After I returned to
Tanzania from the USA in October, 2004 I was able to make a two day safari
from Musoma to Dodoma to visit Sister Florence Ogutu, a Kenyan Novice in the
Ivrea Sisters (Sisters of Mary Immaculate Conception). She was a good friend
of mine who was dying of cancer. Sister Margaret John of the Immaculate
Heart Sisters of Africa accompanied me. Just to see once again Florence’s
beautiful smiling face and to feel her loving presence was worth the long
difficult two day drive I had to make to be with her. She was even able to
show me around the convent and the grounds at Veyula. I felt privileged that
I could be with her at this time. I knew even then that it was difficult for
her as it was evident what the cancer, her terrible pains and suffering had
done to her physically. Even these could not cloak the happiness and joy
that continued to radiate from her.
took me to the novitiate at Miyuji where I met Sister Palma Porro, her
Novice Mistress and her staff and also the Novices whom I had known from the
Komuge Catechetical Center in Musoma where I had taught them. It was
enlightening to me because I understood from the happy spirit that was so
evident why Florence loved so much the novitiate and her companions there.
Their warmth and hospitality was everywhere. Sister Palma was very gracious
and helpful to Sister Margaret John and me. It was rewarding to see my
former students in their final preparation for their First Profession.
Florence saw to it that we were shown the many activities and ministries in
which her Ivrea community was involved. I was impressed not only by the
professionalism with which all the sisters did their work, but especially
with the happiness and commitment with which they did it.
was especially happy to spend some time with Sister Raffaella Franzin, the
Provincial of the Ivrea Sisters in Tanzania and Kenya. I had met her
previously when she had visited Komuge, but my visit to Dodoma gave me a
greater opportunity to know her better. She had a remarkable relationship
with her daughter Sister Florence Ogutu. She called her in Swahili “Lulu”
("My Pearl"). There could have been no more intimate, loving and caring
relationship between a mother and her daughter than there was between Sister
Raffaella and Florence during Florence’s long illness. Florence called
Sister Raffaella in Swahili “Mpendwa Mama Raffy” ("My Beloved Mother Raffy’).
She did everything possible to help Florence during all this period. She was
ready to send her to Italy for treatment until the doctors in Kenya
persuaded her that they could do everything that could be done in Italy to
help her. It was fortunate that she could remain in Kenya where she could
get back between treatments to her “Paradise” (her novitiate) in Tanzania.
was with a heavy heart that I left Florence. I realized that I would not see
her again. She was forced to be bedridden just one week before her death.
She died in Dodoma General Hospital at 4:15 in the afternoon of 2 November
2004. There can be no doubt that her Heavenly Father enjoyed receiving into
His arms His beautiful daughter with such a smiling face. Her funeral Mass,
which was crowded, took place two days later in Veyula Parish Church. Sister
Florence Anne Ogutu is buried in the Veyula Passionist Cemetery. What a
joyful reception she must have received from the God she loved so much!