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 published: 2004-11-26

People remove their shoes before entering into the shrine

New life around the Shrine in Nigeria

El nuevo Santuario en Ibadan, Nigeria

The new Shrine in Ibadan, Nigeria

Das neue Heiligtum in Ibadan, Nigeria


Celebración del nuevo Santuario

Celebrating the new Shrine

Das neue Heiligtum wird überschwänglich gefeiert


Entierro del padre del Diacono Peter

Funeral ceremonies for Deacon Peter's Father

Beerdigungszeremonien für den Vater von Diakon Peter

Fotos: Nellessery © 2004




NIGERIA, Fr. Johnson Nellissery/Therese Formosa. After Schoenstatt Fathers being present in Nigeria since the early 1990's the first Nigerian Shrine was dedicated on the 23rd of October. The first Covenant Day after the blessing, November 18, showed: new life is growing around the Shrine.

Father Alfred Kistler offers words of appreciation to all those who have shown their support:

"With these few words that come from my heart, I would like to thank all who have sent us greetings or prayerful wishes on the occasion of the Blessing of the Shrine and the Diaconate of Rev. Peter Chukwuma on 23rd of October. In the name of the Community in Nigeria I thank you very sincerely and place you all in the New Shrine in Ijokodo. May Our Mother continue to bless you! - Fr. A. Kistler"

Since this time many people have flocked to visit the newly blessed Shrine.

Though the festivities on the inauguration of the Shrine is over three weeks old, Our Mother has continued to attract many people to herself who come to visit her in the Shrine. Proving once again that the Mother calls youthful hearts. Amongst these include priests, religious and lay faithful who come to draw graces from the Shrine. The Pilgrim Mother has continued her journey into families as three pictures of the Pilgrim MTA have been sent out from this Shrine.

People have been coming in their cars, entering into the Shrine and spending time with Our Mother. Some people have also come on foot. People eagerly want to experience the Schoenstatt Shrine as they hear about it. It is also amazing to observe the people remove their shoes before entering into the Shrine and prostrate in front of the Mother Thrice Admirable. Slowly, the Formation House and the Shrine are becoming a place for the faithful to visit and take part in the celebration of Holy Mass. Around 25 People attend Mass in the Shrine on Sundays and about 10 on the daily Mass.

People from all walks of life

Covenant Day is the day of looking back, in family, to the graces received the month before; so Schoenstatt Fathers shared how they experienced the great day of the Blessing of the Shrine which took place three weeks ago.

"Schoenstatt arrived in the Church of Nigeria - of Ibadan", said Father Franz Brügger. "The 23rd of Oct. marks a historical event which proves God’s loyalty to those who in spite of difficulties and irritations dared to believe in His guidance. The 23rd ends up the first founding initiative for the Secular Institute of the Schoenstatt-Fathers and opens doors for the Schoenstatt-Movement in Nigeria. I appreciate this as VICTORY!" 

"It is fulfilled. Being truthful and victorious, Our Mother Thrice Admirable has realised her plan despite all the obstacles and difficulties. With the Shrine, the Formation House and the first Deacon, the foundation in Nigeria comes to the fulfilment", comments Father Fred Kistler, from Switzerland, working in Nigeria since the beginning of this African Adventure. "The Shrine is for me a place where I like to secure and develop the unity between the code of faith and the code of my nature," says Fr. Roman Haronska, from Poland, since years active in Nigeria.

"God in his wisdom and love has allowed our Lady to establish her throne among us. She did not hesitate to draw people of all walks of life to herself. Everyone came to visit her; and none left her Shrine empty handed," said Fr. Klaus Desch, from Germany.

Where heaven meets earth…

The Blessing of the Victory Shrine was also as special event due to the ordination of the first Nigerian Deacon of the Schoenstatt Fathers, Peter Chukwuma, that day. "It is the happiest day of my life", he commented after the ordination. "I waited for this moment since I entered the community years ago." He is continuing his way towards the priesthood spiritually accompanied by his father who from heaven cares for him. Maybe the joy to see his son ordained deacon was to much to stay on earth? In the middle of the joyful celebration of the great events of October 23, he died in front of the Shrine… continuing to celebrate in heaven, pure and eternal joy. Through this event, cause of sadness at first, the Blessed Mother seems to show that in each blessing of a Shrine heaven touches earth in a special way. God does not simply surprise us with tragic events, these events gain sense from our personal experiences with him, in the light of practical faith in Divine Providence.

Deacon Peter also experienced in a very deep way the closeness of the Sion Community. The burial of his father, Mr. Anselm Chukwuma Ezema took place on the 6th of November. The Schoenstatt Fathers’ community in Nigeria were well represented including Frs. Klaus Desch, Roman Haronska and Johnson Nellissery; Peter’s Course Brothers (Sion Anima) and the Novices were also present. The burial took place about 750 km from the West of Nigeria.

The representatives of the community arrived at Nsukka, Peter's hometown in the evening of the 5th of November for the Requiem Mass. The Holy Mass was held in the garden of the family with about ten priests, the religious and a host of the parish faithful. The remains of Mr. Anselm laid in-state in his house for about an hour before the Burial Mass started at 10.00 am in the garden. A total of about 17 priests concelebrated at the Holy Mass. People in great numbers came out to pay their last homage to the deceased. Rev. Peter Chukwuma administered the final rite and committed his father to the earth in the garden of the family.

The First Covenant Day in the Shrine

The Victory-Shrine is three weeks old and has already celebrated its first Covenant Day. They started the day with Holy Mass. In the evening they celebrated the Covenant Day with prayers and other liturgical activities including Covenant renewal and reading a text from our Father. The Liturgical programme was followed by a gathering of the Communities.

Our Founder’s Birthday

Customarily, every year the Community in Nigeria join the rest of the Schoenstatt Family to celebrate Fr. Kentenich’s birthday. This year, it was to be a special one owing to many reasons to thank him. The Schoenstatt family in Nigeria has received many gifts this year including, Fr. Johnson Nellissery, the newly contracted students (Sons of Sion), a new Noviciate, a new house, the first Nigerian Deacon and last but in no way the least of all a Shrine. As a gift to Father Kentenich, the Community of the Theologians conduct three days of Adoration in the Shrine in the evening. Moreover, a photo of our Father and Founder was hung at the entrance of the Formation House. In that way, a proper place has been given to him in the midst of the young, growing Schoenstatt Fathers' community.

Water Problem

One great obstacle they are having in their new House in Ijokodo is a problem with the water. The survey taken on the land reveals that they will have to spend more than they budgeted for to fix this. As a temporary solution, they are buying water to meet their domestic needs, while they continue to pray for a lasting solution.

Schoenstatt Youth Work

The students working with the Youth in the Parishes and the Universities are organizing a Day of Information for those who want to join the Schoenstatt Youth in Nigeria. The immediate aim of this Programme is to start officially with building Schoenstatt Youth groups. Until now no official group has been made.

Two Youth groups from a parish that are already preparing for the Covenant of celebrated a Holy Mass with Fr. Johnson for the first time in the Shrine on the 20th of November.

Schoenstatt vs. Other Communities

As a kind of tradition, every year in the Archdiocese, all the Religious Communities (male & female) engage in a sports competition. It is meant to foster unity, friendship and communal living among all the communities working in this Archdiocese. This year the competition started on the 22nd of November. Schoenstatt Fathers as a community will be participating actively. The encounter will only be in soccer. The Schoenstatt Fathers were due in the opening match against the Society of African Missionaries (SMA). Wish them luck...!

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