Sept. 15, 2009
Rwanda: 25 years of the Marian Mission in Africa
The Marians celebrated the Silver Jubilee of the Congregation of Marian Fathers’ Missionary Service in Kibeho, Rwanda – site of the first Church approved Marian apparitions in Africa. The Marian Missionaries entrusted their future service to The Divine Mercy through the intercession of the Mother of the Word.
The event included meetings with the first Marian missionaries who arrived in Rwanda 25 years ago and historic and theological conferences, including on the Marian apparitions in Kibeho. The Marian missionaries and their guests also had the opportunity of personally to meet Nathalie, one of the three visionaries from Kibeho. Missionaries shared their experiences of difficult service, especially the work of formation of the native candidates from Rwanda, Congo, and Cameroon to the Congregation of Marian Fathers.
The main event of the festivities was the solemn Eucharist celebrated Tuesday, Sept. 15, at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Word in Kibeho – the place of the first Church-approved Marian apparitions in Africa. Bishop Augustine Misago, the Ordinary of the Gikongoro Diocese, presided over the Eucharist. The following concelebrated: Archbishop Ivo Scapolo, Apostolic Nuncio in Rwanda; Fr. Jan Mikolaj Rokosz, Superior General of the Congregation of Marian Fathers from Rome; Fr. Leszek Czelusniak, Superior of the Marian Mission in Rwanda; and the delegates from Marian Missions in Cameroon, United States, United Kingdom, and Poland. Also participating were the first Marian missionaries in Rwanda: Frs. Franciszek Filipiec, Zdzislaw Zywica, and Tadeusz Wyszomierski.
During the liturgy, Bishop Misago and the Nuncio addressed the Marians with words of profound gratitude for their sacrificial missionary service in Rwanda. At the closing of the Mass, Marian Fathers and Brothers working in Africa entrusted their service to The Divine Mercy through the intercession of the Mother of the Word.
During the time of their work in Rwanda, the Marians had to evacuate three times because of war and unrest, but they also came back three times. Today, the Marians run four missionary posts in Africa: two in Cameroon and two in Rwanda with 12 priests and brothers in residence. The community also has native vocations: seven seminarians, five novices, and seven postulants.
Father Ryszard Kusy, MIC, Kibeho