Photo: Felix Carroll
Father Leszek was a guest on EWTN's "Sunday Night Live with Father Benedict Groeschel" on Feb. 14. He was joined by Fr. Joe Roesch, MIC.
Yep, the mustard seed — the model for the Kingdom of God and the model for the Marians' mission in Rwanda.
It's "the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants" (Mt 13:32).
The seed, our faith, and the Marian mission all require patience, all require trust, and all require water.
Water? The Marian missionaries in Rwanda recently struck water at a providential place — beside the foot of their 18-foot-tall statue of Jesus, the Divine Mercy. By the pale ray, no less, which signifies the water of baptism and righteousness. The well, dug at the Marian-Divine Mercy Center for Spiritual Development, is one of the many signs of progress in the Marians' mission in this central African nation. Through the mission, located in Kibeho, site of the first Church-approved apparition of Our Lady in Africa, the Marians are seeking to provide financial, social, and spiritual stability for the Rwandan people, who suffered through a devastating civil war 16 years ago.
"For me, it was the will of God that we started work on this place," said Fr. Leszek Czelusniak, MIC, who leads the mission.
Father Leszek was a guest on EWTN's "Sunday Night Live with Father Benedict Groeschel" on Feb. 14, at 7 p.m. (ET). He was joined by Fr. Joe Roesch, MIC, seen in EWTN's daily Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. The two discussed the Rwandan mission. (An encore of the show will be broadcast Saturday, Feb. 20, at 5 p.m.)
Father Leszek has been working day and night to design and build — literally, by hand — the Marians' center in Kibeho, following his Congregation's charism to go wherever the need is greatest.
Rwanda, a poor nation still reeling from a genocide of nearly a million people in 1994, is now a country undergoing a rebirth, in large part due the apparitions in Kibeho of Our Lady, which took place in 1982-83. The Marian apparitions have transformed Kibeho into the "Lourdes of Africa."
A presence in Rwanda since 1984, the Marians have undertaken a large role there, particularly in providing a place for peaceful prayer and formation for people of Rwanda and the many pilgrims who come to draw closer to Christ though Our Lady.
At the urging of Bishop Augustin Misago, of Gikongoro, Rwanda, the Marians are in the process of building the formation center near the Shrine of Our Lady of Kibeho. The Marian presence helps insure that the many pilgrims who now flock there receive sound teachings about Mary to avoid any misinterpretation of the apparitions.
They've already helped many to understand Mary's central message in Kibeho, which is one of prayer, penance, fasting, conversion, reconciliation, the importance of the Rosary, and preparation for the return of Jesus.
'Mother of the Word'
Our Lady first appeared in Kibeho on Nov. 28, 1981.
Three female high school students received the apparitions. Our Lady identified herself as "Nyina Wa Jambo," which means "the Mother of the Word" — that is to say, the Mother of God.
Each of the three women reported they received a prophecy of the ethnic violence that took the lives of about 10 percent of the country's population. They reported seeing "a river of blood, people who killed one another, abandoned bodies with no one to bury them, a tree on fire, an open chasm, a monster and decapitated heads."
In Kibeho, itself, 25,000 people were massacred.
'A Real Hunger for God'
"There has been so much violence — this country has been so traumatized," says Fr. Leszek. "We still see terrible wounds that affect people, especially the youth. But we also see a real hunger for God."
With funding from Marian Helpers throughout the United States and Poland, and through the hands-on help of local laborers, the Marians have built a small residence for the Marian missionaries, an outdoor field altar, a chapel, and a pilgrim house, all anchored on a hilltop by the 18-foot-tall statue of Jesus, The Divine Mercy.
The Marians have also built a school in the village that now serves more than 100 children. An addition is being built to provide more children the opportunity for an education.
"Kibeho," said Fr. Leszek, "is a very important place — a spiritual place. This is a site where Our Lady chose to give her messages for the whole world, and the Marians have the opportunity to do a lot of good here."
Like the mustard seed, the Marians' Rwandan efforts started small. With the help of other congregations, a school has been built for the blind. A bakery is being built. Even a charity in Wisconsin has taken interest. In December, members of that organization stayed at the Marians' formation center and cooked and served a meal for more than 3,000 people.
"A very good meal," said Fr. Leszek. "It was so huge. You know, it was like the multiplication of the bread."
When the Marians' mission in Kibeho started, "we had nothing in our pockets. Nothing," said Fr. Leszek. "But you know, if you trust, if you look for the will of God, you receive the help you need.
"It's really miracle," he said. "These are signs. This is a blessing."
A seed has blossomed — big time.
Please consider helping the Marians' mission in Kibeho.