This is my journey so far – the Early Years!
Growing up in a small village in Kenya, I was often thinking about vocation and how to fulfil God’s will here on earth. Having relatives who had embraced religious life, I always enjoyed asking them questions about their vocations and their relationship with God. I saw how happy they were, and am so thankful that I had these wonderful people as my resources. I also have an older brother who prayed that my younger brother or I would be inspired to be a religious or a priest. He had hoped to join the seminary himself but his high school results were not enough to be accepted. Even though he never became a priest, he continues ministering to God’s people through his Catechist ministry and his prayers. I am so grateful for my brother, who not only encourages and supports my vocation but also prays for me.
It was a blessing to have gone to a Catholic boarding school where I met the Franciscan Sisters and learned about their charism and life. One of the sisters, Sister Elizabeth, became a close friend and encouraged me. I wanted to join the Franciscans immediately after finishing high school, but the discouragement I got from my peers made me delay my decision. I was fortunate that God inspired me to join the Vincentian Ministries, and through the experience of this service I can say that I am happy, at peace and convinced about my religious vocation.
I finished high school in 2013 and served at the Vincentian Retreat Center for more than two years. Looking back, it is beautiful to see how the Lord had been calling and preparing me. I was blessed to grow up in a strong Catholic family where my mom used to send us out the door every morning saying, ‘Be Jesus to everyone you meet today, and help those you meet as much as you can!’ My parents’ nurturing love for our family and commitment to the Church helped me to mature in my faith, but the Vincentian ministry and Candidacy in the MSCs has helped me grow and learn more about faith and spiritual life.
Being inspired to join religious life, my spiritual director helped me in the process of choosing a congregation. He thought that since I was devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the first criteria was to choose a congregation which had something to do with either of them. Then, having an idea of where to start, I went for ‘Come and See’ programs with two congregations based in Kenya, but unfortunately the charisms wasn’t what I was looking for and so I continued at the Vincentian Retreat Center, asking God to show me the way. While waiting for God’s intervention, I remember sharing my story and experiences of the congregations I had visited with Fr. Nicodemus (my mother’s cousin), and he connected me with the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as he had met them when he was missioned in Ethiopia.
Photo – 2019 NYC- Mother Cabrini Shrine- Evalyn (bottom of photo) with Sr. Mary Anne Hawes seated. From L to R – young sisters from Ethiopia (Novices Tigist & Ayantu with Junior Sisters Meseret, Bekelech & Shitaye)
Mother Cabrini believed that all things are possible with God and, honestly speaking, for me to be where I am today, it is because of the possibilities in God. I am so grateful to God for answering my prayers, and for all that God has done in my life. I thank God for the connection I had before joining the Institute with Sr. Maureen and Sr. Antonia Plata, and I continue thanking God for making all the MSCs my sisters and the Institute as home. I became an Aspirant on May 15th 2016 in Ethiopia after my ‘Come and See’ with the MSCs that occurred in January of 2016, and then I came to the US in June 2017 to study at Cabrini University.
Thank you, Sacred Heart of Jesus, for always being my everything and ‘thank you’ Mother Cabrini for all your prayers. I am truly thankful.
Microsoft Word – HSR Newsletter #6 Nov:Dec. 2020.docx
In January 2016 my family dropped me at the Nairobi airport to fly to Ethiopia for a ‘Come and see’ with the MSCs. I remember the day I arrived in Addis Ababa vividly as if it were yesterday. Sr. Regina Peterson was waiting for me and received me so warmly. Hearing Sr. Maureen’s voice on the phone for the first time as we were driving to the community was great. Although the country, the convent, and all the sisters were totally new to me, I felt remarkably at home.
I often remember those wonderful days and smile because it was something special for me. Each of the Sisters in Addis Ababa were so welcoming and caring. I remember asking Sr. Alemenesh to tell me more about the MSCs and enjoying all she shared with me – listening about Mother Cabrini, the Charism of the Institute and the MSC missions around the world.
Sr. Alemenesh’s simplicity and the way of engaging with a total stranger like me moved my heart. Talking with the other sisters, novices and candidates was great too! I loved everything they did and said on that first day! My heart was on fire! I felt that God was calling me to join this wonderful Institute, following the life and legacy of Mother Cabrini with my life & to spread the love of Christ in the world.
That first the evening, in front of Jesus in the beautiful chapel, I prayed, “Jesus, I don’t know if You are calling me to be here with these wonderful people or to somewhere else, but Lord, I desire to be here and so if it is your will, let it be so.”
I also went Dubbo and stayed with the sisters there for about a month. I read a lot about Mother Cabrini and I was really inspired by her life and trust in God; so I started asking her to pray for me and my vocation and that if is God’s will, I be accepted as an aspirant in the institute.
In May 2016, I became an Aspirant, & was so happy! I didn’t want to do any further discernment since I felt that I was so ready to join and couldn’t stop telling myself how ready I was. However, I was asked to go home and pray about how I felt and the decision I was about to make and reflect if the Lord was truly calling me to be with the sisters.
I went home feeling loved, motivated and 100% sure that I was coming back to the MSCs soon, and asked the sisters and Mother Cabrini to pray for me. Back home, I shared with my family the experience I had, & I could not stop thinking about the wonderful plans that Jesus had for me. It felt like I was taking a giant leap into the darkness, but the Lord was right there to catch me, and has been there the whole time.
God was asking me to trust in Him in small things all along the way, to prepare me to freely give Him my wholehearted “Yes!”. Every day is truly a new adventure! The Lord is so good and merciful to have called me to this community to be His bride,
as a future MSC, to love my Sisters, and to perpetually adore His Presence in the Eucharist and in each person I meet and serve. The Lord calls each of us to love, and I strive to respond daily to this call with my whole heart as a daughter of Mother Cabrini.
All praise and glory be to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus!
Thanks to Evalyn for sharing her story!