My name is Sr. Josephine Nzengi, I am the fifth born in a family of fourteen siblings. I was born and raised at Kavoloi village, Kitui Diocese, Kenya. Life was good and enjoyable as I had the opportunity to grow under my parents and siblings. I played and interacted with my siblings and children from the neighbourhood. I participated in the everyday activities which were carried out in the community.
My parents were peasant farmers and so we as children had to assist them with farm work. The family spirit was hospitable for though we were many, my parents accommodated some of my relatives and even paid their school fees. My main responsibilities were to take care of my younger siblings, cooking, drawing water from the river using donkeys, and collecting firewood. Life was easy because some of the work we had to do was in the company of neighbourhood friends as we shared stories. Despite these demanding responsibilities, I had to spare some time and do my school homework.
I loved church services and Mass. I participated in different activities like Sunday school animation, liturgical dancing, youth and choir. No Church events or functions passed me. This participation grounded me well in the Catholic Church. The words of the Prophet: Isaiah 6:8; ‘Whom shall I send…Here I am, send me.’…were very meaningful in my life, as far as my desire to become a nun was concerned. My first time to see a nun was when I was in class five. She was one of the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi. She had visited our church and conducted the Para-liturgy service and left immediately afterwards so I did not get an opportunity to talk to her. I was attracted by her white beautiful veil and took up the challenge that one day I would become a nun.
It was unfortunate that I joined Nzeluni Girls boarding secondary school as it meant that I missed the opportunity of attending mass on Sunday. Instead the pastors would come on Sundays to preach and would pray for those who felt ready for conversion to their denomination. Life in the school was very challenging to my catholic faith and I thought I might be overwhelmed but I managed to remain strong, focused in my Catholic faith because of the dream of becoming a Catholic nun.
After completing High school, I stayed with my parents for a year, assisting them with daily chores. I continued to participate in church activities while at the same time wondering which was the best way to serve God. One day I decided to visit some of my friends who were schooling at the Mercy Vocational Training College, which was under the Sisters of Mercy. They shared with me their joy of being in the college. They challenged me to join them. After some reflection, I went to the college office and met the Administrator who was a Sister. I shared with her my desire to become a nun. She encouraged me to join the college and train for a course, while still reflecting about joining sisterhood. I shared this suggestion with my parents and they bought my idea and offered to pay the college fees.
One day, a Sister from Charity of the Incarnate Word came to visit her own blood sister in the college. I went to greet her and I felt free to share with her my deep desire to become a nun. After she left, the Administrator called me into her office and enquired about my long conversation with the visitor. That is when I revealed to her that I had the desire of becoming a catholic nun. “Why not with the Sisters of Mercy………?” she asked. Then she told me more about the Sisters of Mercy: the charism, the spirituality and the foundress Catherine McAuley. In addition, she gave me some spiritual books to read.
After college I was invited by Sisters of Mercy to work at Mukuru Promotion centre in the finance office for one year. The attraction to the Sisters of Mercy became more and more, and I couldn’t wait any longer. I left home to join the Sisters of Mercy. I started initial formation with Sr. Lilian Misaro and Sr. Redempta Mulei. The different formators really helped me to grow spiritually and deepen my relationship with God. I had also an opportunity to learn more about the Mercy Charism, and our Foundress Catherine McAuley. All was not easy because it was a new way of life. However, with the help of the formators and colleagues, life became better and more fulfilling. This was possible because of prayer life, openness, spiritual growth and a strong love for the Mercy way of life.
When I look back, I feel that in my vocation, God has been very faithful and always at the centre of my life. Prayers have sustained me and strengthened me during the ups and downs. I appreciate my vocation to religious life as a gift from God. I treasure and continue to nurture it through living the Evangelical counsels.
At my Perpetual Profession
After my First Profession, life was very demanding. Striking a balance between my ministry, prayer, and community life was very challenging but manageable. On 11th December 2019, I took my Perpetual Vows. This has brought so much grace and a sense of belonging. I feel that more has been given, but more is also expected of me. It is my prayer and trust in God that my faith will continue to grow every day as I live with my Sisters in the community and as I continue with the works of Mercy in my apostolate.
Currently I work at Mater Misericordiae Hospital in the finance office. Since the pandemic hit the country life has become very hard for a normal person to afford.Medical care has become very expensive. Patients are really struggling to pay their medical bills. Most of the insurance companies have withdrawn from covering any illness relating to COVID-19. It is my hope and trust that we will be able to rise from this storm of COVID-19.
May my life be rooted in Christ as I live the charism of mercy. May I live to do the works of Mercy by being open and flexible to address the current issues of this changing world.
I really appreciate my family members, relatives, Sisters of Mercy, friends and people of good will who have supported and continue to support me in different levels and capacities to nurture my faith and more so to respond to God’s call in Mercy.
My God bless them abundantly.
Josephine Nzengi rsm