Saturday, 3 August 2022, a team of Jesuits left Noviciat Notre Dame de la Route- Cyangugu for Mugomba Parish, a two-and-a-half-hour drive journey. The aim was to celebrate with Fr Charles Niyigena, SJ in his thanksgiving mass at his natal parish. The sky was dark and roads foggy, unpromising for a good feast given the rains that loomed.

The Lord works wonders, we had a tyre-puncture on the way, but it was only deflated when we arrived at the parish. More than twenty priests concelebrated around Father Karoli Niyigena, as the name was maintained throughout the event. His homily revolved around the famous exhortation of Saint John on love (1John 4, 7-9).

Beginning with how he went to TTC Mururu by accident while he had dreamt of studying Mathematics and Physics, he reminded us all that the ways of God are unfathomable to us mortals. The celebrant, using concrete examples, told and convinced us that it is thanks to the help of many people, friends and acquaintances, that he is a priest.

The homily was really a message of thankfulness, a recognition of other people’s contributions to and in his life. Before receiving the final blessing, a series of speeches, preceded by the presentation of guests, were given. Fr Ernest Ngiyembere, SJ, the regional superior’s envoy for the occasion, extoled the qualities of Charles Niyigena that distinguish him and make him a covetable companion.

On the note that the mother of Charles gave birth to two priests, Charles and his brother Abbé Jean Baptiste, Fr Ernest was inspired by Elizabeth’s words to say that the mother of Charles is also blessed among many women; ‘not all, but many’, he clarified. After snapping pictures, we proceeded to the hall where a mouthwatering meal and thirst-quenching drinks were galore at the beautifully decorated tables.

Before returning to the Novitiate, we passed by his home where we enjoyed another warm welcome. We thank God for the vocation and wonderful works of our companion Charles Niyigena. May the Lord bless him, his family, his friends and all the people who have helped him to be the man he is today. Amen!