Posted On 2020-04-27 In Covenant Life

Fr. Adelin Gacukuzi from Burundi new Rector of the Shrine in Cambrai

FRANCE, Maria Fischer •

Thanks Google, otherwise we might not have known about it: On April 22nd, the French newspaper, La Voix du Nord, as well as Mondafrique, an information portal on French speaking Africa, published a news item that is of great interest to the Schoenstatt Movement worldwide. As of March 17th, Abbé Adelin Gacukuzi, from Burundi and former military chaplain of the Burundian Defense Forces (FDNB) with the rank of General, became Rector of the “Shrine of Unity” near Cambrai, where Joseph Engling died on October 4th, 1918 close to the end of the First World War. Abbé Adelin Gacukuzi belongs to the founding generation of the Institute of Schoenstatt Diocesan Priests in Burundi. —



Wayside Shrine at the Shrine of Unity. Photo: Javier Lucin

After five years of dedicated service, Abbé Jean-Marie Moura from the diocesan clergy of the Diocese of Cambrai was replaced as Rector and Abbé Adelin Gacukuzi was appointed Rector of the Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Schoenstatt near Cambrai on March 17, 2020. Abbé Jean-Marie will continue to work at the Shrine, as the new Rector writes in his first letter to the French Schoenstatt Family.

According to Mondafrique, Abbé Adelin Gacukuzi was military chaplain to the Burundian Defence Forces (FDNB) for 26 years with the rank of Brigadier General and retired on March 8, 2020 after a Mass of thanksgiving in Bujumbura in the presence of numerous civil and military personalities. He arrived in France on March 16, 2020, on the eve of his appointment by the Bishop of Cambrai, Vincent Dolmann. He had managed to catch the last flight to Paris, just before the imposition of travel restrictions and the lockdown in France due to the pandemic.

A priest on all fronts

Abbé Adelin has witnessed the often tragic events in his country at close quarters, but he has also participated in UN external operations where the Burundian contingent is present, such as in Somalia and the Central African Republic.

Now he arrived at the only Schoenstatt Shrine in France, which was blessed in September 1965. At that time there was no Schoenstatt Movement in France, and even today it is still in its infancy. The Shrine of Unity is one of the few Schoenstatt Shrines that was deliberately built in a historic place in Schoenstatt history (always in the hope that movement will follow): the place of the life sacrifice of Joseph Engling, whose death Father Kentenich commented at the time with “Now Schoenstatt is accepted”.

In a 2015 article by Hermès Ntabiriho on we learn:

“In 1989, two deacons from Burundi were accepted as candidates for the Schoenstatt Institute diocesan priests. A year later, Denis Ndikumana and Adelin Gacukuzi were ordained priests by Pope John Paul II during his historic visit to Burundi. On Friday, December 4, 2015, the many priests of this Schoenstatt Institute officially celebrated the foundation, the birth of a new region”.


Foundation of the Nazareth Region of the Institute of Schoenstatt Diocesan Priests 2015

“I was again at his home, know his mother and siblings,” says Mons. Dr. Peter Wolf, former general rector of the institute. “He was the highest military priest in Burundi and protected me well during the times of war. Often I was in his military car and two soldiers guarded us in the back seat with machine guns.”

A message also for today: “She wants to create people who have changed in such a way that they are able to cope with the present and the coming times”.

In his first letter (dated 04.04.2020), the new Rector took up the last public address of Father Kentenich – to the pilgrims from Cambrai who had come to Schoenstatt on September 7th:

“First of all, I assume you came here with great expectations. And when I ask myself why you came here, I feel I may say: After the Blessed Mother had a Shrine built over there in Cambrai, she was the one who mysteriously attracted you. So you have come from the Shrine of Unity to the Original Shrine in Schoenstatt.

Of course, you also brought a lot of expectations with you. Yes, what kind of expectations might those be? I have just been told that you came here to get to know and love the Blessed Mother better. Yes, what does that mean? Or may I ask you: Did you also come to know and love the Blessed Mother better?

I do not know if and to what extent you now understand the difference between the Shrine in Schoenstatt and the other shrines. That is so: In Schoenstatt the Blessed Mother has established herself on the one hand as the great educator of today’s peoples, and on the other hand as the great leader of those who educated her into today’s world, in order to make the spiritual struggles work in favor of God. You must not overlook the fact that Our Lady settled here in 1914, at the beginning of the World War, the First World War; and with 1914 the newest time begins, the modern time with its tremendous turmoil in the space of the Church and outside the space of the Church. And the Blessed Mother has therefore settled here in order to educate true leaders for this new, revolutionized and revolutionary time”.

Father Kentenich then points out that “from here the Blessed Mother wants to reveal her glories to the world in a strange way. And what is this glory that she wants to reveal? It is not first of all her power to heal sick bodies – of course she can also do that from here if she wants to – so she does not want to reveal her glories here by working miracles in the physical order, but she wants to work miracles here in the moral order. What are these graces? These are the graces of spiritual transformation, of spiritual home and of spiritual fertility. (…) She wants to create people who are so changed that they are able to master the present and the coming times. Today we hear this whistling, singing and saying that the new time demands a new kind of Christianity and a new kind of Christian, of Catholic people. You see, she wanted to help these new people to create and she wants to help them create from her shrines.

You see, and one of these miracles of grace of spiritual transformation was brilliantly performed on Joseph Engling. You must not overlook, I have just said, that the most recent time began in 1914. You see, in 1914 – let us consider – Joseph Engling was educated and formed by Our Lady at the beginning of the newest times. You want to get to know the Blessed Mother better – She is here and is effective here as the great educator of the new man and the new community.

Congratulations, Father Adelin, and God’s blessing for your work on the Shrine of Unity!



Foto: Javier Lucin


With information from the following media:

Original: German 23.04.2020 Translation: Lindsay Burger, Ohio, USA

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