May 17, 2010

Where Sisters of Mercy Minister: Nigeria (14)

This week, Ireland is celebrating “Africa Day” with week-long activities involving poetry readings, music, and dance.  In conjunction with these festivities, we are choosing to highlight the ministry of Sisters of Mercy in Nigeria.

Sisters of Mercy first arrived in northern Nigeria in the town of Yola (Adamawa State) in October 1969.  They came from Dungarvan, Co. Waterford (Ireland).  A branch of the original sisters began ministering the following year in Bare, a village approximately 50 miles away.  Additional sisters moved from Strabane, Co. Tyrone (Ireland) to Minna, Niger State, in 1975, and from Armagh Diocese (Ireland) to Lagos in 1986.  The ministries in which the initial Sisters of Mercy were engaged were secondary education, charismatic renewal, catechist training, work with women, visitation (home, hospital, and prison), and running a medical clinic.

Today, Sisters of Mercy minister in Minna and Yola, having withdrawn from Bare in 1990 and from Lagos in 1998.  The various Mercy communities formed one group in 1993 and chose to be attached to the Northern Province of the Congregation of Sisters of Mercy (Ireland) when that congregation was formed in 1994.

Ministries of Sisters of Mercy in Nigeria include primary school education; the education and development of women; formation ministry; spirituality; catechetics; cosmology/care of Earth; visitation of those imprisoned, in a leprosarium, and in hospitals; work with widows’ associations; youth ministry; ministries with parishes and small Christian communities; and staffing a justice desk.

Two organizations under the direction of Sisters of Mercy are Rahama Centre for Women in Yola and the Sabon Rayuwa Ecological Training Centre in Yola.  The first focuses on the education and development of women, while the second provides a model of compassionate, earth-friendly and hospitable living grounded in the bio-region and underpinned by a theology of right relationship with God, self, others, and the cosmos.

All of the Sisters of Mercy in Nigeria are involved in the care of Earth.  This commitment was made by the community in 2000.  The reasons they articulate for this commitment include the belief that:

  • It is poor people who suffer most from the environmental crisis, their land is being stripped, their towns are being made into toxic dumps, their health is endangered, their jobs are effected, their subsistence from the land is threatened, etc.;
  • Earth's resources are finite and no species has the right to endanger future generations by claiming these resources as their own; and
  • The preferential option for the poor and the poor Earth is the great work of our time.

For more information on the ministry of the Sisters of Mercy in Nigeria, see:

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