Since she was a young girl, Nkiruka Okafor participated in gatherings of the faith in her home country of Nigeria. While her mother did not want her to be a nun, she has been through what she describes as a series of calls and “a long process of discernment” in her life. Nkiruka said, “I heard the voice. Come follow me.”
“The last call was one that shook my world. It was a call to work with women in the sex trade.” As a sister, Nkiruka has often visited women who have been incarcerated for prostitution and drug activity. She believes God has called her to return to her home country to work with them. She said, “Once you gain their trust, they really open up to you.”
Catholic Sister Nkiruka Okafor believes in the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It has sustained her through the last five years, especially through the pursuit of three graduate level degrees in Minnesota. She received a Master of Theology and is now finishing her work on a Ph.D. in Pastoral Care and Counseling from Luther Seminary. Simultaneously, Nkiru (KEER-oo), as she called by her friends, is working on a Marriage and Family Therapy degree from Bethel University.
She believes her educational background will help her to be more effective in reaching troubled women. Most of them, she said, have been traumatized as childhood victims of incest.
Sister Nkiruka is hopeful about the changes she has seen in the Catholic Church and has high praise for Pope Francis. She believes that in the next 10 years, women may be trained as permanent deacons in the Catholic Church. (Women becoming priests is not a consideration in the Roman Catholic Church.)
She is also pleased at how things have improved for Nigerian women in ministry:
Sister Nkiruka Okafor has shown incredible strength and persistence in following God’s call in her life. May God continue to strengthen her in service to others who need to have their lives validated and experience the gospel of Jesus Christ.