MY JOURNEY OF FAITH
By Sister Rose Claire Auma Nanjira
I was born in Western Kenya. I come from a polygamous family of 16 children, and I am the last born in the first family. I grew up in a family of mixed religions: Catholic, Pentecostal and Islam. One thing has always been clear to me since my childhood: we all worship and acknowledge God in our lives even as members of different religions. Faith triumphs over our differences because faith is as true as the wind blowing in the trees and as the dust beneath our feet.
I went to a Catholic high school run by the Sisters of Mary of Kakamega. The Sisters were kind and dedicated to the welfare of the students and they had a great influence on me. When I reached the 11th grade, I began to hear a call to religious life. Dad approved of my entrance into the convent, but my Mom found it very difficult to let me go. As the last daughter, in the tradition of our tribe, I would normally be expected to stay at home and take care of my parents in their old age.
I went through a discernment process as I began to explore religious life. I have an aunt who is a member of a contemplative Carmelite order; I thought of joining them, but I didn’t feel I was called to a contemplative life style. Through the Seed Magazine, I learned about various congregations and I contacted three of them. What caught my attention was the advertisement by one Congregation with the words of Bishop Dubuis, “Our Lord Jesus Christ, suffering in the persons of a multitude of sick and infirm of every kind, seeks relief at your hands.” This statement stood out among all the others and grabbed my interest. I was also very deeply inspired by the Vocation Director, Sister Francesca Kearns, who drove long hours to my home village to meet me. I was touched by her simplicity and hospitality, and I saw her living the charism in her daily life.
After five years of discernment, I became a postulant in January 2005 with nine others. The next step of my formation was the Novitiate. We were Sister Rose Nyambura Githuka’s first novices and she was a wonderful Director of Novices. The Novitiate was a special time where I learned to pray and understand in a deeper way the meaning of our vowed life and the history of the Congregation. As a Second Year Novice, I was missioned to Mukuru slums in Nairobi to work with people with HIV/ AIDS. This was a challenging experience as I had never seen such suffering.
I made First Profession of Vows in December 2007, and was missioned to Ukarimu Retreat Centre just as the post-election violence erupted in the Molo area.
After two years of ministry at Ukarimu Centre, I went to Moi University in Nakuru to obtain a diploma in Busi ness Management. During my time at Moi, Ukarimu Centre was beautifully renovated. Words cannot express my joy when I was reassigned back to the retreat centre to prepare for its re-opening. Working with Sister Mary McHale and Sister Hellen Chepkurui Koskei has been a life-giving experience for me.
I came to the Motherhouse in Houston for my international experience which deepened my personal growth. My time in the United States was enriching for I got to know our Congregation’s roots, our Sisters and ministries. It was a time of integrating what I was learning through: working with the Sisters and staff at St. Anne Convent, going to Colorado for a sabbatical/vitality pro gram, workshops, tracing our roots in Galveston, San Antonio and a 30-day retreat. These were all grace-filled experiences. My spiritual life has been enriched; I have come to know a deeper love of God and a better understanding of self and others. On-going formation has helped me to understand the love of the Incarnate Word and to remain rooted in His love.
It had always been my wish to make my Final Vows at our Motherhouse and I am grateful to God and to the Congregation’s Leadership for their “yes.” On April 27, 2013, we had a colorful, rich and devotional Eucharistic Liturgy in the Villa de Matel Chapel. I was very moved during the Litany of the Saints; it brought back so many memories for me. The other part that I found deeply moving was the reception of the ring, a symbol of perpetual commitment.
Before the Congregational Leader put the ring on my finger she said, “Sister Rose Claire, receive this ring as a symbol of your permanent bond to God and our Congregation. May you be reminded that neither death nor life, nor things present, nor things to come, not anything at all, can ever separate you from the love of Christ Jesus, our Lord.”
This was a total assurance of Christ’s love for me; the two of us are inseparable. It was beautiful to see how the African culture was incorporated into the Liturgy; it was a visible sign of how we are all connected. What a memorable day! I am grateful to God for calling me to serve Him in the CCVI family.
I look to our Blessed Mother for her continuous intercession. After Jesus’ ascension to heaven, Mary told the Apostles, “The Mission has just begun.” The same applies to me. As I reflect on our charism, I pray that God may grant me the graces I need to be a gift to others in the Incarnate Word. “Lord, your grace and love are all I need.”
I am grateful to God, the Sisters, my family, friends and to all those who have contributed immensely to my faith journey. May God continue to bless our Congregation with more vocations.
Praised be the Incarnate Word!