News from Rwanda
The date of our vocational Padri Vjeko School Day falls on June 21st, which is understandable, because it is the feast of St Aloysius, which was the day fra Vjeko used to celebrate his feast.
Before I describe how we celebrated this very important day for our school, I have to say a word or two about the life and work of our fra Vjeko, which in many ways resembled the life of St Aloysius. Even our efforts - to supply the most basic things to the people of this village, which has almost nothing - also follow the words and deeds of this saint.
When he was seventeen years of age, Aloysius Gonzaga gave up a noble position in favour of his younger brother Rudolf and entered the Jesuit novitiate in 1585. Although his father, don Ferrante, dreamed that Aloysius would inherit his ducal throne, Aloysius abandoned the shine of ducal and royal courts and replaced it with the humble, simple, and strict religious life.
That decision was most influenced by his mother, dona Marta, who, being a profound Christian herself, installed the love of prayer, and attention to the sick and the poor in her son. In his brief life – because he died before his 23rd birthday - Aloysius demonstrated that Christianity is no cushy armchair to rest in, but something that needs to be conquered with a lot of courage and something worth constantly fighting for!
There are many links to be found in all of that. Franciscans also gave up everything to serve others, help the poor, and live a simple religious life. Today, our goal is to educate young people and give them proper direction. That’s another link with St Aloysius, because he is the patron saint of the young. And our youth very proudly presented themselves on Tuesday during the School Day celebration with much singing, dancing, acting, and laughter.
The program started with the Holy Mass which was celebrated by fra Floren, and then diplomas were handed out to the ninety students who finished their schooling this past year; they left their classrooms in December, doing their practicum until the end of February.
The best students in the school year were given awards, followed by a show prepared by the students themselves. For parents and other guests who gathered in large numbers, they performed traditional Rwandese dances, accompanied as always, by the sound of drums, as well as the presentation of different plays in which they joked about their teachers’ ‘harsh treatment.’ Many laughed to tears!
Tailors had worked hard to make interesting pieces of clothing for the fashion show, while students from other courses prepared a small exhibition, demonstrating what they had learned so far. Visitors’ attention was especially drawn to the electricians’ exposition panel, because Kivumu still has no electricity, and it was quite interesting to see what electric energy actually is, where it comes from, how much it is needed for everyday life, how dangerous it is, and what possibilities open up with it. We fired up the generator for our little electricians’ project in order to make this interesting presentation possible.
In the end, lunch was organized for all the students and visitors. The festive menu included beans, rice, and salad. Everything was accompanied with prayer, song, laughter, and gratitude.
We spent the whole afternoon playing together, and finally, on the big field below the village, we organized different competitions: soccer, handball, and a number of other fun sports. What a great celebration!