In response to the call of the Sisters of Mary of Schoenstatt, who had come in 1962 from South Africa, the Schoenstatt Fathers came to Burundi at the beginning of the 1970s. Both communities were invited by the bishop who was at this time His Grace Michel Ntuyahaga (bishop from 1959-1989) († 2002). Besides the typical missionary tasks, both communities wanted to construct here the Schoenstatt Movement. The first Schoenstatt Shrine in Burundi was inaugurated in 1964.
Part of the Swiss Province
In 1974, the Switzerland Province of the Schoenstatt Fathers took responsibility of a parish in Mutumba with four young Fathers. The parish had many outstations in the hills and was placed 30 km to the south of Bujumbura close to the lake Tanganika. From there, were formed the first Schoenstatt groups, who with the apostolic impetus of the Burundians spread Schoenstatt by the secondary schools across the whole country.
Mount Sion Gikungu
At the beginning of the civil war (1993-2005) the Switzerland Province approved the construction of a Schoenstatt Center in the capital (Bujumbura). In October, 1994 was blessed the Center Mount Sion in Gikungu, with Schoenstatt’s Marian Shrine by His Grace Bishop Simon Ntamwana. In the following years there arose here a religious flourishing center from where spiritual radiation goes far beyond the diocese.
In 2002 the Archbishop Evariste Ngoyagoye consecrated the great pilgrim church and in 2003, the community witnessed the ordination of the first Burundian Schoenstatt Father. Presently, the Local Community is enriched with 13 Fathers: 5 Burundians, 3 Congolese, 3 Swiss and 2 Chileans. In addition, there are 26 seminarians that are in the process of formation.
In the course of last 20 years, a great movement of pilgrims has developed around the Shrine in Mount Sion Gikungu and the Schoenstatt Movement has experienced a great expansion. Also, Schoenstatt groups are now beginning to take root in the neighboring countries of Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania. Also, it is important to emphasize that Mount Sion Gikungu has managed to be a place of the peace and of the reconciliation.
Solidarity with the poor
From the beginning of their apostolic work in Burundi the Schoenstatt Fathers created the Caritas’s service to help the poor and suffering population of Burundi. In the year 2007, a benefit society was created to do this work more effectively; it is called in Kirundi “Mariya Arafasha” (in English: Mary Helps).
Further news about our commitment in Burundi
You can find further fotos and news (in Spanish) concerning our commitment in Burundi in the following blog:
Our adress in Burundi
Bujumbura, Diocese of Bujumbura
Mont Sion Gikungu
Tel.: +257 22 23 69 68
(Novitiate and Seminary “Maison Charles Leisner” at the same address)