Author and speaker Immaculée Ilibagiza will appear at Christ the King Church in Old Lyme on Friday, April 21, to share her inspirational story of faith and forgiveness amid the horrors of widespread violence.
Ilibagiza is a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide that took the lives of nearly one million Tutsis. Men, women, and children, including her entire family except for one of her brothers, were massacred at the hands of Hutu marauders. Ilibagiza found shelter at a pastor’s home, where she and seven other women hid in a 3-by-4-foot bathroom for 91 days.
During those months of unimaginable suffering, she found her faith, taught herself English, and most incredibly, committed herself to a life of peace, hope, and forgiveness, even for those who had murdered her family. She has gone on to work at the United Nations, receive five honorary doctoral degrees, and write seven books about her faith and her life journey, and she is the recipient of the Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Reconciliation and Peace.
“Although the genocide in Rwanda occurred 23 years ago and half a world away,” says Fr. Walter Nagle, parochial vicar at Christ the King Church, Immaculée’s experience is still relevant to us today, here in Connecticut. “There is always a danger of history repeating itself when people lose sight of their common humanity. Clearly there are divisions in our country on issues of race, religion, politics — that never reach the level of violence of Rwanda — but who can say that it will never happen again? In a world that so often seems to be absent of God, Immaculée’s story will be a reminder that God is, indeed, present and active in our lives.”
Ilibagiza will share her story of survival, faith, and forgiveness at Christ the King Church in Old Lyme at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 21. This event is free and open to the public. (A free-will offering will be taken.)