The Mission in Byumba, Rwanda
May 8, 2017
This weekend we have a special visitor, Fr. Expedito Muwonge of the Diocese of Byumba, Rwanda. You may remember that Rwanda was the site of terrible genocide back in 1994. The nation still suffers from the wounds of that time. Fr. Muwonge sent us this information about his mission. He comes to us as our participation in the Archdiocesan annual mission appeal.
The diocese of Byumba has an enormous task of contributing to the rebuilding of peace and reconciliation among people we serve. We have need of a multipurpose apartment building at Don Bosco de Rushaki to hold seminars and training for out-of-school youths during vacation times. Among these youths, we have married couples – some of whom were orphaned during the war – widows, and ex-prisoners returning into society. The diocese is doing a lot of reconciliation seminars among Christians. By the grace of God, results are promising.
We plan to achieve our continuous goal of rehabilitation through training, seminars, workshops on Christian family life, reconciliation, peace, lessons in personal responsibility, and community leadership on the local level. That entire plan is possible in Byumba Catholic Diocese, one of the nine dioceses in Rwanda with 19 parishes. Created in 1981, the diocese covers an area of 5,100 sq. kilometers and has a population of 1,483,699. Within this number, Catholics are 716,011 (51%) of the total population. There are 123 active priests, 164 women and men religious, and 440 catechists, as of 2015 statistics. They consider themselves in daily service as wounded healers to their sisters and brothers.
Byumba diocese went through terrible effects of a horrendous war from 1990 to 1994. That ended up in a genocide against the Tutsi in 1994. Needless to say, many lives - the laity, a bishop and 16 priests - were lost. Family structures were weakened or broken. A lot of Church infrastructure and property was destroyed. Even to this day, 23 years later, the Church of Byumba is still grappling with the post-genocidal impacts: trauma, fear, mistrust, hatred, and all forms of ill feelings. Young people who are now parents were children then, and some of them orphans. They were exposed to the horrible experiences of war. These same parents are going through different stages of the aftermath of the effects of that war (P.T.S.D).
The multipurpose apartment building we desire will be constructed at a boys’ and girls’ high school, Don Bosco de Rushaki, with a capacity to accommodate up to 445 girls. When completed, the apartment building will serve as a multipurpose accommodation for female students during school time and as a lodging facility during vacation time for the trainees in the seminars. Don Bosco de Rushaki High School is a boarding school for both boys and girls. Started in 1987, the school experienced its share of destruction during the 1990-1994 war. We believe that with your contribution to this construction, we will be able to make Don Bosco de Rushaki a pivoting training center of youth pastoral programs for peace, reconciliation, harmony, personal responsibility, and good community leadership.
Therefore, Byumba diocese is asking for your help. Any amount you give will go a long way to help us realize our set goal of an apartment building at Don Bosco de Rushaki. Just for an example: $20 can buy a 50 kg (110.23 pounds) bag of cement. With your contribution, you will be participating in the healing process that is taking longer than the war itself. The people and diocese of Byumba need your help to continue the work of reaching out to those who still struggle with healing due to P.T.S.D. Please know that your contribution shall be put to good use. Our people in Byumba will hold you in their prayers for what you are doing to uplift them. Thank you so very much for your support. Peace be with you, and God bless you.