Help for the religious formation of the Apostles of the Good Shepherd and of the Queen of the Cenacle

The Congregation of the Apostles of the Good Shepherd and of the Queen of the Cenacle was established in 1989 in the archdiocese of Gitega, in Burundi, by Archbishop Joachim Ruhuna. He wanted to have priests who “cultivate Adoration, preach, hear confessions, form souls, train the young, support the dying and befriend the poor and unfortunate“.

The congregation works to promote priestly vocations and also engages in ministering above all to the heavily discriminated-against pygmy peoples – who are in reality the original inhabitants of the country but who today represent a disadvantaged minority. They are nomadic and socially speaking right at the bottom of society. The families generally live in great poverty and their children do not go to school. The priests of the congregation are helping the children to acquire some schooling and supporting the most disadvantaged.

At the present time Burundi is experiencing a resurgence of violence and unrest. The history of the country has been marked, from time immemorial it seems, by violent conflicts and a number of priests and religious were among the victims. In fact the founder of the congregation, Archbishop Joachim Ruhuna was himself a victim, being brutally murdered in 1996 by a group of armed assailants. Already before his death he had received death threats, for he had fearlessly campaigned for reconciliation between the rival Tutsi and Hutu tribes. He himself was a Tutsi. He did not live to see the end of the last bloody conflict in Burundi, which between 1993 and 2000 claimed some 250,000 lives and at its worst left some 1.5 million people homeless. Bishop Paul Schruers of Hasselt in Belgium, who knew the archbishop well, said after his death “People used to say about him that he was neither a Tutsi nor a Hutu, but a father to us all.“

Like him, the priests of the congregation he founded also want to be good shepherds and “Fathers“ to all. At the present time there are 12 young men preparing for ordination to the priesthood. We are supporting their training with a contribution of 9,600 Euros, so that they can commit themselves wholeheartedly the service of the Church and the people of Burundi.