Sister Spotlight: Janet Nantumbwe balances religious life, classes at SMC
Hannah Thomas | Monday, November 4, 2019
Editor’s Note: Sister Spotlight is an effort by the Saint Mary’s News Department to shed light on the shared experience of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross and Saint Mary’s College students. We will be sharing the mission and stories of the sisters in an on-going series.
Saint Mary’s is not only a college, and is home to the Sisters of the Holy Cross, the founders of Saint Mary’s, where the sisters try to stay connected to the students. This is especially true for Sister Janet Nantumbwe, as she is also a student at Saint Mary’s.
Nantumbwe is from Uganda, and chose to make the move to the congregation at Saint Mary’s College to pursue a degree in elementary education.
She began this semester as a first year and will graduate in 2023. In her daily life, she said she incorporates her routine as a sister along with her obligations to her schoolwork.
“My routine as a sister is to get up early in the morning, say my morning private prayers, go to Mass, have breakfast and go to college for my classes,” Nantumbwe said in an email.
She said she came to Saint Mary’s due to the many enticing aspects that were presented to her as a sister.
“I was drawn to the Holy Cross Sisters by their charism of responding to the needs of the time, their hospitality and internationality,” Nantumbwe said.
Nantumbwe felt welcomed by the sisters, and said she knew she should serve at the College because of a call from God.
“I wanted to become a sister and serve people who have no one to take care of them, like orphans, the elderly and those who are disabled,” Nantumbwe said.
She began to see that this passion to help others could be manifested as a Catholic sister. While Nantumbwe desired to pursue this vocation, her mother said Nantumbwe would not be able to become a sister because she was Catholic.
When she was trained to work at a school alongside a sister, she again began to desire to pursue a life in the Catholic faith.
“Being with her brought back my desire to become a sister,” Nantumbwe said. “Every weekend we would go to visit the sick and elderly.”
This encounter encouraged her to look towards ministry instead of teaching for the time being.
“I asked her [the sister] if I could become a sister since I was an Anglican,” Nantumbwe said. “She told me it was possible, and then I began discerning a call to religious life. It took me three years to join the Sisters of the Holy Cross.”
It was a long journey as she was converting to Catholicism and paying for her training for teaching, she said. Nantumbwe said it was also a trying journey because of a lack of support.
“But I remained strong in prayer and spent time sharing with people who encouraged me to discover my call,” Nantumbwe said. “Whenever I would pray, I would tell God that if it is his will, I would be a sister.”
Nantumbwe joined the Sisters of the Holy Cross and started off helping those in need. She is still continuing to teach.
“Later, when I was accepted into the Congregation’s International Novitiate here in the U.S., I was assigned to minister to the elderly in the assisted living community and in the disabled people’s community,” Nantumbwe said.
After she adjusted to her life abroad and her academics, Nantumbwe said she opened up to the opportunities God offers her.
“My favorite things about the Congregation are serving the underprivileged, being accepted for who I am and offering me different opportunities in my life,” Nantumbwe said.