Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio, hosted Rwandan genocide survivor Immaculée Ilibagiza on November 1 for a talk recounting her inspirational story of faith and forgiveness in the midst of suffering.
Here's more from the university press release:
Immaculée Ilibagiza lost most of her family during the 1994 Rwandan genocide where more than 800,000 people were killed in a 100-day massacre. She survived the horror by hiding in a 3-foot-by-4-foot bathroom with eight other women. She passed the time praying and teaching herself English with only the Bible and a dictionary.
Ilibagiza credits her ability to survive and forgive to a set of rosary beads her devout Catholic father gave her prior to going into hiding. She prayed the rosary as a way of drowning out the negativity that was growing within her. Ilibagiza's deep faith empowered her to stare down a man armed with a machete threatening to kill her during her eventual escape. She also later came face-to face-with the killer of her mother and brother and said the unthinkable, "I forgive you."
In 1998, she came to the United States and began working at the United Nations.. Now a full-time public speaker and writer, she established the Left to Tell Charitable Fund, which helps support Rwandan orphans. She is the author, with Steve Erwin, of "Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust." Immaculée holds an honorary doctoral degree from Walsh University. In 2007, she was awarded The Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Reconciliation and Peace.
Ilibagiza has spoken at many Catholic colleges and parishes around the country telling of her remarkable experiences. Earlier this year, Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., hosted her on campus and bestowed upon her its Cross of the Order of St. Benedict, which "recognizes charitable acts of distinction." Also, Ilibagiza joined the college in the "Memorare Army," which prays for the intention of religious liberty.
Both Walsh and Benedictine are recommended in The Newman Guide for strong Catholic identity.
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