The Shrine of our Lady of the Scapular -

The Carmelite Family
Burundi - Rwanda
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The Shrine of our Lady of the Scapular

Projects > Musongati
The Shrine Project
 of our Lady of the Scapular
 in Musongati – Burundi

Vital need of the Shrine and its reasons
In 2018 the OCD Regional Vicariate in Burundi and Rwanda took an important decision to build the Marian Shrine of our Lady of the Scapular in Musongati (some 170 km away from Bujumbura). Before returning to Burundi I knew about this decision and it made my heart happy. I had been thinking about it for a long time. The reason is very simple: the Carmelite Church of our Lady of the Apostles in Musongati has been attracting so many pilgrims for decades that it deserves to have an appropriate welcome structure much more suited to the needs of the faithful who flock here from all over the country.
On the other hand, being delegated for the realization of this project dampened slightly this enthusiasm. It is true that basically the main motive of this project was clear to me. Obviously, it was a real and burning need to create more appropriate welcome structure for the pilgrims in Musongati. This was, sincerely speaking, an important and necessary project to be done.
My fear was much more founded on the lack of experience of pastoral work with pilgrims in the shrine. It was a real mental and spiritual challenge for me, and I saw many obstacles on the way. However, thanks to the cooperation with the local community of the Carmelite Fathers of Musongati and two or three “obligatory visits” to the Marian shrines in Burundi in order to assemble some ideas, with God's help, my doubts have been “overcome”.

Modest launch of the project works
It has been over a month since the first preparations started. With the engineer, Mr. Philbert NIBITANGA, who was responsible for the Bujumbura Formation House project, we managed to create a plan of an exterior Chapel with an altar. Let us call this chapel just Sanctuary, which is the first and the most important element of the planned expansion of the Shrine. And when we use the word Shrine, we mean the whole welcoming structure in Musongati. The sanctuary will be dedicated to the main patroness of our Carmelite Order: Our Lady of the Scapular. It will be the heart of our Marian Shrine in Musongati.
The main reason for the construction of the Sanctuary, is that so many people come to Musongati for the annual pilgrimage on the celebration of our Lady of Scapular (from 4,000 to 5,000 people). The capacity of the existing local church is from 600 to 700 people. That is why the outdoor celebration of the Mass and other important events such as the first Saturdays of the month must be done outside of the Parish church. .

The Sanctuary to commence
The Sanctuary (a planned exterior chapel) provides for a simple structure consisting of a sheet-roofed area on a metal truss (sitting capacity up to 600 people inside) and an area outside the roof (tribune), stone-cement brick benches) up to 1600 seats. Outside this area, a developed and relatively free space is planned, allowing a large number of congregation to participate in the Eucharist and all kind of devotional events. We are convinced that there is no real need to build a stand for 4,000 or 5,000 pilgrims, because in a such high number the pilgrims gather only once a year.
The roofed area provides for a minimal structure: a sacristy, two small storage rooms, two bathrooms, an oratory (with a tabernacle installed inside) and a meeting room (each of them accommodating approximately 75 people). Local stone, brick and cement will be used mainly for the construction of the exterior chapel, in laying the floor and for the construction of benches.
Long-term prospects for the expansion of the Shrine
The task of each place of worship, and especially Shrine, is to enable the faithful and pilgrims to meet God and strengthen their faith, hope and love, and sometimes even completely rebuild their own soul’s sanctuary, so that after returning home, they might worship God in the spirit and truth, as requested by Jesus himself. Let me list some of them giving only relevant details about them:
·        A modest dormitory, designed especially for mothers with children, the elderly or the sick who come to the Shrine.
·     Conference room serving both the parish and shrine needs. It will be a relatively simple technical construction with small facilities such as a warehouse, storage for cleaning agents and equipment, toilets.
·        Reorganization of the existing parish offices and apartments with the addition of an annex to the existing monastery.
·        Gate and concierge leading to the Shrine.
·        Fence: initially from a hedge, cypress with elements of masonry or hard fencing. Maybe someday, ultimately, a solid brick wall.
·        Parking at the sanctuary
In addition, a whole range of smaller investments aimed at making the shrine area more conducive to the prayer of not only mass groups of pilgrims once a year, but also the prayer of smaller groups and individual pilgrims. These investments can be carried out simultaneously, as far as possible and with the available financial resources.
·         Marking out paths in the shrine according to the map of planned investments below.
·         Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes.
·         The Space of Mercy with a large figure of Merciful Jesus and smaller figures of St. Faustina and St. John P. II, an advocate of mercy, confessionals.
·         Our Lady of Scapular corner with Blessed Isidore Bakanja, martyr of the Scapular
·         Reconstruction of the Way of the Cross
·         St. Teresa of the Child Jesus corner in company of her canonized parents as a Exemple for the married couples.
·         Rosary stations.
·         Planting bushes and trees around the sanctuary and establishing lawns.

 Photo 1. The existing Way of the Cross in the Shrine area

Photo 2. Spot for the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Scapular in Musongati.

Hopefully I didn't go too far with my desires and planned elements of the Shrine in Musongati. Obviously, it is a long-term project but I am sure that, if only this Shrine pleases God and his holy Mother, it will be completed.
It is worth being noted that the increasing number of pilgrims in Musongati is not the merit of the Carmelite Brothers working here since 1973, but it is a proof of the effective grace of God and the special blessing of our Lady of the Scapular. So, consequently, the implementation of this project also depends on the great grace of God and the openness of many hearts.
To conclude I would like to share with you one story. Recently I asked Fr. Alois, chaplain of the Shrine of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Muyaga, the cradle of Catholicism in Burundi, about the company that built the shrine that he is responsible for, he replied: Father, the shrine is not built by a company, but by the Holy Spirit. I admit that for several seconds I did not know what to answer to such a spiritual message. Then the Word of God came to my mind and enlightened me: Unless the Lord builds a house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord protects the city, the keeper keeps watch in vain (Ps 127). One more time I had to admit that everything is grace!
With this uplifting word of the psalmist I would like to end this short letter of description of the project in Musongati. I would also express my sincere gratitude for your priceless time given to read this message. I promise to keep in touch and to inform you on the ongoing works and progress of the project.   
I would like also to ask for your prayers for this project. Any eventual donations may be sent to the account of the Mission Office in Poland with the annotation: MUSONGATI SANCTUARY. If you would like to specify the donation for one of the above-mentioned elements of the Shrine, ex. Grotto of our Lady of Lourdes, please give its name abbreviated. For example, MUSONGATI SANCTUARY - GROTTO.

Carmelite Mission Office

ul. Rakowicka 18, 31-510 Kraków - Poland
Name of the bank: BNP PARIBAS
USD Bank Account: 82 1600 1013 1844 4951 0000 0006
EURO Bank Account: 55 1600 1013 1844 4951 0000 0007
Or directly to the Burundian Bank :
Name of the bank: BCB
Account owner: Jaworski Wieslaw S.
USD BANK ACCOUNT: BI42200011310102054931000319
EUR BANK ACCOUNT: BI42200011310102054931001677
BIF BANK ACCOUNT: 13101-20549310028-41
I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your prayers and financial support and I ask the Lord and his holy Mother bless you abundantly! Be blessed by the Lord and become a true blessing for others!

Fraternally with prayer
Father Fryderyk Jaworski, ocd
Responsible for the Shrine project in Musongati
Bujumbura, 14.02.2021


50 years of presence ot the Carmelites in Burundi and Rwanda

The Gift of the Jubilee for the Burundian Church
The jubilee is more than just a celebration and a thanksgiving Mass with the bishop. This is a multi-dimensional event. The Carmel in Burundi is experiencing a jubilee in its various dimensions.
·   The first is gratitude expressed in joy (Gitega Youth Festival).
·   The second is redeeming slaves from the burden of the past - we experience it in building houses for pygmies to break free from the instability of the past (Bujumbura project - 50 houses for the 50th anniversary of Carmel).
· The third dimension is also an effort to commemorate the years passed in various publishing forms (publications in Polish: album and books and in French, as well as radio broadcasts, both in Poland and in mission countries, as well as video montages on the history and current presence).
·  In addition to the above-mentioned typical jubilee initiatives, something is being created that has a chance to leave a lasting positive mark on the Church in Burundi. It is the emerging Shrine of Our Lady of the Scapular in Musongati.

Musongati - The first child of the Carmelite mission in Burundi
It was no accident that Musongati was chosen as the venue for the main anniversary celebrations. The choice was obvious. Musongati is the first child 
of the missionary outburst. The brothers began their independent ministry in Mpinga. However, it was a mission taken over from the White Fathers, not
 created from scratch. Musongati was an integral part of the Mpinga parish. Thus, the brothers served in Musongati from the very beginning commuting
 to Musongati as one of the 11 commuting chapels. From 1974, they lived there in the created parish. Musongati was built almost from scratch, built by 
Carmel, by the Carmelite Brothers and Sisters of the Child Jesus.
The history of 50 years of Carmel's presence in Burundi is inextricably linked with this mission. Except for a 5-year banishment (1985-1990), the brothers
 have been there for 50 years. Attempts to resist the anti-church regime and attempts to defend the cross ended with the missionaries being expelled from
 the parish. The 90's was a heroic endurance in the eye of the storm. Protected by the army, they did not leave the people during the war. During 
the bloodiest period of the civil war, they welcomed into the parish thousands of refugees, military refugees.
By serving the sacraments in about 5 parishes where the local priests had to catapult by fleeing, they became an example of zealous pastors for the people.
 It is in these circumstances that the beginnings of the pilgrimage movement to the Musongati parish should be seen.
Musongati - emerging Marian Sanctuary
From the Queen of the Apostles to the Queen of the Holy Scapular. This is how you could sum up the spiritual development of this place. The parish
of the Queen of Apostles slowly became a place of influence of Carmelite spirituality. The first decades were marked by great efforts put into the first
evangelization - catechumenate, preparation for baptism, building infrastructure. Today, 50 years on, we are at a new stage.
 It is a time to deepen your faith. Musongati, as a model of in-depth evangelization, adopted the Marian trait with 
the mission of promoting a healthy and profound Marian devotion.
Musongati became a charismatic place during the war. When it was difficult to find priests for confession in the area, our confreres, despite the threat 
to their lives, took people to confession. They also traveled around the area looking for believers. The first pilgrims are prodigal sons who seek
forgiveness and return to the community through confession. The second factor contributing to the spread of the spirit of Musongati was the refugees 
returning to their localities. It was they who spread the news of a place like Musongati around the country, where priests hear confessions, talk about 
Mary and admit to the Scapular, and the Sisters, through the service of mercy, save people's health. The news spread across the country. The pilgrimage 
movement began to reach beyond the diocesan, regional, even nationwide range. And so began the first Friday and Saturday pilgrimages to Musongati. 
The area was fertile because Burundi learned about the Scapular in the beginning of evangelization. The White Fathers spread this devotion, 
but in the 1950s and 1960s it weakened considerably. Now is the chance for a renaissance of this centuries-old spiritual tradition.
With an expanding pilgrimage and a nascent sanctuary, this spiritual experience becomes a hub for Carmelite vocations in Burundi.
Musongati - Jubilee look ahead
For several years now, as the Carmelite Vicariate, we have been trying to capture this charismatic event in a permanent structure. It is a service to 
perpetuate the nascent charismatic works. The nascent shrine is truly a grassroots initiative, not invented or planned by the Carmelites, but an 
expression of stubborn popular piety. Now is the time to sanction it. The bishop of the diocese blesses us.
We started with water. Not holy, but drinkable. Thanks to benefactors from the diocese of Stockholm in Sweden, the Abana Baseka Foundation and 
a family from Chicago, we managed to dig a deep well. Pilgrims have water. By the way, almost a thousand children at the parish school and fathers 
at the monastery. At dusk, pilgrims are no longer forced to discreetly look for springs of water in the forest to be able to wash themselves after a few 
days' walk. There is water in Musongati.
Last year, thanks to the help of Ad Gentes from Warsaw, a straight way of the cross was created so that pilgrims could follow the traces of the Passion 
in the church forest, starting from the feet of the persecuted cross in front of the parish church. The stations are painted by local artists which adds
 extra value to them.
There was also a figure of Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus, carved by local artists from Gitega. This is not first-class finesse, but an expression of local
 people's ability to actively participate in the creation of Catholic tradition. We want this sanctuary not to be an imported product, but the fruit of local 
Time to continue ...
We want to be able to accommodate mothers with infants who travel tens of kilometers on foot for the night. Often, the all-night vigil under the cloud, 
after a several-day walk, is beyond strength. A roof over your head and a mattress are essential. What is needed is a simple dormitory with bunk beds 
for poor pilgrims. Perhaps in the future, several rooms will be needed for pilgrims who would be able to rent a room.
A conference room for pilgrimage groups also seems necessary. The parish also needs a space where it could organize large parish meetings. Let's not
forget this is a parish with 30,000 practicing Catholics.
This year, the construction of the so-called sanctuary, i.e. an extensive field altar dedicated to Our Lady of the Scapular. It is a liturgical space for Scapular
 celebrations and meetings of the Scapular Confraternities. Father Fryderyk Jaworski was appointed responsible for this great project lasting several years. 
In the next text, he will talk about the details of the above investment. Let us pray for every blessing for Him and for the openness of the hearts of many 
believers wearing the Carmelite Scapular in Poland and in the world. That the faithful in Burundi, one of the poorest countries in the world, have a chance 
to make a pilgrimage to a beautiful place where the Carmel garden will be not only a symbol but also a reality. On behalf 
of the Vicariate, I am asking you to support this major Vicariate project to date. Offerings may be submitted with the note:  SANCTUARY MUSONGATI.

We would like to thank the Mission Office for the initiative to dedicate this year's fair in Czerna for the needs of the Shrine of Our Lady of the Scapular in 
Queen of the Holy Scapular, pray for us!
Father Fryderyk Jaworski: mail:; WhatsApp: +257 611 951 29
Information about ongoing works you will find on the website of the OCD Regional Vicariate:
Fr Maciej Jaworski, Bujumbura
Responsible for projects in the Burundi-Rwanda Vicariate.
This is the official website of the Regional Vicariate of the Discalced Carmelites in Burundi and Rwanda.
Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Website project: Fr. Fryderyk Jaworski, ocd

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