Genocide Commemoration: Jesuits in RWB Honor their Victims
On April 7th Rwanda commemorates the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. It is an annual event during which all Rwandans gather to honor members of their families and relatives who perished during the Genocide.
For Jesuits in Rwanda-Burundi Region, that day does not pass unnoticed. Beyond joining the entire nation in mourning for its victims, Jesuits in Rwanda-Burundi mourn also for the victims from their own fraternity.
At the centre Christus memorial site, Jesuit Fathers Chrysologue Mahame, Patrick Gahizi, and Innocent Rutagambwa are laid to rest together with 14 other persons. They are among first victims who succumbed in early Genocide killings in the morning of April 7th 1994. Each year, Jesuits in Kigali gather to offer prayers and pay homage at their tomb.
In the Eucharistic celebration that follows thereafter, Jesuits are joined by family members of the victims and the Christians around the area of Remera Sector where Centre Christus is located.
Today's celebration was presided over by Rev. Fr. Jean Baptiste Ganza, the Regional Superior. He was assisted by the Jesuit fathers working in Kigali. In his exhortation, Fr. Jean Baptiste urged the Christians to look at this 23rd commemoration from a progressing historical point of view. In this he reminded the faithful that as time goes by, there should be some evolvement in the manner they remember; somehow a kind of purification of minds and actions should transpire with the passing of time.
Hence he recommended that this year's commemoration be marked by the joy that Saint Paul in 1Thess 5:16 calls the Christians in Thessalonica to have. They should rejoice not because they mock or undermine the grief that surrounds them but because their faith has revealed something that the sage of this world do not understand, as Jesus tells it in his priestly prayer. He insisted that the secret Christians have been revealed in the death and resurrection of Jesus should carry them on all the way through even the most appalling moments such as the Genocide remembrance. He later also called the congregation to mourn with countenance. Kwibuka si ukaba ikihebe! A good commemoration should have a right balance and avoid exaggerated extremes. Finally, the commemoration of this year should have a different taste, he added, for all who understand commemoration the Christian way. By this, he drew the congregation's attention to the recent words of Pope Francis who asked for forgiveness for the failures of the Church and its members during the genocide. For Fr. Jean Baptiste, that gesture should set the tone on how to mark this year's commemoration.
At the conclusion of the Eucharist, there were smiles on many faces; as if to confirm that the preacher's words had borne immediate effect in many hearts. People departed the premises re-exhaled; we hope they carry the same energy and faith in the 100 days ahead of remembrance and commemoration.
By Fr. Patrice Ndayisenga, SJ
Director of the RWB Jesuit Development Office