“Our Lord Jesus Christ suffering in the persons of a multitude of sick and infirm of every kind, seeks relief at your hands.”
SR. LILIAN NANJALA NYONGESA
“I felt as if these words were spoken to me personally.” – Sr. Lilian
My name is Sr. Lilian Nanjala Nyongesa. I am the first child in a family of four (2 boys and 1 other girl). My father’s name is Julius Nyongesa, and my mother is Truphenah Tsikhungu. I was born and raised in Kenya, East Africa. While growing up, the training of a child was not left in the hands of the parents alone, but rather the entire community was responsible for every child. I was raised in a traditional Catholic family; I learned early how to pray and I attended Mass with my mum. My paternal grandmother also played an active role in my faith journey as she used to gather us in her house to pray the rosary every evening. The desire to join religious life started when I was still very young in grade school. I would watch with admiration and from a distance the religious Sisters who visited our parish. I admired mostly their habit, and I longed to be like them. I told myself that I would become like them when I grew up.
I have a diploma in Community Development, and I have worked in various organizations in Kenya. I met the CCVI Sisters, who were volunteering in my department at St. Charles Lwanga Centre in Kibera Slums. I was attracted to their joyful and compassionate spirits, while doing their apostolate. From one of them, I inquired to know more about their congregation and 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,” moved my heart. It felt as if these words were spoken to me personally. I had a deep desire to answer this call and to continue helping many suffering Christians who are poor and neglected. The two years in the Novitiate were grace filled and enlightening. Studies at the International Novitiate program were also enriching with great learnings. Living in an intercultural community and the uniqueness of our gifts made our community beautiful. I thank God, who supported me through my formators, my companions, community members, spiritual director, and my prayer companion. I am grateful to the Leadership Team, who accepted my request to make my first profession of vows on August 8, 2020. I commit myself in voluntarily professing the Vow of Chastity, which for me is a path to freedom and openness that I have chosen — to live my life in service to all of God’s people and to love generously, widely, and inclusively.
The Vow of Poverty for me is sharing my gifts, my time, and the resources I have in the community with others. It is also being a good steward of all I have and living in solidarity with the poor and those suffering. The Vow of Obedience draws me to listen attentively to the voice of God in daily events of my life, in the scriptures as I reflect on it, and through my Sisters in the community. Obedience to me also means saying “yes” to the will of God each day and responding to it. Following in the footsteps of Christ, I seek the grace to continue loving above all else God who first loved me. I pray to extend God’s love to my Sisters and those I encounter in my ministry. I put all my trust in the providence of the heavenly Father, relying on His help as I continue with my discernment journey.
“Following in the footsteps of Christ, I seek the grace to continue loving, above all else, God who first loved me.”
SR. CHRISTINE NASWA BARASA
“… the desire to relieve the suffering Christ was so much alive in me,” – Sr. Christine
I was born and raised in a Catholic family of seven siblings — three boys and four girls; I am the sixth child. I belong to Luhya community, from Bungoma in the western part of Kenya. Growing up, my mother played a very important role in my faith development, that of my father, and my siblings. We prayed together as a family, and this planted the seed of deeper prayer life in me at a younger age. I am a trained air hostess and, before I joined religious life, I worked at my home parish as an organizer — preparing and setting up for Mass. I also took part in youth group ministry. At that time, I had the desire to join religious life, but I was not sure which congregation to join. Luckily, a religious brother, who comes from my home parish, connected me with Sr. Lucy Jacintah. Sr. Lucy called and invited me to a “Come and See” seminar. During this seminar, I was warmly welcomed by the Sisters and I felt at home.
I was impressed by their hospitality, and the words of Bishop Dubuis caught my attention: “Our Lord Jesus Christ suffering in the persons of a multitude of sick and infirm of every kind, seeks relief at your hands.” From the time of that seminar, the desire to relieve the suffering Christ was so much alive in me, and I felt the need to respond to this call. I was accepted as an affiliate in 2015 and, in 2016, I became a postulant. These years were enriching and transformative for me. I moved to the United States to begin my Novitiate program in 2018. I was so full of joy when I arrived the U.S. and met the Sisters. The following have helped me grow spiritually, mentally, and psychologically: 1) living in our International Novitiate for the past two years, 2) receiving classes in the house, and 3) receiving classes at the Intercommunity Novitiate comprised of novices from 12 different countries and cultures. This experience of learning from other cultures was wonderful – the food, languages, values, and celebrations. I also enjoyed the snow in St Louis. This was a life-giving experience for me in every way, and I thank God who has been with me on the journey. I also thank my formators, spiritual directors, prayer companion, and my companions on the journey. I thank the Leadership Team for accepting my request to make my first profession of vows on August 8, 2020.
I thank my family and friends for their support. I believe and have confidence that my vocation is grounded and rooted in love, through faith, in the One who has called me. Henri Nouwen in his book, Love in a Fearful Land, writes: “Let your hearts become the place where the tears of God and the tears of God’s children can merge and become tears of hope.” That was my experience at our intercultural community in St. Louis and during my ministry/community experience in San Bernardino, California; we enriched one another with our uniqueness and gifts, we cried and laughed together, and gave one another hope; it broadened my world. As I prepare to make my first profession of vows, I desire to follow Christ who lived the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience first and called me to follow Him. Both personal and communal prayers help me to listen with my heart to God and to be in dialogue with Him through His people and the whole of creation. Love is the basis of all the vows, and so I asked for the grace to strive to love God with an open heart, open mind, and to extend that love to all people around me without anything owning me or being attached to any person, thing, or place. I surrender completely to the will of the One who has called me. May God guide me as I continue to discern His will in my life.
“I surrender completely to the will of the One who has called me.”
Praised be the Incarnate Word. Forever.