“Best day ever!” Sisters Mumbi Kigutha and LaKesha Church profess first vows
Left, Sisters Joyce Lehman, Mumbi, Ann Clark and Father Robert Schreiter, CPPS; Michelle Bodine photo. Second from left, Sister Mumbi after she received her ring; Sister Mary Lou Schmersal photo. Third from left, Sisters Patty Kremer, Linda Pleiman, Nancy Kinross, Ann Clark, Joyce Lehman, LaKesha and other CPPS Sisters; Michelle Bodine photo. Right, Father Ken Pleiman, CPPS, and Sister LaKesha; Sister Mary Lou Schmersal photo.
Two women professed their first vows as Sisters of the Precious Blood during separate ceremonies this summer at Salem Heights, the congregational residence in Dayton.
Sister Mumbi Kigutha professed first vows in a warm and vibrant Mass and ceremony on July 28. Precious Blood Sisters from around the U.S. attended the celebrations, along with women religious from a variety of congregations, and Sister Mumbi’s family and friends.
Sister Mumbi grew up in Njoro, a small town in Kenya, where her mother was a professor at the local university and her father worked as a doctor. She worked for the United Nations, providing assistance to refugee communities, before becoming acquainted with the Sisters of the Precious Blood in 2008.
Sister Joyce Ann Zimmerman delivered the reflection at the Mass, remarking on the courage required to follow God’s call: Like many biblical figures, Sister Mumbi has left her homeland, family and culture. But “in fact, hearing God’s call and leaving all that is familiar and comfortable is the easy part!” Sister Joyce Ann said. “The hard part lies in unwavering fidelity. But we are never alone on our faith journey.”
Father Robert Schreiter, CPPS, presided, joined by concelebrants Fathers Sébastien Abalodo, S.M.; Bertrand Buby, S.M.; Dennis Chriszt, CPPS; Steve Dos Santos, CPPS; James Smith, CPPS; Cyriaque Sounou, SVD; and Francis Tandoh, C.S.Sp.
Sister Mumbi’s family and friends were active participants in the Mass: her friend Michelle Kiigi and her brother Henry Karongo Kigutha proclaimed readings in Swahili, and other friends and family brought up the bread and wine, as well as symbolic gifts of an unfinished clay chalice, a tree seedling and pictures of family.
“I am grateful for [Congregation founder] Mother Maria Anna Brunner and all Sisters of the Precious Blood, past and present, for their faithfulness and dedicated service,” Sister Mumbi wrote in a message printed in the ceremony program. “I am especially thankful that this community welcomed me with open arms, and over the course of the past couple of years has loved me, prayed for me and contributed in countless ways to helping prepare me for the step in faith I’ve taken today.”
“Joy” was the theme of the day as Sister LaKesha Church pronounced first vows as a Sister of the Precious Blood on Aug. 25.
During his homily, Father Ken Pleiman, CPPS, identified three words from the day’s readings that caught his attention: “Jesus,” “others” and “you.”
“The first letter of each of those words spells ‘joy.’ You are Sisters of joy. You want people to come into contact with you, to know you, to see you, to hear you, to laugh with you. You desire to feel the joy of being a Sister of the Precious Blood and everything that entails,” Father Ken said. “It is a joy that has come to know the heart of Jesus. A joy that knows how to love. A joy that knows how to be a peacemaker. A joy that knows how to be a person of compassion. A joy that knows how to forgive. The word “joy” itself spells out for your life and community and ministry who you are.”
Sister LaKesha is from Lorain, Ohio. Although she grew up within the Baptist church, she felt a calling to vowed religious life. She became Catholic, earned a degree in health care management and served in the Peace Corps in Botswana — and continued to discern her vocation.
She became acquainted with the Sisters of the Precious Blood after researching various religious communities online and entered the novitiate in September 2016.
“Thank you to all who have been a part of God’s plan for me,” Sister LaKesha wrote in a message printed in the program for the profession ceremony. “Thank you for walking the journey with me and for being one of the many conductors (helpers) along the way. I thank God for all of you and pray that you will continue to walk the journey with me because it isn’t over yet!”
At the end of the day, as she was leaving Salem Heights, Sister LaKesha’s joy was still evident.
“Best day ever!” she exclaimed.
– Story by Mary Knapke