Sr. Marie Therese became the first African Superior-General of ASN in 1970, succeeding Christine Middleholff of the White Sisters.
During the handing over, Archbishop John Joseph (J.J) McCarthy and Archbishop (later Cardinal) Maurice Otunga, were the principal witnesses.
She took her final vows at St. Austin’s Catholic Church in Nairobi in 1972 on the Feast of the Assumption in a ceremony that was presided over by the late Fr (later Archbishop) Nicodemus Kirima.
The Catholic Nun served as Superior General for three terms: she was elected for two six-year consecutive terms from 1973 to 1985, and decades later, for a third term, from 2003 to 2009.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At ACI Africa, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news from Africa, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church - so that you can grow in your Catholic faith.
When you subscribe to the ACI Africa Updates, we will send you a daily email with links to the news you need.
Use the form below to stay informed, and to tell us where we can send the ACI Africa Updates!
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
While serving her first term as ASN Superior General in 1973, she also became the chairperson of the Association of Sisterhoods in Kenya (AOSK).
Sr. Marie Therese is said to have survived a terrible 1973 motor accident in which her colleague, Sr. Gertrude Nthemba Mutunga, died.
Members of her Religious Institute have lauded her leadership role as the first African Superior General in the Institute’s humble beginning, a responsibility they say was a sign of faith and courage.
“Your efforts enabled the Institute to attain a solid foundation in all facets of life,” ASN members say in their tribute, and add, “You inspired most of us with your prayerful disposition, an appreciative attitude, generosity and a strong passion for humility. You treasured the Eucharist with reference and for you, ASN was first in your life.”
Sr. Marie Therese has also been eulogized as selfless “with reasonable simplicity.”
“She accommodated all; a good listener and advisor. She touched the hearts of many, gave meaning to their life as she went along her mission. Sister was detached in poverty and valued obedience for the sake of Christ,” ASN members eulogize Sr. Marie Therese.
In her value for legacy for the Religious Institute, the Kenyan Nun always encouraged older ASN members to take care of the Institute’s new entrants.
One of her most notable quotes that the ASN members remember in their tributes is, “Sisters, make sure you take care of the young Sisters since they are the future of the institution of ASN.”
“A great heroine has fallen,” ASN members mourn, and add, “Her shoulders bent with the weight of the many lives she nurtured during her lifetime. Rest peacefully till we meet in heaven.”
The ASN members’ tribute is about a servant leader who had a prophetic vision, an ability to discern the God-given gifts and talents in other members of the Religious Institute.
“Sister, you worked and walked hand in hand with the upcoming leaders, formators, and gifted-talented persons within the ASN Institute. You mentored them with love and built trust in their potentiality and strength. They were able to see that their integrity and the institutional concern should be key at all times,” members of ASN say in their tributes shared with ACI Africa.
Sr. Marie Therese is also said to have been a leader of seasoned wisdom, which came with the art of discerning when to say what and to whom.
“When sending the young Sisters to upgrade their education, she was heard saying, ‘Sister, I am sending you to college…… you can now be going for Disco on Fridays,’” ASN members say, adding that their long-serving Superior General never wrapped his head around the idea of a Consecrated person missing the daily Eucharistic celebration.
“Despite all her wit and intellect as a PhD holder, there is one thing that Sister never understood until her demise. She just couldn’t get it, even after deep reflection and prayer, how a Consecrated Religious person could afford to miss Holy Mass. Dear Sister, may The Holy One teach you now,” members of the Nairobi-based Religious Institute say.
Her impact, the ASN members further say, was felt within AOSK membership, Higher Institutes of learning, the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) regions, political reams and platforms, church and international forums of women.
“You embraced a servant leadership with deep reference for local leadership,” ASN members say in their collective tribute, and add, “You never disgruntled at all; indeed you have fought a good fight and finished the race, may you find angels to welcome you in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ whom you dedicated your life to.”
In his address during the Requiem Mass September 23, Cardinal Njue urged ASN members to continue working to water the seed that had been planted by late Sr. Marie Therese.
“An occasion like this is a moment of thanksgiving to God for what was done in the establishment of this Institute,” the Kenyan Cardinal said at Holy Family Basilica, Nairobi.
He added, “My dear Sisters, let a day like this be a day of renewal and encouragement. May the seed which was planted and what Sister Marie Therese was able to do be properly watered so that it can be able to grow and be a source of inspiration and strength for the others.”
“Thank you for how far you have come and for what you have been able to do not only in our Archdiocese but also in other places of the country and even beyond. Keep it up. Do not move backwards,” Cardinal Njue told ASN members September 23.