Sr. Leanne: Unique Sabbatical Experiences

Update: September 20, 2022

When we arrived in Koimboi, the Sisters took us to Aloysia Home where 26 beautiful little girls sang and danced a welcome program for us after presenting us with ribbon leis. Sr. Christine and Sr. Pascalia were enamored with the littlest, Maria, who had come to the home when she was barely out of infancy, apparently quite despondent. But she was certainly the life of the party. Bored by staying in line, she wandered off to stand with her back to us and facing the children to better conduct their program. This is truly Sr. Aloysia’s work. While not all may be orphaned, they all need support and love that family cannot provide. They were such a happy lot! Though Sr. Esther supervises the home, there are quite a few women who work there to provide care and guidance.

Our SND Nairobi compound houses a pre-school and primary school as well as a convent where twenty sisters reside. The convent is very large with tiled floors and smooth walls. I barely noticed anything when I arrived because I was so tired, though when we entered the dining room, I was delighted to see the flock of sacred ibis in the back garden. I knew them immediately as I remember writing a report about them when I was in grade school. Apparently, they like to forage on the chicken feed.

September 15 was an outing, what the sisters here call a “picnic.” An Associate of Notre Dame has a tour company. One of her touring LandCruisers with driver arrived to take seven of us out at 6:30AM to Nairobi National Park which is adjacent to the city and less than 30 minutes from the convent. It was an overcast morning, but we managed to see giraffes, rhinos, hartebeests, a lioness, antelope, ostriches, crocodiles, and many water buffalo. After a couple hours wandering the National Park, we went to the Sheldrick Wilderness Trust elephant and rhino orphanage. Our last stop was the Giraffe Center built in such a way that visitors can feed them. I am counting my blessings and feeling nostalgic about leaving this sacred space.

At the request of Sr. Kristin Battles, superior general, Sr. Mary Leanne Hubbard is spending the months of August and September with SNDs in East Africa.  Her first stop was in Arusha, where she has taught a 9-day course on Ignatian Spirituality, the history of religious life, and spiritual discernment to the 18 novices that come from Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya.

She has taken several short trips including to: Simanjiro where SNDs minister to the semi-nomadic Maasai people; Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area where she and the young novices saw elephants, baboons, gazelle, water buffalo and many more native animals; Nanenane, a “county fair” celebration with crops, animals, clothes, and other goods for sale; the Zinduka Women’s Centre; and the Tarangire National Park. Sr. Leanne will now give two retreats to different groups of young SNDs in Tanzania. Please pray for Sr. Leanne as she continues her sabbatical from St. John Seminary, Camarillo.

Update: September 1, 2022

Thirty-six Professed Sisters from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania attended the “Discerning Jesus” retreat which began on the evening of Monday, August 22. One of the highlights of the retreat Masses is the presence of professed, juniors, novices, candidates, probably a total of about 75 jubilant and earnest voices, loud in song, louder than our most special Masses on a weekday…they are all moving as one with the music. She is now teaching a class on Mary to 28 junior-professed sisters. Sr. Leanne remarked, “They are so eager to witness to their own relationship with Mary in our discussions, and their grasp of the theology is quite natural and articulate. It is the air that they breathe…It was my wish to get to know the reality of the Sisters of Notre Dame outside of the USA during my sabbatical. As usual, God and the community have provided more than I could imagine!”

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