Cecilia Nargis Commissariat
believed in education for girls
Cecilia and her music students entertained
Mzee jomo Kenyatta at the Mombasa State House
Cecilia, born Nargis Commissariat was the daughter
of a prominent Mombasa Parsi sportsperson and
cricketer Burjorji Commissariat and his wife
Mombasa, she had her schooling at the then
School, now 'The Star of the Sea
completing her high school she proceeded to England
to train as a teacher.
to our family as Nargis aunty, she was very
keen and eager to provide her services to
the young and she found teaching a platform
from which to do this.
believed that education, especially of the
girls, was the key for the betterment of
aunty was always very attracted to the
gentle and loving message of her Lord Jesus
and through him in the Ministry she could
offer to all.
Cecilia, born Nargis Commissariat.
her training in
as a teacher, she joined the Lord's Ministry and as
Sr. Cecilia, began her long journey in her career as a teacher which
spanned some forty years.
was also typical of her, that she did not reveal
much of her services in the field of education and
the various places she worked at.
was among her early posting.
her birth place Mombasa, always remained a very dear spot in her heart and
eventually she returned to her childhood school as a
Cecilia spent the rest of her life teaching at the Convent
and she saw a great deal of changes during her time
school was re-named Star of the Sea and it also
underwent an expansion to cater for the children of
the independent Kenya.
Cecilia worked at the Star of the Sea for more than
twenty years and even after her retirement, worked
in the library of the Star of the Sea.
morning she squeezed her tiny, fragile self, in a 'matatu' and arrived at the Star.
it not for the fracture of her thigh, Sr. Cecila
would have remained in Mombasa.
she required more care and nursing from the effects
of her injury and surgery, she was moved to the home
of her order MSOLA, in Nairobi.
was here that Sr. Cecilia spent the last few years
among her beloved sisters and fellow workers, all of
whom have given so much of their lives for the
betterment of those they served and do so without
voicing grievances that many of them suffer, for
they do it for the love of their Lord Jesus and the
love for the only race on this Planet, the Human
I last visited Sr. Cecilia in
some seven years ago, one morning we took a walk
from the Star of the Sea to the Old
Port, to visit the house, opposite the fish market,
where she grew up.
is an indication of her dedication to her call and
her love for her pupils, that as we amble along
toward Fort Jesus, we kept on hearing, 'Sista, sista...'
and a young lady would rush up and
happened so often that I had to ask her if I too
could get a cuddle or two.
was Sr. Cecilia's other passion and she trained the
students at the Star in this too.
President Kenyatta visited Mombasa, Sr. Cecilia and her music students entertained
Mzee Kenyatta at the Mombasa State House.
Excellency was so impressed by her music students
that he donated a piano to the Star of the School,
which was imported
especially from England.
Cecilia leaves behind her beloved Mombasa
a legacy of love and teaching, which has touched all
the students who were so fortunate to have her as a
'Sista' Cecilia, we and all your students and those
you touched, will miss your love, and gentleness,
even though you were very 'kali' angry at times with
our prayers for your eternal peace.
beloved nephews Kersi and Yazdi Rustomji and family,
Your beloved niece Roshan Kharas, Your beloved
Jayant and Nargis Patel and family, Your beloved
members of all Rustomji family, Your beloved Leigh,
Paul, and Michael.
shanti, ahinsa ...'
peace, kindness ...'
raha, latifu ...'
Rustomji, retired ex-Kenyan Mwalimu,
MSOLA Sisters wrote from Nairobi:
Headmistress of Star of the Sea Primary Passes On:
As Star of the Sea
Primary School prepares to celebrate its centenary this year, her last
missionary headmistress succumbed to eternal rest at a Nairobi
At 84 years of age, Sr.
Cecilia Mary Negris Commissariat- Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of
Africa (MSOLA), had fractured her hip and underwent a major operation
just before her death.
Cecilia passed away
peacefully in Nairobi on the Feast of Our Lady of Africa- 30th April,
She was a former
Headmistress of Star of the Sea Primary School, Mombasa and most of
her life as a missionary was spent in Mombasa.
She will be well
remembered by both Star of the Sea Primary and High schools former
pupils and students for her strictness and the guardian of the school’s
Her funeral was at St.
Austin Church, Tuesday May 5th at 10.00 am with the main celebrant of
the mass being Fr. Rinny Missionary of Africa, who used to visit her
Here in Mombasa we shall
have a Mass for her on 23rd May, 2009, at 5.30 pm, celebrated by
Archbishop Boniface Lele at the Holy Ghost Cathedral. All are welcome.
Sr. Cecilia also known
as Nergis Commissariat was born in Mombasa on April 27th, 1925 to Mr.
Burjorji and Mrs. Mitha Commissariat of the Parsee Community.
Nergis was educated at
the then White Sisters Convent School in Mombasa, - now Star of the
Sea - where she completed her secondary education after which she went
to England for further studies.
It was at that time
that she chose to become a Catholic while remaining very much rooted
in the Zoroastrian faith.
She was baptized on the
10th July 1946 at the age of 21 and later on joined the Sisters as a
Postulant in Heston in 1949.
She made her first vows
in Holmwood in 1951 after a year of fusion in Algiers in French with
other Novices from different countries.
Her first nomination
was to Uganda, Virika Fort Portal where she taught for one year in a
Primary school, then to Kinyamasika TTC from 1953 to 1956 in the
The year 1956 saw her
back in England, in Coloma College in Kent for two years Teacher
During that period, in
1957, she engaged herself definitively in the MSOLA Congregation.
From 1959 to 1962 she
was nominated to Bwanda, Uganda, as a junior secondary school
From there she
returned to Kenya as Head Mistress of Star of the Sea Primary School
from 1963 to 1976.
This school is
celebrating its centenary this year.
Cecilia was a
She led school choirs
and at music festivals they often won prizes.
Her school choir once
sung for President Mzee Kenyata.
He was so pleased that
he offered a piano to the school.
That piano remained
Sr. Cecilia’s pride.
From the year 1980 to
1990 she was a full time teacher at Star of the Sea Secondary.
After her retirement in
1991, she remained much attached to secondary school until 1998,
having different responsibilities there: library and piano lessons
while being involved in Social and Pastoral Activities.
Those so many years in
Star of the Sea Secondary made her know many people.
Until today, a good
number of them have not forgotten her: former pupils, parents, friends
of all Creeds, colors, age, culture, nephews, grand nephews, nieces.
Many were still in touch
with her although dispersed all over the Planet Earth.
From 1998 when the
MSOLA left Mombasa, the Little Sisters of the Poor welcomed Sr
Cecilia in their home in Mombasa.
From there, she
continued different activities like: home visits, not being afraid
to use common transport like ‘matatus’ in spite of her already
28th Oct. 2004 was an
unfortunate day for Sr. Cecilia "Nergis" as she fell and
fractured her hip.
It was to be the
beginning of a new life where all activities were left behind.
That is when she came to
our MSOLA house in Nairobi.
Those were difficult
years during which she became more and more dependant.
In spite of the pain she
endured there were days when she would be very happy and relaxed,
going out on the veranda to admire nature, the neighbour’s children
playing, enjoying some readings, photographs etc.
On April 27th, the day
of her 84th birthday, she was taken to Nairobi hospital where she
underwent a major operation.
And on April 30th, feast
of Our Lady of Africa, the patron of our Congregation, Cecilia went to
her Lord peacefully.
Apiyo [Star of the Sea High School student 1997-2000]
I am one of the people
who was lucky to have shared some time with Sr. Cecilia Commissariat
as a student at Star of the Sea High School, 1997 - 2000, when I
joined form one.
I first met Sr. Cecilia
on the second day of my high school life at Star of the Sea when we
had a session with her in the school library to be taught the School
History and the School Song:
‘The star of the
Sea shines bright in the sky, so bright ...’
The other days I would
see her around the school either supervising the cleaning of Our Lady
Star of the Sea’s statue, picking out some paper from the flowerbeds
or calling the student nearby to pick and throw away some dirt from
This she would do on her
way to the library where she stayed while in the school with the
Sr. Cecilia loved music
and would not stand a musical mistake.
During the school music
festivals she was the one who conducted a selection of the school
choir members; her scrutiny session was one of the most terrified
moments for the members of the school choir.
Her strict and yet
fragile look would make even the best singer loose her voice.
Luckily I was among
those who passed her tests and joined the school choir the same year
I joined, we won from the district level to the nationals and were
among the schools that were selected to perform to the then
President Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi at the Nakuru State House.
We considered her the
school’s icon and this reminds me of a time while in school that a
student jokily said that should Sr. Cecilia die because of her old
age, her death would cause a closure of the school for all to attend
As a former student and
a Catholic, I celebrate her life; for being faithful to the school’s
legacy and keeping the intentions of our founders, and that of our
faith, burning bright in the sky.
Despite her age and body
weakening she was so active and always present in the school and at
its functions until when her health started deteriorating in 2004 when
she couldn’t move around and remained at the Little Sisters of the
Poor Home in Tudor before she was transferred to Nairobi.
May she Rest in Peace.