‘We Shared a Drink, and We Were Shedding Tears’| National Catholic Register


Father Marcel Uwineza was just 14 years old when he witnessed the 1994 Rwandan genocide. He saw his father, mother, two brothers and one sister killed during the civil war between the Tutsi and Hutus.

Over the years, the orphaned boy, now a Jesuit Catholic priest, has grown to overcome the pain of his terrible loss with the help of faith.Forgiveness and Reconciliation Topics is one of his research subjects.

In his new book titled Rise from the Ashes: Theology as Autobiography in Post-Genocidal RwandaThe headmaster of Kenya-based Hekima University College recalls surviving a genocide through the lens of faith seeking understanding. In this book, he seeks to spiritually understand the tragic events of 1994 in the light of his mission as a priest who fosters forgiveness and reconciliation.

“There are several reasons behind writing this book. But then I had the opportunity to pursue my studies through the Jesuits.

He added: Can you help people? “

“Miracle” of Forgiveness

Father Uwineza stressed the importance of forgiving after meeting the person who killed his brother.

“Forgiveness means so many things, but to me it is a miracle. Forgiveness here can actually entail a decision to remember the mistake or injury differently. Or at the same time really determined not to be a prisoner of the past.

“When you still can’t give up or let go, you’re a prisoner too. It’s a process, so it’s not the same for everyone,” he said.

said to have been inspired by spiritual exercise May I forgive St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus.

In 2003, after several years as a Jesuit novice, Uwineza was asked to further his studies abroad and decided to return to his village to pray at a relative’s grave before leaving.

“I happened to meet the man who killed my brother and dug up my father’s remains. Now that I’m free, it was kind of a perfect opportunity,” he said during the book’s launch.

The Jesuit continues: He was released from prison. Released by the government, but not yet released in my mind. “

“When I met him there he knelt down and then looked at me. He said, ‘Marcel, do you know what I have done? Are you willing to forgive me?’ “Watch out, at that moment I was wondering if he meant that. Am I safe?”

Father Uwineza said, “We have been invaded by something higher than ourselves. It is something we ourselves cannot allow. Decisions must be made, but we are empowered by God.”

“I asked him to stand up, and then we hugged each other. At that moment, I felt as if I had been imprisoned, and my legs were unchained. Now I am free.” he said.

He added: While he was drinking, he was in tears. “

“Forgiveness sets you free. This is a process, not an event, so my experience may not be for everyone, but this experience is often used by those struggling within their homes. I hope it inspires couples, kids who can’t forgive their parents, employees who can’t forgive their employer. There are other things we can do,” he said.

people rising from the ashes

A Rwandan Jesuit priest says many in his native Rwanda have “lost their voices” since the genocide.

“I wrote this book to give a voice to many who have died and cannot speak today. This is my voice to many who have lost their voices very much,” he said. Told.

The book says, “Especially going to Chapter 3 on Rwanda’s pain, it not only helped me understand who humans are and what we can do, but it also gave me hope that someone can ‘ he said. Even when he rises from the ashes, he continues to speak of God. “

Today, Rwanda is slowly recovering from the genocide, said Father Uwineza, adding that reconciliation is a process and that repairing broken relationships will take a considerable amount of time, and sometimes relationships may never be repaired. .

“Rwanda has made some progress and has had a journey.

“There are two images of Rwanda today. Rwanda is a cemetery and a construction site,” he said. There are even people we haven’t discovered where they were put or who killed them. Some families still want to see their relatives,” explained Father Uwineza.

He continues: Preserving the memory of those who have died is paramount in the process of reconciliation and healing. “

Rwanda is also a construction site, said the Nairobi-based priest. Because the country “will take a long time to build reconciliation and forgiveness in the hearts of the people.”

You can purchase the Kindle edition of the book here.

This article was originally published by ACI Africa, CNA’s sister agency in Africa. It was adapted by CNA.

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