The Feast of Our Lady of Mercy who is the Patron of Sisters of Mercy and all ministries/Institutions both founded and managed by the congregation is the climax of all activities organised by Mercy Education Office. The real date as per the church calendar for commemoration of Our Lady of Mercy is 24th September every year but as MEO and Schools associated with the Sisters of Mercy, we hold it on a Saturday that is closer to the actual date given by the church. Thus, for this year, the event happened on 3rd October 2020 at Our Lady of Mercy Primary School, Shauri Moyo. Normally, students and teachers’ representatives from different schools of Mercy and other stakeholders congregate to mark the day in thanksgiving and prayer for God’s great Mercies and generosity which is from generation to generation. However, with the current Covid 19 restrictions and the consequent closure of schools in a bid to contain the pandemic, invitations were sent to Principals/Head teachers and their deputies, BOM & PA chairpersons, Catholic teachers, HDC teachers, environment patrons and school secretaries. Invitation was also made KCCB Education officials, priests, MEO partners, one student representatives per school and the young Mercy Ecology youth group. Being the year of Jubilee for the earth, theme for this year was “Show Mercy to our common home” which is the 8th work of Mercy as Laudato Si that was recently incorporated by Pope Francis in the seven original corporal works of Mercy.
ACTIVITIES FOR THE DAY
- TWelcoming remarks
The day began by Sr. Rose inviting the host to welcome all to her school. The Head teacher of Our Lady of Mercy Primary School Shauri Moyo, Mrs. Monica Leshampta together with her team of teaching, non -teaching staff and few pupils welcomed all to the venue in style. She stated how excited she was to have the event take place in her school.
Prayer and Morning reflection
Sr. Rose introduced to all the theme of the day: as per Pope Francis call in Laudato Si “SHOW MERCY TO OUR COMMON HOME” The Mercy Family would together celebrate, pray and learn from one another about the 8th work of Mercy. Thus the Opening prayer was directed by Young Mercy Ecology group and MEO staff who began with a chorus and then prayers and readings. Being the season of creation whereby we are all called to renew our relationships with our Creator and all creation through celebration, conversation and commitment the prayers were meant to assist everyone to enrich their spirits and deepen their connection with God’s creation
1st Speech by Ms. Augusta Muthigani (KCCB)
Augusta who is the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops National Education Secretary was the chief guest of the day. In her speech, Augusta pointed strongly about the values of Mercy, kindness and perseverance. She spoke about the importance of establishing right relationships with fellow humans and entire God’s creation. Her words strongly supported what Pope Francis said in His encyclical Laudato Si that, “We exist only in relationships: with God the creator, with our brothers and sisters as members of a common family and with all of God’s creatures within our common home”. She urged teachers to assist children under their care to have a deep connection with God through prayers. Augusta challenged school heads by noting that one cannot be an effective administrator in a Mercy school or any Catholic school without being a spiritual leader who is committed to the teachings of Jesus Christ who believes and practises Christian faith. She also urged all to be loyal to the church and accept its authentic teachings.
For Mercy Education Office to Support learners and Staff of schools associated with Sisters of Mercy we work with likeminded people we do not have it all. Just as in the interconnectedness of creation where all are valuable and unique at MEO we seek the expertise of partners who specialize in specific areas to support in the integral development of all and especially the young person. Therefore, for Spiritual formation we collaborate with local Parishes & Catechists; these are; Our Lady Queen of Peace South B, ST. Mary’s Viwandani, Our Lady of Visitation on Jogoo Rd, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Ngarariga and St. Joseph at Shauri Moyo where our schools are located. Other Partners that support in Moral and Character formation include, World Youth Alliance (WAY) African Jesuits Aids Network (AHAPPY) and KCCB- Making Life Responsible choices. In safeguarding and Child protection we work with ADAPKE, Nairobi Child Protection Team, HAART and Religious against Human Trafficking. For formation in matters of Integrity of Creation we work with CJPC, Franciscan Africa and Interfaith Forum among others.
- Laudato Si talk session: Sr. Rose & Mrs. Owenje
Sr. Rose gave a brief summary on Laudato Si emphasizing on the 8th work of Mercy which was the theme of the day. She reminded all that God gave us the human beings the responsibility to be stewards of creation but instead for the most part we have plundered creation endangered the future of the young generation. Our common home the earth and all creation in it requires us to become more conscious of where and how we can right the wrongs. Hence need for that inner ecological conversion as the Pope asks us in Laudato Si so that we all take the responsibility necessary without expecting others to take the first step. She thus gave examples of practical ways we can show Mercy to our common by ecological conversion planting trees, especially as we mark our birthdays and major events, not misusing water, and avoiding pollution of any kind.
She invited Mrs Owenje to speak about our common home since she has been the Principal Champion of Environment among Mercy Associated schools. Mrs Owenje just retired from Huruma girls’ High school which was the first High school for girls founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1964. This was a time when girl child education was minimal in the country. Through principals like Mrs Owenje the legacy of Mercy Sisters ion Education where we strive to form an integral person have continued and Mrs Owenje had a special passion for the environment teaching all by example among other qualities. Thus, while at Huruma the school had many firsts like the Green Talent Show, Launching of Birthday Tree planting and even establishing a tree nursery in the school.
In her speech, Mrs. Owenje urged all school heads to be lovers of environment and protect it fiercely. She highlighted the importance of creating a conducive environment for learners and all in the school. She appreciated the Shauri Moyo primary school which is also in a green friendly status as the Head teacher there also has ensured all earth portions are filled with plants be it flowers, food staff or trees. She challenged administrators to ensure that structures within their schools are functional and placed correctly. She further called out school heads refrain from corrupt practices such as squandering funds meant to improve infrastructure in schools. Mrs. Owenje concluded by donating some tree seeds and tree seedlings to Mercy Education office and to all schools present.
- Tree Planting and Laudato Si song
We had the Laudato Si generation song dance by the Young Mercy Ecology and tree planting session thereafter where each school or group planted a tree present. to mark the day. Each school planted their tree
Sr. Mary Gitau: Provincial Leader (Pontifical Commissary Sisters of Mercy Kenya Province)
Rev. Sr. Mary Gitau, the Provincial Leader for Sisters of Mercy Kenya Province, thanked all those who had spoken before her and emphasized on the Sisters of Mercy commitment to care for our common home. She also promised of her support to holistic growth of young people through the Education office.
- Holy Mass
The chief Celebrant was Rev. Fr. Francis Kiarie, Education secretary of Nairobi Archdiocese accompanied by Rev. Fr. Francis form St Joseph Parish Shauri Moyo. It was a thanksgiving Mass for God’s Mercies even with the recent pandemic and the t readings and sermon were all creation season readings which stressed on the Care for our common home. Lectors were teachers from Mercy school and a student from OLM Ngarariga, a strong environment champion who sang the responsorial Psalms. YME led in singing. The prayers of the faithful were led by Sr Rose Maranga a Sister of Mercy where by offertory gifts were accompanied by prayers.
Cake cutting and Awards presentation
- After Mass, it was the moment of continuing with thanks giving by cutting the cake of Mercy Day that was shared among all. This was accompanied by recognition and awards to different people at different categories who had excelled especially in Ecological related areas.
- The first award went to Mrs. Owenje the Principal, Mercy Associated Schools Ecology Champion 2019,
- Bernadette Luhanga the just retired Deputy Principal of Our Lady of Mercy Sec Sch Shauri Moyo was recognized for her Faith formation of the students
- In Absentia, Student Rukia Mohamed from Our Lady of Mercy Secondary School Shauri Moyo got the Ecology Student Award for 2019.
- In the Primary school section, master Jeremy Mwenda got the award for best Poem on environment 2019.
- For Secondary School best Ecology poem award went to Anne Kimani from Our Lady of Mercy Sec school Ngarariga among others.
- The climax of this session was the presentation of Our Lady of Mercy portrait to all schools. The Principals, Head Teachers teaching and non –teaching staff from all the Mercy Associated schools present were overjoyed and grateful for the meaningful gift.
- Closing remarks and Lunch
Sr. Rose, the director Mercy Education Office thanked all the participants for making the day lively and wished all to continue showing Mercy to our common Mother. On behalf of the host, Our Lady of Mercy Sec Sch Shauri Moyo, the Deputy Head Teacher gave the vote of thanks to all present and those who sent their apologies. Our Emcees for the day, both Edmund and Mrs Phanice Ludoto were thanked in a special way for smooth running of the whole event. Fr Francis from St. Joseph and Mary Parish Shauri Moyo was requested to pray for food and journey mercies.
Sr. Rose invited all for lunch that was prepared prepared by Our Lady of Mercy Skills Training school at Mukuru Promotion Centre courtesy of Mercy Education office.
All present enjoyed the meals including a comfortable cup of tea as per Mother Catherine McAuley’s legacy and had some time to interact while maintaining social distance as the Mercy Ecology group continued to entertain the guests as they performed ’Jerusaleme Mercy and Laudato Si Version” care for our common home!