Noviciat Notre Dame de la Route (Our Lady of the Wayside Novitiate) in Cyangugu, Rwanda, opened its doors on 23rd September 1966. Previously, the Jesuit Novitiate of the Central African Province had been founded in 1948, in Djuma (Democratic Republic of Congo) Life in the novitiate is a time of grace where young men are nurtured to offer themselves to the Lord. The novitiate fosters a climate of prayer, silence, work and faith sharing, under the guidance of elder companions.
The novitiate has had a turbulent history though, in keeping with the unstable political situation in Rwanda and Congo. In 1967, a rebellion in Congo forced many Congolese to flee across Rusizi River and the novitiate welcomed hundreds of them.
In 1994, the genocide affected the novitiate, by God’s grace, the community found shelter in Bukavu. The buildings of the novitiate then became a refuge to many displaced families in Rwanda. During this troubled period, the novitiate moved first to Congo Brazzaville, then provisionally to Centre Christus in Kigali and thereafter to Butare.
In 1999 it regained its home in Cyangugu. The house in Cyangugu continued to welcome many displaced people. At the initiative of the Jesuits, and with support from the Soeurs Penitentes de St Francois, the novitiate became a Centre for Unaccompanied minors from 1995 to 2000. Many of the minors were orphans who had survived the genocide.
Under the patronage of Our Lady, the novitiate continues to form novices for the future of the Society of Jesus and the ministry of the Good News of Christ in the World.