Originally from Uganda, Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe has become the first winner of the Małopolska Voivodeship Award of John Paul II Veritatis Splendor. As a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, she was acknowledged for her persistent fight for spreading the ideas of solidarity and social justice, as well as for teaching the art of dialogue and common respect. The prize, a silver laurel wreath and USD 100,000, was awarded during a gala ceremony by the Małopolska voivodeship marshal, Jacek Krupa.
“Thank you very, very much. I’m deeply thankful and humbled to accept this prize. I come from a country whose northern part has been stricken by war for the past 20 years. It’s been particularly cruel to children, specifically girls. It robs them of their dignity, harms them, and forces them to do the most terrible of things,” said a visibly touched Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe while receiving the Veritatis Splendor prize. She added that helping others is her life’s calling. “Together with the sisters from my congregation, we show these harmed girls how to regain control of their life. I like to use the metaphor of a thread and a needle, because by teaching the girls the tailoring trade, we help them to “sew back together” their dreams, their dignity,” concluded the winner of Małopolska’s “Noble” prize.
The prize winner comes from the region of Paidha in Uganda. Ever since she joined the congregation of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1976, she’s entirely dedicated herself to serving others. In Uganda, she runs a school to help the victims of the war. Since 2012, over 2500 girls persecuted by the so-called Joseph Kony’s army have found there a shelter. Sister Rosemary not only teaches them practical skills, like sewing, taking care of a household, reasonable money handling or cooking, but also, most importantly, love and self-respect, which gives them hope and a chance at a normal life. Thanks to these efforts and the minimal financial security that the sister provides for every girl leaving the center, today almost 250 young women are preparing to cross the threshold into adulthood. In 2014, Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe was named one of the 100 most influential personalities worldwide by the TIME magazine.
Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe’s activism was acknowledged by the Veritatis Splendor prize chapter and she was named a real Person of Dialogue, one who breaks down barriers and proves that there’s no greater value than another human being. In the prize’s justification, we read:
“Not only does she live in “truth’s glory” (veritatis splendor”), but also she is a real gift to girls who are outsiders, who areseen as dregs of society. She not only provides them with a roof over their heads, but above all, she sees human beings in them, restores their dignity, their humanity. Like few others, she’s able to protect the good within them. As a devoted follower of John Paul II’s thought, she’s contributing to spreading Małopolska voivodeship’s history, culture and tradition that influenced and inspired this outstanding and sainted Pole.
During the speech, Małopolska Voivodeship Marshal Jacek Krupa emphasized that Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe’s life deserves true respect and admiration:
“Sister Rosemary has devoted herself entirely to saving the lives of persecuted girls by showing them that one’s present and future can be constructed all over again, and on a solid foundation of truth. Therefore, her work and devotion carry out what John Paul II, the prize’s patron, advocated so often,” said Krupa.
On the other hand, Leszek Zegzda, one of the voivodeship’s board members, shared his hope that the Veritatis Splendor prize will bring more international recognition to the winner and her merits:
“The modern world needs compassion, understanding, and dialogue as much as air. It’s a condition and the only way to a peaceful life. Therefore, I’m convinced that the Veritatis Splendor laurel will become an important recognition, promoting prize winners who embody this fundamental idea,” said Zegzda at the gala.
Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe was awarded the prize by Małopolska Voivodeship Marshal Jacek Krupa and Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz. She received a silver laurel wreath and the equivalent of USD 100,000, becoming the first winner of the prize established in 2016 by theMałopolskaVoivodeship board. Veritatis Splendor, the so-called Małopolska “Nobel”, is granted every two years to individuals devoting their lives to fighting social and cultural stereotypes, whose openness to their neighbors might serve as an example to others. These values were named by the Holy Father in his encyclical Veritatis Splendor, where he calls for dialogue and unconditional love to one another. The next prize winner is to be announced in 2018., And next year an international conference will take place where the possibility to propose candidates for the next prize edition will be opened.