Sister Bongani Ester

Sister Bongani's story and Vision for the future of the Congregation was given to a meeting of Regional Superiors and Chief Executives in November 2013

My name is Sister Bongani Ester. I am from the African region and my country of birth is Zimbabwe. I am in my second year as a Novice.

As we always say, We do not choose God instead God chooses us.

When I felt God was calling me, all I wanted was to be a sister. I grew up knowing the congregation of the Daughters of Calvary. I never knew that there are different Congregations with different Charism and different way of life.

When I told my Parish Priest about my desire to be a sister the first question he asked me was:
Which congregation do you feel drawn to? My answer was:
”I do not understand what you are saying, all I want is to seek God, to know him and to serve him as a sister”.
He then told me about the different Congregations. He gave me a pile of magazines called the Catholic Church news. When I got home I started viewing those magazines and I could see all the different Congregations.
When I saw the advertisement of the Sisters of Nazareth, It touched my heart and I said to myself
, “This is what I was looking for”.

It was a very simple picture of a sister holding a child. In that simple picture I could see intimacy between the sister and the child, I could see love, care and to me the child felt belonging in the sister’s arms. It was that same picture that made me apply. I then accepted the invitation for the come and see. During my come and see programme there were only three sisters in the community; the superior, the nursing sister and the sister in formation. I was inspired by these three sisters, their commitment to prayer life community life, and apostolate. The way they were living and the work thet were doing, you would think that it was a community of more sisters. I felt welcome and at home. From the time I entered with the sisters up to now, the spirit is the same whichever house you go to. You are always at home and always feel belonging. The importance of prayer life and community life always gives me the encouragement, the motivation and the zeal to go on, in my vocational journey. It is the joyful spirit that we share with one other as sisters and the people we come in contact with. That keeps us going. As a novice I have learnt at a deeper level about the congregation, community life, our apostolic life, the church as a whole and its teachings. I have listened to many stories about the sisters, how they lived in the olden days. The amazing work they did and this same work is being carried out today. All this have helped me grow in my calling as a sister of Nazareth. There were times in my formation when I wished to stay as a novice, to be always under the guidance of my Formator and the company of my companions. This thought has gone now. I am very happy and very confident to stand in front of you today as I prepare for my first profession. Times have changed and we now have a great opportunity to work in the apostolate with lay managers and staff. As a Congregation of the Sisters of Nazareth we are missioned by the Church to evangelize and to save souls. We are a true family of Nazareth, sisters, lay staff, residents and children. It also brings deep joy to me that as a big family we will be able to share and practise the Core Values of the Congregation which are from the Gospels.

On my part as a sister, with the grace of God I am there to be an example to the people I work with and those I serve. On the other hand I need the people I work with and those I serve in my journey of faith. There is a lot to learn from them. In the future I see myself, first and foremost as a sister of Nazareth, being a nurse with the residents and children in Africa. I will be very happy working side by side with lay managers and staff. I am very open to which ever community I will be sent to. Once again with great confidence and full of hope, I see a bright future for the ‘Whole Nazareth Family’; the sisters, lay managers, staff, residents and children working together in unity, for the Kingdom of God. I say this because I believe that the same Holy Spirit which inspired our Foundress Victoire Larmenier is the same Spirit which is with us today and it is the same spirit which will be with us in the future.