The great imperial city of Rome started her classic history with the legendary tale of two twin brothers Remus and Romulus fed by a she wolf. Romulus later killed his brother, Remus and became the founder of that city, Rome, which became one of the greatest empires of all ages in 753Bc. This applies to the foundation of many kingdoms, nations, states, and institutions etc. that have their simple stories of their small and humble beginnings.
The case is not different about the St. Joseph’s group of schools made up of:
The nursery and primary
sections of this group of schools named St. Mary’s have reached a reasonable
age, indeed the ripe age of 25years. May God be praised. This presents also the
pertinence to tell the true story of her birth and growth while looking at her
future with optimal hope.
background of the beginning
The remote story of the life of the St. Josephs Group of Schools dates back to the missionary presence in Emene in 1919 when via the mediator ship of one carpenter named Mr. Philip Nnaji (whose son, sir Joseph Nnaji is still alive today) a portion of land was granted to Bishop Shanahan under the custody of Fr. Grandini for missionary and educational activities. It was this portion of land whose ownership was sustained by the subsequent bishops who administered Enugu diocese that contain the location of the group of schools today as well as other ecclesiastical such as the parish premises, formally mission schools taken over by the government after the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War, the DDL establishment: DRACC and Annunciation Hospital, SPIIEE, etc. However, the church has lost a large portion of this land to land grabbers who took the advantage of old Anambra State to Snatch these parcels of land. This was also part of impetus that drove the parish into development and establishment on this potion of land to control incursion by land grabbers. One of such development schemes was the idea to and project of building a school on this potion of land.
birth of the schools
At a time, the land scavengers were feeding deeply into the mission lands got as far back as 1919 and coincidentally the death of the diocesan bishop, later bishop Mary Paul Okoye in 1978, also left her young newly founded congregation, DDL almost orphan, the parish had to initiate an ideal of a school project that can be of assistance. The ideal of the school project was therefore borne to:
To rescue and save the mission lands from lands snatchers who were taking advantage of the then state law on land ownership.
To have a project that could generate resources so as to help the growing parish in her numerous projects of development.
To assist her neighbors, the DDL sisters who had lost their founder, Bishop Okoye by way of employment to run for them.
This idea of a school was formally presented among other things to the then Bishop Most Rev. Dr. M. U. Eneja during his pastoral visit to the parish on 23rd March, 1980. According to the address of the then parish Council secretary, Sir Peter Onwundinjo
“Your Lordship… on the utilization of the mission land…. to prevent further loss of the remaining piece of land, we pray your lordship to bear with us, and look into our suggestions for retaining parcel. The sitting of a maternity hospital…. We also suggest that the building of a nursery school on that land will have the blessing of all and sundry in Emene.”
Sir Peter Onwundinjo
Consequent upon the bishop’s affirmation of these requests, the parish now started other efforts to its actualization, prominent among which include:
The parish council meeting of 14th December, 1980 in which the sum of N22,000 was got to start off the school project.
The motivation of the friends of DDL sisters, already formed by the parish to help the sisters in other caritative issues to also assist in this school project as the sisters will also benefit from it by way of employment. These friends of DDL formed mainly from parish sacred heart league include Messor Paddy Anyawike, Late Philip Okocha, B. Anyakwo, Peter Onwudinjo (then Parish Scribe) and Mike Ikejiaku (Catechist)
The special inspiration, motivation and contributions in cash and kind provided by the priest, Fr. Tim Buckley which was sustained by the priests that came on relief duties when he traveled for annual leave, especially Fr. Charles Ohaeri who came to assist in 1980/1981.
When the school was
eventually completed, and inaugurated on the 9th day of August, 1981
the DDL sisters were invited to help in running it. The inception in September,
1981 (a month later) with the initial enrolment of 125 nursery pupils. While
the rest were in year one of the nursery, 25 pupils who had done their nursery
in other schools were admitted into nursery two. Sequel to the assistance of
Sr. Nnaemeka Nzekwe, Sr. Chinenye Ama was appointed the first headmistress of
the first nursery school of St. Joseph Parish, Emene. This was how the first
life of the St. Joseph group of schools was born.
As the school grows:
The school was originally located off old Abakaliki road behind Girls Secondary School, Emene. When it grew from primary to secondary section necessitated the shifting of this primary section to the mission portion of land behind St. Joseph’s Parish house while the secondary still retained the original place of the foundation of the group of schools.
On a nomenclature interest, the school would have borne the name Maryland School as suggested by the then priest on relief duty, Fr Charles Ohaeri, but to avoid confusion with an outstation of the parish then that had a similar name: Mainland, it was reconsidered.
A three man team led by Sir Peter Onwudinjo was sent by the parish that later suggested that it could be called St. Mary’s, given the priests Marian penchant and as Mary was also the wife of St. Joseph in our Christian hagiology. This is how the school got her name. This conceptual inclination influenced both the motto and the colour of the school.
The motto of the school is Faith, love and Service which were the cardinal virtues of our Blessed Virgin Mary whom the school was also to emulate. The color as can be seen in the school uniform and walls were blue and white that signify the purity and love of our mother, Mary.
Being a private mission school, it enjoyed so much the inspirations and material contributions of the priests who have worked in the parish as well as the formative cares that came through the sisters who are running it for St. Joseph parish, Emene. It was through the instrumentality of these people that the school was nursed until her approval by the then ministry of education of the old Anambra State on July 27th, 1983 under the primary proprietorship or ownership of the then diocesan bishop, most Rev. Dr. M.U. Eneja. Thus, as a diocesan property, it was left to the custody of the parish via any priest in charge of the parish via any priest in charge of the parish as the custodian cum proprietor of the group of schools to be assisted by the education board appointed for this. As the school continues to grow from strength to strength, other structures of her life started to develop.
On the 27th day of March, 1982, the Parents Teacher Association (PTA) of the school was inaugurated. The first graduation ceremony of the school (Nursery 3) by the foundation pupils was on 8th July, 1983 with 14 grandaunts.