in 1902 to spread the Good News. At his arrival he joined the French Holy Ghost Fathers who arrived Onitsha on December 5th 1885 for the evangelization of Southern Nigeria. Bishop Shanahan was a man of vision and of intense missionary zeal for realisation of God’s glory. At that time, he saw education as the greatest need of the time so he worked with them to establish schools throughout the area. In doing this, he experienced another aspect of mission, that of receiving; he was enriched by the spirit and culture of the Nigerian people. Later on, he saw that Nigeria needed strong Christian families and to have Christian families Nigeria needed Christian men and women. The men were benefiting from education but the women were not. Bishop Shanahan was determined to remedy this.
The MSHR gradually emerged to permanently respond to the needs of the time. And so Bishop Shanahan founded the MSHR to be women filled with a sense of mission, whose main aim, (though not exclusively) would be, to educate and develop the women of Southern Nigeria, to raise their status and to help them become aware of their dignity and self worth. He saw this as the greatest need of the time.
In 1923 after meeting with Pope Pius X1 (the Pope of the missions) and sharing his mission experiences, he finally decided to found the new sisterhood, which eventually became the MSHR. The strength of the Congregation draws strongly on faith and trust in Divine Providence. Ours was a Congregation started with nothing. There were no prospects, no aspirant group, no contacts, no convent in view, and no funds. In spite of this, the young group were determined to give their services to the African mission.
Following the introduction of Bishop Shanahan to the Dominican Sisters of Cabra by Fr. Malachy Eaton, vice – president of Maynooth College, they offered to take the first seven aspirants into their convent until further plans should unfold. The Dominican Superior General Mother Colmicille asked Mother Xavier and Mother Aquinas, O.P. to guide the young missionary society. In 1924, the Holy Rosary Convent was officially opened in Killeshandra for the formation of the young missionaries. Bishop Finegan of Kilmore Diocese would take the foundation in his Diocese while the first spiritual guidance of the new Congregation was entrusted to his friend, Fr. E. Leen, C.S.Sp. whose influence and contribution was quite enormous. Fr. P. Whitney used all his skill in providing material resources at the service of the Congregation.
The first ten members of the Holy Rosary Congregation were professed on 24th February, 1927 at Killeshandra in Ireland. Soon after that, Bishop of Kilmore announced that five of them received their assignations to the mission of Southern Nigeria. On 25th January, 1928, the five sisters sailed with Bishop Heerey from Liverpool to Port Harcourt. This was how providence used the MSHR to respond to the missionary needs of the time in Southern Nigeria. Ever since, the MSHR had worked to raise especially the status and dignity of womanhood and the poor through the ministries of healing, education, pastoral work, community development, advocacy and Justice and Peace.
Apart from Ireland and Nigeria, we have today spread to many countries in the world, America, Brazil, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Kenya Cameroon, Mexico, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Zambia and England. Overtime, memberships sprout from Europe to Africa and beyond, spreading the Good News of the kingdom of God.
Important to be noted was that Bishop Shanahan did not set out to found a Congregation or write rules about it. He came to Ireland in 1919 seeking for Missionary Sisters to create a Catholic Womanhood in Nigeria, where none existed. When none of the existing orders could supply his need he accepted young Irish girls as lay apostles. Incidentally he saw no great difficulty or danger in bringing these girls out to Nigeria in 1921. Their contribution to the growth of the faith could not be overemphasized. Yet, as volunteers, their services would be limited with time.
Bishop Shanahan And Other Agents Of Evangelization:
Bishop Shanahan still saw the need for more agents of evangelization. St. Patrick’s Society (Kiltegan) was founded in 1932 for this particular mission. The Medical Missionaries of Mary were founded by Mary Martin (of Monkstown) in 1937. She was the first and one of the Lay Irish missionaries who joined Bishop Shanahan in the work of mission in Nigeria. Later, Sr. Magdalene Walker started the foundation that came to be known as the Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus for the education of the girls in Calabar and adjoining areas.
Special Contribution To The Church In Nigeria:
The initial evangelization of the French Missionaries in Southern Nigeria consisted of buying back slaves to create Christian community and Medicare. Fr. Lutz and later the Sisters of Clunny were noted for Medicare. At this time, school attracted slaves, outcasts, the poor, the disabled and all the marginalized. This however, alienated a greater number of the natives who refused to become members.
When Shanahan took over from Fr. Lejeune as prefect in 1905, he made the most use of school in the service of evangelization. School Children, Catechists, Catechist – teachers and lay people played immense role in the spread of the faith during this period. These people with the foreign missionaries shared undaunted faith and endured a lot of difficulties to help the church establish in Southern Nigeria. Women education received adequate attention and they were not only building the Christian family but had contributed in different capacities in various sectors of life and Government of the country. The MSHR (not exclusively) contributed immensely to the evangelisation and education of women in Nigeria.
The Southern Christians later made great impact in bringing Catholic Church to the Northern part of the country where several attempts by the foreign missionaries of different Congregations were not welcomed with great success.
In Enugu Diocese for instance, the MSHR plays a lot of role in education, medical, justice issues and advocacy, pastoral and formation.
- Sr. Abeze Cecilia
- Sr. Adogu Justina
- Sr. Aganoke Maria
- Sr. Ajagu Christiana
- Sr. Akaeze Augustina
- Sr. Akunyili Nkechi
- Sr. Ani Mercy
- Sr. Anozie Ndidi
- Sr. Anyaegbunam Christiana
- Sr. Arenye Nneka
- Sr. Attah Anne
- Sr. Asomugha Cathrine
- Sr. Nwosu Chinyere
- Sr. Nwosu Stella
- Sr. Nnyam Bernadette
- Sr. Obi Martina
- Sr. Oforjindu Angela
- Sr. Ogor Angela
- Sr. Oguekemma Juliana
- Sr. Okeke Bridget
- Sr. Okpalanwa Chiamaka
- Sr. Orji Ngozi
- Sr. Omata Veronica
- Sr. Onah Grace
- Sr. Onyibor Franca
- Sr. Onyiuke Helen
- Sr. Onwuatuelo Ebele
- Sr. Otuonye Susan Mary
- Sr. Tucka Hilda
- Sr. Uchem Rose
- Sr. Ugwu MaryUkwueze Anastasis
- Sr. Onwuka Lucy
- Sr. Awemo Seraphine
- Sr. Chiaku Celestina
- Sr. Chianakwana Rose
- Sr. Chukwu Callista
- Sr. Dike Cecilia
- Sr. Egbulefu Rosemary
- Sr. Eke Stella
- Sr. Eronini Adeline
- Sr. Eze Cecilia
- Sr. Eze Victoria
- Sr. Igwe Angela
- Sr. Kambulu Ann
- Sr. Mbamalu Sabina
- Sr. Gugu Mbongwa
- Sr. Mbata Salomi
- Sr. Mgbenwelu Virginia
- Sr. Muoegbunam Ifenyinwa
- Sr. Muojeukwu Celine
- Sr. Ndeche Pauline
- Sr. Ngene Njideka
- Sr. Njiofor Evageline
- Sr. Njoku Nkeiruka
- Sr. Nnochiri Theresa
- Sr. Nwokike Scholastica
Number Of Sisters In Temporary Vows – 15
- Sr. Helen Onyiuke
- Sr. Catherine Asomugha
- Sr. Adeline Eronini
- Sr. Cecilia Eze
- Sr. Lucy Ekwo 1987
- Sr. Ijeoma Orjih 29th Dec. 2013
- Sr. Getrude Tagbo 13th March 2014