Forgiveness as the secret of peace

By 
  • May 18, 2011

Rwandan Fr. Ubald Rugirangoga saw 80 family members and 45,000 of his parishioners killed in the Rwandan genocide, but has been able to forgive the perpetrators. (Photo by Katsey Long)During the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Fr. Ubald Rugirangoga lost 80 members of his family and 45,000 members of his parish. He later found the people who murdered his family and despite the pain they inflicted on him, Rugirangoga was able to forgive them for their crimes.

And then he went one step further — he paid for the education of the daughter of the man who murdered his mother. Otherwise, the girl would have had no opportunity of going to school.

Rugirangoga said he has discovered the secret of peace is through forgiveness.

And so, he set about creating the Centre for the Secret of Peace in Rwanda as part of his vocation to bring peace, reconciliation and forgiveness to the Rwandan people.

“I want to build a centre of peace because I am engaged in the peace process after the genocide in Rwanda,” Rugirangoga told The Catholic Register.

The centre will be made up of a retreat facility for people to come and stay, an outdoor amphitheatre for education and healing, a house for retired priests and a chapel.

From May 16 to 23, Rugirangoga was in Waterloo, Ont., to evangelize as part of his healing ministry and to raise money  to build the Centre for the Secret for Peace.

The nearly 28 hectares of land on which the centre will be built has been purchased at a cost of $270,000 (U.S.), but money is still needed to build the centre, said Denise Dolff, a Christian therapist in Waterloo who has been to Rwanda twice to help with Rugirangoga’s healing ministry.

“It will be a place where they offer all levels of Catholic family services, particularly geared towards programs for reconciliation between victims and perpetrators,” said Dolff.

While in Waterloo, Rugirangoga celebrated a healing Mass at St. Michael’s parish on May 17.

Fr. Ubald giving communion during a healing service in Rwanda. “He is a very holy man,” said Dolff. “He has a very charismatic personality and when you’re in his presence you become aware very quickly of God’s presence and God’s grace and we are extremely privileged to have him here.”

Dolff said Rugirangoga has a very powerful gift of healing, which she has witnessed in both Rwanda and the United States.

“Last year, part of his tour was in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and a woman who had been in a car accident came to the healing service on crutches, as a result of the car accident, and was able to walk out of the church. She was able to leave her crutches behind.”

Rugirangoga said people will come from all over Rwanda to visit the centre, and it will also reach out to neighbouring Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“I am engaged to help people live peacefully,” he said.

“I am engaged in the peace process. And in Burundi, there was war. In the Congo, there was war. In central Africa, we need peace because there has been so much unrest.”

The bishop of his diocese in Cyangugu has recently released Rugirangoga from his parish responsibilities to work full-time on making the centre a reality.

For information on the centre call Dolff at (226) 929-4756 or e-mail dolff13@rogers.com.

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