The small nation of Burundi in Central-East Africa is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world. Its recent history has repeatedly been plagued by political crises, massacres, bloody unrest and conflict in which hundreds of thousands of people have either died or been forced to flee their homes. In particular the civil war, which dragged on from 1993 to 2005, has left deep wounds – both in society generally and in individual hearts and souls.
The Sisters of Our Lady of Schönstatt have been working in Burundi since 1962. Initially they were engaged above all in caring for the sick and the poor, but subsequently they became increasingly involved in the areas of the family, youth and women‘s apostolate, as the need for help in these areas became ever more glaring. And today there is still an urgent need for catechesis and a deepening of faith. For although the Church here is young and dynamic, there are still many pagan elements that tend to become mixed in with the practice of the faith. There is a need among the Catholic faithful for pastoral support and instruction in their faith.
Today, under the guidance of the Schönstatt Sisters, several hundred lay groups have been formed – for children, young people, mothers, single women, female academics and female students – whose members are growing in their faith and drawing from the strength and inspiration to live a good and meaningful life.
For the past three years, three Burundian sisters of the community have been working in the diocese of Muyinga, in the north of the country. This northern region is even poorer than the South. But undeterred by this, the sisters have rolled up their sleeves and set to work. Initially, they lived in a very small and altogether inadequate apartment, which they will in any case have to vacate very shortly, since the owner has other plans for it.
But it is not so much for themselves that they need a new place to live, but above all so that they can have a suitable place to work with the various groups. For without a centre for the meetings and other activities, their work cannot go ahead properly.
And so the sisters have decided to build a pastoral centre where the group meetings, retreats, workshops and other events can be held. It will also have a garden, so that the course participants can withdraw to a place of quiet or enjoy outdoor group activities as well.
We are proposing to give 200,000 Euros towards the cost of this project.