Associate Members

Immaculate Heart of Mary Congregation's Associate Members

In the Church, there are “Associations whose members live in the world but share in the spirit of some religious institutes under the overall direction of the same institute.  These members also lead an apostolic life and strive for Christian perfection; they are known as third orders or are called by some other suitable title” (Can. 303).  Their aims include: sharing the spirit and charism of the religious institute, fostering the pursuit of perfection, promoting public worship and Christian doctrine. Again they engage themselves in other works of piety or charity, (animation of the temporal order with the Christian spirit. Each institute that has this association attached to it must have a special care that the association is imbued with genuine spirit of its family [cf. Can. 677 § 2]).

The Congregation of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ, was founded on 7th Oct. 1937 by His Grace Most Rev. Dr. Charles Heerey C.S.Sp, of revered memory, who was then the Archbishop of Onitsha.  His concern for the status of women, his compassion for the underprivileged, the sick and children and for a good Christian family life, led him to found this religious congregation of women, which has attained Pontifical status.

Today, the Immaculate Heart Sisters are found in different parts of the world bringing the compassion of Jesus to our needy brothers and sisters.  At this time, the members of the institute deem it wise to allow other people whose state of life may not allow the sharing of the rich heritage of this family as incorporated members (Priests and lay faithful) [cf. Can. 303] to be admitted as Associate Members of the Institute.

Membership in this Associate of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Family requires commitment.

The content of this booklet is an attempt to produce guidelines for the recruitment, formation and discipline of Associates of the Immaculate Heart of Mary family.  It is meant to help members of this association to be committed to their ideals and to achieve the aims of the associate membership. 

1.   Vocations, Charism and Spirit

Archbishop Charles Heerey, one of the early missionaries to Southern Nigeria, saw the suffering and misery of the people: overwhelming ignorance, malnutrition, women subjected to dehumanizing conditions, poor medical care etc.  Moved with pity, he centred his missionary activity on bringing the compassion of Christ to the people in the spirit of humility whatever their specific need may be.  These marked and propelled his whole missionary endeavour.  He founded the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ, to carry on his charism and spirit.

Members of this Congregation therefore, reach out to the people in their every need and especially work for uplifting the status of women, giving wholistic attention to people and prepare them for the sacraments and Christian family life.

To leave no stone unturned, and to get to the grassroot, Archbishop Charles Heerey also reached out to work with the lay faithful, hence our desire to form the Associates of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Family and share our charism and spirit with them.

2.  Name of the Association:

The association is called “Associates of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Family.”

3.   Membership

Membership of this Associate Family comprises Catholic Clergy and lay faithful who desire to share our charism and spirit of witnessing to the compassion and humility of Christ in Mary-like manner.

4.   Aims and Objectives

  • To invite members to share our spirit of humility in service of others and our charism of compassion especially among women and children in our society.
  • To form members for spiritual growth.
  • To share the Word of God and live it.
  • To assist members appreciate Mary, the Mother of God and our Mother.
  • To give service to the Church and humanity.

5.   The Way of Life of the Associate Members

As special children of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, members are to maintain filial and deep devotion to our Blessed Mother and cultivate Mary’s apostolic heart full of burning love for her Son, Jesus, and for all mankind entrusted to her Son.  They are to seek to model themselves upon Mary’s purity, humility, self-effacement and availability.

6.   Motto of Our Congregation

“AD JESUM PER MARIAM” (To Jesus through Mary).

7.   Symbol of Membership: A small badge of Immaculate Heart of Mary.

8.   Mode of Greeting:

When members of the Associate meet one another, they greet “Cor…Mariae (Not to be translated).

9.   Feastday

The principal feast of our Congregation is the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Saturday after the feast of the Sacred Heart).

 10. Who may Join?

Membership is open to catholic clergy and baptized lay catholic faithful who desire to share our charism and Spirit. 


Members shall make a commitment to serve God better by following the example of Jesus Christ who was poor, chaste and obedient to the Father unto death (cf. Phil.2:6-8). They will live these counsels as permitted by their particular state in life (cf. L.G. No. 5).


  1. The primary apostolate of every Associate member is Prayer and share their spiritual and material goods with others, living good Christian life, and promoting the same through education and counseling, speaking for the voiceless, offering employment, promoting justice, peace and love.

    They can sponsor our sisters in difficult missions and also to help train candidates and Sisters for the work of our Congregation.

  2. Members can also take up any work or service which they discern to be an expression of our Charism and Spirit.


    A congregational central co-ordinator facilitates the formation of the Association.  The officials include:

  • Central co-ordinator (An IHM Sister)

  • Local co-ordinator (An IHM Sister)

  • President

  • Vice President

  • Secretary

  • Treasurer

  • Financial Secretary




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