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Catholic Charity Reaches Out to Sisters in Burundi Facing Eviction from Premises

Sisters of Our Lady of Schönstatt who are serving in Burundi’s Catholic Diocese of Muyinga have decided to build a pastoral centre where the group meetings, retreats, workshops and other events can be held. Credit: ACN

Three Sisters of Our Lady of Schönstatt who are serving in Burundi’s Catholic Diocese of Muyinga risk being evicted from their premises at a private property and are in urgent need of help to build their community elsewhere.

In a Monday, July 5 report, Catholic Pontifical organization, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International, announced plans to help resettle the Religious Sisters in a new Pastoral centre.

“For the past three years, three Burundian sisters of Our Lady of Schönstatt have been working in the Diocese of Muyinga, in the north of the country,” the leadership of ACN says in the report, and adds, “Initially, they lived in a very small and altogether inadequate apartment, which they will in any case have to vacate very shortly, since the owner has other plans for it.”

The Charity organization reports that the Religious Sisters of Our Lady of Schönstatt have been working in Burundi, the landlocked Great Rift Valley nation, where African Great Lakes region and East Africa converge, since 1962.

ACN reports that the Religious Sisters are working in the northern region of the country, and explain, “This northern region is even poorer than the South. But undeterred by this, the Sisters have rolled up their sleeves and set to work.”

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The Pontifical charity notes that the small nation of Burundi is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world.

The country’s recent history, ACN says, has repeatedly been plagued by political crises, massacres, bloody unrest and conflict in which hundreds of thousands of people have either died or been forced to flee their homes.

The Catholic charity makes reference in particular to the 1993-2005 civil war, which is said to have left deep wounds “both in society generally and in individual hearts and souls.”

In the Diocese of Muyinga, the Religious Sisters were initially engaged in caring for the sick and the poor. Subsequently, they became increasingly involved in the areas of the family, youth and women’s apostolate, as the need for help in these areas became ever more glaring, the leadership of ACN reports.

The Pontifical charity foundation notes that a significant population in Burundi is still engrossed in paganism, underscoring the “urgent need for catechesis and a deepening of faith.”

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“Although the Church here is young and dynamic, there are still many pagan elements that tend to become mixed in with the practice of the faith. There is a need among the Catholic faithful for pastoral support and instruction in their faith,” the organization says in the July 5 report.

Today, under the guidance of the Schönstatt Sisters, several hundred lay groups have been formed. There are groups for children, young people, mothers, single women, female academics and female students.

The selfless Sisters specifically in the Catholic Diocese of Muyinga have appealed for help to build a pastoral centre for various pastoral groups they have created to reach the people of God in the Diocese more closely.

“It is not so much for themselves that they need a new place to live, but above all so that they can have a suitable place to work with the various groups. Without a centre for the meetings and other activities, their work cannot go ahead properly,” ACN reports.

Granted a Pastoral centre, which will also be their home, the Religious Sisters envision a place where group meetings, retreats, workshops and other events can be held.

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“It will also have a garden, so that the course participants can withdraw to a place of quiet or enjoy outdoor group activities as well,” the leadership of ACN notes while pledging 200,000 Euros towards the cost of the project.