Tribute: Celebrating Sister Mary Nansubuga

Sunday July 25 2021
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Sister Mary Elizabeth Ann Nansubuga(White) . PHOTO/FILE/COURTESY

By Phionah Nassanga

“Sometimes my mind wanders back in time to joyful memories of attending a great school led by an inspiring head mistress. St Agnes Girls’ Boarding Primary School Naggalama is where I spent the seven years of my primary education. Normal school days, sports days, school annual days, competitions, dedicated teachers and to top these memories are those of my headmistress Sr Mary Elizabeth Ann Nansubuga.

To me my headmistress was special, she loved and treasured the girl child.  She nurtured many of us to not only be women, but ladies.   She was always concerned about the way we dressed, walked, talked and behaved. “Act like a lady,”  was one of the slogans in school. And each time she addressed the school, she reminded us to emulate Saint Agnes, the school’s patron saint, the patron saint of young girls and girl scouts.

Clad in her brownish habit with a cream veil she would tour the entire school, class by class and dormitory by dormitory looking out for those that might have left their beds scattered. This instilled in many of us the culture of being responsible people and I believe there is no pupil whose life she touched, that does not remember her with enormous love and respect.

 Administrator

As an administrator she diligently served her desire to offer the pupils in her care a bold and ambitious education in the broadest sense of the word. She always sourced out for the best teachers and on many occasions she was immensely proud that her pupils rose to any challenge and that the School regularly appeared at the top, or very near the top, of any ranking based on national examinations.  

She taught us moral values through lovely stories during the assembly and encouraged each one of us to join clubs, such as holy childhood, girl guides, browns, wildlife, xaverian which also groomed us for life in different ways. Her pleasant and smiling face would always be illuminate whenever she saw her girls succeed.

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Spiritual  mentor                              
Sr Betty, as commonly referred to by most of us, educated not only our minds but our souls as well. In St Agnes prayers were a must, whether Muslim, Catholic, Anglican, Pentecostal she would not have any kind words for any one that missed out on prayers.  At times, she would abruptly join us for the evening prayers, just to see who was playing during prayers and soon after the prayers she would call on them.  

For one reason or another she molded many of us into loving the Catholic faith. Fast days and other church celebrations were always a big deal.

To ensure that the generation she was grooming remained God-fearing, each time we were reporting back to school she expected us to report with a letter signed by our different religious leaders confirming we had attended prayers while at home.  

For one, I grew up thinking all nuns belonged to the little sisters of St Francis

Nurtured talent

She made us a benchmark for academic achievement with rigorous standards and a well rounded curriculum. No detail was ever overlooked, I remember she took us on several musical trips where we competed with sister schools.

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She always offered us all the necessities to make the competitions a success because she always applauded success and shunned mediocrity.

She used her God given gifts to inspire hundreds of minds to become doctors and lawyers, teachers, artists, musicians, business leaders and innovators of today. I must say I am an extension of her vision of reaping a better tomorrow and I am proud to say that most of the girls that were nurtured by Sr Betty   are well settled in life because of the wonderful headmistress we had. There is no pupil whose life she touched, that does not remember her with enormous love, affection and respect.

Tabitha Kaudha
Born an Anglican, my first sight of Sr Elizabeth Ann in 1995, ignited in me a burning desire to know Christ and to join the Catholic faith. My journey in the Catholic faith would start on the day she requested my parents to allow me to change my religion.“Walk in truth before God and man,” she always emphasised our school motto. The Bible says; “Train a child in the way they should go and they will never depart from it”.

When I look at the person I have turned out to be today, I have no doubt that it is because of the training I received at an early age as a pupil under the care of Sr Elizabeth Ann at St Agnes Naggalama. Humble yet strict disciplinarian, Sr Elizabeth Ann taught us to pray, to believe, to never lose faith, to work hard, to have reverence for God and the Holy Eucharist and to be self accounting. 

I wish I had looked for you in Namagunga where I was told you had been transferred. I wish I had brought you that beautiful bouquet of flowers that I will now place on your grave. You mothered us, you nurtured our dreams and showed us the way we should walk; in truth before God and man and we shall never depart from it.
A mother of the faith you were to all the pupils in St Agnes Naggalama.

On behalf of all the pupils that you mothered and mentored and on my own behalf, I would like to say, thank you Sr Elizabeth Ann. Rest in eternal peace.

Illness
The late Sister Mary Elizabeth had been struggling with her health for a number of years. She had a heart problem, and a known case of hypertension as well as diabetes. Recently, she developed a cold and a cough and was rushed to Naggalama Hospital where she was diagnosed with Covid-19 infection.

At the time of her death she was on the way to Nsambya Hospital for further management, when she breathed her last before she arrived.   She was laid to rest on June 18 at Nkokonjeru, mother house of the Little Sisters of St Francis.

Illness
Sister Mary Elizabeth had been struggling with her health for a number of years. She had a heart problem, and was a known case of hypertension as well as diabetes. Recently, she developed a cold and a cough and was rushed to Naggalama Hospital where she was diagnosed with Covid-19 infection. At the time of her death, she was on the way to Nsambya Hospital for further  management, when she breathed her last before she arrived.   She was burried on June 18 at Nkokonjeru, mother house of the Little Sisters of St Francis.

1948
Titbits.
Sister Mary Elizabeth Ann Nansubuga was born on January 2, 1948 at Buvuma Parish, Kampala Diocese. Her parents were the late John Makungu and the late Bridget Namusoke.

She joined the Institute of the Little Sisters of St Francis in 1962, made her first Profession on January 6, 1967 and her Perpetual Profession on January 6, 1977.

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