Jubilee Year to Focus on Mary's Message in Rwanda
25th Anniversary of Apparitions to Be Celebrated
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KIBEHO, Rwanda, NOV. 13, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The Diocese of Gikongoro has announced a Jubilee Year to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Blessed Virgin Mary's first apparition in Kibeho.
Kibeho, where the Marian apparitions began in 1981, is the goal of national and international pilgrimages.
According to the visionaries, the Blessed Virgin introduced herself in the local language as "Nyina wa Jambo" -- Mother of the Word -- inviting to conversion, prayer and fasting.
On one occasion, she showed stark images: a river of blood, people killing one another, and abandoned corpses with no one to bury them.
In the following years the vision was linked to the genocide that convulsed Rwanda in 1994-1995. Kibeho was one of the bloodiest scenes of that tragedy.
In 2003, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, then prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, consecrated the Marian shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows in the site of the apparitions in Kibeho. He expressed the hope that Kibeho would become a place in which a Rwandan people would be born renewed in faith and forgiveness.
The apparitions began on Nov. 28, 1981, and ended on Nov. 28, 1989. "These two dates are considered an important historical reference for all who are anxious to know more about the apparitions and message of Kibeho," said a diocesan communiqué, signed by Father Eugene Dushimurukundo, chancellor.
The Catholic Church recognized these apparitions officially on June 29, 2001, after years of study by two commissions, one medical and the other theological, which were established by the local bishop.
Declared valid were the apparitions to three visionaries: Alphonsine Mumureke, Nathalie Mukamazimpaka and Marie Claire Mukangango.
In a message last Sept. 8, Bishop Augustine Misago of Gikongoro announced that the celebrations for the 25th anniversary would begin on Nov. 28, feast of Our Lady of Kibeho.
In his message, Bishop Misago says that "to celebrate worthily the Jubilee Year we must make concrete acts in the light of the message of Kibeho."
Among them, he suggests: "praying during the year for all the intentions of the Pope; increasing participation at Mass and reception of Communion; receiving the sacrament of reconciliation."
The bishop also urges "striving for reconciliation with enemies; asking forgiveness of people we have offended; respecting others; being tolerant in the family, with neighbors, at work, in meetings and other social events."
To these gestures he adds "working with courage to promote truth and justice for all, particularly in present-day conditions of the Gacaca courts" -- peoples tribunals charged with judging persons accused of involvement in the 1994 genocide -- "which must be well managed to guarantee they do not become forums for injustice and revenge, covering the law."