Our Lady of Kibeho’s message to the world

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By Kateri Williams

Most Catholics are familiar with the Marian apparition sites in France, Portugal and Mexico.  Yet, many are unaware of the Marian apparitions that took place in Kibeho, Rwanda between 1981 and 1989 to three children.  Recognized by the Vatican in 2001, Our Lady of Kibeho is the only Marian apparition site approved by the Catholic Church on the Africa continent.   

November 28 is the feast day of Our Lady of Kibeho, and as we commemorate the 30th anniversary of National Black Catholic History Month this November, it is a most opportune time to share the Blessed Mother’s message to the world at a time when it needs it most. 

At the time of her appearance, Kibeho was a peaceful town. The visitations took place 13 years before the brutal genocide of over one million people in Rwanda. The messages from Our Lady to the three young visionaries included a foreshadowing of the impending tragedy. However, her messages were not only for the people of Kibeho. Our Lady stated, “If I am coming here it does not mean that my message is only for Rwanda, nor just Africa, but for the entire world.” 

Her messages reminded us to pray the rosary daily.  Furthermore, she requested that the visionaries reintroduce the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin Mary to the world. She promised that the recitation of this rosary in conjunction with (not in place of) the traditional rosary would result in forgiveness of our sins as well as the understanding of why we commit such sins, so we can avoid the snares of the devil and fill our hearts with the love of God. 

The story of the visitations of Our Lady to the children of Kibeho is most beautifully illuminated by Immaculée Ilibagiza, the best-selling author of several books on the subject which include, Our Lady of Kibeho: Mary Speaks to the World from the Heart of Africa, If Only We Had Listened, and Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust.  It is the personal mission of Immaculée to share Our Lady of Kibeho with the world, and the narratives of the visionaries are awe-inspiring.  In this time, as our own country seeks healing and unity, we ask Our Lady of Kibeho to pray for us. 

Prayer to Our Lady of Kibeho 

Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Word, Mother of all those who believe in Him and who welcome Him into their lives, we are here before you to contemplate you.  We believe that you are amongst us, like a mother in the midst of her children, even though we do not see you with our bodily eyes. 

We bless you, the sure way that leads us to Jesus the Savior, for all the favors which you endlessly pour out upon us, especially that, in your meekness, you were gracious enough to appear miraculously in Kibeho, just when our world needed it most. 

Grant us always the light and strength necessary to accept, will all seriousness, your call to us to be converted, to repent, and to live according to your Son’s Gospel. Teach us how to pray with sincerity, and to love one another as He loved us, so that, just as you have requested, we may always be beautiful flowers diffusing their pleasant fragrance everywhere and upon everyone. 

Holy Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, teach us to understand the value of the cross in our lives, so that whatever is still lacking to the sufferings of Christ we may fill up in our own bodies for His mystical Body, which is the Church. 

And, when our pilgrimage on this earth comes to an end, may we live eternally with you in the kingdom of Heaven. Amen. 

Kateri Williams is the Director of the Office of Black Catholic Ministry for the Archdiocese of Denver.

COMING UP: ‘I have seen the Lord’: St. Vincent de Paul’s new adoration chapel honors St. Mary Magdelene’s witness

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“I have seen the Lord.” (John 20:18). 

One couple from St. Vincent de Paul parish took these words to heart with urgency last year during the pandemic and decided to build a Eucharistic Adoration chapel for their fellow faithful to be in the Lord’s presence themselves. 

Mike and Shari Sullivan donated design and construction of the new Eucharistic Adoration Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene adjacent to their parish church to make a space for prayer and adoration that they felt needed to be reinstated, especially during the difficult days of COVID-19. 

The chapel was completed this spring and dedicated during Divine Mercy weekend with a special blessing from Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila. 

“It was invigorating to have the archbishop bless the chapel,” Mike said. “The church has been buzzing.” 

Mike has been a Catholic and a member of St. Vincent de Paul since his baptism, which he jokes was around the time the cornerstone was placed in 1951. The Sullivans’ five children all attended the attached school and had their sacraments completed at St. Vincent de Paul too. 

Archbishop Samuel Aquila dedicated the St. Mary Magdalene adoration chapel with a prayer and blessing at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church on April 9, 2021, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Daniel Petty/Denver Catholic)

The 26-by 40-foot chapel is a gift to fellow parishioners of a church that has meant so much to their family for decades, and to all who want to participate in prayer and adoration. 

The architect and contractor are both Catholic, which helped in the design of Catholic structure and the construction crew broke ground in mid-December. The Sullivans wanted to reclaim any Catholic artifacts or structural pieces they could for the new chapel. Some of the most striking features of the chapel are the six stained glass windows Mike was able to secure from a demolished church in New York. 

The windows were created by Franz Xaver Zettler who was among a handful of artists known for the Munich style of stained glass from the 19th century.  The Munich style is accomplished by painting detailed pictures on large pieces of glass unlike other stained-glass methods, which use smaller pieces of colored glass to make an image. 

The two primary stained-glass windows depict St. Augustine and St. Mary Magdalene, the chapel’s namesake, and they frame either side of the altar which holds the tabernacle and monstrance — both reused from St.  Vincent De Paul church.  

The Sullivans wanted to design a cloistered feel for the space and included the traditional grill and archway that opens into the pews and kneelers with woodwork from St. Meinrad Archabbey in southern Indiana. 

The chapel was generously donated by Mike and Shari Sullivan. The stained glass windows, which depict St. Augustine and St. Mary Magdalene, were created by Franz Xaver Zettler, who was among a handful of artists known for the Munich style of stained glass from the 19th century. (Photo by Daniel Petty/Denver Catholic)

Shari is a convert to Catholicism and didn’t grow up with the practice of Eucharistic adoration, but St. Vincent de Paul pastor Father John Hilton told her to watch how adoration will transform the parish. She said she knows it will, because of what regular Eucharistic adoration has done for her personally. 

The Sullivans are excited that the teachers at St. Vincent de Paul school plan to bring their classes to the warm and inviting chapel to learn about the practice of adoration and reflect on the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. 

The words of St. Mary Magdalene “I have seen the Lord,” have become the motto of the chapel, Mike said, and they are emblazoned on a brass plaque to remind those who enter the holy space of Christ’s presence and the personal transformation offered to those inside.

The St. Vincent de Paul  Church and The Eucharistic Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene is located at 2375 E. Arizona Ave. Denver 80210 on the corner of Arizona and Josephine Street. The chapel is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. Visit https://saintvincents.org/adorationchapel1 for more information about the chapel and to look for updates on expanded hours as they occur.