20 October is World Mission Sunday. It’s the one day in the year when the entire global Church comes together to support mission. It’s a great opportunity for all of us to reflect on and pray for the Church’s mission. During this time, we honour the brave and selfless women and men already making a huge difference in the world’s poorest communities. And with the whole Church we can appreciate that, in our rapidly changing world, we need the Gospel more than ever.
In the second week of the Extraordinary Month of Mission (EMM2019), Catholics remember the witness of the saints and martyrs. As Pope Francis has said: ‘these holy men and women, sometimes even to the shedding of their blood, have given eloquent and steadfast witness to Christ in devotion to the Blessed Eucharist. But the sacrifice of the martyrs doesn’t just speak of human cruelty. It also highlights the “serenity and strength given by God’s grace in the face of trials”’.
Rwanda: Healing the brokenhearted
For World Mission Sunday in 2016, Missio shared the work of the Church in Rwanda. Work that continues over twenty years after the horrific genocide that devastated the Rwandan people and shocked the world.
Following years of ethnic tension, a series of mass killings violently broke out in Rwanda in April 1994. Over a period of one hundred days, approximately one million people – twenty per cent of the population – were brutally tortured and killed.
Since that time, Fr Emmanuel Nsengiyumva has dedicated his life to reaching out to his fellow Rwandans. His desire for his people is that through forgiveness their broken hearts may be healed:
‘The Church has been a sign of hope and a pillar of recovery for all devastated values during the genocide.’
‘The Church has helped us to be strong’
After the genocide, many perpetrators went to prison. But having served their time, many of these prisoners are now returning to the neighbourhoods they brutalised. Many Priests, Sisters and Brothers in Rwanda are supporting these communities through counselling and healing workshops, which focus on forgiveness and mercy. One of the survivors shared:
‘The church has helped us to be strong, the priests have tried to bring our community together.’
Former prisoners and survivors have been working through the ‘Two Ways Healing’ programme, where the perpetrators have ‘the key of asking for forgiveness’ and the survivors have ‘the key of forgiving’.
The programme encourages the perpetrators to truthfully ask for forgiveness from survivors, whom they know and live with daily. Meanwhile the survivors can find space and strength to forgive sincerely, so that both parties can progress in their mutual journey of healing and reconciliation.
This process, which Missio supports, is conducted within an intensive pastoral care programme. The former prisoners meet every week for six months. And after three months, they begin to connect with the survivors, asking for forgiveness and gradually reconnecting with their communities and with the Church.
You make this possible
With your support, more parishes have implemented similar life-giving programmes. And there is so much more to do! Your prayers and donations make this vital work possible: you’re helping missionaries help conflict-torn communities find peace and reconciliation.