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University of Mary to Host Immaculée Ilibagiza for Annual Prayer Day

University of MaryThe University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D., is scheduled to hold its 36th annual Prayer Day on February 6, 2014. The university announced that inspirational speaker Immaculée Ilibagiza will be on campus that day to deliver a presentation.

Ilibagiza will deliver a keynote talk titled "Immaculee Ilibagiza's Story of Faith, Hope and Forgiveness" at the school's McDowell Activity Center.

The University recounts Ilibagiza's story:

Ilibagiza was born and raised in a small village in Rwanda. She enjoyed a peaceful childhood with her loving parents and three brothers. Education was very important in her household, so it was no surprise that she did well in school and went on to the National University of Rwanda to study electrical and mechanical engineering. It was while she was home from school on Easter break on April 6, 1994, that Ilibagiza's life was transformed forever.

To protect his only daughter from rape and murder, Ilibagiza's father told her to run to a local pastor's house for protection. The pastor quickly sheltered Ilibagiza and seven other women, concealing them in a hidden three-by-four-foot bathroom. For the next 91 days, Ilibagiza and the other women huddled silently in this small room while the genocide raged outside the home and throughout the country.

While in hiding, anger and resentment were destroying Ilibagiza's mind, body and spirit. It was then that Ilibagiza turned to prayer. Prior to going to the pastor's home, Ilibagiza's devout Catholic father gave her a set of rosary beads. She began to pray the rosary as a way of drowning out the anger inside her and the evil outside the house. It was that turning point towards God and away from hate that saved Ilibagiza.

After Ilibagiza's presentation, Prayer Day will conclude with Mass celebrated by Most Rev. David Kagan, Bishop of Bismarck.

University of Mary is recommended in The Newman Guide for its strong Catholic identity.

Catholic Education Daily is an online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society. Click here for email updates and free online membership with The Cardinal Newman Society.

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