Building a Pastoral Centre to Support the Work of Sisters in Burundi
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. The civil war in particular, which lasted from 1993 to 2005, left deep wounds—both in society and in the individual hearts and souls of its people.
The Sisters of Our Lady of Schönstatt
The Sisters of Our Lady of Schönstatt have been active in Burundi since 1962. Initially they were engaged mainly in caring for the sick and the poor, but subsequently they became increasingly involved in the areas of the family, youth and women’s apostolates, as the need for help in these areas became evident. An urgent need for catechesis and the deepening of faith exist, for although the Church is young and dynamic. The Catholic faithful is seeking pastoral support and direction with regard to 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 and drawing from their faith strength and inspiration to live a good and meaningful life.
Why a Centre?
For the past three years, three Burundian Sisters have been working in the diocese of Muyinga. This northern region of Burundi is even poorer than the South. But the Sisters, undeterred, have rolled up their sleeves and gone to work. Initially, they lived in a very small and altogether inadequate apartment, which they have been advised they will need to vacate in the near future.
But it is not so much for themselves that they need a new place to live, but to ensure they have a suitable place to work with their various groups; for without a centre for meetings and other activities, the Sisters cannot effectively do their work.
To bridge this gap, the Sisters have decided to build a pastoral centre where the group meetings, retreats, workshops and other events can easily be held. Their plans also include a garden, so course participants can withdraw to a place of quiet and reflection or enjoy outdoor group activities as well.