I would like to begin by thanking Sister Micheline Kenda for the initiative to celebrate the 25 years of the presence of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Bordeaux in Rwanda. Celebrating the silver jubilee of lives given and received is to acknowledge the presence of the unconditional Love of God in the history of the Holy Family in Rwanda.
On this day of December 30, 2022, my heart exults with joy and I give thanks to the Lord because I have seen our Holy Family Charism blossom and take root in Rwanda.
However, as one of the pioneers, I would like to humbly share with you what remains with me the most from our experience at the beginning of our mission in Rwanda, and what has accompanied me during my 21 years in the Rushaki community.
Our community life marked and strengthened me a lot.
- A community life that radiated joy, open to all without distinction. The simplicity of daily life, with a sense of humour, forgetting oneself, each one trying to give the best of herself.
- A community where Christ was at the centre of our daily life, seeking to go to the essentials.
- A community aware of its mission and inclusion, but also aware of the vulnerability of its members.
- Our intercultural presence: race, languages and ages was, I believe, a visible sign that in Jesus Christ communion is possible.
- A community that did not wait for people to come to it, but went out to them.
- A community that celebrated the joyful moments and also shared the moments of hardship with those around.
- A community where the poor, the little ones, the neglected were at the centre of their attention and who together with them, had the joy of trying to lift them out of their misery and give them their dignity.
- A very courageous community whose members dared to go to great lengths even at the risk of their own lives. Thank you, Lord.
- And I still remember that the people, lay people, priests, religious who were with us, emphasised this aspect of joy that characterised us, and also our Bishop SERVILIEN who at that time said to us: "your community radiates joy". And to tease us, he added: "change the name of the Holy Family to Joyful Sisters". I believe that this joy came from the fact that we were very united among ourselves, and conscious of our insertion at a time when Rwanda was divided, torn apart by what had happened during the war/genocide, whose mission was to witness that in Jesus Christ, communion is possible.
Our presence, I believe, was a great comfort to the people of Rushaki.
Today once again, I thank the Lord for all the Sisters who gave their lives so that our charism could take root in this land, and that today we experience the joy of seeing Holy Family vocations in Rwanda.
- Praise the Lord especially for the courage and audacity of Sister Joy and her Council, who dared to risk at such a critical moment, saying yes to the mission and sending us to Rwanda.
- Praise the Lord for the trust that Sister Agueda MACIAS and her council in Congo had in me, sending me so young to the mission only two months after of my First Vows.
- Praise the Lord for the courage of each of the foundresses: Maria Jesùs GOICOCEA, Franca LEONE, Agnès de PAUW, Christine IBANGA and myself, Jacqueline IMBUNGU who responded generously to the insertion of the Holy Family of Bordeaux in Rwanda. We were not afraid of reality, but rather joyful in our hearts knowing that Christ and the Holy Spirit were ahead of us.
- Praise the Lord for the community life that strengthened me so much, and really gave me the impetus and the joy to give myself totally.
Thank you Lord, thank you for your infinite Love;
Thank You for all that You were for us at the beginning;
Thank You for all that You continue to be;
Thank You for all that You will be for the future of the Holy Family in Rwanda.
Community of Orta di Atella /Italy