All Are Precious in God’s Sight
"What I learned in Rwanda was that God is not absent when great evil is unleashed. Whether that evil is man-made or helped along by darker forces, God is right there, saving those who respond to His urgings and trying to heal the rest."
James Riordan, author and contributor, The Bishop of Rwanda
I recently returned from Rwanda and Burundi, as a participant in a new initiative of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) designed to strengthen links between Catholic Colleges/Universities and CRS work in the field. This was not my first visit to Africa. I have been to many other countries because of my involvement with the African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC), but this was my first direct encounter with the devastating realities of genocide and the ongoing human struggle toward reconciliation.
What I witnessed in Rwanda at the Genocide Memorial and during a parish community healing and reconciliation session in Kigali, and at numerous CRS projects to empower people in Rwanda and Burundi, was deep and profound. Survivors and perpetrators of horrific acts of genocide were able to come together to a place of healing and peace, moving beyond what most would consider unforgivable deeds. Collaborative and capacity-building efforts to address poverty, disease, malnutrition, and the consequences of war and genocide can and do make a difference. Technical and interpersonal know how, fueled by the foundational value of respect for the dignity of every person can re-weave the fabric of society. A passion for the possible can make the impossible possible.
Since I have returned home, I have drawn comfort from an insight of author James Riordan, who contributed to the writing of The Bishop of Rwanda. In my short time in Rwanda and Burundi, I was able to see that God is indeed "right there." I am grateful for the opportunity to have seen the work of CRS in the field "up close and personal." I saw the principles of Catholic social teaching in action and made holy by respect, dignity, and right relationship.
Catholic colleges and universities in the United States are steeped in Catholic social teaching. Our students are interested in service learning and open to experiences that have the potential to help them learn to live responsibly in a diverse and interdependent world. In this time of competing global demands for scarce resources and growing gaps between rich and poor, CRS and ACCU colleges/universities are natural partners for mutually beneficial collaboration.
Serving on this delegation has helped me to realize the importance of the work of Catholic Relief Services and its capacity to be the empowering presence of a caring Church in a hurting and troubled world. All that I observed permeates my thoughts and fills my heart with hope and a spirit of possibility. When we reach out, as Jesus did, to the broken, the misunderstood, the scorned, and the forgotten , we convey a simple, yet powerful, message: Each of us matters to God, and all are precious in God's sight.
Sister Anne Munley, IHM, Ph.D.
Landscape in Burundi
Photos by Sala Lewis for Catholic Relief Services