The calling and role of Catholic nuns in Kenya with special reference to Kisii and Nairobi dioceses
Atuma, Margaret M
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This thesis is a study on the calling and role of Catholic Nuns in Kenya, with a particular reference to Kisii and Nairobi Diocese. It analyses the participation of nuns in the Church, in health, in education and in social work. This study was carried out mainly because of the increased awareness of the importance of nuns in the development process throughout the world. Since independence there have been varied congregations of nuns operating in Kenya. Nearly everyone has witnessed the good services rendered to Kenya by nuns as viable projects have been noticed even in the most isolated, remote areas and also in slums, but with very little publicity. This study was also necessitated by the scarcity of literature on the subject. Most books seem intended for the knowledgeable insider. They have been written by theologians, by nuns for the other nuns, or by former nuns seeking to justify themselves. The basic objectives of the study was mainly to find out why some women become nuns, what vows they take and how they understand them, the services they render both to the Church and to the community at large and finally the difficulties they encounter, if any, in rendering their services. The field research for this study was carried out in the Kisii and Nairobi dioceses, as they both have a wide variety of congregations working there. Questionnaires formed the key methodological technique for primary data collection. Three categories of people were interviewed: the Mother Superiors or Novice Mistresses, the Sisters and three Priests. Some church documents and periodicals on the subject were also studied. All this together with the literature studied led to the findings of this study. The findings are basically three. The first is that in order for one to become a fully professed member of a congregation, one really has to receive God's call into this type of life. It is a calling heard only in the heart, a need to do something. This aspect is clearly dealt with in chapter two of this study. The second finding is that nuns take three vows namely poverty, chastity and obedience. These vows are extensively looked at in the third chapter. The vows are a sign of total and perpetual dedication of one's entire being to the service of God and of one's fellow men. Thirdly, nuns in the Kenyan society are in one sense very powerful women. They occupy (to some people) prestigious position in society, command respect which is almost universal and are free to devote themselves to work without familial responsibilities. This is given great importance in chapter five which deals with the role of nuns in the church, In health, in education and in social work. Others might like to research in greater detail certain aspects of nuns' lives at this time, for instance, the influence upon the teaching and nursing profession, or the difference, if any, between a native congregation and a foreign one. The opportunities for further research are limitless,and it is hoped that somebody will avail of them.
CitationA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of master of arts of the University of Nairobi
Department of Arts