RSCJ Uganda/Kenya Province | Sharing my story

MY VOCATION STORY

rscj Redempta Kulundu Redempta Kulundu, RSCJ

At a very tender age, I began to feel something unique within me, a desire to be like that priest that I had seen celebrating mass one Sunday morning in my parish. This goes back to the time I was six years old. I loved those vestments of the priest; green and white, I remember. My favorite moments were the times of mass when a priest would spread out his hands and the vestments would also spread. There was a feeling of holiness in this action that stirred up a desire within me to become a priest. I didn’t know what it took for one to become one but I had this desire of living a holy life like that white (mzungu) priest.

An aha moment came my way one evening at a family recreation and I grabbed the opportunity to share my desire. My father asked what each one wanted to do when we grew up. I couldn’t wait, I responded very fast with all my innocence; I wanted to become a priest after school. My elder siblings giggled and my parents were like, “a priest?”. My father took it upon himself to explain that women do not become priests but sisters. Well, this marked the beginning of my search for religious life and my desire grew deeper and deeper.

Resisting the call
At the end of my primary school, I begun to lose interest in any church activity, not even attending mass. Come every Sunday for two good years (the first two years of high school) I had a convincing reason to remain at home while everyone else went to church. I would stay home and follow mass over the radio. I had nothing to do with this desire; I even suppressed that desire and imagination of being a priest – a holy person. Indeed, for those two years, I was battling with God. The more the desire for religious life became stronger, the more I resisted. My parents wondered what had happened but they did not push; I suppose they were quietly praying for my conversion.

God won me over to himself.
Truly, when God wants it to happen, no one can resist. Eventually, one Sunday morning, God won the battle and I surrendered. I woke up very early, prepared breakfast for everybody and left for mass. This was a turning point for me; I could not resist that voice of God. Indeed, no one can resist God. Once again, I began to love the Church and all her activities. I was up early for morning mass even at school. I had just completed my second year of high school.

Search for a congregation
I embarked on a search for a religious congregation. At this point, I was sure the Lord was calling me to religious life. By then, I knew only three congregations – The Sisters of Mary where my aunt belonged, the Assumption Sisters of Eldoret because they had visited our parish to talk about religious vocation, and last but not least, the RSCJ who were working in my parish. I attended a “come and see” weekend with the Assumption sisters and one with RSCJ. At school, we had some student sisters from different congregations studying with us. I never felt inspired to find out more about them. After the “come and see” weekend with RSCJ, I made up my mind; I knew this was my congregation.
I took the initiative to inform my parents what I was up to. There was no objection and I felt supported and accompanied since my father interacted a lot with priests and the community of RSCJ in my parish. When it was time for me to become a postulant, I decided to let my aunt know that I was following her footsteps but in a different order. She did not take it positively; she wanted me to join her congregation. However, I explained to her why I had chosen the Society and not the Sisters of Mary. Although she wasn’t satisfied with my explanation, she consented and so I joined the Society.

What attracted me to the Society?
When the RSCJ founded a community in Chekalini, my home parish, they opened a dispensary to provide health services to the local community. Some were teachers in the high school. Although I was young, I was touched by the way they related to the patients with such love and concern; they gave patients enough time and listened to each one attentively. Being young, of course, a touch from a “white” person, felt like a touch from God. Some days some of the sisters would take evening walks in the village, shake hands with the people, even take cup of tea in the families. Actually our local community and parish appreciated them a lot. Some came to my home from time to time to consult with my father who was then the chairperson of the parish council and a good builder as well. The simplicity of the RSCJ, their love, generosity, understanding, and oneness with the people spoke to me a great deal. Deep within me, there was that admiration for them and I just felt when I grow up, I want to be like them.

In conclusion, it is good every now and then, to “come away”; we need time spent away from others, away from cell phones, away from television shows in order to discover who we truly are before God and others. In order to fully enjoy our relationship with God and to fully participate in godly community, we must have times when we relate with God alone because from Him we draw inspiration, energy, wisdom and the strength needed for our mission and for our daily interactions with each other.

How my vocation has been nurtured in the Society
Life and experience in the Society have nurtured my religious vocation in different ways. Living community life has helped me to meet Christ in each of my sisters. I have lived in different communities with different RSCJ but never have I come across an experience that would make me regret my vocation in the Society. This doesn’t mean that we live as angels but rather as human beings who are ready to agree to disagree aware that we are not finished final pieces of art but rather, people who are on the race for perfection. Thus, “the spirit dwelling within us gradually transforms us …” (const. 21), for conflicts or differences have not taken away the invitation to love and to be loved, to forgive and be forgiven. The fact that I am loved as I am and many times forgiven, and having taken the initiative to do so to others has deepened my religious vocation and more so my call to communion. My experience of the Religious of the Sacred Heart has been that of women committed to glorifying the heart of Jesus by authentically displaying their docility to the Spirit of God by trying, on a daily basis, to live the attitudes of the heart of Jesus – love, communion, forgiveness, reconciliation, etc,. This gives me courage and I strive daily to do that which will bring glory to the heart of Jesus. Mother Teresa of Calcutta rightly put it when she said, “God does not ask us to do greater things, but to do little things with greater love.” It takes a genuine, simple heart to do this. This is my experience of most rscj and it has nurtured my vocation in the Societ.Small gestures of love.
I am deeply convinced that our prayer life helps us to cling to God and our vocation. Very often, I am moved by the spirit of prayer reflected in the life of the RSCJ. This encourages me too to be rooted in prayer hence deepen my relationship with God. In this way, my vocation is strengthened because I know, if I want to go far in my religious vocation, I must walk with God but not alone.
Our older sisters too have been a role model for me in living my religious vocation. I feel encouraged when I see them living their lives faithfully and still trying their level best to perfect it. Through them, I have come to believe and I am convinced that a vocation comes from God and it is God who sustains it by giving us the grace to respond to his invitation every day.

I am my story
In his homily at the Easter vigil mass, Fr. A.E. Orobator, SJ, referring to the resurrection story of Jesus said that each person has a story to tell but in order to tell a story, one must become that story. Thus the story is one’s experience. And so I am privileged to tell the story of my vocation at this point in life when the Church has dedicated this year to Consecrated life. I pray that my life as a consecrated religious may become a story of joy to those I live and interact with in the same way the story of Jesus’ resurrection brought joy to all his followers and still does to us today.