History & Heritage:
The Congregation of the Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus (H.H.C.J) was founded by Mother Mary Charles Magdalene Walker, a Religious Sister of Charity, who came to Nigeria in 1923 at the invitation Bishop Joseph Shanahan (CSSP) of the Vicariate of Southern Nigeria .
Mother Mary Charles Magdalene Walker lived out the preaching of being all things to all people as she engaged in any ministry that would uplift the standard of life of the people she served.
Her desire for an indigenous Religious Congregation was fulfilled when four of the young women she taught in St. Joseph’s Convent School, Calabar, Nigeria expressed the desire to become Religious Sisters. The names of the Four Women are:
Lucy William - Sister St. John from Cameroon, Central Africa
Kathleen Bassey - Sister Mary Ignatia from Calabar, Nigeria, West Africa
Agnes Ugoaru - Sister Mary Aloysia from Umuahia, Nigeria, West Africa and
Christiana Waturuocha - Sister Mary Gertrude Nwaturuocha, Nigeria, West Africa.
On January 15, 1931, these four women were received as Postulants and she gave the name "Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus" to her new group.
The Congregation was canonically erected on April 1937 by Bishop James Moynagh SPS, the Prefect of Calabar Prefecture while the Society of the Holy Child Jesus guided the formation and growth of the young congregation. The first Religious Profession of Vows of the Foundation members took place on April 21st, 1940.
The Congregation became autonomous on December 28th 1959 with Mother Mary Gertrude Waturuocha one of the foundation members, as the first Superior General of the Congregation. A 'Decretum Laudis' (Decree of praise) was given by His Holiness Pope Paul VI, elevating the Congregation to the status of a Pontifical Right on February 29th, 1971.
The international and inter-tribal nature of the Congregation extends to all parts of Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Togo, Sierra Leone, Kenya and England, Presently the Congregation has established convents in Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Togo, Sierra-Leone, Kenya, Italy, England, Germany, United State of America and Canada.
As a result of its numerical growth and geographic spread, the 7th General Chapter of the Congregation conducted from 8 - 26 March 1996 mandated that the Congregation be divided into four Provinces for effective administration and apostolic ministry. Consequently four provinces were created, three in Nigeria and one in Ghana as follows:
1. South Eastern Province
2. Ghana Province
3. Central Eastern Province
4. North Western Province
Currently, we have one Region and SIX Mission Territories:
* Cameroon Mission
* England Mission
* Germany Mission
* Italy Mission
* North American Mission (USA & Canada)
At the 9th General Chapter held in March, 2008 Kenyan Mission was raised to the status of a Region.