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British Army to offer Sister Nyaatha military sendoff

CENTRAL
By Job Weru | May 19th 2015

British Army soldiers will offer a military send-off for Sister Irene Nyaatha Stefani, during the final day of her beatification in Nyeri.

Yesterday, soldiers from the Nanyuki British Army Training Units (Batuk) camp arrived at the county and begun dress rehearsals for the role they are expected to play.

Speaking to The Standard, Warrant Officer 1, Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) John Curran, who is in-charge of the group, said the soldiers will offer Sister Nyaatha a befitting a sendoff because she served soldiers fighting in the first world war.

“We will conduct a military funeral for her due to the active role she undertook treating wounded soldiers during the war,” he said.

After taking her religious vows, Sister Nyaatha came to Tanzania in 1913 where she stayed until 1915 before coming to Kenya.

When World War 1 broke out, the nun returned to Tanzania and arrived at a hospital in Lindi, on the southernmost coast of Tanganyika on December 1917 alongside another nun, Sister Cristina Moresco and Father Gaudenzio Panelatti where they served the sick.

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In March 1918, Sister Nyaatha was stationed at the hospital for African carriers in Dar-Es-Salaam and only came back to Kenya after the war and served at Gikondi Catholic Parish until she died in 1930.

The British Red Cross also awarded her with a medal for her work in the military.

And due to her commitment in serving the military, a five-soldier squad, led by RSM Curran will conduct military drills outside the Chapel on Sunday morning before venturing into the sanctuary where a sarcophagus bearing her relics are contained.

“Four soldiers will then remove a casket with the remains and march with it outside, before placing it on a special military hearse,” he said.

The soldiers will then march from Mathari to St Mary’s Boys’ Secondary School in Nyeri town, a distance of about seven kilometres for the thanksgiving service which will be led by Papal delegate and Nyeri Catholic Archbishop, Peter Kairo.

“We are very happy to be associated with the Sister Nyaatha, and that is why we will accord her a funeral that befits her military rank at the time she served in the war,” Curran said.

According to Father Peter Githinji, who is coordinating the beatification event, once the church service is done, the soldiers will also march with the relics and they will inter them at Our Lady of Consolata Catholic Cathedral.

“There is a special military vehicle which is designed to honour a person of her caliber and it will carry the casket with the remains, before they are interred at the Sarcophagus,” Father Githinji said.

He continued: “We are happy that she will be honoured as a soldier”.

Sister Nyaatha’s beatification service will start on Friday this week, with a night vigil at Gikondi Catholic Parish in Mukurweini, before the main beatification service at Dedan Kimathi University of Technology.

The thanksgiving service, where the British soldiers will be involved, is to be held on Sunday.

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