It was a happy day for those gathered at the Sacred Heart in Hanley as the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ celebrated 25 years of missionary work in the UK.

On Saturday 2 July an Anniversary Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Bernard Longley and attended by the sisters, priests from the UK and beyond, sisters from other religious communities, family and friends.

Singing and dancing were a key part of the celebration Mass, which also included a Papal Blessing and the release of doves outside. A party took place afterwards.

In 1997 the sisters were invited to England by Archbishop Couve De Murville, and Stoke-on-Trent is the place where they began missionary work. They are now situated in 10 different places across the UK.

The first group of sisters arrived in England on 30 April 1997 and have lived in various communities in Stoke-on-Trent: Abbey Hulton, Cobridge, Abbey Lane, Lowther Street, Hanley and Bentilee.

Sr Maureen Felicitas Obiorah, the English Representative of the sisters, said: “Anywhere we find ourselves we try our best to live the legacy God has laid out for us in our charism and spirit, which is compassion rendered in a spirit of humility.

“In Hanley for the past six years the sisters have been running a soup kitchen every Sunday which feeds on average 50 to 60 homeless people, or anyone that walks through the door. Each week we provide them with a three-course meal.

“The sisters also participate in pastoral visits of the sick and elderly as well as minister Holy Communion to them. We work in local hospitals and in pharmacies.

“We also participate in activities concerning the city, two weeks ago two sisters joined in the Potters ‘Arf and it was splendid to see some of the runners cheering us.

“We remain ever grateful to God and everyone who journeyed, helped and contributed to our growth; today, gather together in jubilation as we tell our story and count God's blessing.”

Today there are 32 sisters in the UK working in seven different Dioceses: Birmingham, Brentwood, Liverpool, Dunkeld, Galloway, Nottingham and Kildare; carrying out works of compassion rendered in the spirit of humility by engaging in pastoral, teaching, medical and social care.

Here in the Archdiocese of Birmingham the sisters are based at Sacred Heart, Hanley; Our Lady of Lourdes in Yardley Wood and St Peter’s, Bloxwich.

Two sisters were also based at Maryvale Institute at one point, Sr Domninic Marie Anoshiri and Sr Maureen Felicitas Obiorah, supporting the Further Education programmes delivered both within the Archdiocese of Birmingham and across the world.

In recent years the Institute formed a partnership with the Order to enable the sisters to deliver catechetical training at the Mater Christi Human Development and Religious Formation Centre in Nigeria.

Photo Gallery

Silver Jubilee celebrations, Sisters of The Immaculate Heart of Mary

Watch! Sisters in full song

Cannock parishioners interview Sr Jacinta

As part of their preparations for their First Holy Communion at St Mary and St Thomas More, Cannock, young parishioners Amelia and Martyna interviewed the parish sister, Sr Jacinta of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

The parish catechist, Shirley Weatherby, who prepared the girls for communion put together the interview.

Read the full interview


The Religious Institute of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ Nigeria, was founded in 1937 by His Grace, Most Rev. Dr Charles Heerey, C.S.Sp. of blessed memory; when he was the Vicar Apostolic of Onitsha-Owerri, Nigeria.

As an Irish missionary priest from the western world and his position as an Archbishop, he witnessed and experienced the mayhem effected by poor health and medical services, combined with the oppressive effects of ignorance inflicted on his flock in the late 1930s, of which the deprived, women and children were the greatest victims.

Part of his loving and compassionate response to the situation was to found an indigenous Religious Women Institute from among the people to promote: better Christian education for women and children; to engage in works of charity and mercy among the poor, serve in hospitals, clinics, orphanages and schools, and helping to sanctify the people by their teaching and example. Hence, you will find majority of sisters in the medical and social sector as well as working as a pastoral sister and in the teaching sector.

This noble Religious Institute was born out of prayerful reflections and became the first indigenous Religious Women Institute in Igboland, Nigeria. As part of his mandate: in one of his letters, he wrote: "they are also to be missionaries" (letter of our Father Founder 5 October 1937) which entails witnessing in Nigeria and any part of the world. His guiding philosophy was to give the best to God. In response to this mandate, when the appointed time came to witness in the United Kingdom, some sisters were sent to England.