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 published: 2003-07-25

"I can still hear their clapping and the 'acapella' style singing."

Impressions from a recent journey to Burundi, by Dr Peter Wolf  the Rector General of the Schoenstatt Institute for Diocesan Priests

Santa Misa con candidatos del Instituto de los Sacerdotes Diocesanos

Holy Mass with candidates of the Institute of Diocesan Priests

Heilige Messe mit Kandidaten des Instituts der Diözesanpriester


Un curso de candidatos con el Monseñor Peter Wolf

A course of candidates with Monsignor Peter Wolf

Ein Kandidatenkurs mit Monsignore Dr. Peter Wolf


Liturgia en Burundi - colores, bailes, cantos...

Liturgy in Burundi - colors, dances, songs...

Liturgie in Burundi - Farben, Tanz, Lieder…


Hna. M. Lisette Seitzer, Bujumbura, con una hermana de una comunidad local y madres con sus bebes.

Sister M. Lisette Seitzer, Bujumbura, with a sister from a local community and mothers with their babies

Schwester M. Lisette Seitzer im Gespräch mit einer Schwester aus einer lokalen Gemeinschaft und Müttern mit ihren Babys.






Camino de Maria: Pentecostés

Stations of Mary: Pentecost

Marienweg: Pfingsten


Procesión al Santuario en Bujumbura

Procession to the Shrine in Bujumbura

Prozession zum Heiligtum in Bujumbura


Encuentro frente del Santuario

Meeting in front of the Shrine

Begegnung vor dem Heiligtum

Fotos: Wolf © 2003




SCHÖNSTATT/BURUNDI. A little land land in the heart of Africa, where Schönstatt has rooted itself.  Here the unity with other Spiritual movements and the cooperation with the various diocese quite simply works!  Where the pilgrims to the shrine can be counted in thousands.  This is Burundi! A country where bombs drop near the shrine and hardly a day goes by without shots being heard.  Where recently in July  over 7000 refugees were put up on the property of Mount Sion and hardly anyone involved in Schönstatt has not lost a relative in the never ending civil war.

POS:  Did you have any personal experiences of the civil war situation?

One impression from my first evening:  I could hear the trilling of the crickets and the hum of the African night.  Mixed between that is the repeated sound of machine gun fire and heavy artillary.

One afternoon we waited on one of the community.  He arrived the day afterwards.  On the day he was expected the roads were unpassable in parts on account of the rebels. He spoke about the dangerous situation in his parish.  From Hutu extremists he has received repeated warnings and has already been hurt in an incident with the rebels. ""They wanted to kill me"! he said.

Others came to the meeting and reported on conflicts in their regions, of deaths and injuries.  In one incident several families were set upon and robbed by the military.

The war is present everywhere, sometimes physically very close, otherwise more in terms of fear and the continous effect on everyone's life.

Again and again you could hear rounds of ammunition being let off and repeated artillary and machine gun fire.

Q (POS) What were the discussions about with your priests and  seminarians.?

Firstly everyone reported on their situation and experiences during the last few weeks and months.  They have for the most part very large parishes with a lot of schooling and work with Schönstatt community.  The war was evident in all the reports.  One of the group visited relatives in the city during the lunch break, who had been bombed out during the previous week.

The work together looked at the evangelican councils and the spiritual life of the diocesan priest.  We spent a lot of time trying to sort out the exhortation on obedience.  Especially obedience in relation to the bishop, which can be very difficult in a land where he might move you to an area where the rebels make it dangerous.

We discussed the Rome shrine at length.  The brothers in Burundi worked on a lot of ideas on how they might contribute to the Rome shrine through the Treasury of grace.

Q: You say your book on Mary has been well received?

A French translation is already being prepared.  Several candidates from the Priest's Union had heard about the marian book and asked me to tell them about it. In Gikungu, there is a wonderful Marian Way, with biblical scenes from the life of Mary, all done in an African style.  Texts will eventually be included.  Our candidates really liked the idea that their Burundi Marian Way will soon appear in book form.  Fr Jean Marie suggested as a title: "With Mary on the Way of Faith".

Q:Burundi is so far away.  One might wonder what they think about Schoenstatt in Germany and  Europe? What do the Schönstatt members there want to know from Schönstatt.?

The Schönstatt fathers asked me on the very first day to say something about Schönstatt.  They are very interested in the Rome shrine, the Bündesheim and much more. One morning I was invited to the Noviciate for the Schönstatt fathers.  There are two candidates from Burundi and three from the Congo (plus a possible applicant)   There is great interest in Fr Kentenich, the Diocesan Priests Institute, Karl Leisner and Rome.  It was a lively meeting and a truly fraternal community.

On another day I was with the General Council, where there seemed to me plenty of interest regarding the developing general statutes, the planned shrine statute, the building permission  for the centre in Rome and the canonisation process of Fr Kentenich.

The Schönstatt sisters wanted to know everything about Rome and the plans for Rome.  They told me about a group of Scönstatt girls from Burundi who are in Rome.  I promised that they would be invited to the laying of the foundation stone.  The sisters expressed thanks that they have priests from our community in Burundi to help with the Movement. The publication "On the way to the year of Grace 2000" was felt to be a great help.  The new Marian book has also been gratefully received.  They are always looking for material to help in Movement work.

It was simliar with the Priest's union  who also wanted to know about Fr Kentenich's canonisation process, Rome and the marian book. What is very notable is the healthy cooperation between the Schönstatt communites in Burundi.

Q: What do you feel about the people in Burundi?

"I can still hear  their clapping  during mass and the "'acapella' style singing. I saw them dancing  for joy.  Their singing and joy didn't want to end even in the midst of war.."

Translation by: Fr Michael Savage

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