Sisters of Mary Mother of the Church is an Institute of Women Religious of Diocesan Right founded in 1971 by the late Most Rev. Anthony Konings of the Society of African Missionaries (SMA) in the then Keta Diocese in the Volta Region of Ghana.
Origin and Founder
As early as the 1960s, the late Bishop Konings announced during an Easter Conference his dream of founding an Institute of indigenous Women Religious, inspired by the celebration of Vatican II (1962-1965). The Bishop saw the need for Indigenous religious Sisters to take up the work of the Sisters of our Lady of Apostles (OLA) Missionaries whose number had drastically reduced. There was the need for the Indigenous Sisters to render the dedicated service needed in the local Church in the area of Education, Health and Social/Pastoral Work. They were to respond to the call of Christ and spread the Good News of the Kingdom of God by their way of life.
Incidentally, at the time many young girls in the Diocese desired to enter the Religious Life, but since there was no female Religious Institute in the Diocese they were departing to join other religious institutes outside the diocese and even outside the country to fulfil their desire. Bishop Konings, therefore, inspired by the Holy Spirit, saw this as the opportune time to start a formation for the indigenous women religious he so desired to found.
Bishop Konings invited the O.L.A. Sisters to help in our founding and formation. In 1971, Sr. Dolores Davies and Jane Frances Kenny, O.L.A arrived in Dzelukofe to start the Congregation. They trained and prepared sisters for their professions starting with seven indigenous pioneers who professed their first vows in 1974 at Dzelukofe in the then Keta Diocese. From this perfect number of seven (7), other young ladies followed. The formators sought to form the sisters in the spirit and aim of the founder.
Explaining about the ‘Founder and the Spirit of the Institute,’ Bishop Konings stated: “My aim of erecting this Diocesan Sisterhood was entirely pragmatic- that is, to solve the problem of people in a practical and sensible way, rather than having fiscal ideas and theories. It was obvious that the missionary era was practically over; for the work of the European Sisters-Educational, Social and Medical not to die with them, a Congregation of African Sisters was necessary to carry on that part of the Mission of the Church” (From Bishop Konings’ letter to Sister Patricia McMenamin, OLA, 1st February, 1983). There are many other sayings of our founder, Bishop Konings, which have largely informed our Spirit and Mission.
To live in Faith, Charity, Sacrifice and Simplicity with Mary Mother of the Church our Model.
To respond to the needs of the Church in Teaching, Healing and Social/Pastoral Apostolate.
Being an Institute of Diocesan Right means the local ordinary has an oversight responsibility towards the institute. In the early stages of its foundation, Bishop Francis Lodonu was the Auxiliary Bishop. He nurtured the young Institute, supported the education of its early members in order to form a strong foundation for the Indigenous Sisters. The OLA Sisters finally handed over the administration of the Institute to the pioneers in 1987. Under the appointed leadership of Sr. Georgina Fuglo, SMMC, the young Sisters worked hard to sustain the Institute with the support of Bishop Lodonu who was then the substantive Bishop of the Keta-Ho Diocese and later Ho Diocese.
Current State, Aspirations, Hopes
From humble beginnings of seven pioneers, the Sisters of Mary Mother of Church are ninety-two (92) in number now. It has seven Novices, two postulants and several aspirants. The main apostolates of the Sisters are in three (3) areas namely: Education, Health, Social/Pastoral work. Among the 92 Sisters, 17 have already retired from active service at the Government sector. That notwithstanding, the Sisters are trying to build their convent structures, take care of their health needs, as well as taking care of the poor and vulnerable in society.
Currently, the Institute continues to thrive under the direction and Pastoral care of Bishop Emmanuel Kofi Fianu, the Bishop of Ho Diocese.
We currently serve in Ho and Keta-Akasti Dioceses of the Volta Region, Jasikan Diocese in the Oti Region, and Donkorkrom Vicariate in the Eastern Region of Ghana. We have eighteen communities in the four dioceses with not less than two Sisters in a community; some communities have as many as thirteen (13) Sisters. It is sad to note that most of the houses are temporal places of abode belonging to the Hospitals and Schools where the Sisters work. The Mother house where the initial formation of our pioneer Sisters begun belongs to the Keta-Akatsi Diocese. It was a preparatory seminary where young aspiring seminarians were initially trained.
There is therefore the need to build a permanent Mother House for the Congregation, a Generalate for the leadership and administration of the Institute and consequently, build convents to accommodate members in the various communities.