FROM THE PASTOR’S DESK
By Fr. Terry Kerner

As stated in last week’s bulletin, we joyfully welcome a missionary as part of the Propagation of the Faith’s Missionary Cooperative Plan this weekend who will speak to us at all the Masses. We are pleased to welcome Fr. Deogatias from Africa. I am sure you will support him in every way possible. Welcome Fr. Deogratias!

You will find the missionary envelopes in the pews. Donations may be given this weekend and next weekend.

MISSION APPEAL FOR NYUNDO DIOCESE-RWANDA

My brothers and sisters of St. Kateri Tekakwitha Church. I come to you from your brothers and sisters of the diocese of Nyundo Rwanda, Africa. My name is Fr. Deogratias Bahizi, born June 19, 1983. I was ordained to Priesthood July 16, 2011. I belong to the diocese of Nyundo in the central part of Africa, between the two famous landmarks: Lake Kivu, and Ibirunga Gorilla National Park, and a home of millions of wild animals. I am wondering if some of you might have been there. Bishop Anaclet Mumvaneza is the bishop of the diocese of Nyundo. It is a young diocese in Rwanda, being founded only in 1952. Rwanda is an important place in the East African Community.

Every year the U.S. Bishops invite missionaries from other mission countries to share their experiences in ministry and ask for your support for their pastoral projects.

This is the reason why I am here today. On behalf of missionaries who are working in the diocese of Nyundo, Rwanda-East Africa, I have come to share with you our pastoral challenges and ask for your prayer support for our pastoral projects. And this is a way of helping the church to walk together as one family of God.

The pastoral ministry in Africa is very different from the U.S. Although through baptism we are all called to ministry, the same ministry differs from one place to another depending on the environment, culture and location. While in the United States, for example, many churches are closed and bishops talk about uncertain futures of the parishes, the story of Rwanda is different. While in the U.S. there is a declining number of priests and nuns, in Rwanda we lack financial resources to construct new Churches, new seminaries and new convents.

However, our ministry in Rwanda is facing several challenges like:

1. For the year 2017, the diocese of Nyundo has set a goal to build a Catholic church of Nyange Parish. This parish has a population of 79,286 Baptized Catholics are 35,894 and Catechumenates are 518.

2. A high degree of illiteracy: Rwanda is a third world country. A big number of young people have no opportunity to go to school. Therefore the Church is making efforts to stand out with better services. The Catholic diocese of Rwanda in particular is involved in many education projects in order to promote education to the youth.

3. The high level of poverty: Rwanda has most peasant farmers with a government burdened by foreign debts. The country itself is rich in natural resources. But we do not have modern machines to cultivate like tractors, combine harvesters etc. The majority of Rwandans are still farming by using their own hands. We are challenged on how to do ministry to people who are living below the poverty line.

4. Our pastoral ministry is also challenged with a great rise of the power Muslim extremists. There is a big tension between Moslems and Christians in Africa right now.

Brothers and sisters, you have every reason to thank God because you have peace and freedom of worship. In many countries of Africa, the situation is different. Churches are burned down just because we differ in faith. Christians are persecuted. Please pray for your fellow Christians who are persecuted in other parts of the world because of their faith.

However, in spite of many challenges, the future of the Church in Rwanda is still promising. The Catholic church is doing well in self-sufficiency in personnel. We have many vocations to priesthood and the number of Catholics is growing very fast. And the reason why missionaries are coming to you every year to ask for your support is because of the facts that:

1. The Church is one. We are one community of believers. And this is what we profess in our creed. The missionary cooperation plan is an opportunity to support missionaries, religious and lay catechists among the suffering and poor of the Missions in the world.

2. Our mission is the same. Through baptism we are all united in the one body of Christ. We are all Disciples of Christ. We are all called to the mission of Christ. We are one community and therefore, we are church members who are communal and relational. Because of baptism, we are one community and we are related. Therefore, the missionary cooperation plan is a call for solidarity.

Our thanks to Most Reverend Allen Henry Vigneron, to the Propagation of the Faith and to your Pastor Terry for allowing us to visit you. May God bless you abundantly.

Peace,

Fr. Deogratias Bahizi

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