In this blogpost series, Fr. Ubald’s editor Heidi Saxton shares her experience of visiting Fr. Ubald in Rwanda to help him finish his upcoming book with Ave Maria Press, Forgiveness Makes You Free (April 2019). More information will be posted about the release of this book in upcoming posts.
Bouncing in the back of Fr. Ubald’s SUV that first night we arrived at Rusizi, I was amazed at the number of people walking the dirt path toward the Center. The headlights shone on women with heavy burdens on their heads and shoulder, and children who peered inside and spotted us. “Mbadzungu!” (white people).
Why were these people walking toward the center so late at night? “They are coming to prepare for tomorrow,” Father explained. “There will be special healing prayers after Mass.”
When we arrived, I could see that the church that was under construction, just beyond the makeshift shelter with the outdoor altar, protected by an aluminum shelter. Tonight a screen had been raised, and they showed Father’s documentary, Forgiveness: The Secret of Peace.
I looked around. Hundreds of people had gathered on a Monday night, to prepare for a Tuesday Mass the next morning — there is a special service held on the 13th of each month to commemorate Fatima, whose message was much like that of Our Lady of Kibeho: pray for conversions, to avert the coming disaster.
“We saw your tears, and yet we did not turn,” invoked Fr. Ubald. “But do not cry any more, Blessed Mother. We are listening, and we will obey. Help us to forgive and to show mercy, that we may know peace.”
The next morning when we arrived for Mass, the grounds of the Center were already filled with thousands of people. Some made their way from the shore of Lake Kivu, stopping first at the shrine of Our Lady of Kibeho, then climbing on their knees to Jesus (see picture), whose Sacred Heart is full of mercy for all. Finally, they make their way toward Our Lady of Love, holding the Child Jesus. Many women have been healed of infertility by asking for her intercession.
Under the shelter, behind the altar, are two more statues: The first, Our Lady of Peace, offers a gentle benediction to all those who seek healing and release from the torments and traumas of the past, and to her right, her most beloved daughter, St. Josephine Bakhita, a living icon of forgiveness under unthinkable circumstances.
After the Mass and healing prayers had concluded, I went to see the chapel Father is building to accommodate those who come to pray and adore Jesus in his Eucharistic presence throughout the week. They are building it on faith … trusting that God will provide the money they need to finish the building. They need $600,000 to complete the building as well as the other additions that must be made before they will be allowed to open it to the public. You can see more pictures of the project here. If you have been touched by Father Ubald’s ministry and would like to help, please go here to make your tax deductible contribution. Thank you!
Heidi Hess Saxton is Fr. Ubald’s editor on his book Forgiveness Makes You Free (Ave Maria Press, April 2019). She and her husband Craig spent time with Fr. Ubald in June 2018. You can read more about Heidi on her blog “A Life on the Road Less Traveled.”