Final Profession of Sr. Mary Wangui Kanyi – 26th August 2011
‘By the authority vested in me I accept your vows in the name of the Church for the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy…’ These words were spoken by Sr. Coirle McCarthy, our Congregational Leader as she accepted the vows of Sr. Mary Wangui Kanyi.
The ceremony took place in St. Austin’s Catholic Church, Msongari, Nairobi on 26th August 2011 and was presided over by His Lordship, Bishop Anthony Muheria of Kitui Diocese who concelebrated with a number of priests in the Eucharistic celebration.
Sr. Mary Wangui Kanyi, Sr. Teresiah Njoki Njoroge and Sr. Esther Lopeyok Erus prostrating before the altar in St. Austin’s Church
Sr. Liz Fletcher, our Provincial Leader welcomed all and introduced Sr. Coirle and the visiting sisters. Sr. Susan De Guide from CLT accompanied Sr. Coirle to Nairobi for the occasion and Sr. Maureen McGurran from Northern Province were also present as well as Sr. Maureen Limer from the English Mercy Federation who ministers in Sudan. Most of our sisters were present and traveled from different parts of Kenya. Families, relatives, religious, friends and parishioners came from the shores of Lake Naivasha, to celebrate with their daughter Mary on her special day. It was indeed a good example of the ‘Church Alive’ and the spirit of togetherness and solidarity added greatly to the celebratory spirit of the day. St. Austin’s parish choir and liturgical dancers did an excellent job as they rendered lively song and dance in a true spirit of joy and praise.
The Temporary Professed sisters sang the Responsorial Psalm and they and the novices sang and dance the ‘Pamoja na Wingi’ (Suscipe in Kiswahili) as a thanksgiving song. The first and second readings were done by family members while the parents and some of our sisters took part in the Offertory Procession.
During the examination of the candidate as Sr. Coirle asked the questions of Mary and she answered confidently and loudly ‘I do’ and ‘I will’ as she pledged herself to deepen her Baptismal commitment by the bond of Perpetual Profession and to spend her life in loving service of God’s people. There was a moment of solemnity during the prostration as all knelt and prayed while the Litany of the Saints was sung in Kiswahili. The whole congregation rejoiced as Mary signed her vows amidst loud clapping and ululation. Mary said her vows in English and Kiswahili.
Bishop Muheria’s words were both challenging and inspirational. (He said many but I will mention a few!) He said Mercy is predominantly a quality of God and to grow in mercy we are to grow in godliness, as a group we are like an orchestra with a variety of instruments, each playing its part. Each is to keep in tune and in rhythm and is to keep playing with her eyes on the conductor – Jesus. ‘Here I am Lord, I have come to do your will.’ He said this was the response made by each Sister in full voice at the time of the calling in the beginning of the ceremony. The response is life-giving and the words are good but we also know that we do this with the help of our God who empowers us. ‘Felicity bring fidelity and fidelity bring felicity.’ He invited Mary to be faithful always and to keep company with the One calling them– to bring God along with them. He said the journey is long and requires slow but sure steps. He compared this with the flower girls who were taking slow and measured steps as they walked up the aisle this day escorting each bride to the altar.
Sr. Coirle thanked the Mary’s family and said it is in the family where the seed of their vocations take root. She expressed her gratitude to the family for enabling their daughter to answer their call to Mercy. She referred to the first reading from the Prophet Isaiah and assured Mary that God will, as He has promised, give her the strength she needs to answer the call in all its fullness. She also spoke on the challenge of the vows and said we are called to search throughout the whole of our lives for God’s will for us and that it is in this we will know happiness. She said each of us has a responsibility to create the community of love that we live in and that each day we are to try to respond to God’s invitation with greater generosity. God’s generosity and faithfulness will never fail.
Sr. Coirle said that this was a happy day for the whole Mercy Congregation. Her prayer for Mary is that of an ever deepening relationship with God, that she will be able to find great joy in the life she has chosen and in whatever place she will be asked to live and minister. After Mass all were welcomed to the parish hall for a meal which ended with the cutting of the cake.
As we passed through the grounds of St. Austin’s we remembered our late Srs. Gerard, Therese Noel and Regina who are buried in the cemetery there. We also remembered Sr. Mary Kanyi’s great grandmother, Katerina Wangare, who was married in St. Austin’s Church in 1938. Katerina was a staunch Christian in the early days of the Catholic Church in Kenya and she gave us a great welcome to Mary’s home in Naivasha when we visited there some years ago. May all rest in peace!
Sr. Anne Itotia presided as our M.C. for the day as did her assistant Sr. Kevina O.S.U. who translated into Turkana. Everybody present was kept in touch with what was happening as English, Kswahili, Kikuyu and Turkana languages were used in their ongoing communication throughout the ceremony. On Sunday, 28th August, our sisters joined Sr. Mary Kanyi, her family and the priests and Christians of St. Francis Xavier Parish, Naivasha for her thanksgiving Mass. We wish Mary many happy years in Mercy. May she be blessed and may many people be blessed though her as, centered on the God of Mercy, she will reach out in Mercy wherever God’s merciful presence is needed.
Margaret O’Brien rsm