On March 15th, 2020, students at the Bethlehem Girls College in Lagos Nigeria were celebrating the Eucharist in the chapel when a student noticed a rather strange white fume coming from the gate. Sister Henrietta, the principal of the school, recognized the danger and calmly telling students to move towards the backdoor of the chapel, keeping a quiet tone of voice and reassuring students to prevent a stampede. As the students left the building to safety, a massive explosion rocked the building killing those still inside.
Sister Rowland told Vatican News:
“Sr Henrietta Alokha and a female security staff died in the process of making sure the students were safe. Sr. Henrietta could not account for two of her students after rescuing the others, so she went in search of them even when she was told not to, she preferred to take the risk to save the missing two, who shortly after she left ran out from a different direction to join the others. Nevertheless, Sister trying to make it back after the search got hit on the head and sustained a deep cut by the collapsing building and she died on the spot,”
Sister Doctor Henrietta Ebosiogwe Alokha, SSH, was born in Etsako East Local Government Area of Edo State on May 11th 1867 and was the fourth of six children. On the very first day of attending Egbadu Primary School Agenebode, at the age of only eight, she her mother passed away. Her father though, was a famous head teacher and worked with missionary priests and he kept the family close with a deep level of Catholic faith. After finishing her secondary school, she joined the Congregation of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on November 7th, 1983 as a postulant. She was formally received into the Novitiate on April 13 1985.
On June 11, 1989 Sister Henrietta left with a fellow sister (Sister Rowland) and obtained a Bachelor of Science in Personnel Management and Phycology from Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The administration of the order granted her request for Perpetual Profession of Vows on November 12, 1995. In 1996 she obtained her Post Graduate degree in Education and obtained a Masters Degree in 2005 followed by a Doctorate in Educational Administration in 2016. She served in various roles as Teacher, Head teacher, vice principal and principal to eight Catholic schools during her career.
Her love of children and education was ever unfailing. Bissie Adeleye Jagunna wrote:
“Sr Henrietta, you exhibited the motherly love for all your children in your care as their custodian. Thank you for not letting their mothers be in sorrow…you laid your life down for their girls; rest on peacefully, may His perpetual light shine on you Sister.”