Dozens of nuns, on Saturday, convened in Gisagara District for the 22nd commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and to remember 18 nuns who were among the victims.
The commemoration event was held at the Mother Home of the Congregation of the Sisters Benebikira at Save Parish before a requiem mass.
Apart from the 18 Benebikira (nuns, sisters) who were killed, three girls who wanted to dedicate their lives to God also fell victims.
Sr Marie Paul Emmanuel recalled that some were killed while receiving Holy Sacrament and they died without guilt, while others were taking care of the needy.
“They were killed in the chapel while observing the Holy Sacrament. They were killed together with other people who went to them for refuge,” she recalled.
“What they shared in common is the love of God. They dedicated themselves to God, and committed to serving people. They shared good values and were kind. They were killed by the people they used to treat and teach.
They turned around to kill them and they died while praying to God, with a heart that is looking up to God.”
The Assistant General for the General Superior of the Sisters Benebikira worldwide, Marie Juvénal, said the nuns were killed after refusing to abandon Tutsi who came to them for refuge.
“They died because they did not consider leaving others in danger. They had love from God and they properly made use of it through dedicating themselves to people and working for them,” she said.
“There were those who taught people, treated people and worked in the nutrition centres to address malnutrition among people, but they were killed by those they served.”
Juvénal said militia wanted to kill more nuns who had gathered at Save, but they were stopped by the RPF Inkotanyi.
There were about 400 nuns in the country then, almost the same number in the country today, according to Juvénal.
Dr Jean Damascene Bizimana, the executive secretary of the National Commission of the Fight against the Genocide (CNLG), said the event demystifies claims that nuns and monks do not involve in commemoration activities.
He said the congregation of nuns and monks had, and still has, a big role in improving the livelihoods of Rwandans through education, healthcare and combating malnutrition.
Bizimana said some monks and nuns such as Birigita managed to save Tutsi but others such as Fr Lobert Nyandwi in Kaduha committed the Genocide.
He said Monsignor Joseph Sibomana, who was the Bishop of Kibungo Diocese, never harboured ethnic discrimination, adding that people like him are like the light that people should take a leaf from as they help build Rwanda.
Bizimana said the Catholic Church did not send its followers to kill during the Genocide, adding that the Church should therefore detach itself from the perpetrators.