Fr General and Burundian DrummersSaturday, 29 April 2017

This Saturday, 29 April 2017, Rev. Fr. Artura Sosa, SJ continued his visit of the region to Burundi. Upon arrival at Emmaus Spiritual Centre, in Bujumbura, he was warmly welcomed by joyful sounds of ululation and Burundian drums.

He proceeded to have a tour of Jesuit works in the country which include the Ecole Fondamentale Saint Louis de Gonzague (ECOFO), the Service Yezu Mwiza (SYM), the Lycee du Saint Esprit (LSE) and the Emmaus Spiritual Centre. His passage at ECOFO will be probably remembered for the enthusiasm and warmth with which the school received him. He was greeted with a very entertaining play of drums during which he could not hold back his enthusiasm to join the play. When offered the drum sticks, he enthusiastically offered some beats to the greatest admiration of the people who had gathered to welcome him.

He thanked the students and the school admiration for the touching welcome they had offered him and gave them his blessing wishing them to keep doing well the good work they are already doing. The school administrator, on the other hand, introduced Father General to the history of the school and its current situation. He mentioned that the school is a home to about 892 students spread in 14 classrooms. Located at the periphery of the City of Bujumbura, the school serves a category of the population that has alternatives with regard to ensuring the education of their children.

At SYM, a Jesuit centre for holistic healthcare service focusing particularly to individuals living with HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases such as Tuberculosis and Malaria, Father General met the personnel of the centre and got to interact with some beneficiaries who had come to welcome him and express their gratitude to the Society of Jesus. In response to the testimonies of the beneficiaries, Father General expressed his satisfaction for the courage and hope he finds in them. He reiterated the commitment of the Society of Jesus to the promotion of social justice and human dignity. He told the staff and beneficiaries of SYM that the promotion of human dignity is a responsibility of every individual and the Society of Jesus holds in high esteem. The promotion of the human dignity is an expression of the duty to love that we share as God’s children and we pursue its realization with the spirit of compassion.

After the visit at SYM, Father General and his entourage retrieved to the Chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at LSE for a moment of prayer. It was followed by the visit of LSE. Students and staff were very happy to receive the Superior General of the Society of Jesus. Clapping of hands upon the General’s entry at the School and the magnificent traditional dance performed by the students were real signs of the warmth with which the coming of Father General was received. In his address to the staff and students of LSE, the General lauded the wonderful works they are doing as their performances in national examinations and beyond testify to the fact. He said that the Society of Jesus is well away of the difficulties they live in as citizens of the Great Lakes Region. He assured them of his prayers as he referred to the last General Congregation, GC 36, which mentioned specifically the Great Lakes Region among the troubled regions in which peace and stability have for so long been wanting.

During his meeting with Jesuits in Burundi, Father General spoke of the challenges that he perceives for the Society of Jesus among which he mentioned the need for “interculturality”, common discernment, collaboration, availability for the mission, and intellectual depth. He explained that of recent, Jesuits have learnt to live as a multicultural body but the time has also come to build intercultural bridges where differences are lived, celebrated, and shared. The encounter of cultures should affect us positively, he said, by enriching us; and the same should apply in the context of our local cultures and the Gospel teaching. For we do not need to abandon our cultures to be Christian, we should instead allow Christ to incarnate in our cultures.

The day ended with a celebration of the Holy Eucharist and the sharing of a meal during which the General dined with the Apostolic Nuncio to Burundi, Jesuit collaborators and alumni. While addressing the gathering, Father General thanked everyone for the work they are doing and the support they are giving to the Society of Jesus. He expressed his gratitude confessing that he has felt very much at home with everyone he met and the reception he was offered. He assured the assembly of his prayers as he also invited them to pray for him and for the people of his native country, Venezuela. In reference to the General Congregation 36, he reminded the gathering of the themes of reconciliation and collaboration that have been highlighted as new focal points in the mission exercise of the Society of Jesus. He insisted that our reconciliation efforts and collaboration partnerships are very important for the inculcation of the spirit of hope in the people and societies we encounter or work with.

The conclusion of business marked the end of father General’s visit to Burundi. Sunday, 30th he will be transiting to Rwanda to continue his visit at College Alfajiri, Bukavu, in the Central Africa Province of the Society of Jesus.


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