Sister Emma Chakupalesa
1970 – 2016
Born: 23rd February 1970
Entered Religious Life: 23rd August 1988
Died: 16th June 2016
Sr. Emma Chakupalesa was born on the 23rd February 1970 in Livingstone. She was the daughter of Arnold and Gertrude Chakupalesa and was the third born in a family of nine. She began her schooling in the Dominican Convent Kabwe (now Caritas Convent, Kabwe) in 1976 and completed in 1987. She worked for a time as an Accounts Clerk at Central Province Co-operative Marketing Union in Kabwe before she answered God’s call to religious life.
Sr. Emma entered the Congregation of the Religious Sisters of Charity 1988 and made her first profession in 1991. Following on from that her first mission was to Chikuni in the Southern Province, a place she liked to visit as often as she could. She remained there for one year and then began her studies at Nkrumah Teacher Training College. Sr. Emma had a passion for teaching and following her studies she taught at Roma Girls’ Secondary School from 1994.
Sr. Emma made Final Vows in her home parish in Kabwe in September 1997 and continued teaching in Kabwe from 1998. Her passion and dedication to the teaching profession and her pupils never wavered. Sr. Emma continued her studies at the University of Zambia and obtained a degree in education.
The year 2009 saw Emma take on a new ministry as Local Leader in Roma Community. She was a home maker and cared for her community with the same zeal and passion she had for her ministry. At the same time she was teaching in Roma Girls’ and was promoted to the position of Deputy Head and in 2013 Emma became the head teacher in Roma.
Her term as Local Leader to the community in Roma came to an end in March 2014 and she moved to Kabwata and was given the same ministry of leadership there. Meanwhile she continued in her ministry in Roma Girls’ Secondary School.
In December 2014 Emma was appointed to the Regional Leadership Team here in Zambia, a position that she valued and saw as a privilege as she was involved very much in the lives of all the sisters in the Region. She continued as Head Teacher in Roma until the 31st May 2016 when she began a period of leave in order to take up the position of Regional Bursar in the Zambia/Malawi Region. She began her new ministry on the 1st of June and was involved in it. On the day that Emma left us she was doing the work that she had been asked to do. She gave herself to it.
Having attended a meeting in the afternoon Emma complained of feeling unwell. She was brought to Victoria Hospital in Lusaka where treatment was started. During the night of 15th June/early morning 16th June Emma slipped away from us, very peacefully – she went home.
Sr. Emma’s vigil and funeral mass took place in Good Shepherd Parish on 20th June 2016 and she was laid to rest in the Sisters of Charity plot in Chikuni Cemetery.
We will all as family, friends and congregation miss her immensely – her willingness to be involved in what was happening, her ability to make people feel at home, her friendship, her love and support.
When asked about her one sister, who worked closely with her in Roma, said that she lived the charism of the Religious Sisters of Charity especially when it came to giving opportunities to those who were disadvantaged and poor in the school. Names of possible students, who would not have the necessary grades for entry into secondary school, would be given to her and her initial response could leave one wondering if places would be available for them but sure enough she would always come back and say – now where are those girls? She had a heart for the poor.
The pupils in the school also had praise for her – she was strict but fair. To many, in the school and beyond its gates, she was known as Sr. Chakupalesa but to them she was Sr. Emma – their mother. They valued her counsel and respected her for who and what she was, a Religious Sister of Charity.
Sr. Emma lived life to the full and believed that every day was a gift to her. Her heart condition did not stop her from doing what she had to do. At one of the masses celebrated in Zambia for her the celebrant asked each of us to consider and reflect on the legacy that Sr. Emma left to us. For most of us that can be summed up in the words of a popular song “One day at a time sweet Jesus, that’s all I’m asking of you”. She lived in the present (not to say that she did not plan for the future). This year was to be a special year for her as she was to celebrate her Silver Jubilee of Religious Profession. We were all looking forward to that day. Instead she will be celebrating it with the Lord.
Sr. Emma may the God you served faithfully for the past twenty five years welcome you with open arms into His kingdom and grant you eternal rest. AMEN.