Rwanda – Team Visit to the Africa-Madagascar Region: a reflection on Youth Ministry and the memory of the 1994 genocide

23 February 2024

(ANS – Kigali) – The third day of the Team Visit to the Salesian Region of Africa-Madagascar was marked by two highly significant moments: in the morning, the reflection on Youth Ministry offered by the General Councillor, Fr Miguel Angel García Morcuende; in the afternoon, the touching visit to the 1994 Genocide Memorial.  

The morning of Thursday 22 February began as usual with the Eucharistic celebration presided over by Cardinal Ángel Fernández Artime, Rector Major of the Salesians. Then, during the morning, the assembly listened carefully to the words of Fr García Morcuende, whose address focused on two key points.

In the first place, he presented Africa as a land of hope for its size, its cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversity, its seductive geographical beauty,  its history, its struggles and above all for the youth of its population and for the challenges it presents. Then he invited his listeners to wisely rethink Salesian pastoral work, imagining new paths to follow. It was an opportunity for the speaker to evoke themes such as inculturation, the response to the social problems of young people, vocational ministry, the vocational training of young people to drive development, and Salesian leadership.

The afternoon was dedicated to visiting the Memorial commemorating the 1994 genocide, known in the local language as "Kwibuka 29" (memory 29 years later). It was an exciting time for everyone.

The large group of about 125 Salesians present in Kigali for the Team Visit was welcomed by the guide who accompanied them around the memorial. "This is one of the memorials of the genocide in Rwanda... a place to remember and a warning for the future", the guide began.

After witnessing with emotion an introductory video with some testimonies of those who survived and how they did it, the Sons of Don Bosco visited the various rooms in the museum, its three different exhibitions and the park where over 250 thousand victims of the genocide are buried.

Walking through the various areas, the Salesians there retraced the history of the genocide and grasped the underlying issues and the pastoral challenges that emerge from it, as well as the relevance of Pope Francis' encyclical Fratelli Tutti.

At the end of the visit, after leaving a message in the guestbook , Cardinal Fernández Artime, surrounded by his confreres, led a brief but heartfelt moment of prayer: "At this moment, after all the meditation that has been the contemplation of the memorial and the pain generated by the lack of fraternity, we want to pray first of all for those who are already with the Lord: that he continues to protect their families, his people and this land. And then we pray all the more for peace: in Ukraine, in Palestine and in many places in the world where there are now conflicts and wars."

And, in conclusion, he laid a wreath in memory of the victims of this genocide and ended by stressing that it is the lack of fraternity that causes such atrocities. His final invitation, therefore, was to always and everywhere be artisans of fraternity.

A video of the visit to the Memorial is available on the YouTube channel of the St Charles Lwanga Africa Great Lakes Vice-Province (AGL).


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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