DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, Father Jean Marie Bisimwa Isaac •
Father Jean Marie Bisimwa Isaac is the superior of the community of the Schoenstatt Fathers in Congo and the pastor of the parish of Bon Pasteur Kalundu. They are three Schoenstatt Fathers who have been working in this parish in eastern Congo for three years, taking care of the parishioners and the construction of the first Schoenstatt Shrine in this country. We asked: How is the construction of the Shrine being lived in the parish? —
The Schoenstatt Fathers arrived in 2020, he told us, they took over the work in the parish and immediately began to rebuild the church that had been entrusted to them. The church had a broken roof, the sacristy and the parish house were in a deplorable state, and many things were missing. But there was no lack of the faithful, there was no lack of joy, there was no lack of faith and the will to go forward.
How is the work in the parish done?
“In the parish, we are a team of three priests. Life is good here. We have a Christian community of about eight thousand faithful,” says Father Jean-Marie.
“As part of our work, we celebrate daily Mass for Christians, administer the various sacraments, visit the sick, hold meetings with various pastoral groups, and bury the dead. It’s a good job that keeps us busy, not to mention the follow-up work on the construction of our future Shrine.
Today, the church has a roof, the other buildings look clean, lighted, painted, with new sanitation facilities. There are public bathrooms, and a meeting room is under construction…
Other projects are still to be completed. One of the parish chapels has no roof. The many children sit on a blanket on the mud floor. The songs, however, convey joy, confidence, faith… A joy in the Gospel that is contagious.
The Shrine grows on the hill and in the hearts of the people.
The project for the construction of the Shrine in Congo began at the beginning of September 2023, according to Fr. Jean-Marie, and the work is now at the stage of raising the walls. The blessing of the Shrine is scheduled for October of next year.
There is a very strong current of life in the Schoenstatt Family of the diocese of Uvira, in particular, and in eastern Congo, in general. Prayer groups are organized on a regular basis, pilgrimages are made to the place where the Shrine will be built, contributions are made to the Capital of Grace, and from time to time money is collected to repair the road leading to the Shrine.
It is an honor to participate in the construction of the first Shrine ….
It is an honor for us, the editorial staff of schoenstatt.org, to be a part of the construction of this first Shrine in the Democratic Republic of Congo by sharing this note and these photos.
Through prayers, contributions to the Capital of Grace, and also through donations, many of us can be part of this Shrine at the top of Lake Tanganyika. Right now.
Photos of the future Shrine, taken Dec 16, 2023
Translation of the interview from French: Roberto M. Gonzalez, Bonn, Germany.
Original: Spanish/French. Translation: Maria Fischer @schoenstatt.org