News from Rwanda

Rwanda-Burundi Regional Session-Retreat (4th Dec to 10th Dec 2013)

The retreat was held at Kivumu Fraternity. Brothers came from different fraternities of the Region. There were also some Brothers who came from other Regions of the Province.  We were warmly and fraternally welcomed by the Brothers of Kivumu Fraternity (Bro Ivica, the Guardian and Bro Aloys, the parish priest).  On 3rd evening after supper, we shared with Brother Vincenzo Brocanelli the Definitor General, about our apostolate and our life into our different communities. 


On 4th morning the first day of our retreat, we agreed first of all on the timetable of the retreat, on the basic duties and prayer animation which were shared among the brothers. In his introduction our Bro Vincenzo the retreat animator shared with us the theme of the retreat “Our Franciscan Identity”. The question was addressed to us: why should we recover our identity?  From the sharing we felt that   we should do our best to give our Charism the first place in our lives and apostolate.  There is a feeling that brothers who abandon the Order is due to what we call “anémie spirituelle”. They start with the tendency of not having time to pray together as a fraternity, yet it is the Eucharist and the Word which make us touch Jesus Christ. Our life is to follow Christ in the footsteps of St Francis so the Spiritual dimension should be our priority.  

Our identity should remind us of what we are,  where we came from, where we stay, what we do,  what we want to do and what we are called to be.  We are an Order of Friars Minor founded by St Francis of Assisi who live the Gospel and Fraternal life in obedience without anything of our own and in chastity (Rb1, 1; GGCC 1).   But looking at our own time there is a spiritual mondanity (power, money, pleasure) which is trying to enter our life and fraternities. Bro Vincenzo insisted on an urgent need to recover our Franciscan Identity to avoid “anémie spirituelle” which is the world tendency today. And to do so we have to read, discern and reflect on the Gospel, on the Franciscan sources and on other documents of the Order especially the General Constitutions which are our fundamental law and the Rule which is timeless guide to our life.  And be able to say no to exaggerated activism, and perfectionism. The sharing made by the brothers in the region reflected the need to say no to tribalism, egoism, indifference, hatred,individualism, and give way to fraternal sharing of live, prayer and mission. The reading and meditation on these documents must follow the Franciscan methodology recommended in our Franciscan Identity   as follows:  1.The   disposition of the body and soul to welcome the reading by the invocation of the Holy Spirit. 2. The reading and listening attentively to the text. 3. To internalize, to assimilate and to discover the richness of the text and to memorize the key word.  4. To give back through a prayer of praise, thanksgiving and supplication or invocation. 5. The putting into practice of what the word tells us. In so doing that then we can claim to be really the bearers of the Gospel.

 Bro Vincenzo insisted much on our Charismatic and prophetic Identity. The vital elements of our charisms are present throughout   the General Constitutions. The elements of our charism are grouped in three groups: A Radically Evangelical Life, a Life in Fraternity and Minority and Mission in the Church and the World. These are the gifts of the Holy Spirit to our Order for the Church. We must live them in the Church, with the Church and for the Church. The reading and reflection   on the Gospel of Luke 16, 1 -14) although it talks of a dishonest steward gives us the message of opening the eyes to the future. The gifts we possess are not ours.  See, judge and act methodology should guide us in all our decisions we make. In our decision we have to be lucid, rapid and courageous. We have to start from expropriation in order to arrive to the restitution. We have to come back to the core of our Order and reinforce our profession. We have to overcome our fear and apathy to open ourselves to the renewed vision and we must have courage to put into practice the decisions and counsels of the Gospel. We are the salt of the earth therefore we have to make a difference by adding flavour and taste to this earthly life. We are the light to the world (Mt 5: 13-16); we should be transparent so that through us (our life, our apostolate, fraternity and love) people should see not ourselves but Jesus Christ.  As St Paul tells us in Rom 12, 1-2 our gifts must be shared.   It is easier to conform to the world but we Franciscans should not conform ourselves to the world but to Christ.

It is true that all the parishes belong to the diocese but the parishes entrusted to us should be run according to the Franciscan way. We are all invited to participate in the mission of the Church (GGCC 83, 84) so all brothers, priests and lay, should promote (as fraternity on mission) in their parishes the same and fundamental Franciscan identity. They should both inspire the parishioners with their prophetic life by promoting the Franciscan values: fraternity, justice, simplicity, minority, reconciliation, transparency, peace and integrity of creation.

Regarding the possible future Custody of Rwanda and Burundi, Bro Vincenzo gave us good constructive guidelines in preparation of the project of life and mission of it. All the preparations should be done together as the brothers of the future Custody but also together with the whole province for it is the project of the whole Province.  We should keep in mind the historical motivation of the new Custody. The vision and mission of the new Custody should be clear and in line with the vision and mission of the Province. The profile, style of life, the general and particular objectives and the means to attain them should be well defined and evaluated periodically.  All pastoral activities present or planned in future, contracts with the local ordinaries, properties and juridical recognition should be well defined.

It was a happy moment to be together since some times we are taken up by our apostolate and do not  have  time  to meet often. 

We ended our Session- Retreat on 10th Dec 2013 with a solemn evening prayer and a wonderful and fraternal recreation prepared by Kivumu Fraternity. 

Please remember to pray every morning this prayer: Lord give me the grace to do what pleases you today and to have a spiritual reading every day as we promised.

 Special thanks  to  you Bro Vincenzo Brocanelli  for  your  time and  nourishing Session-retreat   you have given us and  many thanks to  you brothers of  Kivumu  Fraternity for  the fraternal welcome you showed us.

         On behalf of the Session-retreat participants,    Bro Heménégilde Birushe ofm.