Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 30, 2008
Eucharist offers alternative to hatred, killing – Burundian
By LAURA IERACI
"Will we have the audacity to be crazy for the Eucharist?"
The following day she fled the city with the children. They lived on her family's land. One year later the local bishop offered her a former school building, where she established Maison Shalom, Shalom House, to assist child victims of war. Shalom is the Hebrew word for peace with justice.
"I built Shalom House where I have put Hutu and Tutsi and Congolese together, and I told the children your ethnic origin is shalom," she told 10,000 pilgrims at the Eucharistic Congress June 22.
Saying she was born in a country "where people are not afraid to kill," Barankitse described her work as being grounded in the Eucharist.
"I am witnessing to the Eucharist in the world in which eucharistic values do not exist," she said.
She said bishops who visited Shalom House in its early years either had questions about her spirituality or urged her to found a religious order.
"Some bishops thought I was crazy, but now it is the bishops who are inviting me to be crazy with all of you," she said to a laughing crowd.
"Will we have the audacity to be crazy for the Eucharist?" she asked the congress pilgrims. "We need to stop writing and describing the Eucharist. The Eucharist is not found in writings, in pastoral letters, in the convents. We are the Eucharist.
"We must take the Eucharist into the marketplace. Let us have the audacity to open up to our families, to go out to others," she said before walking off the stage singing God's praise.
At a press conference, Barankitse said children at Shalom House learn to be messengers of reconciliation.
Shalom House is not an institution, she said. Rather, it is a network of villages that helps children of war establish their own homes and livelihoods. Since it opened, Shalom House and two other centres have helped 50,000 children, she said.
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