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Sr. Marisina, a first missionary seed buried in East African Soil

East Africa

On the 5th September, with the sun shining on a verdant and blooming Singa Chini, one that Sr.Marisina knew and loved so well, crowds of Sisters, priests, religious and lay friends from all walks of life, from near and far came to say good-bye to someone they knew always gave herself wholeheartedly to them and to all those she served.

Sr. Marisina Segunda Esteves. was born in Buenavista Tenerife on 26th March 1927. She entered with the Assumption in Santa Cruz on 29th of June 49 was clothed and made her first vows in San Sebastion on 6th of August 1950 and 30th September 1951 respectively. Her mystery was Nazareth. Shortly after making her first vows she was sent to the English Province to Richmond where she worked in the kitchen. It was at Richmond that she made her final vows taking as her word : “Mary kept all these things in her heart”. After 5 years in Richmond she was sent to Kensington from where she was missioned to the still young foundation in Tanzania arriving with Sr. Vincent (Patricia) on 25th September 1962.

Their arrival was a great boost to the small pioneering group which had just opened another house at Maili Sita (Assumpta Secondary School—which coincidentally celebrated its Golden Jubilee this year). From then on, no foundation in the region was made without the presence of Marisina – the practical one who with the skimpiest of means managed to turn each place into a home. Everyone took it for granted that she had to go along for the first few weeks of a new foundation and do her magic ! This also meant that everywhere she was remembered, loved, appreciated.

The occasion when this was manifestly shown was the celebration of her 50th Jubilee when people came from .different parts of Tanzania as well as of Kenya, some former students and especially men and women who had worked for us in any capacity, drivers, carpenters, groundsmen, cooks.

Marisina was always interested in people and in what was going on in the world. To the very end, she would read the Tablet cover to cover and would keep the community up to date with the world news from the TV that she watched daily ! She had a soft spot for the poor and her friends came across religious denominations – she had Hindu and Muslim friends. It was not uncommon to have a Muslim woman all covered in her black tunic waiting regularly by the door at Moshi Town community to sell oranges to Marisina who had some sweets for her little girl, besides. She involved her friends in her concerns for the poor and needy especially those in Igununo in Singida Diocese. 

Marisina was deeply devoted to her family and stayed in touch with nieces and nephews to the very end by email and phone calls especially when she had decided that she would no longer take her home leave because she felt the journey would be too long for her. She would have been greatly touched to know that a great grand niece, whom she had never met, managed to come to Moshi two days after her funeral and pay respects on behalf of the whole family.

Marisina could turn her hand to literally anything and make a success of it, she was very versatile and was quick and efficient about it. In the East African Province she made habits for all of us, welcomed countless visitors and above all initiated all the work on the farm in Singa Chini in the early ‘70’s. When Pope John Paul II was a guest of the diocese of Moshi, she was asked to cook the meals for the Pope !

Marisina was a forthright person she said things as they were with no attempt to please or to flatter ! Life in Moshi Town, being the Provincial house meant for her daily, sometimes hourly, welcoming of visitors – Sisters of the Province and many others. This could become very tiring for her and the strain would be evident but she carried all these events in her heart.

This year Marisina seemed to sense that it would be her last and she expressed that she desired to go and rest with her God. She also told her sisters and close friends that she did not want to suffer a long time and become a burden to her community. Certainly God heard her prayer as she was taken ill and died within exactly 2 weeks ! Having busily spent herself on the 14th August preparing for our feast – making a cake, arranging flowers for the Chapel- she became ill on the 15th itself. Hospitalised in the Consultant hospital in Moshi she continued to lose quantities of blood in spite of the treatment and blood transfusions she was given. Sisters watched with her two at a time round the clock and she was alert and even humorous at times. Lucid and appreciative of the care of her sisters to the very end she went to God on 29th in the afternoon. 

Marisina will be remembered by very many, and here and there on the Mountain are children called after her – both ‘Segunda’ and ‘Marisina.’
She was given a tremendous send off by the Province and the Diocese of Moshi with two dozen priests concelebrating the funeral Mass with the Vicar for Religious.

The Province has lost its “Granny” – the Wisdom person and point of reference for many details of our life. But she is as a seed, a very special, fruitful, life-giving missionary seed that without doubt will bear abundant fruit for the Province and for the Church of East Africa that she loved and made her own.

From Sister Lucy Theresia Diu

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