Nigerian sisters carry on despite kidnapping fears

Nigerian Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Mother of Christ in Rome in 2016 (Vatican Media)

Religious sisters in Nigeria say that fear of abductions is not stopping them from carrying out their responsibilities. Source: Vatican News.

“It is frightening … but what can you do? It is not stopping us from carrying on with our responsibilities,” said Mother Mary Claude Oguh, Superior General of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Mother of Christ.

“We get up in the morning, give ourselves over to God that he takes care of the day, and then you go about your responsibilities. Whatever comes up, God will take absolute care of it. That is our attitude.”

Christmas and New Year festivities passed without a significant incident targeting the Church or its personnel, although Boko Haram terrorists launched a series of attacks in the northeastern part of Nigeria during that time.

In recent years, priests and religious women have become targets of abductions in Nigeria. Criminals kidnap religious women and priests on the assumption that congregations or dioceses will pay a ransom for the release of one of their own.

It is not only Church personnel who are targets of kidnappings and abductions. Yet the abductions of Church personnel sends a chilling message about personal safety.

While Nigeria’s politicians, wealthy business people and foreign diplomats react with more armed security and blacked-out car windows, Church personnel and ordinary Nigerians do not have this option.

Mother Mary Claude said she has not changed any of her work routine in spite of the kidnappings. She still travels to visit her communities spread throughout Nigeria but the sisters do not go about putting themselves in harm’s way, she said. Consecrated women try to be security conscious and prudent as they go about their daily chores.

A few years ago, Mother Mary Claude said she tried to close one of their convents in a troubled region of Nigeria where the security of the sisters could not be guaranteed. Her own sisters declined to move. They told her, “But we have our children here in the school. We wouldn’t want to leave them and move.”

And so they continue to work, travel and get on with their lives and apostolates.


Nigerian religious women, carrying on regardless (Vatican News)

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