Holy Ghost Juniorate, Ihiala, a noble Seminary Institute of Academy owned and managed by the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers, South-East Province of Nigeria. Ihiala is a town situated in the South of Anambra State, South-East of Nigeria. Ihiala is with a population of about 61490, and predominantly Catholics. The current total number of Catholics in Ihiala is about 52407; the total number of those practicing African Traditional Religion is about 865; and the total number of those in other Christian denominations is about 8227.
With determined passion and zeal to reach beyond frontiers, and zeal for souls, and with their Herculean evangelization and exploratory tasks, the early French Holy Ghost missionaries and explorers plunged the frontiers of African missions, and landed in Benin precisely by 14th and 15th centuries; and by between 17th and 18th century, they saw the shores of Nigeria soil. The Holy Ghost missionaries tirelessly impacted on the African soil and people, particularly in Nigeria, South-East.
The first light of missionary endeavor on the Southeastern part of Nigeria was with the arrival of the Holy Ghost missionaries from Gabon to Onitsha under the leadership of Fr. Joseph Lutz, C.S.Sp on December 5th, 1885. Fr. Joseph Shanahan, C.S.Sp (The Apostle of Igbo land) joined them in 1902; and when the mantle of leadership fell on him in 1905, history was set to record the evangelization of what is now called Nnewi Diocese in which Ihiala is located.
The stream of this evangelization was to flow through two main courses almost concurrently: one having Nnewi as its target and the other Ozubulu/Ihiala. And to actualize their missionary ambition, they effectively explored the possibility of education, especially in the South-East regions of Nigeria. And the people of South-East people were receptive to the early missionaries’ evangelization strides.'
"The educational exploration became timely as it proved a veritable tool for effective evangelization. Consequently and interestingly, this collective mindset of the early missionaries informed and gave rise to the establishment of many primary, post primary and Teachers Training schools, and hospitals in many parts of Nigeria. Some of those schools are C.K.C. Onitsha, C.I.C. Enugu, C.K.C. Port Harcourt, Holy Ghost College, Owerri, St. Theresa’s College Nsukka, Teachers Training College Azaraegbelu, HolyRosary hospital Emekeukwu, Bishop Shanahan hospital Nsukka, Our Lady of Lourdes, Ihiala, etc.
As years of evangelization rolled by and with the advent and establishment of Catholic missions in the 1940’s and 1950’s, there was an important and urgent need to nurture vocations to the priesthood and missionary life. It was this need to raise local clergy that spurred the early missionaries on to begin the establishment of minor seminaries and to train enthusiastic young men who showed interest to the Catholic priesthood, though not without strong challenges and oppositions. Such minor Seminaries are St. Peter Claver, Okpala, All Hallows, Onitsha, etc.
From Onitsha, the missionaries moved to Ozubulu, and with the Catholic mission already founded in Ihiala with the generous donation of approximately 11.11 acres of land by some families of Mbarakpaka and Uzoakwa, all in Ihiala. Their generosity cannot be overemphasized. And so the idea to open a minor Seminary of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers started to gather momentum. Thus, Fr. Francis Griffin, C.S.Sp the then Superior General, Archbishop Charles Heery, C.S.Sp of Onitsha, and Fr. John Jordan, C.S.Sp the then Superior of Nigeria missions, together saw the need to actualize the idea of opening a minor Seminary for the education and training of local religious missionaries of Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers. And the Archbishop Heery offered Ihiala for the site; Fr. Griffin approved the idea, while Fr. Jordan got permission from Rome to formally establish the Holy Ghost Juniorate, Ihiala."
The Holy Ghost Juniorate officially began at Ihiala on January 16th, 1953. The establishment of Holy Ghost Juniorate, Ihiala was intended to help, in no small measure, to nurture young vocations to the religious and missionary priesthood and brotherhood, and to help sustain the missionary spirit of the local churches that were being established. Holy Ghost Juniorate, Ihiala, was therefore to be the foundation of the Spiritan Religious / Missionary life, in keeping with the spirit of Fr. Poullart Des Places, C.S.Sp and Fr. Francis Mary Paul Libermann, C.S.Sp the founding Fathers of the Holy Ghost Congregation under the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The first recorded admission was done by Fr. John Jordan, C.S.Sp; and the total number of students admitted were 67, but 41 arrived and started classes; 20 students started in class 1, while 21 students started in class 2. The criteria for admission would include entrance examination, oral interview, one’s family approval, good character, good health and the desire to be a religious / missionary priest / brother.
At the official setting of the school as a minor Seminary, Fr. Alfred Chamberlin, C.S.Sp began as the first Rector, while Fr. Murphy, C.S.Sp took up the bursary work. Both priests taught the students; and the initial subjects taught were Latin, Geometry, Religion and Algebra. As years rolled by, more teaching staff were added to the Seminary as students increased in number.
In order to effectively and financially sustain this noble project, the students paid six pounds, while the Catholic Education House owned by the Holy Ghost Fathers paid eight pounds as support fee for each student. And the Parochial revenue from Ihiala town was also used to administer the new school. With these financial aids, new structures were added to the pre-existing ones to provide more accommodation for students and staff.
Interestingly, as years went by, and like the mustard seed, Holy Ghost Juniorate, Ihiala quickly got her name written in the historical archive, and in the golden book of record and fame