Foundation And The Foundress

Leadership Profile

Name and Picture of Provincial Superior

Sr. Helen Ebede, SHCJ
Province Leader

Society Of The Holy Child Jesus

African Province

Provincial House

6 Bankole Lukmon Street,
Off Ologolo Village Road,
Lagos State,
Nigeria, West Africa


Society of the Holy Child Jesus, African Province Provincial House

6 Bankole Lukmon Street,
Off Ologolo Village Road, Lekki
P.O. Box 367 Ikota Post Office,
Ajah, Lagos State,
Nigeria, West Africa

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.

Mission Statement To help others to believe that God lives and acts in them and in our world, and to rejoice in his presence

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 Society as God’ s channel of mercy at work in the world. It is from her knowledge of the child as a mother that 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. We seek To imitate and follow the Holy Child Jesus in the way of simplicity, humility, obedience, charity, joy accepted suffering and zeal in the apostolate

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.

History Of The Society Of The Holy Child Jesus
The Society of the Holy Child Jesus has her Generalate at Casa Cornelia, Via Francesco Nullo 6, 00152 Rome, Italy 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 6 Bankole Lukmon Street, Off Ologolo Village Road, Lekki, Lagos State, Nigeria, West Africa. Sr. Helen Ebede, SHCJ 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. 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

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. Today we are living and working in the following states in Nigeria – Anambra (Nise), Bauchi (Bauchi), Benue (Otukpo and Asa), Delta (Oghara and Sapele), FCT Abuja (Gidan Mangoro and Jikwoyi), Kogi (Agbaduma), Lagos (Keffi Street, Obalende, Ajegunle, Bogije and Lekki), Ogun (Abeokuta), Osun (Oshogbo), Plateau (Jos and Du) and Rivers (Port Harcourt)

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, counselling, 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.

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, legal profession, pastoral work in retreat, counselling, renewal programmes, catechesis, leadership, interpersonal and communication workshops, training of spiritual directors, medical (nursing, doctors and administration), secretarial work, agricultural projects

Communities And Location Of Existence

Chad – N’Djamena
Ghana – Accra, Bolgatanga, Cape Coast, Goaso, Takoradi, Welembelle
Nigeria _ Abeokuta, Abuja, Agbaduma, Bauchi, Jikwoyi, Calabar, Jos, Lagos, Nise, Oghara, Otukpo, Port Harcourt, Sapele


Society of the Holy Child Jesus
SHCJ Provincialate
6 Bankole Lukmon Street
Off Ologolo Village Road, Lekki,
P.O. Box 367 Ikota Post Office Ajah,
Lagos State,


Private: Provinceleader@Shcjafrica.Org Helenebede6788@Gmail.Com


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