In 1956, when the Dominican Sisters of Peace were called to help build a Catholic presence in Nigeria, they were ready for the challenge. The Great Bend, KS, sisters traveled to Nigeria to found schools and hospitals. They also founded a new indigenous Congregation, the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of
The Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, Gusau, welcomed their first native postulant in 1973, and in 1977, two native Sisters made first profession. This “sister” congregation has continued to grow, and today, The Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, Gusau, serve 115,000+ annually in the Northwest area of the country with health care, social services and educational ministries.
Prioress Jacinta Nwaohiri describes a little about religious life in Nigeria. “In some parts of Nigeria, Sisters have a special seat in the church. From the beginning, with the American Dominican Sisters, our congregation has been grounded in inclusiveness, reflected in the way we interact with both the laity and people of other beliefs.
“Our partnership with the Dominican Sisters of Peace and the GHR Foundation Sister Support project has offered the financial and moral support to bring old and new members of the Congregation together to reassess our faith, practices and attitudes – to look at how we treated each other and our neighbors, Christians and Muslims alike,” Sr. Jacinta continued. “This helped us to improve relationships with the people we serve in our ministries and to serve as ambassadors of peace as women, disassociating ourselves from any activity that demeans the human person.”
The Sisters are challenged by the harsh economic realities of life in Nigeria. The women of the Congregation had little access to education prior to entering religious life, and many novices lacked the education necessary to sustain the work of the Congregation. The resulting inability to command good wages or financial support often left the Sisters struggling to support the Congregation, much less their ministries.
“Our partnership with the Dominican Sisters of Peace and the GHR Foundation has also increased the numbers of Sisters able to obtain higher education and helped us become more efficient and effective in ministry. Our Sisters are now more confident facilitators of programs and leaders in their various apostolates,” says Sr. Jacinta.
“The certificates our Sisters have acquired have helped them to increase their take-home pay, supporting both the Congregation and our ministries. With jobs in the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria or government institutions, we have a voice in the national conversation,” she explained.
“Young women entering the apostolate are beginning to be more prepared as well, as our Congregation has championed the education of the girl. Our Sisters are assigned permanently to manage the education project at a rural village in GidanYawa, Kafur Local Government Area of Katsina State in Northern Nigeria,” Sr. Jacinta
said. “We have also been able to build a secondary school in Agbor Delta State.”
Speaking of the Church in Nigeria, Sr. Jacinta points out that, “Religious in our country are respected for their selfless love for God. The capacity for selfless love is the hallmark of Christianity. The Dominican Sisters of Peace and their friends have exemplified this love by empowering us to be fruitful witnesses of God’s kingdom, and we are profoundly grateful.”
The Annual Great Bend Bazaar, which was held online this year to maintain safety, supports the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine, Gusau, and other ministries of the Dominican Sisters of Peace. Your generosity makes a difference!