Now that I’ve met her in person, I can say with confidence that Immaculee Ilibagiza is every bit as genuine, humble, faithful and beautiful as the person conveyed in her bestselling books.
When she speaks, you know that her voice, her words, her heart are intricately connected with God’s will, Mary’s love and Christ’s light.
That I was able to meet her here in North Dakota on September 8 — the birthday of Our Blessed Mother Mary — was a treat I couldn’t have imagined when my good friend Mary D. first introduced me to her story and writings several years ago.
|Me looking just a little giddy upon meeting Immaculee Ilibagiza on Sept. 8|
As I’ve shared here on Peace Garden Mama before, sometimes God answers prayers even before we utter them or even know what we want or need. Meeting Immaculee and hearing her speak from the depths of her soul was one such answered prayer for me.
|Immaculee holding up Rosary beads recently blessed and given to her by the Pope|
Since we’d traveled over two hours to see her, Mary and I lingered a while after the crowd had thinned so we could tell her how much we’ve appreciated and been affected by her words and work. She shared in turn that she had felt an incredible sense of peace during her North Dakota visit. That made Mary and I smile. We are so happy she felt loved here.
I learned later that the people at the church in Grafton that hosted Immaculee — St. John the Evangelist — had placed a copy of the article I’d written about her visit for The Forum newspaper in a visible place in her hotel room. It was one of the first things she saw as she entered her place of refuge here to prepare for her long speaking day ahead.
Our visit with Immaculee has now sparked a dream for Mary and I to visit Kibeho someday and see for ourselves the place where Mary came to Immaculee’s people to tell them of her love for them and all the people of the world, which she sees as a field of beautiful flowers. She’d come to urge them to turn their hearts to Jesus before it was too late. Her warning preceded the genocide in the mid-1990s that killed over 1 million Rwandans.
Naturally, I had my notebook and pen along and would like to end with one of the line’s Immaculee shared that Mary had told the people then and which also applies now:
“We are wasting our time if we are not loving each other.”
Q4U: What one thing can you change today to help not waste time?