Apostles of Unity, consecrated to create amidst of war
Ordination of priests and deacons of the diocese of Bujumbura at Mount Sion Gikungu
BURUNDI, Fr. Othmar Landolt. It is a week now since the ordination of five young men as priests, and another three ones as deacons, in the new Pilgrims' Church in Mount Sion Gikungu, Bujumbura. A week of heavy fighting in the capital of war-torn Burundi. The rebels have been shelling Bujumbura for over a week. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported on Friday that the fighting between the army and the FNL rebels, mainly in the city's southern suburbs, had led to the displacement of at least 15,000 people from Kanyosha, Musaga and Kinindo communes. More than 200 persons were killed in the fightings - if not more. Amidst this horror those present in the ordination can say: The joy continues.
Saturday, July 5, 2003. It's 3:00 PM, the priests are in the sacristy, after a liturgy of over five hours. The Vicar General of the diocese of Bujumbura turns to Father Othmar, and says: "Look, Father, this is the work of the Mother uniting their children. Mary has worked this unity at Sion that we could experience today." Indeed, the ordination of five young men to the priesthood, and the ordination of three men as deacons was a profound and special experience, a road mark event of unity for the life of the diocese of Bujumbura.
"Be in all situations Apostles of Unity in Christ!"
The liturgy began at 9:30 AM with the solemn entrance of the Bishop, the Apostolic Nuncio, and the seminarians who were to receive the minor orders, the deacons' and priests' ordination, accompanied by 73 priests.
The motto of the celebration was: "Ragira intama zanje", "Tend my sheep". The opening address reminded all of the words of the Holy Father that he, 13 years ago, on the same hill said to the then newly ordained priests: "Be in all situations apostles of unity in Christ, in whose name you received the priesthood."
The liturgy enfolded in a beautiful harmony of songs, comments, gestures, and words, and let forget how the time passed. It was like experiencing a moment of eternity.
Fivethousand persons pray, celebrate, and hope for peace
The new Pilgrims' Church was filled to capacity, and also outside, sitting on the steps of the stadion, many followed the liturgy. A total of 5,000 persons had come. The big Pilgrims' Church allowed all to witness the climax of the celebration, the imposing of the hands. The tangible climate of recollection and prayer was a gift for all.
Afterwards, an (after-)noon meal was given to more than thousand guests. The people had prepared all with much love, and financed the meal - in a very difficult economical situation.
Joy continues... as do the fights
There had been no major shootings before, as it seemed almost usual the past years with major events of grace. But the night after, heavy fighting started in Bujumbura as the rebel armies conquered the capital. During the shelling of Bujumbura, a bomb went down just 20 meters from the Pilgrims' Church, without however causing any material or personal damage.
A week has passed since the ordination. The tremendous joy of this day of grace continues, as do the fightings in Bujumbura and all the misery they cause.
Priests, consecrated to work for peace. While foreigners are recommended to leave the country, the Schoenstatt family in Burundi relies on the prayers of the international family for themselves, for all Christians, and all people in this country.
For latest news from Burundi, check: http://www.irinnews.org/
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