Two Daughters of Mary Graduate

August 8, 2007


CONTACT: Jennifer Roseman, Director of Communications & Development
(509) 474-2395 or (509) 994-5032

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Imagine what a challenge and a wonder it must be to journey thousands of miles to an unfamiliar country and culture, take up residence with strangers and remain there long enough to earn a college degree. The last four years have indeed been an adventure for two recent Seattle University grads, Sisters Jane Frances Nabakaawa and Immaculate Kyampeire, but there has been a distinct comfort in knowing they were following in the footsteps of 15 other Daughters of Mary from their native Uganda.

The Daughters of Mary, founded some 95 years ago, is the first indigenous religious community of women south of the Sahara. Members of that religious community first came to Seattle in the early 1960s. Pope John XXIII was encouraging relationships with Third World countries at a time that Mother Antoinetta, General Superior, was looking for ways to obtain education for the Daughters of Mary. Though she spoke no English but only her native dialect, Mother Antoinetta reached out across the ocean and found helping hands in Seattle. Sisters of Providence provided room, board, and the support of community life while the Ugandans pursued their educational goals. The Jesuit community at Seattle University offered full scholarships for tuition and books.

Today, 45 years later, this amazing connection continues. Though the sisters who have come from Uganda speak English, their country’s major foreign language, they still have experienced culture shock. Still, the Ugandan women who have made this journey across continents, communities and cultures have returned to their country to teach, to nurse and to assume leadership roles in their communities.? Among them is Sister Catherine (Cate) Nakatudde, who graduated from Seattle University in 1996 and now is a member of her community’s leadership charged with formation of postulants and novices. Sister Cate returned to Seattle to celebrate on June 10 with the community’s two newest graduates – Sisters Jane Frances and Immaculate.

Sister Jane Frances, who earned a bachelor’s degree in theology and music, jumped right into a master’s program in divinity this summer. She hopes to finish the four-year program in a little more than three years, then return to Uganda to teach. A high school teacher before she came to the United States, Sister Jane Frances says, "I think the spirit is preparing me to teach college." Her associate degree earned in a two-year college in Uganda prepared her for her eight years of teaching high school, "but the superiors said it was time to upgrade, so I came to Seattle in 2003," she recalls.

Sister Immaculate will be leaving in mid-August for the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington, where she will study for a master’s degree in biology. Her Seattle University bachelor’s degree is in chemistry and biology. After earning her master?s degree, she plans to teach both subjects in high school in Uganda.

The Indiana University master’s program, for which she received a full-ride scholarship, is two years full time. "I met people on my visit who were very nice; I was very well received," she recalls. Because Seattle University does not offer a master’s degree in biology, she went searching for schools that had research in tropical studies. "This will be very good for my community," she says of the Indiana University program. "We need science teachers in Uganda and good resources to educate young women." Science is compulsory in secondary schools there, but without good science teachers the students will not be as competitive in national exams, she adds. "I was always interested in science, but the laboratories were not that good." One of the challenges when she came to Seattle University was how to use a microscope and other science equipment. "I tried and I wasn’t afraid of asking." Her scholarship will allow her to work as a teaching assistant, giving her valuable time in the classroom.

Sister Immaculate will reside in an apartment on the Indiana University campus that she visited in July, but she will miss Seattle and especially her friends at St. Joseph’s Residence. "I have been here four years and I have liked this place; I have loved the sisters and will miss them," Sister Immaculate, says wistfully. "I have told them, I will keep your informed. Pray for me."

Sister Jane Frances says she will miss her friend, but suggests the separation will be harder for the latter. "I’m with the sisters and in a familiar school," she explains. And she has the hope that another Daughter of Mary will soon come to join her in Seattle.

The relationship between the Daughters of Mary and the Sisters of Providence continues to grow and to deepen.vIn January 2001, they met for the first time on Ugandan soil when the Sisters of Providence came for a visit. They had been invited Superior General Mother Antoinetta, who wrote: "We are not rich and you may find some inconveniences, but what matters to us is to have with us a friend. As you know, you have befriended us. You are our benefactors and we would like to see one of you walking our land, sitting at table with us and accepting the little we have … I believe it is the loving heart that matters most."