I am Sr. Lilian Bisieri Misaro. I was born in a Catholic family in the Diocese of Kisii in Kenya. I am third born in a family of six. My parents are alive, and two of my siblings are now with the Lord, may they rest in peace.
My desire for religious life started when I was a small girl in Grade 4 in one of the primary schools in Kisii. Since my family was Catholic, we never missed to pray and go to church every Sunday with the guidance of my parents.
During weekends I used to wear my mother’s dresses because I loved the way they were big and swept the ground whenever I walked. I saw the priests wearing long vestments that swept the ground so I imitated, using my mother’s clothes. The idea I had here was to be a priest. My mother was wondering why I was wearing her clothes as they were not fitting me. I then shared with her that when I grew up I wanted to become a priest because I heard them speak about God and His Love for us all and because they do many good things and are holy people. At that time, I was already baptized and receiving Holy Communion, though I did not know and understand much difference between the priests and Sisters. For me they were all priests.
My parents after hearing my words encouraged me to work hard in my studies and continued to offer me parental support and guidance. My parents allowed me to join vocation group in the parish where we carried out many church activities, for example, Liturgical dancing, and learning a lot about different vocations. Being a member in the group helped with clarity about who is a priest and who is a Sister.
My mother also taught me that there are people in life I will meet that need my help, and encouraged me to offer my help even in small ways, see and treat them as if they are my own immediate family members. This is a value I learned which continues to help me in my approach of assisting and serving the needy today (serving our brothers and sisters who are poor and marginalized).
While a student in secondary school, many youth seminars were organized in my home parish during school holidays. I had a chance to attend many of them. My desire to become a Sister was growing each day as I continued with studies and seminars. Sometimes I was visiting the Franciscan Sisters of St Joseph convent in my parish although I was never touched in my heart to join them. They regularly invited girls for ‘come and see’ in their formation house but still I did not have the desire to attend.
In 2005, another seminar for youth was taking place in the parish for 3 days. By this time, my desire was burning and I was really moved to pray more about it. I did not know where God wanted me to go. On the 1st and 2nd day, we had the religious brothers and Sisters giving the seminar. My desire was so much I could not concentrate fully during the sessions. I continued asking God where He wanted me to go. Each day I went home, troubled that God had not answered my prayer. On the 3rd day of the seminar, I felt within me a kind of peace that I had not experienced before. I started the day feeling an easiness inside. When the seminar started I saw two Sisters of Mercy coming in. They seemed totally different from others. I saw them as approachable, open to questions after teaching us and welcoming anyone who wanted to talk to them privately outside the church. I was happy and took that opportunity to talk to them and I felt God must be calling me to Sisters of Mercy. The trouble I had in my heart was replaced with the joy of identifying with Mercy Sisters. The Sisters told me to greet my parents when I got home and to tell them that from that day they have new friends of the family. When I arrived home very late my mother was very angry with me in case anything bad had happened to me on the way. When she cooled down I broke the good news to her of my encounter with the Sisters. She was very happy to hear about it. The Sisters continued to follow up on me through my parents with letters and phone calls.
I made the decision to join the Sisters as an aspirant on 1st October, 2006 when I was invited to go to Mutomo Mission Hospital in Kitui Diocese to live with other aspirants as well as experience the works of the Sisters of Mercy. After 6 months I was moved to St. Elizabeth Primary School under Mukuru Promotion Centre, Nairobi for another 6 month stay. I had good experiences that helped me in my discernment process. I made an application to join the Pre-postulancy stage and was admitted to join the Miguta Community in February 2008; in December the same year I was admitted for Postulancy stage in Ngarariga Convent, Limuru in Nairobi; and on 4th December 2009 I was received to join Nakuru Novitiate. These Stages of formation helped me to learn what it means to be a woman of mercy, a God- centered person, who reaches out to the poor and marginalized, and more-so, in summary, ‘to be the face of Mercy wherever I am,’ Mercy being one of the portraits of God.
Sr. Lilian while in the novitiate
After two years in the Novitiate, I made my First Profession which took place on 14th January 2012 at Villa Maria Provincial House. It was a lovely experience to be a Sister of Mercy. I was then missioned to Lokori Community in Turkana where I lived and served at Lokori Mercy Centre as an Assistant Administrator and teacher in the Nursery school while also providing informal education to young men and women and remedial sessions to Lokori primary school girls with learning difficulties.
In August 2014, I was moved to Villa Maria Hospitality House where I lived and did my studies in the College of Human Resource Management, Nairobi campus for 2 years. As a student I had a good experience of interacting with young people in college, encouraging them to work hard and become responsible citizens.
In September 2016 I was missioned to Mukuru Promotion Centre (MPC) to do a practicum in the Human Resource Department. At the same time I was transferred to Baraka Court Community for easy access to my ministry work. After 4 months I was assigned as Co-Ordinator of Child Protection and Safeguarding (Advocating for Human/ Child Rights) which meant I had to set up a department in Mukuru Promotion Centre. It was not easy but I was supported by the Director, who mentored and encouraged me.
In February 2018 after attending a short course on Child Protection and Safeguarding and Human Trafficking, I was requested to be a member of the Safeguarding Committee for the Kenyan Province as I continued with the MPC work.
Working in Mukuru has been a good and positive experience for me. I worked with and empowered staff, learners at all levels and parents on Child protection and safeguarding and human/child trafficking as well as offering career guidance to our students. I also worked with outside agencies that were helpful to us, more especially in offering support when handling abuse cases. Advocacy and addressing the injustices affecting the Mukuru community and the society at large is not easy. Being the voice of the voiceless one needs a lot of courage to stand and advocate for the rights of children, vulnerable and marginalized persons. It is an experience that not many people are able for, but as Sisters of Mercy it is a ministry we are called to serve.
Mukuru Community being poor, many people’s/children’s rights are violated and hence their lives are threatened in their daily living. In serving the poor, I draw my energy from God in Prayer, Catherine McAuley’s inspiring words: “The poor need help today not next week” and “When going out to serve the poor, go as if you are going to meet the Crucified Redeemer.”
Sr. Lilian at Mukuru Promotion Centre
In April 2019 I received a reply to my application for Perpetual Vows. I took a break from my ministry to prepare for the vows and Professed on 11th December 2019 at St. Austin’s Catholic Church in Nairobi together with Sr. Redempta Mulei and Sr. Josephine Nzengi. It was very surprising the way God had journeyed with the three of us from the start till the perpetual commitment to Mercy. After vows I went back to my ministry in Mukuru while I was moved to live in McAuley House (Postulancy House) in Makadara, Nairobi.
I am grateful to God for calling me to Mercy and to all those who supported me to respond to God’s call. I am happy to continue being the face of Mercy where I am today and where I am sent tomorrow. All glory to God. Amen.
Lilian Bisieri Misaro rsm