Kenya: Celebrations for the 100th anniversary of Loreto Schools
Celebrations were held on the grounds of Loreto School, Msongari, Nairobi on Saturday 29th January to mark the centenary of Loreto in East Africa.
The Archbishop of Mombasa, Martin Kivuva, was the chief celebrant of the outdoor Centenary Mass. Students from all Loreto schools participated in the liturgy. Kenya’s president, himself a former kindergarten student, sent a representative.
Sister Betty White, 93, of Monkstown Co Dublin, (educated at The Green, her parents owned the Slineys shop on Grafton St), planted a tree from her wheelchair to honor the founding sisters. They were six. All were Irish.
They landed in Mombasa in October 1921. They could not have imagined what awaited them. They opened the first school for African girls in East Africa.
Archbishop Martin spoke of Loreto’s contribution to the Church in Kenya, how pioneers left their homes and families to bring education to multitudes of Kenyan girls over the past 100 years. What would the country be without them? He asked.
The sisters left an indelible mark on the men and women of the country. Archbishop Martin read a list of 12 Loreto-run schools across Kenya, with expansion to Tanzania, South Sudan and Ghana. During this period there have been many hidden sacrifices, funds raised to pay the expenses of needy girls, lifetimes spent in service, lessons prepared, exams proctored, with quite a few contradictions as in any apostolic activity.
A feeling of joy was palpable during the mass. In attendance were 75 young Kenyan sisters looking forward to the next 100 years. Sr Caitriona Kelly, 80, Sr Mary Owens, 83, Sr Nuala Brangan, 70 and Sr Betty White are the last Irish women.
A “PhD” was mentioned as the core values of nuns: prayer, hard work and discipline. One person was asked if he had attended a school in Loreto, he said no, but my mother did. A lot of kids here say the same thing.
The empowerment of women is not a new concept, the women who came here in 1921 were all for it. They brought Christ. They started under the trees. United with the vineyard, they focused on producing concentrated ripe grapes.
Their founder, Ven Mary Ward, wanted education, but not without justice.
The latest project being worked on for the future is the construction of a school in the countryside of Kilifi.
Looking at the six trees planted to honor the six founders, all with their names attached, one can only think of the seeds sown that yielded an incredible harvest.
See the ICN Facebook page for more photos from this momentous day.
IVBM/Loreto Sisters – www.ibvm.org/
Keywords: Kenya, Nairobi, Loreto Sisters, Loreto, Father Conor Donnelly, Martin Kivuva, Mombasa
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