‘Blue Nuns’ Celebrate 25 Years in North America
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
July 6, 2023
ROCKFORD—The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ (IHM), commonly known as the “Blue Nuns” in reference to their habits, celebrated with enthusiasm the 25th anniversary of their arrival in North America from their home country of Nigeria.
 
The June 25 event, held at Holy Family Church, began with Mass with Bishop David Malloy who teased the sisters gently after processing in with several diocesan and IHM priests behind a small group of sisters and young girls who provided a choreographed, jingle-bells-filled dance up the aisle.
 
“I’d been told it would be a small celebration,” Bishop Malloy said, motioning toward the crowd in the pews. “I didn’t even know it would be the Sistine Choir as well,” he added — a remark happily embraced by the sisters-filled choir.
 
“I’m not sure if I should start with ‘Sisters, congratulations,’ or ‘Sisters thank you for what you are, what you are doing, what you have brought,’” the bishop said. “Your contributions are part of the contributions of many sisters historically … to the spiritual life of the Church, especially in the Diocese of Rockford.
 
“You have persevered … with a love for the Catholic Church and Jesus Christ who established it … and the commitment to the charism and the calling of religious life … both in the easy moments and the tough moments, the moments of joy and the moments of sorrows. … This is why it is so right to congratulate you.”  
 
In his homily, he mentioned “your public witness, especially by those blue habits. You need not say a word, your presence in church, at school, the hospital, in the store. In its own way that witness gives challenge to the complacency at times of our Western minds and our faith. In other words, it gives a reassurance, an encouragement.
 
“Something else … You are known for your witness and joy. You are all known for that Nigerian and African smile that accompanies that presence. It makes your witness shine out to the glory of God.”
 
With additional thanks to God and his plan for life, Bishop Malloy noted, “The presence here of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart in North America in this Diocese of Rockford, it comes from God Himself. … and so how good it is that you come in this mission, this mission of faith.”
 
He concluded by again noting the crowd gathered together on a summer Saturday. 
 
“This turnout, ‘just a few people’ in my notes ... is a real indication of the joy, the gratitude, and the ecclesial Church solidarity that has been built up between you and this community of the Diocese of Rockford,” Bishop Malloy said. 
 
“How good it is to celebrate with you.”
 
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