Anambra State, Nigeria

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Mater Amabilis Secondary School, Umuoji was founded on 15th January, 1962 by the then Archbishop of Onitsha, Most Rev Charles Heerey CSSp. Earlier in 1905, the visionary traditional ruler of Umuoji Community, Igwe Okafor Ugwumba, had invited the Catholic Irish Missionaries to come and set up a mission station in his community, having seen the transformative and impressive work which they were doing in Onitsha. Bishop Joseph Shanahan, the then Apostolic Prefect of the Lower Niger Mission wasted no time in responding to the invitation. That same year, he despatched the Teacher Catechist, Jacob Chukwuemeka Odiakosa to start up the work of evangelization among the people of Umuoji. Mr. Odiakosa operated from the palace of Igwe Ugwumba where he was offered an accommodation and a portion of land to start up a school. He laid the foundation of what would later become the Umuoji Parish. The arrival of Rev. Fr. Eugene Groetze CSSp in 1912 as a resident priest in Umuoji gave a lot of impetus to the missionary work already going on in the community. Wherever the Irish Catholic missionaries went, they evangelized the local people using formal education as a vehicle. This was equally the case among the people of Umuoji community as Fr. Groetze worked very hard in expanding both the Church and school, grooming Teacher Catechists who were later sent to propagate the Catholic faith to other places. Fr. Groetze was succeeded by the likes of Fr. John Delany CSSp, Fr. John Cross Anyogu (later Bishop) and Fr. O’Donighue Pat Symth, all of whom made enormous contributions in moulding the fledgling Church in Umuoji.

The watershed moment came in 1951 when Rev. Fr. John Jordan CSSp, a renowned and experienced educationist, was sent to Umuoji as the resident parish priest. During that period, he was assisted by Fr. Cornelius C. Woulfe CSSp with whom he accomplished a lot among the people of community. Having worked previously at the Education House in Onitsha, Fr. Jordan perfectly understood the nitty-gritty of evangelization through education. He expanded and improved the existing primary schools while also building new ones. During his tenure, there were about five primary schools in Umuoji which met the required standard at the time. Aside the primary schools, Fr. Jordan also built a Teacher Training College (T.T.C) which he named Our Lady’s Teacher Training College because it was attached to the Parish Church, Our Lady of Seven Sorrows. Mr. John Anamaleze, one of the earliest Umuoji converts, was appointed its first Principal. The T.T.C in Umuoji ran uninterruptedly for some years, churning out seasoned Teacher Catechists who played active roles in propagating the Catholic faith.

On 15th January, 1962, Archbishop Charles Heerey decided to convert the Teacher Training College in Umuoji into an all-girls secondary school in line with his vision of education and empowerment of the girl child, having previously founded two other all-girls schools at the time (H.R.C Enugu in 1935 and Q.R.C Onitsha in 1942). With this important transformation, Our Lady’s Teacher Training College was renamed Mater Amabilis Secondary School, Umuoji. The Latin expression ”Mater Amabilis” means ”Mother Most Amiable” or ”Mother Most Lovable”. It is one of the titles of our Blessed Mother Mary in the Litany of Loreto. The motto of the school was also defined as ”Vincit Omnia Veritas”, which means ”Truth Conquers All”. The entrance examination for the pioneer students was held in Queen of the Rosary College (Q.R.C), Onitsha and about 60 students were selected for admission. They were all boarders and were housed in St. Theresa and St. Maria Goretti Hostels. The pioneer Senior Prefect was Justina Egbuna. From 1962 – 1967, the school was run by the Catholic Irish Missionaries who aimed to produce disciplined and well-educated young girls who would later become responsible mothers, Reverend Sisters and seasoned professionals in different walks of life. Igwe Okafor Ugwumba will always be remembered for being ever benevolent and supportive in ensuring that the school continued to grow in leaps and bounds. When the need arose to provide more land for agriculture, field for outdoor games, and space for erection of staff quarters arose, he donated part of his land and also got the Chigbo family, Agbim family and Hyacinth Ndianefo family to do so.  

At the outbreak of the civil war in 1967, most of the Catholic Irish Missionaries in the then Eastern Nigeria were expelled by the Federal Government due to the allegation that they were aiding and abetting the Biafran revolution. Consequently, Miss Margaret Ward (Peggy), the pioneer Principal,  had to return to Ireland while handing over the management of the school to Mr. Ochiabuto, the first indigenous Principal. After the war in 1970, the Ukpabi Asika-led Government of the then Eastern Nigeria promulgated the Public Education Edict with which they forcibly took over the management of schools in the region. Mater Amabilis, just like many other Mission Schools, was handed over to the Government. In 2001, the Government separated the management of the junior and senior secondary although both sections remained within the same premises. Mrs. Chinwe Nwolum was made the first Principal of the junior secondary. The dual principalship was scrapped in 2003, reintroduced in 2005 and finally abolished in 2008.

After several years of negotiation between the Church and Government, the Governor Peter Obi-led administration, in 2010, returned all the Mission Schools in the state to their rightful owners. Consequently, Mater Amabilis was given back to the Catholic Archdiocese of Onitsha with full right of proprietorship conferred on Most Rev. Valerian Maduka Okeke, the Archbishop of Onitsha. With this development, the Church was saddled with the task of the day-to-day running and management of the school although majority of the teachers are still employed, paid and promoted by the Government. In October, 2010, Rev. Fr. Tochukwu Ibe was posted to the school as the Manager while Dr. Mrs. Angela Obodozie held the post of the Principal. This new arrangement brought some adjustments in the hierarchy of the school, shifting the administrative headship from the Principal to the Manager. As the School Manager, Fr. Tochukwu initiated the onerous task of reconstruction and renovation of the existing structures most of which depilated due to Government neglect. He equally built new ones where needed. Moreover, he worked very hard to restore the lofty academic and moral standards for which the school was originally known. After 11 years of transformational stewardship, he handed over to Rev. Fr. Francis Onwuchulum on 27th May, 2021. Ever since, Fr. Francis has continued from where he stopped in repositioning Mater to its original pride of place among the comity of schools. With study experience in Europe and America, he is especially driven by a vision to equip the students with the requisite academic and extra-curricular skills needed to compete favourably with their counterparts, and to adapt easily into any higher institution of learning, locally and internationally. He is a firm believer in the potentiality of the women folk as agents of positive transformation in our fast-changing society.


  • Archbishop Charles Heerey CSSp – Founded Mater Amabilis Secondary School Umuoji in 1962.
  • Archbishop Valerian Maduka Okeke – Incumbent Archbishop of Onitsha and Proprietor of the school. Played vital role in the negotiations that led to the return of Mater Amabilis and other mission schools in Anambra State to their rightful owners.
  • Igwe Okafor Ugwumba – Donated major part of the land on which our school is built.
  • Rev. Fr. John Jordan CSSp – Worked closely with the Pioneer Principal in the management of the school.
  • Rev. Fr. Cornelius C. Woulfe CSSp – Made enormous contributions in the academic and moral formation of the students during the early years of the school.
  • Miss Margaret Ward (Peggy) – Irish pioneer Principal of the school, 1962 – 1967
  • Mr. Ochiabuto – First indigenous Principal of the school, 1967 – 1972
  • Mrs. E.U Onwuagha (nee Uzondu) – Principal, January 1972 – May 1972
  • Mrs. Patience Egbuna – Principal, 1972 – 1976
  • Mrs. Uzodimma – Principal, 1976 – 1978
  • Mrs. J.A Azike – Principal, 1979 – 1983
  •  Mr. Ochiaya – Principal, 1984 – 1987
  • Mrs. Iwenjora – Principal, 1988 -1994
  • Mrs. M.O Nwafor – Principal, 1995 -1995
  • Mrs. C.O Nwachukwu – Principal, 1995 – 1996
  • Mrs. C.C Okoye – Principal, 1997 – 2000
  • Mrs. C. Nwolum – Principal of the Junior Secondary, 2001 – 2001
  • Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Agbasimalo – Principal, 2001 – 2003
  • Mrs. Rose Dim – Principal, 2003 – 2005
  • Mrs. Lilian Nnezianya – Principal of the Junior Secondary, 2005 – 2008
  • Dr. Mrs. Angela Obodozie – Principal, 2005 – 2012
  • Rev. Fr. Tochukwu Ibe – Manager, 2010 – 2021
  • Mrs. Josephine Emodi – Principal, 2012 – 2013
  • Lady Ebele Okoli – Principal, 2013 – 2020
  • Mrs. Florence Ezebube – Principal, 2020 till date
  • Rev. Fr. Francis Onwuchulum – Manager, 2021 till date.





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