‘We are to live in Christ in our daily lives and apply his love to our daily life experiences.”
by Sister Concepta Najjemba, Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Reparatrix
I belong to the congregation of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Reparatrix. We were founded in Uganda in 1948. I joined this congregation was I was only 14 years old. The experience of joining so early was wonderful because I have grown up in religious life and have seen how much the love of God empowers religious. I have found I was able to learn how to serve God’s people. In 1964, I was able to make the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
When I was sent to school to be trained as a teacher, it was a little bit of struggle to be a student and a religious at the same time. When I graduated from teacher training college, I taught religion in grade school, which was wonderful. I learned to take care of the children and they learned about Jesus. I still know many of these children after so many years.
In religious life, I had the chance to go to school get two masters, and my doctorate degree. All this knowledge doesn’t mean as much as the work I have done from my heart. I started out helping out in the schools and now I am working with the homeless and people with needs. That is the most important to me.
I found that in religious life, our presence is very touching to people. Even though I am working in a foreign country where I don’t know the language, I find people coming and asking me questions. I am not here for my own, I am here for Jesus. My daily life and my religious life go hand in hand because if we separate them from another, then life would not be so meaningful. I try each day to use what I have learned and put it into practice. In fact, in the Gospel it is very well understood that we are to live in Christ in our daily lives and apply his love to our daily life experiences.
Last year, I had the chance to go to Israel, to the Holy Land. Being able to see where Jesus walked, where Jesus taught, was wonderful. Since I came back, I have tried very hard to reach out to others– the sick, the prisoners, the homeless — where they are. That brings me so much joy. They are my people, and I love them.
We have a practice in the soup kitchen. (Sister Najjemba operates My Brother’s Keep Soup Kitchen in Ocala.) Before we have a meal, we say a Hail Mary. It is good to see the homeless wearing rosaries or praying four or five together. It is amazing. I love my ministry and I am so happy to be there for everybody. I don’t belong to just one person; I belong to them all. Living a religious life is a treasure.