Sister Esther Njeri Rambagia
My name is Sister Esther Njeri Rambagia. I was born in Kiambu, Kenya to George and Margaret Rambagia. I am the fifth born in a family of eleven children. I was blessed to be raised in a very religious family. Prayer was part of the daily routine, commitment to my responsibilities, and helping those in need. My family values are a reflection of who I am. Both the Loreto Sisters and the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary worked in my parish and had a great influence on my early life. They used to share about their life with the youth in the parish, and it was through their example that I started learning what it means to be a religious.
I was baptised at an early age in Riara Parish Catholic Church and, through my parents’ faith, my ‘‘Yes’’ to the Lord was gradually nurtured. I joined Sunday school at the age of five, and my teacher was a religious from the Loreto Sisters. On the 14th July 1992, I received my first Holy Communion and, the following Sunday, I received the Sacrament of Confirmation. During my elementary school life, we had two religious from the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary who taught us Christian Religious Education (C.R.E.), along with guidance and counselling. I was inspired by the two Sisters and my desire to join religious life grew deeper and deeper. After I completed my Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (K.C.P.E), the two Sisters would pay me a visit at home, mostly on Sunday afternoons, since their convent was not far from my home. At times, I would also visit them and had a chance to ask all the questions I had about religious life. My sister, Mary, joined the Sacred Heart of Jesus Movement and her devotion inspired me to join. I enrolled in Form One in Loreto Kiambu Girls’ Secondary School in my parish. It didn’t take me long to feel at home with the Loreto Sisters, who were working in the school, and I could easily interact with them. Due to unavoidable circumstances while in Form Three, my parents transferred me to Banana Hill High School, which was not Catholic sponsored but this didn’t hinder me from being faithful to my prayer life.
I was involved in various parish ministries, including teaching Sunday school to the small children. I led liturgical dance, continued being a faithful member of the Sacred Heart Movement, and the youth group. During all this time, I had a strong call deep within me to join religious life. I had no idea of where the Lord was leading me but I continued to be open and felt that He would show me the way and which congregation to join. I talked to my parents about it and they encouraged me to continue praying and assured me of their prayers. My parents did, however, want me to take a teaching course before entering religious life.
Before joining college, the Sisters of the Servants Mother of God (S.M.G.) promoted vocations in our parish. They gave their contact and I began to communicate with one of them. She encouraged me to be patient and to listen to the advice of my parents and take a teaching course.
Having interacted with the Sisters from the three different congregations, I was now getting confused and didn’t know which congregation to join. In the silence of my heart, I felt that I needed to join a congregation that was far from home. Since childhood, the whole of my life was revolved around my parish and I felt that I needed greater exposure.
I attended the Child Developers Programme, where I took a Montessori course in 2003. In 2004 and 2005, I joined the Sisters of Mercy School in Mukuru slums for my attachment after completing my course work. This is where I met my first Sister of Charity of the Incarnate Word, Sister Agnes Muthoni Njeru, CCVI who was teaching in Mukuru. I shared with Sister Agnes my desire to join religious life. After corresponding with her for about six months, I felt drawn to the foundational call of the Congregation, Our Lord Jesus Christ suffering in a multitude of sick and infirm of every kind, seeks relief at your hands. Sister Agnes gave me the contact information for Sister Maureen Costello, Vocation Director for the CCVIs, and I started communicating with her. From December 2005 after my graduation, I started visiting Sr. Maureen once a month where I shared a lot about my life. She journeyed with me and introduced me to other CCVI Sisters who were all hospitable and made me feel at home. In 2006, I founded a Montessori Kindergarten in my home village because of the need in the community. The school had immediate success and support from families and the parish community. Many children enrolled in the school which helped its success.
In December 2008, I joined the Postulancy of the CCVIs, whereby I integrated my personal values as I gained knowledge of our charism. All of this gave me inner joy and a sense of belonging. The story of our founder Bishop Claude Marie Dubuis and his response to God’s call touched me in a special way. I was also touched by the call of Jeanne de Matel to be a Gospel of love. In August 2009, I willingly requested to join the Novitiate and my request was granted. During this stage, I gained deeper knowledge of scripture and spirituality. I enhanced my communication skills and focused on developing personal competencies to include self-awareness, emotional expression, and team work. I also studied community life, the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and the challenges of living religious life among others. I pronounced my first vows on December 8th, 2011. I count my initial formation years as a foundation stone in my religious vocation, and I am grateful to God and all those who were part of my journey.
Among my ministries, I have worked as a teacher in St. Charles Lwanga Kibera, Christ the King Parochial School, Embakasi, and St. Arnold Janseen Primary School, Soweto — all in Nairobi. During my international year, I had an opportunity to teach at Saint Anne Catholic School in Houston, Texas. Currently, I am director and a teacher in St. Peter the Apostle Early Years of Education (E.Y.E.).
On August 17th, 2019, the day dawned brightly and by the religious vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, I made a solemn covenant with God and the church to love and serve Him with all my heart until death. Throughout my lived experience as a religious, the greatest gift has been that of complete surrender to God in all that I do. I am grateful to God for the gift of my parents and lovely family who have been of great holistic support to me. I will remain grateful for the leadership of our Congregation who have always been generous and enthusiastic. Their vision and belief in my capability has enabled me to explore new gifts and talents. My gratitude also goes to the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word who with patience and love have journeyed and guided me during my years in initial formation. A special thank you to all who came to witness my Perpetual Profession of Vows and celebrate with me during this memorable day; their presence, loving concern, and prayers are affirmation of God’s goodness and love. I will forever thank God each time I think of you and will always pray for you with joy. Praised be the Incarnate Word. Forever!