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.
She 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.
I 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 from where she could get back between treatments to her “Paradise” (her novitiate) in Tanzania.
It 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!