Parishioner in Lindsay looks forward to special visit

Sherry Lindhorst is looking forward with anticipation to the arrival later this month in Lindsay of Immaculee Ilibagiza, a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide who shares a message of prayer and miracles of the rosary.

That’s because Sherry’s son, Caleb, is recovering from a car accident that happened three years ago and Sherry, a member of Holy Family Parish in Lindsay, made a special trip last year with him to Des Moines, Iowa, after hearing about Ilibagiza and wanting to ask for her prayers.

They continue to stay in touch.

"That’s how I got her to come to Nebraska," Sherry said.

Ilibagiza has appeared at other parishes and schools in the archdiocese, and on March 24-25 she will hold a "Healing and Hope" retreat at Holy Family Church.

"I was so amazed by her," Sherry said. "This gives people a chance to meet her, deepen their faith. And I feel like everybody needs a refresher on the importance of the rosary."

During her talks and retreats, Ilibagiza tells a story of survival and forgiveness, how she and seven other women spent 91 days huddled together in the cramped bathroom of a local pastor’s house. Ilibagiza entered the room a 115-pound university student with a loving family and emerged weighing 65 pounds to find most of her family had been brutally murdered.

She credits her survival to prayer and a rosary her father gave her. Afterward, anger and resentment were destroying her faith, but she turned to prayer rather than succumb to rage.

Sherry said she and her son had a powerful experience during their visit to Des Moines, one that has helped her son continue to improve from a car accident that left him in a coma for 39 days with a 4 percent chance of living.

Now 23, he is a graduate student in engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, but the road has not been easy. He walks with a cane, his speech is slowed and he suffers from tremors.

But speech and physical therapy have helped, he continues to progress and his faith is strong, Sherry said.

And he will be at the retreat, with his mother, greeting Ilibagiza.

"I’m anxious to see her," Sherry said.

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