Diocesan News

Immaculée Ilibagiza Shares Her Story at Pius X High

 LINCOLN (SNR/PX) - Immaculée Ilibagiza shared the storyof her experience in the 1994 Rwanda Holocaust Oct. 20 to an assembly of more than 1,800 people including 1,062 Pius X students, 200 faculty, staff, and chaperones, and 600 Catholic junior high students from Lincoln.

The assembly began with a background video explaining what happened in Rwanda. In 1994, the Rwandan president (Hutu majority tribe) was killed which caused a mass killing of the minority, Tutsi tribe. In three months, one million Tutsis were killed in one of the greatest genocides in history. Immaculée hid silently with seven other women in a kind Hutu pastor’s tiny 3’x 4’ bathroom for 91 days to avoid the slaughter.

The assembly greeted Immaculée with the Kundwa Mariya song that Immaculée taught local pilgrims on their recent visit to Kibeho, Rwanda, the site of a private apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The message of the appraitions is not only for Rwandans, but for people across the world to love one another, pray the rosary, and pray to God who is all love.

Immaculée shared her story of being sent into hiding by her father with his rosary and not wanting to leave her family, but doing so out of obedience. During her time hiding in the bathroom with the seven other women she learned several things including forgiveness, the courage to let go, the power of love, putting things into perspective, being grateful for the smallest things, and the power of prayer.

While in hiding, Immaculée prayed the rosary morning until night, which she estimates was at least 27 times a day. As time went on, a conversion occurred in her heart and she was able to let go of her anger and surrender herself to God, forgiving those who had killed her family and friends.

Immaculée concluded with inspirational words– that with any worry or problem there is always hope, that God is real and listens to one’s heart, and that God loves and forgives all, unceasingly. She suggested that if one has a choice between kindness or being right, to choose kindness.

"If I can forgive," she said, "anyone can forgive."

The event was provided by the Lincoln chapter of Legatus (a Catholic business-leaders group).

Immaculée shared three gifts with the assembly. The first, a CD of the rosary and prayers was given to an adult with the intention to start a group of Legion of Mary at the school. She also gave a "Seven Sorrows Rosary" to Father Johnathan Haschke, to spread the devotion to parishioners. And she gave a t-shirt to a student who promised to go on a Rwandan tour with Immaculée one day.

Immaculée received several gifts from those present, including a song performed by the Pius X choir "Prayer for the Children," a check from St. John the Apostle School in Lincoln from a collection they conducted for a Rwandan school for the blind, dresses made by Mrs. Shonka’s sewing class for Rwandan orphans, and seven sorrow rosaries made by Ms. Rodaway’s art classes.

Pius X School spent the entire day engaging in a "Day In The Dark" with the hallway lights turned off and inviting all to spread the light. Immaculée presented a bundle of glow sticks to junior John Clark, who was asked to begin spreading the light in the Pius X hallways, through Lincoln, and throughout the world.

Other activities at Pius X included a Seven Sorrows rosary prayed in French, Spanish and English by the International Languages students throughout the day.

Immaculée is the author of "Left to Tell," "Our Lady Of Kibeho," "Led By Faith," and "If Only We Had Listened." Copies of her books are available for checkout in the Pius X Media Center.

Immaculée also established a "Left To Tell Charitable Fund" which helps raise money to help orphaned children in Rwanda and help all children of Africa build better lives. For more information, please visit www.Immaculée.com.

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