“God is more present in our suffering:” genocide survivor speaks on her faith experience

By Eleanor O’Hagan
Staff Writer

Immaculée Ilibagiza, an author and a survivor of the Rwandan genocide, spoke on her journey of prayer, forgiveness and love to students, faculty and visitors on Feb. 27 in Christ the King Chapel.

Ilibagiza began by saying that forgiveness is a necessary precursor to prayer.

“I cannot communicate with God if I cannot do what He calls me to do,” Ilibagiza said.

Ilibagiza spoke on her journey toward forgiving the people who killed her family and the initial struggle she experienced in this journey.

“If I can forgive, so can you,” she added. “ … give it to him (God).”

Ilibagiza said that the rosary is a powerful prayer, adding that reflecting on the mysteries and praying the words with sincerity of heart can change individuals and the world. While in hiding during the Rwandan genocide, Ilibagiza prayed the rosary 27 times a day and reflected on each mystery.

“The more I looked on Christ’s suffering, the more my soul was healed,” said Ilibagiza, adding that learning to pray the Lord’s prayer sincerely made her realize that even the people who killed her family are God’s children.

Loving one another as God commanded at the Last Supper was another focus of Ilibagiza’s talk. She said that everyone needs a person to depend on and to love and be loved by.

“The heart is smarter than the head,” Ilibagiza said.

She concluded the talk by reminding attendees that each person is an individual and each is given special gifts and is called to carry a different cross.

“We are each called to do our best” Ilibagiza said “(we have) different capacities different days”

Ilibagiza encouraged attendees to choose to do everything with love and to make time for personal and group prayer.

Listeners filled Christ the King Chapel and standing room only was available throughout Ilibagiza’s talk.

The talk was a part of the School of Prayer Series. The next event in the series will be in Christ the King Chapel on March 6 at 9 p.m.