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Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus

Brief history of my Congregation

The name of my Congregation is Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus. Founded on the 15th January, 1931, in Nigeria, precisely, in Calabar, the Southern part of Nigeria; by Mother Mary Charles Magdalene Walker. An Irish Sister of Charity, who arrived to Nigeria as a missionary on 3rd  October, 1923, after many years of appeals and invitations from Bishop Shanahan, the then Prefect Apostolic of the Prefecture of Southern  Nigeria. He started making the appeals and invitations between the years 1914 to 1919 to many Religious Congregations in Europe, until it came to pass in 1923 when Mother Mary Charles Magdalene Walker answered the call.  She was supported and approved by the Holy Father, Pope Pius XI; with a letter permitting her to go out for the missionary work.

While in Nigeria, Mother Mary Charles carried out her missionary activities with much dedication, and was directed and supported by Divine Providence. She was everything for the then poor blacks and quickly attracted vocations. Four of her girls, working with her showed interest of joining her as religious women. These girls lived and worked with her from 1926 to 1931. On the 15th January, 1931, they were officially received, the name Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus was given to them and from that day on they were called Sisters. That is the birth day of my Congregation.

The Congregation from her cradle has international and inter-tribal characters because these four foundation members were from different places; 1 from Cameroon, 3 from Nigeria but of different tribes. To this, the Congregation holds dear and cherishes “Unity in Diversity”.  The Foundress imbued in them many missionary activities and the mission spirit.  In her attempt to attain to the needs of these poor blacks, she saw herself becoming an educator, a health officer: as nurse, medical doctor, a catechist, a social worker, a designer, an architect, etc. These, she inculcated into the 4 foundation members. These, today characterized the apostolate of my Congregation. Here also came about our charisma “All-Embrancing Charity”. And our motto: “Love and Service”.  Today the handmaids are about 1.000 sisters, spread all over the world carrying out the above mentioned missionary activities and also pay attention to the “signs of the time”.

Last year, October 2023, the Congregation celebrated with great Solemnity worldwide the centenary of the arrival of our Foundress to Nigeria. And by the grace of God, in 7 years to come the Congregation will celebrate her centenary.

All to the Glory of God!

Sr Beatrice Chinke, HHCJ



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