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Kenyan President Gifts Loreto Sisters Over US$85,000 for New School to Serve Marginalized

The Head of Public Service in Kenya, Dr. Joseph Kinyua, inspecting the guard of honour at Loreto Convent Msongari on 29 January 2022. He is acompanied by Sr. Lucy Nderi, the Province Leader of the Loreto Sisters in Eastern Africa Province. Credit: Sr. Santrina Tumusiime, IBVM

Members of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (I.B.V.M) commonly known as Loreto Sisters who have marked 100 years of service in their Eastern Africa Province have received a donation of Ksh. 10 million (US$87,680.00) from Kenya’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta, to aid the Sisters’ response to social and educational needs in Kilifi County in the Catholic Archdiocese of Mombasa. 

To mark their Centennial Celebration, Loreto Sisters are seeking to set up a school among the Mijikenda people in Kenya. “As we mark 100 years, we the Loreto Sisters wish to respond to social and educational needs in Kilifi. We invite you to be part of this dream,” members of the Institute’s Eastern Africa Province say in their invitation message to the Centennial fete that took place Saturday, January 29.

In a speech that was read by the Head of Public Service in Kenya, Dr. Joseph Kinyua, who represented the Kenyan Head of State at the Loreto Sisters’ Centenary celebration in Nairobi, President Kenyatta promised the Religious Institute of his support in ensuring the envisaged school in the Archdiocese of Mombasa makes its first admission in about two months.

“I am pleased to announce that through a robust cooperation between the ministry of education and the Loreto Sisters, all plans are in place for the school to admit, in April or May 2022, its first pupils from the most vulnerable communities around the Coast,” President Uhuru said in the speech.

The Head of Public Service in Kenya, Dr. Joseph Kinyua, at Loreto Convent Msongari 29 January 2022. Credit: Sr. Santrina Tumusiime, IBVM

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He added, “I am proud to announce that the Loreto Endowment Fund is fully established with structures to ensure transparency and accountability of admission into school by those who are living beyond either physical or financial boundaries of education. Together with my pledge of Ksh.10 million, the Loreto Sisters have now been able to raise an additional Ksh.10 million, bringing Ksh.20 million to the fund.”

In an interview with ACI Africa ahead of the January 29 event, a Loreto Sister who has served in Kenya for close to six decades said members of the Institute in the Eastern Africa Province seek to empower the girlchild in one of the “neglected” areas in Kenya.  

“The area we feel is still neglected is the area around the Mijikenda people in Kilifi. The Giriama girls are still very deprived of basic education,” Sr. Caitriona Kelly told ACI Africa January 28.

Credit: Sr. Santrina Tumusiime, IBVM

She explained, “Our memory for the centenary is that we develop a holistic school in Kilifi district. The land is already there, and the vision is that through that school and other ways, we impact on the region and give the people of the area, particularly the women, a sense of their human dignity, and help them develop more fully as human persons.”

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In his speech during the January 29 event that took place at Loreto Convent Msongari in Nairobi, President Kenyatta extolled the Loreto Sisters efforts to promote the right of inclusive, equitable and quality education as enshrined in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

He lauded the members of the Institute for their 100 years of service in the East African country, saying, “A century of existence is no mean feat.”

Credit: Sr. Santrina Tumusiime, IBVM

“As you survey the horizon of the future, you should reflect on the long and illustrious journey already traveled. In planning those next steps, it is imperative to bear in mind the powerful clarion call of your founder Sr. Mary Ward that women should play their rightful role in the divine nation,” the Kenyan Head of State told the Loreto Sisters.

He exuded optimism that the Church would partner with the Kenyan State “in addressing the challenges that face God’s children here on earth.”

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President Kenyatta noted that the Loreto Sisters had served as an inspiration to all persons of faith due to their tremendous good works and charity. “The fruits of their commitment to God and to the Catholic faith are seen in our health care, education, orphanages, care for the destitute and the elderly and spiritual development to mention but a few,” he said.  

President Kenyatta said that the Loreto Kilifi flagship project, which will have a primary school, secondary school, and a resource center, will provide an all-rounded education especially to the marginalized.

Credit: Sr. Santrina Tumusiime, IBVM

“The flagship project this Centenary has been the Loreto Kilifi project whose mission is to ensure a well-rounded education particularly for the vulnerable girls in the coast region,” he said, and added, “This is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number four, which outlines the right of inclusive equitable and quality education.”

“Loreto Kilifi which symbolizes the mission of the Loreto Sisters will be a testament of our commitment as a nation to ensuring that even the most vulnerable and marginalized children also have a right to a good education,” he said.

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President Kenyatta noted that despite COVID-19 challenges, the Loreto Sisters managed to keep as many children as possible in school.

Credit: Sr. Santrina Tumusiime, IBVM

The Loreto Sisters, the Kenyan President said, had, while observing health protocols, continued to offer children social services “to ensure they grow into productive and responsible men and women in our society”.

The Kenyan President said that the Loreto Sisters had fought hard to maintain the Loreto Convent Msongari in Nairobi grounds where their Saturday, January 29 Centenary was celebrated.

“The grounds on which we stand were established 100 years ago. It was through sheer hard work and dedication that the Loreto Sisters have maintained these grounds through wars, the struggle for independence and the search for a greater good,” he said, and added, “It is my pleasure to recognize the Loreto Convent Msongari, the first Loreto Mission in Eastern Africa.”

At the January 29 event that started with Holy Mass Presided over by the Local Ordinary of Kenya’s Mombasa Archdiocese, Archbishop Martin Kivuva Musonde, the Kenyan President also announced that the Loreto Convent Msongari ground title deed will soon be freehold.

Archbishop Martin Kivuva Musonde of Mombasa Archdiocese at Loreto Convent Msongari 29 January 2022. Credit: Sr. Santrina Tumusiime, IBVM

“I’m pleased to announce that the order I made last year to ensure the conversion of the title to a freehold interest is well underway. This means that it is now up to you the Loreto Sisters to passionately and purposefully use these grounds for the betterment of the current generations, the preservation of the traditions of the past generations and the hope for the future generations,” he said.

President Kenyatta applauded the alumni of Loreto schools, saying, “Over the last 100 years, Msongari has represented grace and diligence. Many young girls walked through the gates of the school and have grown into public servants, global leaders of industry, renowned scientists, lawyers, community and social workers, and women of God and now we want you to graduate to even taking the position of President of this nation.”

Credit: Sr. Santrina Tumusiime, IBVM

“I salute each of you and encourage you to remain committed to the younger generations walking through these same gates and indeed all the different Loreto schools,” he said in his message to the alumni of Loreto schools.

The Kenyan Head of State called upon learners in various Loreto schools in Kenya to strengthen the foundation of their faith, noting that it is only faith that remains when everything is gone.

Credit: Sr. Santrina Tumusiime, IBVM

“Students, as you go through your time in Loreto, as you seek knowledge to develop yourselves and to learn new skills, as you make new friends and as you walk this most important journey of your lives, you must remember always that affirmed foundation of faith and your relationship with God is what will remain with you during your life’s journey,” President Kenyatta said.

He added, in his message to learners in institutions under the auspices of Loreto Sisters, “Work, study and pray. Pray for your families and neighbors. Pray for strangers along the way. Pray for your country. Pray for Africa.”