2020-07-01 GENERAL HOUSE

1st July: Anniversary of the deaths of Brothers Chris Mannion and Joseph Rushigajiki

On the first of July we recall the anniversary of the deaths of Brothers Chris Mannion and Joseph Rushigajiki (1994). To take a moment to remember them and to turn our attention to their friendship and their martyrdom is a fraternal duty. They will be, at the same time, a source of generosity for us.

Brother Chris Mannion had been a General Councillor only a few months when, in June 1994, he went on a mission to Ruanda to attempt to rescue the Brothers under threat in Save. He was 43 years old and the youngest member of the Council. He found his death in front of the novitiate and school of Save where the Brothers were. Like Christ, he paid with his life while his Brothers recovered their freedom.

Brother Joseph Rushgajiki had offered to accompany Chris on this dangerous mission and was even more aware of the risk, since he belonged to the country. He set his life at stake for his Rwandan Brothers and for his superior, Chris Mannion. He was only 41.

Thus are woven together two lives given, that of the Brother welcoming into the drama his country is living through, and that of the other come from Rome, witness of the interest of the whole Marist family in the Brothers of  Ruanda.

Br. Chris Mannion

The following thoughts tell us something of the quality of soul of Br. Chris Mannion

More and more I’m convinced that it isn’t the length of life which is important but the passion and commitment with which you live it. This life is a gift to be enjoyed, to be used to the full precisely because it will end in death (MY DEATH) one unforeseen day… I must live this gift of life now without worrying about what will be afterwards. If I don’t, then what is the purpose of the Incarnation?(Chris Mannion, 12 May 1994).

Yesterday, during meditation, for a brief while and for the first time in ages, I had a sense of the presence of Christ, of the Lord, here with me, speaking to me, inviting me to ‘to remain in His love and keep His commandments.’ There was a strong sense of my need to respond to the call to conversion… I need and want to come closer to Jesus; otherwise, this life is one of meaninglessness and of sterile protection from the world. To live life fully, Jesus must be at the centre. Otherwis, why be FMS?” (6 May 1994)

Br. Joseph Rushigajiki

We do not have the thoughts of Br. Joseph, but in the booklet Walking to the end of love, on the martyrs of the Great Lakes, the last paragraphs say:

“He, more than Chris, was aware of the danger; he was from the country and knew that the service that he was rendering Brother Chris was full of risks. He had thrown in his life totally to help his superior in mission and to try to save his Tutsi brothers, he who was Hutu… We should also add that in the morning, Brother Joseph had also risked saving a religious sister and had snatched her from the jaws of death. He had hardly achieved that before he set out again, towards three o’clock in the afternoon, with Brother Chris for his final adventure dictated by love.”

The FMS-Message of July 1994 offers this testimony:

Very practical and with a remarkable capacity for work, he was always an obliging confrère, attentive to the weak and the little ones; a man for difficult missions…

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