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New life and hope in Bujumbura

Gaseyni Parish

Early on Saturday morning, Dr McGlinchey and I went to Gaseyni Parish in the northern suburbs of Bujumbura. This had been a thriving parish with progressive educational facilities catering for construction and carpentry, livestock and general agriculture, until the whole campus was destroyed in the hostilities of 1996.

There now is a new project for the parish, although not on the original land which has been taken by the Government to form part of the Presidential Palace. The new venture will involve the razing to the ground of the parish church which, against all the odds, is still in regular use. A new road and a river are now part of the landscape. These open up fresh possibilities of a different and an enhanced development for the parish on land owned by the church just across the river.

The plans include the resuscitation of the building and agriculture programmes; the continuation of the primary school and the development of a clinic to include nutritional advice. There is also the possibility of a fish farm with the availability of water from the river and scope for its purification.

We had a real sense of the possibility of a resurrection in this parish and a new life for the people who, contrary to all expectations, have held on to the practising of their faith in the church and to the education of their children in the school. In time a new church will be built when God shows the way and prayer discloses the place, so that it may be in the heart of this new community.

Faith Centre

We moved next to visit land behind the Provincial Offices where a Faith Centre is nearing completion. The Faith Centre is integral to the development of the university. Two of the three buildings are in operation as conference facilities and the most recently completed building will house one Faculty of the Bujumbura Christian University.

This is a courageous project which will complement the campus in the old cathedral beside the current Holy Trinity Cathedral in the centre of the city. The hope is that it will attract students from neighbouring countries in Central and East Africa to study a wide range of different disciplines at a high level. While we were at the Faith Centre, Jenny rejoined us from Gitea Diocese.

St Mark's Parish, Ngagara

While Dr McGlinchey and Jenny went to Emmanuel Church on Sunday (pictured), I accompanied the bishop of Bujumbura to a confirmation service in St Mark’s Parish, where 33 candidates of all ages were confirmed.

I was invited to preach and to participate both in the confirmation and the Holy Communion. I took as my text the Greeting at The Peace:

I was invited to preach and to participate both in the confirmation and the Holy Communion. I took as my text the Greeting at The Peace:

‘The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace; if we live in the Spirit, let us walk in the Spirit.’ (Galatians 5.22)

The Readings of the day, The Eighth Sunday after Trinity, opened up themes of shepherding, leadership and service, reconciliation and what happens when you – and Jesus – are tired. The verse which spoke most directly into the Burundian context was from today’s Epistle:

‘This was his purpose, to reconcile the two in a single body to God through the cross, by which he killed the enmity.’ (Ephesians 2.16)

It is also a verse for Ireland, if only we had the will to live in it and to walk in it and to try to make it happen.

After the service all three of us were entertained to lunch by the Parish Council and a member outlined to us the vision of evangelisation and development that walk hand-in-hand in this thriving suburban parish that has God at its heart.


Archbishop Michael Jackson and Revd Paddy McGlinchey have been participating in a CMSI Partner Visit to Burundi with our Mission Director, Jenny Smyth. They return to Ireland on 24th July.

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