Today Rwanda commemorates the 1994 Genocide.

I rely here on the words of Father Augustin Karekezi SJ, who, during the conference organized in Kigali on theology in Rwanda, spoke deeply of the tragedy of the genocide and of the Jesuit companions killed at the Christus center in Kigali on April 7 in 7 a.m. on the first day of the genocide.

"The genocide against the Tutsis, in Rwanda, in 1994, will remain a landmark date. The tragedy of the genocide and its multiple consequences pose formidable questions to the conscience of humanity. They call us to clear in ourselves clearings of peace, to cultivate human tolerance around us and to choose solidarity against exclusion. "

To date with all Rwandans and all people of good will, I pay tribute to the people, known and unknown, who supported us and who made possible the paths of the future.


"Yes, it was the most violent genocide in contemporary history if we consider its scale, its cruelty and its speed. Under no pretext, we cannot trivialize a genocide. Our deaths urge us not to forget what happened so that it does not happen again, neither at home, nor elsewhere in the world.

Chrysologue Mahame, Patrice Gahizi and Innocent Rutagambwa have left us a great legacy with their lives and their commitments. They were "servants of the mission of Christ" with great freedom and an admirable quality of human relations. For us, they are an inspiration. "

    Rwandan Jesuit Martyrs

The Tragedy of Genocide at the Christus Center

As soon as the presidential plane was shot down, late in the evening of April 6, 1994, around 9 p.m., the army's first objective was to erect barriers in the city. Immediately, Radio RTLM began broadcasting the death messages and the massacres began. The next day, shortly before 7 a.m. on April 7, soldiers of the Presidential Guard entered the community chapel of the Christus Center asking for identity documents, but no one had them with them at the chapel. Then they searched the rooms and separated the Rwandans from the others, namely the Europeans and a Malian citizen, representative of the UNHCR who, too, had stayed at the Christus Center. The Rwandans were taken to a small room which bears the number 28 and which will become the place of their execution.

Father Chrysologue Mahame: Founding Father of the Scciety of of Jesus in Rwanda. His last days were undoubtedly clouded by the desolation to see that the man became a wolf for his brother and that those who had mission to protect the citizens became their executioners. But we have reason to believe that he kept hope in eternal life and that precisely in this moment of solitude he understood better the bliss of those who work for peace: "Blessed are the peacemakers, they will be called sons of God "(Mt 5: 9).

Father Patrice Gahizi: He was one of the Rwandan priests present in all the struggles. The message that Patrice gave us through his way of life reminds us of the very words of Jesus: 'No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends'. Patrice followed the master even further by giving his life. Father Patrice's testimony of faith and love opened a new and beautiful page of evangelization in Rwanda, thus showing that the Gospel has been received and deeply practiced by certain people. Patrice himself told me this: "being a Christian is not only a matter of name; it is rather the fact of loving every man even if he is your enemy; you must show him love. "Talented and magnanimous man, Father Patrice observed with care and love everything around him. He will be remembered as a Jesuit who had "the spirit of the Company" and a priest always anxious to build bridges of brotherhood.

Father Innocent Rutagambwa: He was a calm, reserved and meticulous man. He was generous, fraternal and very careful. He was hanging on his desk or as they said of him: "it grew where it was sown". Father Innocent lived silent, in fidelity to his duty and he was led to death like a "lamb that is led to butchery".

Our three companions killed at the Christus Center embody the mission of the Company and a tradition that we seek to honor. They bore witness to a great freedom of expression and human relations. They were servants of the faith in Jesus Christ, defenders of justice between men and of devotion to the poor, especially the refugees; they were animators of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius and guides for those who sought God. They were educators. Through their life and their death, they invite us to be firm in the faith, to go ever further in proclaiming the Gospel and in the service of justice. "

Yes, we still mourn ours, we remember, and we continue to write other pages that are not yet written. With the prayers of our heavenly companions, we will continue the agenda they left us.

Dear Mahame, Patrice and Innocent pray for the small community of the Society of Jesus in Rwanda-Burundi Region and the healing of our countries.

Non Nisi Te Domine (I Will Have Nothing but You, Lord)


Original article in French {HERE}