First Chapter of the Vicariate of Rwanda and Burundi

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On February 14-18, 2022, about twenty solemnly professed brothers from the three communities of the Provincial Vicariate of Rwanda and Burundi (Kigali, Bujumbura and Nyagatare) met at the Marie Reine de la Confiance Center in Bujumbura (Burundi) for the first time in a statutory Vicarial Chapter.

For several decades, the brothers have always met in general assemblies. This first chapter of the Vicariate was supposed to take place in August 2021, but this could not be realized due to the health measures of prevention against Covid-19. The week of February 14 to 18, 2022 was therefore an opportunity to give thanks to God for this chance to meet as brothers from both countries, Rwanda and Burundi, after about two years without physical contact.

The theme of this Vicariate Chapter was “Celebrating the Grace of Growth in the Vicariate: What Consequential Steps to Take?” Prior to the chapter reflections, three lectures were given. The first conference was on “The panoramic vision of the projects of the Vicariate” and was given by Bro Emmanuel Ntakarutimana, OP. In the second conference, His Excellency, Bishop Joachim Ntahondereye, Bishop of Muyinga and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Burundi, presented “The expectations of the Church and of society with regard to our Dominican presence in Rwanda and Burundi”.

The third conference was given by Bro Godfrey Nzamujo, OP, Director of the Songhai Center, after a screening of two documentary films, one on the application of the encyclical “Laudato Si’” in Africa and the other on the Songhai Center itself. In his conference, Bro Godfrey started from his experience at the Songhai Centre to draw out the challenges of the Dominican mission in the Church and society today.

After the conferences, the capitulars heard two reports concerning formation in the Vicariate. The first report was presented by Bro Gilbert Munana, OP, promoter of studies in the Vicariate, and highlighted the amendments to the Ratio Formationis Particularis of the Vicariate that the Formation Committee of July 2021 proposed.

Brother Gilbert also presented the method used by the formation committee to arrive at these amendments. In the same perspective of formation, Bro Liboire Kagabo, OP, presented the state of the project of a Dominican University in the Vicariate. This project will begin with a Studium of philosophy and theology for our brothers in initial formation as well as for other persons, especially the consecrated persons of our region.

In order to closely analyze the challenges of the growth of the Vicariate and to identify the consequent steps to be taken, the capitulars were divided into three reflection commissions, each commission having a sub- theme to deal with. The three sub-themes were:

  1. “Formation, fraternal life, religious life and growth in the Vicariate”;
  2. “Dominican projects in the Vicariate, mission in the local Churches and financial autonomy”; and
  3. “Government of the Vicariate, Province-Vicariate relationship, and plan of accompaniment towards the Vice-Province”. After the exchanges in the commissions, the capitulars met in plenary to vote on resolutions to help the Vicariate to organize itself well in view of its growth towards a Vice-Province.

On Thursday evening, February 17, 2022, the capitulars joined the other brothers residing in Bujumbura to celebrate evening Mass and share a fraternal meal at the convent of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Bujumbura. The lay Dominicans of Burundi, the committees of the English and French speaking communities of the faithful and the representatives of the choirs were invited.

The Chapter closed on the morning of Friday, February 18, 2022, and the capitulars returned to their respective communities.

Submitted by Bro. Damien Dufitimana, OP

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