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Two Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus profess final vows at Lewiston Mass

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Bishop Michael Fisher, assisted by Father Sean Paul Fleming, blesses Sister Maryann Ezeali and Sister Emilia Ogu as they profess their vows as Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The May 9, Mass took place at St. Peter Church in Lewiston, not far from the Sacred Heart Villa School where the sisters teach. Photo by Patrick J. Buechi

Two young ladies have complemented their spiritual journey with a physical journey. Sister Maryann Ezeali and Sister Emilia Ogu, both from Nigeria, professed their final vows as Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at St. Peter Church in Lewiston on May 9, the anniversary of the order’s founding.

During the Mass, Bishop Michael Fisher asked the two sisters, who were completing a nine-year period of juniorate, if they are resolved to dedicate generously their whole lives to the service of the people of God. The sisters both agreed and professed to freely consecrate themselves entirely to Jesus and professed the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. “May your grace fall upon me at the intercession of the most holy virgin of the rosary and the holy patrons of the congregation assist me every day to live faithfully for your glory. The commitment I take upon myself with this, my profession, Amen,” they both said.

Sister Maryann Ezeali and Sister Emilia Ogu take a moment to rest by a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary after professing their perpetual vows as Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

“Let us pray, God, our almighty Father, giver of all good things, that in His mercy He may strengthen the service and the purpose He has inspired in these His daughters,” the bishop said as a blessing.

Sister Emilia, who has been teaching pre-K at Sacred Heart Villa since coming to the United States in 2012, joined the order after what she believes to be a miracle healing.

She was all set to enter college in her home country when she developed a sore on her hand that lasted two years. Doctors couldn’t find a cause or cure for it.

 “One day, I saw this picture of the Blessed Mother and the heart,” Sister Emilia recalled. “What is it? Am I dreaming or what? I turn around and find I am awake. I am not sleeping. I’m not dreaming.”

She immediately went to church and knelt before the Blessed Sacrament, asking Jesus if He’d tell her how she could serve Him. After shedding a tear, she left. The next day her sores dried up. After asking a friend if she knew of any sister whom she could speak with, she was introduced to a Sister of the Sacred Heart. She began the five-year formation process shortly after.

Sister Maryann had always wanted to lead her life for others. A relative introduced her to the Sister of the Sacred Heart back in Nigeria.   

“I’ve always wanted to be a religious, but then I was more encouraged by my pastor,” she said, adding it was for the service. “Service to God and service to humanity.”

She too, has been teaching pre-K at Sacred Heart Villa since arriving in Lewiston in 2013.

The order was founded May 9, 1889 in Italy by Blessed Maria Schinina. The sisters have formation houses in Italy, U.S. (Lewiston and Connecticut), Canada, Madagascar, Philippines, Nigeria and India. The sisters believe that prayer life and the Eucharist are the source of their strength and nourishment of spirit.

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