Genocide survivor Immaculée Ilibagiza shares lessons of Jesus and Mary’s love
February 28, 2023
Immaculée Ilibagiza – who with God’s help survived the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 – spoke Feb. 24-25 at a retreat at St. Frances Cabrini Church in Omaha.
She travels around the world sharing what she learned from her ordeal and urging people to pray, especially the Rosary and the Seven Sorrows Rosary of the Virgin Mary.
Our Blessed Mother encouraged those devotions – along with penance, fasting and the conversion of sinners – during apparitions in Kibeho, Rwanda, between 1981 and 1989. Those apparitions have been approved by the Church.
Here is some of what Immaculée shared at the Omaha retreat:
Forgive. Sometimes it might feel impossible, but with God’s grace, we can forgive anything. Immaculée learned this during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Most of her family was slaughtered, yet, with God’s help, she forgave the killers. (She has shared her story in the book “Left to Tell.” ) If you are unable to forgive, ask the Lord to help you.
Pray. There’s power in prayer, especially when people pray together. Through prayer, the Lord protects your heart and makes you strong. Make the time to pray. You will see the grace of God.
- You have our Lady and Jesus. Pray to them!
- Pray the Rosary. Through this prayer you will find peace in any difficulty. The Rosary is for all Christians, not just Catholics, because it is Bible-based. The Rosary is a gift for the time we are living in. Prayer is what links us to Mary. The secret to joy and peace is the Rosary.
- Pray the Seven Sorrows Rosary. Facing fertility problems? Trying to overcome an addiction? Fighting cancer? For these difficulties and more, pray the Seven Sorrows Rosary.
- Form prayer groups.
- Just share your heart. Mary listens. Speak to her as a child to his mother. Tell her that you’d like to know her better. Tell her that you want to know her love. Be simple before her. Say: Just talk to me, Mom.
- Make a corner in your home where you can go to talk to her and to God.
- A mother can’t be heard if a child is burdened with worry. Share those concerns first. Then talk to Mary.
- Dance and sing for Our Lord and Our Lady! She wants us to dance for her. It’s not how you dance, it’s how you welcome her. If only My children would be children, Jesus says.
- Seek healing. Anytime you pray from the heart, there is healing.
- Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you, to show you the way of blessing.
Seek the Lord unceasingly! He promises He will be with you.
God is Almighty! Trust and don’t lose hope. “God is real.” Ask Him for the grace to feel His love. Ask Him for the grace to feel the Blessed Virgin’s love.
Choose love! You can choose to love or hate, good or evil. Choose good moment by moment, and God will be with you. If your life ended today, what would you be judged by? Look at the people who need you most. Be nice to the people next to you.
Read Scripture and holy books. Even just a page or paragraph at a time. That’s how we approach God.
Mary doesn’t judge us. She only shows us the way to her Son. The goal of every mother is to show the way. Don’t rebuke your children. Show them the way.
Mary is so beautiful because she loves, visionaries have said.
When you are loved, you are free.
Belief is a gift from God.
When you give someone a nickname, use beautiful, uplifting words.
To see Mary is to know she is your mother, to feel secure, to yearn, to feel warmth and to be surrounded by a cozy, comforting light.
Her voice is love and mercy. To be her child is to model after her, to speak the truth firmly but with mercy and kindness. Say: I am yours, Blessed Mother, and I want to be like you.
Give yourself to her and she will mother you with tenderness and affection.
You will lose friends if you love her, but the friends you keep will be the best. They pray for you, and you pray for them.
Do not let go of our Lady and our Lord.
Be vigilant during these turbulent times. Our Lady’s messages are signs of God’s mercy and grace. We must heed them. Prayer, penance and fasting are needed. Yet we are still allowed to have fun.
Whatever we have, we have to use it for good.
We are Mary’s flowers, which she holds in her arms and cares for. She presents them to Jesus, who can make fading, wilting flowers become new again.