RSCJ Uganda/Kenya Province | Sharing my story

MY VOCATION STORY

rscj Rose Gichangi Rose Gichangi, RSCJ

I was born into a catholic family. I was introduced by my parents into the church. My grandmother who was also my Godmother had trained me how to behave in church, participate in different activities like taking readings, cleaning, singing, children games and praying. Little did I know that this was initiating me to what became my interest: serving in the church as a religious after seeing sisters visiting our outstation. I admired them and shared with my mother that I would like to become a sister. She told me I needed first to work hard at school.

When I was in high school I was in contact with the Sisters of Mary Immaculate of Nyeri and the Franciscan Elizabethan Sisters. I was discerning which one to join. I was attracted to God in prayer to help me discern and so I decided to make a parish youth recollection day. The theme was ‘Devotion to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary’. By the end of the day I felt nourished and inspired. I could feel God very near to me and wondered if that could be the same feeling my mother had as she loved ending her prayers with, ‘Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us’ which she prayed in our mother tongue. I shared my experience with her and from that time I felt a special attraction to the Heart of Jesus in my relationship with God.

One day during the school holiday, I went to do some reading in the parish library. As I was searching for materials to read, I came across a Seed Magazine. The title of the magazine caught my attention and I picked it up. As I was reading I opened a page where different congregations were advertised and among them was one called "The Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus," my heart began pumping with joy. I could not believe there was a congregation that devoted itself to glorifying the Heart of Jesus. I went to inquire from the parish priest and he assured me that this was so.

I knew from what I had learned during the day of recollection that the joy within me was a special grace from God. My faith had deepened. I decided to write to the vocation promoter. As I was writing the application letter, I felt strengthened by God. Surprisingly after a month I received a letter from the vocation promoter of the Society of the Sacred Heart. The envelope was bulky carrying detailed information of the congregation. I thanked God for hearing my prayer and for giving me yet another choice. I gave ample time to read the information.

I was full of enthusiasm as I began reading the letter but towards the end of the letter I read, ‘you have to finish high school and get a profession.’ I did not understand as I thought one joined a congregation after secondary school. I was dismayed, shocked and found myself folding the letter and putting it in the bottom of my box. I felt confused. The delight I had experienced earlier was beyond anything I could imagine and now I felt discouraged. I consoled myself that I was still in high school and had two more years before I would graduate.

When I finished high school, I pursued an accounting course for one year. My uncle contracted a job for me. I was to begin working from sometime in June or July. This was a big blow to all my plans as I wanted to start searching for a congregation to join. I had no one to share with. Many of my friends had either joined colleges, were living with relatives in town or doing some job elsewhere. I had a strong desire not to give up praying. I decided to actively participate in a youth group. The parish priest was helpful. He could give me nice spiritual books and accompanied me. I started doing some voluntary work at the parish and in our local church mostly facilitating children’s workshops, reading about saints and sharing with a small Christian community. It was nourishing and enjoyable.

I was to begin working in July, days were nearing and I had hardly decided which congregation to join. The worst blow came in June. One day when I arrived home, Dad and mum were there. They hardly knew my dreams and plans. Dad looked so excited. After our greetings, he told me to hold on. He went out and came back with an A4 size envelope addressed to me. I said in my heart, "God has heard my prayers, now I have a congregation to join." Surprisingly, the letterhead on the envelope sounded differently. It was reading ‘Egerton University.’ I could not believe that it was an admission letter to the University. My father read it and this time I was just quiet. He said, "We need to have everything ready by August 10th.
Silently I went to my bedroom. It seemed all I had been praying for, all my efforts were fruitless. God seemed far from me. I felt desolate. Yet, now, as I look back on this experience, I see how God was with me, guiding me to approach my mother. I felt encouraged by her love as she listened to me and then her advice for me to speak with my dad and finally to speak with the parish priest. The parish priest listened to me and I remember him asking me, “What would you like to do as a sister?”
I told him that I would love to be involved freely with all people like the sisters in our parish who come to teach us, teach men and women and relate well with people. The priest told me that I could be able to do that kind of work if I am well qualified. He encouraged me to trust God who had a plan for me. He even went further and said that one’s call is everlasting and it does not matter when one answers although I was not paying much attention to what he was saying.
He gave me Psalm 139 to pray and asked me to return to see him after two weeks.

I went back to see him after ten days. I had made my choice to go on with my studies. When I shared with my parents they were happy and my dad said, “After school you are free to do whatever you want with your life so long as you share your plans with us.” I felt at ease and happy with my decision. While at the university I continued praying to God to guide me and help me realize my dream.

On completion of my studies, I started thinking seriously about my future. I decided to arrange all my books at home so that also I could save space for my siblings. To my surprise my heart was just praising God when I removed the newspaper at the bottom of my box and I came across the letter I had received from the Society of the Sacred Heart. I recited three Hail Marys thanking God. I stopped all I was doing and wrote an application letter to the vocation promoter. I gave it to my dad to post it as he was going to town the following day.

The day I got a letter from the Society of the Sacred Heart replying to mine, I realized I had made it; I shouted with acclamations of joy. I felt God had ever been on my side and Mary had ever been interceding for me. The joy I experienced drew me very close to God. All through my life in times of joy and desolation, God had been holding me and guiding me.