SUNDAY PROFILE with ANGELA MUCHINSHI
ROSE Nyondo was just an ordinary girl who dreamt of having a job and a family when she grew up.
But at 20, the dream fizzled out when she felt a strong urge to join the Catholic sisterhood and live a celibate life.
Convinced of the call, Rose quickly started following the steps of becoming a nun.
It’s now been 40 years of service as a nun and living a celibate life. She has never regretted her decision.
According to her, choosing celibacy has been her greatest sacrifice to God.
When Rose aspired to join the Catholic sisterhood, she was only in Grade 12 but her family had other expectations from her.
The family envisioned her with children, a good job and a life like everyone else.
But she was sure the Lord had called her to serve him totally.
“I never doubted my calling. I was sure that being a nun was the destiny that the Lord had chosen for me,” Rose says.
It took a long time for her family to accept her decision to be a nun.
While her father supported her idea, her mother and brothers were against it.
“It was hard to convince my mother and brothers that I was born to be like that, they just couldn’t accept it at first,” she said.
Despite the discouragement from some family members, Sister Nyondo never gave up her calling but remained resolute towards what she wanted.
“I knew they were very disappointed with me, but I stood my ground because what I wanted to become was a Catholic nun,’ she says.
During the course of her training as a nun, Rose says it was exciting for her.
She attended classes where she was taught about the life of a nun.
“I was attending classes where they taught me what it means to be at the service of the community and what I was leaving behind as well as what I was expected to find,” she said.
She said they basically wanted to be sure if she was ready to become a nun and she proved it by her perseverance.
She says her younger sister tried to imitate her to become a nun but dropped out and got married.
Rose was a journalist at Zambia Broadcasting Services (ZBS now ZNBC) at the time she made up her mind to be a nun.
Being a young single woman, there were some young men who proposed love to her but she realised her calling was to serve God.
At ZBS, she found protection from her work-mates who protected her from those who attempted to make a move on her.
Apart from this, she had to prove to society that sisterhood was a genuine religious group.
She belongs to the ‘Daughters of the Redeemer Sisters’, which had just been introduced by Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo at the time she joined.
“We were a unique group, because it was a new thing in the Catholic church, so everybody was wondering how religious sisters were dressed like ordinary Zambians,” she says.
Rose believes that when one chooses to become religious, they make a firm commitment to follow Christ.
Temptations, according to her, may come, but one should learn to trust in God.
“He gives Himself to us, so you become intimate with the Lord and cannot look for anything better than what God offers,” she says.
Prayer and commitment help to overcome temptations not only in carrying out one’s duties but also consolidating one’s choice of life.
Being at the service of society for her is what she enjoys most about being a sister.
She says people look up to her as a parent in society and that makes her feel proud.
“Seeing that whatever I do is for the greater glory of my master who has called me is one thing I have really enjoyed in my years as a nun,” she says.
She notes that the number of people who are joining the sisterhood is going down due to the economy, lack of interest in church activities and shrinking families.
“In our time families were big but now we have small families that inherit everything that their parents have, and a few people go to church,” she says.
But despite that, Rose is optimistic that the sisterhood community will soldier on.
Her advice to young girls who want to join the sisterhood community is not to worry about who they are when they feel they have the calling.
She says becoming religious doesn’t require someone who is holy but a person who is ready to be used by God.
“I was not holy myself when I joined sisterhood . I was a naughty girl in school.
“Apostle Paul in the Bible was a murderer who used to kill followers of Christ, but when God called him, he became holy and has written some of the best books in the Bible,” she says.
She is of the view that some norms about sisterhood might change in future looking at the way the world is changing but the actual sisterhood community will never shrink completely because God will continue calling people.
SUNDAY PROFILE with ANGELA MUCHINSHI