School Sisters of Notre Dame – Africa

Transforming the World through Education


Celebrating the Life of Sister Mary Mamwacha


Sister Mary Mamwacha
Sister Mary Mamwacha

“In hope and peace we enter into the joy of the Lord!”
(You Are Sent C 47)

For the School Sisters of Notre Dame, Province of Africa, July 15 was a sad and historic day. Our beloved Sister Mary Mamwacha is our first native African sister to enter into eternal life. Sister Mary Kemunto Mamwacha died of cancer at the Nairobi Hospital, Kenya at the age of 46, in her 17th year as a professed School Sister of Notre Dame.

Mary Kemunto Mamwacha was born on June 22, 1968, the fifth born of twelve children of Alexander Mamwacha and Elizabeth Omwenga. She completed her secondary education at Gekano Girls Secondary School in 1989. After Form 4 at Gekano Girls, Mary left home for Nairobi where she worked as a nursery teacher before she joined St. Augustine Teacher Training College which she completed September 1992. During her teaching ministry Mary earned her B. Ed (Primary) in 2009 and went on to study for her M.Ed. (Guidance and Counseling) in 2011.

Mary claimed that her vocation developed in Standard 6 after watching Sisters during Mass. It was then that she joined a parish Vocation group and started attending meetings every Saturday and Sunday. While at Gekano Girls, Mary and her friends shared a lot about their futures and she became interested in the School Sisters of Notre Dame. She was influenced by the work of the SSND’s at Gekano and started communicating with the SSND vocation director, S. Roxanne Schares. Mary became an affiliate while she was at St. Augustine’s, joined the Postulancy January 22, 1994, was received as a Novice on May 29, 1995, made her first profession on the 19th April 1997 and her perpetual profession on December 30, 2002.

S. Mary and Students

Sister Mary with her choir students from Bar Ogwal School who competed and won prizes

Sister Mary Mamwacha spent the first 2 years of her ministry as a teacher at Gekano Primary School from 1997-1999. From there she taught at St. Mary’s Primary Boarding School, Nyabururu, Kisii for 8 years. Then from August 2008 to June 2009 Sister Mary participated in the SSND International Program studying German in Germany followed by some months in Rome. From 2010 until January 2013 Mary taught at Bar-Ogwal Primary School in Kisumu, became the Deputy Head and then the Head of the school. Due to her health needs, in January 2013 Mary was transferred to Jamhuri Primary, Nairobi to be closer to her doctor.

One of Sister Mary’s greatest gifts was her ability to make and nurture friendships. She was a person of “connections” and had the amazing quality of reaching out to so many. Of note was her deep care for disadvantaged girls. She reached out to them in love and helped them to find the support they needed. She also had a great love of photography and cooking. While she struggled with cancer for over three years, she did not become self-focused. Through her deep faith in God she continued to reach out, particularly to those in need to offer them her presence, her comfort and her prayers.

May she rest in peace and intercede for all of us with our loving God!


Sisters from the Kiptere Community in Kenya sent this picture and information.

Sister Jacinta

Sister Jacinta is welcomed home to Kiptere.

The larger community of St Francis comprising the Parish Church and schools celebrated Sr Jacinta Kanini’s homecoming after her perpetual vows celebration. She was dressed in the cultural way as a woman in Kalenjin* community. This shows the love and oneness that these people have with SSND. Many young girls were encouraged to follow in the footsteps of Sr Kanini who was celebrated. This event strengthened our sense of solidarity with the people we serve and promoted unity among the Christians. There was lots of dancing, singing, jubilation and speeches by different groups.

*Kalenjins are one of the major tribes in Kenya