Sponsoring the Training of Priests and Brothers in Burundi
"People used to say about him that he was neither a Tutsi nor Hutu but a father to us all." This was how Bishop Paul Schruers, from the town of Hasselt in Belgium, described Archbishop Joachim Ruhuna of Burundi, who was brutally murdered in 1996 by a group of armed men. Already before this he had received death threats for having spoken out boldly for reconciliation between Tutsi and Hutu. But he himself was not to witness the end of the bloody conflicts in his country, which claimed some 250,000 lives between 1993 and 2000 and which, at their worst, left 1.5 million people homeless. He himself was a Tutsi.
Thankfully, before his death, Archbishop Ruhuna was able to found the Congregation of the Apostles of the Good Shepherd and the Queen of the Cenacle. It is a young, native congregation of priests and brothers which he established in 1989 in the Archdiocese of Gitega, where he was the Archbishop. The congregation aims to promote the missions and priestly vocations, and Archbishop Ruhuna said he wanted priests "who spend time in adoration, who preach, hear confessions, form souls, train up the young, comfort the dying and befriend the poor and unfortunate."
Archbishop Ruhuna’s congregation ministers above all to the pygmies in Burundi, who are nomadic and at the very bottom of Burundian society. Their children do not attend school, and their families live in great poverty. The Apostles of the Good Shepherd have established a boarding school, so that the children can have the chance to attend school. And the congregation has also been able to open further mission stations in 2001, one in Butezi, in the newly established Diocese of Rutana, and another in the central African country of Chad, in the Diocese of Pala.
Father Zénon Ndayiragije, the general superior of this young congregation, came to us for help. "Our congregation currently has 13 priests and 18 brothers. In the novitiate we have five novices still in training and three in their practical year. We also have six seminarians in their philosophy year and three studying theology. Then there are around 30 young men who are interested in our spirituality and our charism and who are preparing to enter the novitiate. They want to follow Jesus the Good Shepherd. Dear benefactors, it is a very difficult task to train all these young men, not only because our congregation is still young, but also because our country of Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world."
Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, we have been able to help with a contribution of $12,900 this year, so that these young men can continue to follow their calling to serve God and the poor in Burundi. We are sure they will remember you gratefully in their prayers.