Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy

Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy

Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy

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Setting Foot On African Soil

A Dream Fulfilled

For a number of years I dreamed of making a trip to Africa to get first-hand experience of life there. I believed this experience would enrich my own life and that it would be valuable to me in my role as Vocations Director. Sr. Peggy Collins and the team encouraged me in the pursuit of my dream. I set out on a five week adventure on January 2nd to visit Kenya and Tanzania.

Srs. Sally Mounsey and Patricia O’Meara

Patricia O’Meara welcomed me on the morning of January 3rd 2015 and she wasted no time in organising trips and places for me to see so that I would get a good overview of life in Nairobi. Arriving in Kenya and seeing life there was a complete culture shock. I was constantly mesmerised seeing the people walking the roads, they seemed to walk everywhere. The levels of poverty were stark and shocking. The condition of the roads was appalling, the potholes were enormous and they had to be carefully manoeuvred. Driving was hazardous and scary and one adjusted to the constant hooting of horns to move on or get out of the way.

I stayed in Makadara for the first week where some of the junior professed, the Postulants and some community members live. They reminisced and spoke fondly of on the many Irish Sisters who had spent time in Kenya. I also paid a visit to the Mukuru Centre where I met Sally, Mary and Angela and Cathy. I was overwhelmed and very moved with what I saw there and I was filled with admiration for the dedication and commitment of the Sisters and staff to the most vulnerable in Nairobi. I was also very conscious of the great sacrifices the Sisters and their families made when they initially went to foreign parts.

Patricia felt my trip to Nairobi would not be complete without experiencing their public transport so she ensured that I had a few trips in the ‘Matatus’. That was an experience in itself. I also spent a few happy and fruitful days with the community in Nakuru where the two Novices are based. Towards the end of my time I spent a few days in the ‘Villa’ (Maria) where I received Mercy hospitality.

PhyllisAfrica1.1Srs. Mary and Rose (Novices) with Sr. Phyllis

I left Nairobi on the 19th January and travelled to Tanzania to visit Sr. Lucy Magumba, a member of the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa. Lucy and I studied in Chicago some years ago. I stayed in one of their convents in Musoma, in a very remote area beside Lake Victoria. The culture shock that awaited me on arrival there was that there was no running water. I decided to embrace this wholeheartedly. I quickly realised that one could manage very well with buckets of water filled from a barrel. Hand washing clothes was a ritual in itself.

PhyllisAfrica3.1Wash day!

The liturgies were really alive and vibrant. I had looked forward to experiencing those and they did not leave me disappointed.

The five weeks in Africa made me realise that we have ‘excess’ at so many levels here at home. We take so much for granted such as the use of water and electricity and the wastage of food. My trip to Africa was memorable and it is an experience that I do not want to forget.

Phyllis Moynihan rsm
South Central Province

 

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