All plans were made and off we went on this journey that was full of risks, excitement and hope in the triune God. The journey took me and Sister Christeta (German) to Owerri, the Capital of Imo State, in Southeastern Nigeria. The purpose of this experience is at the heart of Jesus’s command: Go to the whole world, proclaim the good news. Thus, we the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ (PHJC) said “Yes” after the example of Mary Mother of God and our Foundress to go and share the love of God with the Nigerian people through the Spirituality and Charism of St. Katharina Kasper.
As we ministered to the people of God with the gifts and talents God gave us, we reckoned that to be an effective minister, there is a need to continuously update and equip ourselves with contemporary knowledge and thinking. By staying up to date with knowledge and understanding, we aim to make the mission more engaging for the people of God. Against this backdrop in understanding, my mission partner and I decided that I would participate in a ten-week course in leadership and management for project directors held between 2007-2009, which was sponsored by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation through Marywood University and African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC). Having completed the Sisters Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI) program over a 3-year period, I was awarded a Certificate in Leadership and Management for Project Directors in Jos, Nigeria.
Through the tools I acquired from this course, my skills in leadership and project management were sharpened for the task ahead of me in starting a new mission of PHJC in Nigeria. Some of the skills gave me an edge in the beginning of our mission in Oguta, Imo State and Garam in Niger State. The mission began from negotiating with the local ordinary to initiating various programs and writing for grants to establish our first health center.
In 2010, I was missioned to our American Province of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ. I continued my mission as a Case Manager at Sojourner Truth House, a resource center for homeless women and children in Gary, Indiana, sponsored by the PHJC Sisters. I also volunteered at the State of Indiana Correctional Center for 6 years.
In 2012, I embarked on legal studies at Calumet College of St. Joseph in Whiting, Indiana where I obtained a second bachelor’s degree in law studies. Because I had earned a master’s degree in education for Primary Health Care from the University of Manchester, England, I thought that with my legal background, I could pursue a Doctorate degree in Criminal Justice with concentration in Law and Public Policy. I began my studies at Walden University in Minnesota. My intent in pursuing doctoral work is to position myself to work with young people in establishing the intersection between law and public policy and criminalization of poverty.
In my years after participating in the ASEC program, I have written many articles in the area of social justice. I have written two books: “Walking in the Worn-Out Shoes of St Katharina: A Symbol of Transformation” and “The Interconnectedness between African Proverbs and Sayings with Christianity.” I am involved in speaking engagements in the area of Human trafficking which is the subject of my doctoral work.
Currently, I am a member of the American Province Leadership Team, having been elected in 2019 and re-elected in 2021 to serve as a Councilor. I am also a part time Adjunct Professor at Calumet College of St. Joseph Whiting Indiana where I teach Ethics in Criminal Justice and Introductions to Corrections.
My interests continue to be writing, hiking, cycling, and soccer. I also have an interest in justice, law, policy and ethnographic research.
This article was written by Sister Nkechi Iwuoha PHJC, Ph.D. She is a Nigerian American. Sister Nkechi entered the Congregation on April 25, 2003 and has been a Sister of the Poor handmaids of Jesus Christ for 19 years.