Sister Lucy Jacintah Mueni Nzesa
My father was a mason and my mother was a housewife. They met during a traditional dance and later got married. I was born and named Lucy in Kenya. I am the seventh born in a family of eleven children. Our area had few churches. The nearest was about 24 kilometers away from home where my late two grandmas together with two other ladies from my village walked to Mass every Sunday. Because of the faithfulness of these four women, a small muddy church was proposed and erected in my village, Ngongu Catholic Church, now St. Bernadette Catholic Church.
I was five years old when a Sunday school was begun at the church. The population in my village was mostly Catholic. As a child I never saw either of my parents attend church services. My Mom was primarily responsible for all our needs because Dad was always away working in the city. Although she never introduced us to the church, grandma was keen that we went to church.
The teachers and preachers of Sunday school and church services were my sisters, cousins and aunts. Our family choir, which met every weekend at our home, sang for the liturgy every Sunday. My sister Cecilia was the choir mistress. Through the family choir, I got very interested in music, so I became a choir member. The drums were our tables and the drum sticks were spoons. It was then that I learned to play the drum. I became so much part of the choir that every time the choir members went outside our church, I cried my heart out in order to go with them. My sisters carried me wherever they went as far as choir was concerned.
One Sunday, my sister Cecilia was teaching us about the story of Samuel. It was actually through her that I learned about “the call.” During the lesson, she persistently insisted that there were people called by God to live “special lives.” That part interested me a lot and I wanted to know deeply about what that special life was like and the lives of such people.
During my primary education, we had Pastoral Education Programs that were given by Seminarians. It was at this time that some of my questions about what this special life meant and how people called to live it somehow got answers. I learned about different vocations from those programs. At primary level four, I felt attracted to live religious life.
High school was the most difficult and trying time in my life. Three of my siblings and I were in school and it became very difficult for my parents to support us. Previously, I had read about the requirements of becoming a religious in an article by the Franciscan Sisters, Bahati, Kenya. I was certain that good grades were significant if I made up my mind to join religious life. So, since four of us were in school, I thought it would be very difficult to achieve my dream of completing high school because I was often sent home for lack of school fees.
At the beginning of my third year in high school, new school elections were held and I was elected the secretary to the Young Catholic Group. My desire to become a religious became very strong and I felt more responsible for what I needed to do in life than I had before. I ceased focusing on the impossibilities and challenges that threatened my desire and faced everything with a lot of hope and faith in God. Amazingly, at the end of the fourth year in high school, I passed my exams well. It was at this time that I learned that in God and with Him, nothing was impossible. I began to nourish my desire.
After finishing high school, I became much more involved in church activities both at the local and parish levels. While assisting at the parish as a youth leader, I met another young woman who also sought religious life as a vocation. It was at this meeting with her that I shared my heart. She gave me many materials and a Seed Magazine which interested me more than any of the other reading materials.
As I opened the pages of Seed Magazine, I saw the picture of an African Jesus that caught my attention. Some details of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word were also given. When I read the statement of Bishop Dubuis, which referred to the charism of the Congregation, I was fascinated and wished to know more about the Congregation.
I wrote to the Sister in charge of vocations. She responded immediately. That was the beginning of enlightenment as far as questions about my desire were concerned. I was invited to “Come and See” visits and seminars which were very informative. That same year, I became an Affiliate of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, and in 2003, I began my formation in Molo as a postulant. On December 10, 2005, I made my First Vows to God.
My Perpetual Professional, November 30, 2012, was a most joyful day. I woke up with great memories of the novel, Hinds’ Feet on High Placesby Hannah Hurnard, particularly the quote that says, “how deeply we who love the Lord of Love desire to follow Him and long for the power to surmount all difficulties, tests and conflicts in life in the same exultant and triumphant way.”
Also, St. Augustine’s quote that “God has made us for Himself and our hearts cannot find rest and perfect satisfaction until they rest in Him,” inspired me also that morning. As my parents presented me to God through Sr. Lillian Anne Healy, Congregational Leader, my readiness and willingness to say “yes” was not only in my heart, but also on my face as I smiled. Like Mary’s, a beautiful song of joy was reflected that day in the homily by Bishop Muhatia Makuba. I feel very grateful to God, to the CCVIs, our families, Christ the King Choir and dancers, friends and all who joined us to sing our ‘New Song to God’ in such a beautiful way.
In my weaknesses, I wish to let God continue to reveal His plan for me as I continue to deepen my relationship with Him while responding generously to the suffering and frailty of others. I am willing to continue to tell the story and live the teaching of Jesus in a spousal relationship with him as testified in the Book of Isaiah: “For your husband is your Maker; the Lord of hosts is his name, Your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, called God of all the earth.” (Isaiah 54:5).