Many remember Sister Mildred as one of the Sisters who died in 2020 due to Covid19. Others remember her as a teacher or translator or a Sister they shared a community with in South Africa or Congo or Kenya or Rome. That’s because, while her story originates in South Africa, it is also set in Mauritius, Mozambique, Italy, Kenya, Congo, Burkina Faso, France, Switzerland, England and Madagascar.
As an FMM, Sister Mildred worked with and met people in many different countries including South Africa, Congo, Kenya, Mauritius, France, Upper Volta (Burkina Faso), Italy, Switzerland, England and Madagascar. She was a teacher by profession and an interpreter, as she was fluent in English, French and Swahili, and could converse in Italian, with isiZulu being her mother tongue. This biography is thus available in French, Swahili and, importantly, in isiZulu, because she believed in communicating to people in their mother tongue.
Sister Mildred attended school at St Francis College Mariannhill with the late liberation struggle icon Steve Biko. In later life she wholeheartedly followed her calling as a nun which she first felt when she was just eight years old. Over the years she met and engaged with Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Otunga, and slept in the home of Mary of the Passion. Her adventurous journey with Jesus was not without danger, though; she was followed by a lion in Kenya, and survived the civil war in Zaire before finally succumbing to Covid-19 in Madagascar.
About the Book
The Adventurous Nun – Stories my family told me – is a comprehensive biography of Sister Mildred Lungile Madlala, a Franciscan Missionary of Mary (FMM), born on Mistake Farm, KwaZulu-Natal south coast, South Africa. As a Sister, a nun, a Franciscan Missionary of Mary, she dedicated her whole life to God until the end. She wanted to tell her story to inspire, teach and motivate others. This book is written for anyone in the world, including people who do not belong to the Roman Catholic Church.
Although she didn’t spend much time with them, Sister Mildred’s love for her blood relatives never diminished. Throughout the book tales are woven of family interactions, to preserve the history of this family which produced such an extraordinary woman.
Practically, the book explains what a nun is as well as the work that nuns are involved in. When Sister Mildred was in Rome, she wrote about her life in the form of poems which are published here. In the book, she also shares lessons that she learnt throughout her journey.
It’s a stirring story of a woman’s passion for Jesus, but most of all her passion to serve His people to the very best of her ability. Sister Mildred did this with alacrity until the very end.
The Author’s visit to Rome
When Marcia launched the book a year ago, she was invited by the Superior General of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary for an author’s visit in Rome. She honored that invitation on 31 August. She wrote a book about locations and people that she didn’t know. When the Sisters said ‘Yes, we knew Sister Mildred, I lived with her in Kenya, Rome, South Africa, Congo…’ she was reminded that she is spirit led. She may have written the book because she can write, because she loves to write or her Khulu (grandaunt) wanted to tell her story. But this chapter of her life was inked before she was born.
Lastly, Sister Agnes Diouf, fmm, shared the June 2019 FMM Meeting Space magazine because she wanted to cover my visit; but she didn’t know that this magazine also included an article written by Sister Mildred, a year before her death. A true testimony that God goes before us!
Marcia Mandisi Mabaso