JOURNEY WITH ACN is our Friday newsletter which will be regularly posted to our blog.
Our weekly newsletter was designed to provide us with an opportunity to acquaint you with the needs of the Catholic Church around the world – and with some of the projects we have been able to realize together with ACN benefactors.
This week: Burundi
Help for the training of the Apostles of the Good Shepherd and the Queen of the Cenacle
The congregation of the Apostles of the Good Shepherd and the Queen of the Cenacle is a young native congregation of priests and brothers, established in 1989 in the Archdiocese of Gitega by its then Archbishop, Joachim Ruhuna. It aims to promote the missions and priestly vocations. Archbishop Joachim Ruhuna was brutally murdered in 1996 by a group of armed men. Already before this he had received death threats, since he had spoken out boldly for reconciliation between Tutsi and Hutu. However, he himself was not to witness the end of the bloody conflicts in Burundi, 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. Yet Bishop Paul Schruers, from the town of Hasselt in Belgium, who knew him well, said after his death: “People used to say about him that he was neither a Tutsi nor Hutu but a father to us all.”
Archbishop Ruhuna 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.” His 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 $12,400 this year, so that these young men can continue to follow their calling.