The atmosphere was electrifying, just as all eyes were fixed on the two Sisters of All Saints Benedictine Monastery being celebrated, Mary Gertrude Okoye and Mary Benedict Igwilo who recently took their first, and final monastic profession, at St. Cyprian Catholic Church, OkoOba, Agege, Lagos. Delivering the homily, Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins, Archbishop, Metropolitan See of Lagos, who spoke through the Rt. Rev. Msgr. John Aniagwu, Vicar General, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos congratulated the two Sisters for answering God’s call. Msgr. Aniagwu insisted that the event is all about thanksgiving to God, the giver of vocation. According to the Vicar General, God turned His eyes on Nigeria, adding that of all the girls in towns and villages, He (God) choose Mary Gertrude and Mary Benedict; a call they responded to.
According to him, “Though some were given the opportunity, but refused to accept the invitation of God, either because they are too occupied with things of the world, or are mindful of their riches and other distractions to the condemnation of their soul.” He cited the rich man in Luke 9:61, among other characters in the bible as typical examples of people who abandoned the call of God, leading to the loss of their souls. The Vicar General said he grew up to love Saint Benedict, describing him as one of his heavenly Patron Saints for his motto and what he stood for; to work and pray, adding that that is exactly what the two Sisters are called to do as they take to the monastic life of chastity, poverty and obedience. Msgr. Aniagwu described Nigeria as the most prayerful nation on earth, second only to Afghanistan in a recent survey conducted, and trending on the social media platforms, yet the country is not moving forward.
He said the citizens have neglected hard work in pursuit of pleasure, reaping from where they did not sow. He blamed some Pastors whose preoccupation is to organise crusades and hold conventions with endless promises of breakthrough without hard work, negating the biblical injunction in James 2:17, which states, “Faith without works is death.” The high point of the occasion was the solemn administration of vows, signing of commitment papers and admission of the two Sisters into their new roles, just as they were decorated with the ring, crown, breviary, cow, and veil in line with the rule of St. Benedict, by the Vicar General, who formally presented them to the Prioress, representative of Mother Abbess, Justina Bonellos, who came all the way from Italy to witness the event.
The Monastic Profession Mass was concelebrated by Very Rev. Fr. Sebastian Ngege, Dean of Agege Deanery, Very Rev. Fr. Richard Fasuyi, Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Ebuka Afomah, Associate Parish Priest, and Rev. Fr. Obi. Mother Mary Anthonia of OkoOba Benedictine community also supervised proceedings. All Saints Benedictine Monastery which has the slogan, “Unity and Love” of the Archdiocese of Lagos is a daughter house of St. Mary Magdalene Benedictine in Italy. The All Saints Benedictine Monastery in Lagos is part of the monastery family founded in 2019. St. Benedict is a famous Saint and founder of All Saints Benedictine Monasteries both male and female; while his Sister, Scholastica was put in charge of the female monastery.