Welcome to the official website of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Chaplaincy,
Catholic Institute of West Africa, Rumuibekwe, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria.
As a private chaplaincy in the early 1980's, Masses were celebrated in the Chapel on the floor of the Institute's Administrative Block. The congregations that gather for the Eucharistic celebration formed a Planning Committee to interact with CIWA authorities on their behalf. With the Fellowship that commenced within CIWA premises in the early 1990's, the number of people that attend Masses increased rapidly and over-flowed the Chapel and alternative places were used for Masses; occasionally, in the students' refectory and later outside, under canopies. That was the time the congregation began to be called the CIWA Worshipping Community.
As the faithful increased and interacted, ideas on how to enrich the liturgy were generated and that was how the idea of forming a choir for the chapel was conceived. Hitherto, liturgical songs were either intoned by Rev. Sr. Professor Teresa Okure, a lecturer in the institute or one Mr. Ben lbeh now of blessed memory. The then Rector of the Institute, Rt. Rev. Msgr. Cyriacus Mbah used to encourage volunteers to join the choir to further make the liturgy more lively and edifying.
As the thirst for deeper spirituality grew among the Christ's faithful who heard of the won ders and miracles at the "CIWA fellowship" as the prayer meetings conducted under the spiritual guidance of Rev. Fr. Dr. Joseph Brookman Amissah and anchored by Mrs. Ann Amene, a firebrand, gifted and eloquent Christian mother with a pentecostal zeal and ably supported by a dedicated core group members. This structure took the fellowship to the highest level where thousands of Catholics and non-Catholics from within and outside Port Harcourt became adherents with attendant mix-up of doctrines. As the prayer meeting "CIWA fellowship" came to be known, thousands and thousands of Christians of all religious hues, thronged the CIWA ground to get a piece of the anointing. In order to accommodate the large crowd of people, canopies were set in the open field and worshippers were exposed to the vagaries of the weather. This did not shake their faith in any way but instead hardened and boosted same. The fellowship was not just big in size; it was committed and action-oriented in its psychology. That was why when it resolved to embark on any stage of the multi-purpose hall (MPH) construction, as the church building was known then, it moved with one spirit and accord and accomplished it at record time.
The current building was not originally designed to serve as a church, but as a Multi-Purpose Hall for the Sunday Masses, the regular weekly Fellowship meetings and ministrations or counseling of those in need by the core group. Different activities, book launchings and wedding receptions were also held there. CIWA academic community continued to use the Chapel upstairs for its regular weekly Masses and other religious activities. The altar area was designed to serve as the platform from which the core group and other ministers would conduct services at Fellowship sessions. Many small rooms in the Multi-Purpose Hall were designed for counseling sessions.
The then Rector, Peter Damian Akpunonu had envisaged separate rooms where people could take whatever prayer posture they needed as well as a quiet room for those who needed something different. Initially participants came from other parishes just for the Fellowship and the Sunday Masses; but continued to carry out their regular Catholic activities (baptisms, wedding, etc.) in their parishes. This accounts for the current shape of the Multi-Purpose Hall which Bishop Makozi designated as Church (a change from Multi-Purpose Hall) during his pastoral visit in 2007 with Rev. Monsignor Tunde Ogunduyilemi as the Chaplain.
Today, OLHRC is a bubbling Chaplaincy. What started as a mustard seed has indeed grown to become a huge tree to which all kinds of "birds" (God's people) within and outside Port Harcourt seek shelter. The Chaplaincy has continued to advance CIWA's mission to promote a more solid rooting of the people's faith in the sub-region. OLHRC has impacted the life of CIWA as an academic institute in many ways and the whole of Port Harcourt Diocese and its environs have also greatly benefited from the CIWA Chaplaincy in ways that only God knows. It is all God's work; all the honour and glory of this success story belong to God. Through the CIWA Fellowship that eventually metamorphosed into the Chaplaincy, God loosened the tongues of Catholics who previously could not pray without a prayer book and empowered them to make spontaneous prayers and develop a habit of reading the Bible. May this same God continue to help CIWA both as Institute and as Chaplaincy to stay tuned to the Holy Spirit who leads us and the universal Church progressively to the complete truth (John 14:12-13). To God be the glory.