In October, 2003, with 120 JSS 1 girls, 16 tutorial, 15 non-tutorial staff and Nneoma (Chief) Theresa Onyekachi Okonkwo (pioneer principal), the now famous all-girls boarding secondary institution, Holy Rosary International College, Owerri (HORICOL) was founded by His Grace, the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri, Most Rev. Anthony J.V. Obinna. It started on a temporary site, the former Spiritual Year Seminary of the Archdiocese of Owerri in the premises of St. Mulumba Parish along 160 Wetheral Road, Owerri. It was the first of its kind in the Archdiocese of Owerri. The birth of this college was an actualization of the Archbishop’s lifelong dream, and in his own words, “The school, Holy Rosary International College was started by me in order to offer our young girls the kind of quality education that I perceived the Holy Rosary Sisters gave to our girls and our women in the past.” In 2005, the school relocated to her current and permanent site in Area V Housing Estate along Owerri Port-Harcourt Road.
Academic Progress: At this time, HORICOL staff strength is at 65 tutorial and 38 non-tutorial with the student population at 680. The school offers and writes 21 subjects in WASSCE. Since 2009 when the pioneer class wrote WASSCE, the school has graduated 752 students who are now spread across the continents of world. In these 15 years, HORICOL students have excelled in curricular and extra-curricular competitions at the national, church, state and local levels. The ten trophies and other monumental prizes of excellence in the school’s main office are testimonial voices of the school’s series of success stories.
Infrastructural Progress: Impressively, the school has also developed in infrastructure. When it was moved to the permanent site in 2005, it had only 4 structures the old hostel block; a two storey complex accommodating 6 dormitories: St. Joseph, St. Anthony, Holy Child, St. Theresa, St. Agatha and St. Maria Goretti hostels. The second building was another two storey building containing 12 classrooms for JS1, JS2, and SS3, some staff rooms and main offices. The third building was the refectory which then served also as the Assembly hall, Chapel for Holy Mass and prayers. There was also on ground one L-shaped bungalow to accommodate single girls, who served as Hostel Mistresses caring for the students.
Today, the school has more buildings which include a two storey building accommodating St. Cecilia, St. Philomena, St. Perpetua, St. Faustina, St. Claire and St. Agnes hostels; another two storey complex which habours the Biology, Chemistry and Physics Laboratories; the Food and Nutrition, Home Management, Garment/Clothing/Textile Laboratories, the Computer Laboratory, the Library and the main staffroom.
The School Hall/Classroom Complex is the largest building in the school. It is nearing completion as only the ceiling, tiling and furnishing of the hall is left at this time. This gigantic building contains 14 classrooms, a technical workshop, a Fine Art Studio, the Deans’ Office, the Bookshop and Language Laboratory (2nd floor). The large school hall which occupies the whole 3rd floor of the building can accommodate about 2, 000 people. There is also another L-shaped bungalow and a two storey building containing flats where more teachers reside.
Today, as HORICOL celebrates 15 years of her existence and academic and moral excellence, the college has 13 buildings on the premises, three bore holes, a water treatment plant, three soundproof generators, two buses, a standard football field, basketball court, gospel and military band sets, PTA canopies and chairs, etc.
Spiritual Progress: To God’s glory, the school’s monstrance shaped Chapel where Holy Mass, prayers and other devotions are currently carried out has been completed and furnished. It will be blessed by the proprietor and Archbishop, His Grace, Most Rev. Anthony J. V. Obinna on this 15th Anniversary of the school. It is the most dazzling building on the college compound. With marble tiles, marble altar, marble pulpit, marble altar rails and marble-finished pillars, the Chapel seems to be one of the most beautiful school Chapels in the world. In 2016, the school’s very supportive PTA donated the 102 pews in the Chapel which can sit a congregation of about 800. Behind the Chapel is a decent Convent where the Reverend Sisters of the Daughters of Mary Mother of Mercy, DMMM Congregation who have been managing the school since 2015 reside.
Recently, a magnificent Holy Rosary Grotto was erected by the school entrance. This awesome structure which can be viewed from almost every vantage of the college has added beauty to the institution. The initial donor towards this grotto is Barr. Peter Ezeobi (Ex-parent) who donated a giant-size Mother Mary statue to the school in 2017. The JSS 3 of that 2017/2018 academic session did not fancy the grotto inside the Chapel; hence, they took the initiative to donate towards the erection of a befitting grotto. Their N112, 000 and N3, 000 support donation by the school matron (Mrs. Josephine Ezeamalu) in June 2017 was a morale booster to all other donors. At the October 8, 2017 celebration of feast of Holy Rosary, many parents and students donated toward the Grotto project which foundation was laid on that same day and on the 21st of March, 2018, the dazzling first of its kind Grotto was blessed by the Archbishop in a solemn evening ceremony with every student carrying a bouquet of flowers to adorn the grotto.
Spirituality: At HORICOL, students are committed to praying the morning lauds, evening vespers, daily rosary, Thursday Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and pious organization’s prayer meetings. With the help of the Chaplains, the Holy Mass is celebrated four times a week, May and October Devotions are well observed with daily Benediction. Every year, HORICOL students celebrate First Holy Communion, and every other year, the Archbishop comes to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation on deserving students. The most interesting part of these celebrations is the fact that some senior students are actually responsible for preparing their fellow students for the reception of these Sacraments and they lead the prayers. On the feast of Christ the King, the senior prefect delivers a speech that captures God’s blessings on the school within the year. There is also an all-school annual retreat. We praise God for the positive impact of these spiritual exercises on our students’ conduct within and outside the school.
Prospective Projects: Despite the infrastructural progress made so far, the school still needs more structures including those that can internally generate income to fund the school. These future projects should include the administrative block which is likely to be named after the pioneer principal of the school, a potable water project, Holy Rosary Nursery Primary School, teachers’ quarter and a CBT Centre, etc.
THE UNCHANGEABLE PHILOSOPHY OF THE SCHOOL
HORICOL provides a holistic type of education in which equal emphasis is given to the academic, moral, social and spiritual aspects of the students’ life. At Holy Rosary International College, the whole child (body, soul, spirit) is educated. The students are encouraged to participate in various programmes which offer them wide variety of opportunities for growth and development. Without any exaggeration, the school has everything essential for holistic and excellent education.
Though there have been changes in HORICOL staff composition as workers come and leave; as chaplains changed from Fr. Amadi-Obi to Fr. Anagboso to Fr. Onukwufor and to the current Fr.
The past and present staff of HORICOL believes that students are God’s children; they are unique individuals who are capable of maximizing their potentials in a dynamic environment. We believe in excellence in education provided by well qualified faculty and staff with a curriculum that serves the spiritual, moral, physical and intellectual needs of all our students.
At HORICOL, we believe in nurturing a sense of continuity by instilling in our students the values of respect, reverence, responsibility, service among their peers, their teachers, their families and the society at large. We believe that educating and guiding young people is the shared responsibility of parents, school, church and community. Therefore, several things are put in place to concretize this creed viz: regular parents teachers forum, programmes like establishment of clubs, societies, excursions and participation in enlightening outings like the Nigerian International Secondary School Model United Nations (NISSMUN) and United Nations Simulation Summit (UNASS), NDDC Girls in Engineering, Math and Science Competition, Cowbellpedia, annual Milo sponsored basketball tournaments, OLYMPIAD, International French Summer Holiday Camp, NTA Ambassadors Debate, Archdiocesan Competitions, inter-school sports, science and arts competitions and many more. From the outset, HORICOL students have been always predisposed and they excel in all events they participate in.
Today, HORICOL is the fifth time, three consecutive times and current Imo State Milo Basketball Champion, 2nd at the Enugu Equatorial Conference and two time winner of the fair play trophy at the regional tournament. HORICOL is the winner of the 2016 Archdiocesan Sir Ibole Chemistry Competition, the three consecutive times winner of the giant Children’s Day March Pass giant golden trophy. Annually, our students excel in both WASSCE and JAMB and majority are admitted into universities within and outside the nation to study courses of their choice. To God’s glory, many are now graduates and career women in different professions. Some are already married and some have become mothers. What a joy! In future the many engineers, nurses, web designers, doctors and lawyers we will meet out there will be products of HORICOL.
Let it be emphasized here that all we do at HORICOL are geared towards grooming creative minds with hearts of gold who will become the brain of their generation and future women of prestigious quality in accordance with the Archbishop’s founding spirit, in line with the school’s anthem and in consonance with the school’s motto, Deum Magnificare (To God’s glory). May the happy history of HORICOL continue…
Rev. Sr. Ernestina J. Edoziem, DMMM