Immaculee Ilibagiza has written a short book about her personal favourite seer from the days when Our Blessed Mother came on urgent business to try and prevent the Rwandan genocide. If you have not read Immaculee’s other books Led By Faith and Left to Tell I recommend them highly. Before reading this book about Emmanual Segatashya is would be worth reading her other books on her survival of the Rwandan Genocide and Our Lady’s visit to Kibeho in the 1980’s.
Now, first I need to say something about private revelation. We know that all public revelation of the Faith ended with the death of the last apostle (presumably St. John). After that no new revelation has or can be given. While doctrine can mature and organically develop it cannot change. Private revelation can only reiterate what we should already know from Scripture and Tradition.
The Faithful are not bound to believe in any particular private revelation, although obviously some sensible discernment would mean accepting some as truthful. For example, I am writing this on Divine Mercy Sunday, which is based on the private revelations of St. Faustina who conversed with both Jesus and Our Blessed Mother and received the message that we need to be seeking God’s mercy, rather than His judgement.
The Church can take an awful long time before She gives her approval or disapproval of a revelation. Sometimes the decision is made quickly, especually where there are obvious problems, and on rare occasions a decision can be made quickly where it seems the message is clear and urgent. In Rwanda the bishop was on the ball and gave initial approval for some of the visions fairly quickly. The urgency of Our Lady’s message was so important that the bishop wisely approved the prayers and conversion that she was asking for.
A commission was set up to investigate all those who claimed to receive visions at the time and by this point the final decisions on many of them are still not in.
The decision about the visions received by Segatashya has not been made and therefore his visions at this moment remain unapproved – that is no decision has been made. Immaculee begins her book by saying those on the commission believed him and believe the young man will eventually receive approval, but she does make it clear that it has not yet happened and she adds that some of the interviews and tapes done with him were lost in the Genocide. Very sadly Segatashya along with some of the other visionaries were murdered in that all out demonic slaughter.
Immaculee then goes on to tell us about Segatashya. He was a pagan, born to a pagan family in the substance farming land of Rwanda. He grew up in a grass hut, helping with the bean crop every year. If the crop failed they would starve. He was fairly old when his mother decided she wanted him to get some sort of education and his dad walked him the long miles to the nearest school. Segatashya however thought there were better things to do than be stuck in a hot hut classroom all day and so avoided school. In the end he simply never received an education. When Jesus first approached Segatashya the boy had no idea who He was, but He felt sure He was important and immediately attempted to do as he had been asked.
Whether you accept that the visions happened or not, something happened to that pagan child, which lead to him and his entire family being baptised. Jesus sent his teenaged son away from the bean field and out to Burundi and the Congo to preach the Gospel. He received the gift of tongues when needed so he could preach in the local languages (having only learned his own kinyarwanda).
Immaculee gives some of the edited highlights from the massive interviews of the commission, which show us Segatashya knew he would die young and knew that God was warning people to stop the hatred before full scale evil and violence erupted. Of course we know that neither Segatashya nor the other visionaries were taken seriously enough and ten years later all hell quite literally broke loose in Rwanda and has continued in the Congo neighbouring regions.
One area where I think the editing was a little off was in letting some of the interviews go without some proper explanation. This has caused a couple of reviewers to misunderstand some of what happened. At one point Segatashya wants to know what Jesus suffered in His Passion. As with many saints who have received the immense consolation of face to face time with Jesus and His Mother, Segatashya was asked to partake of some of the Passion. As a result he received a terrible spiritual beating. It does not come across plainly enough in the book that this was part of the seer participating in Christ’s Passion. Only by knowing the immensity of the pain and suffering of saints like St. Francis of Assisi, Catherine of Siena, Padre Pio and seers like Bl Maria Taigi do we grasp what was asked of Segatashya here. It was asked in part because he was a witness for the people who were rejecting God and about to embark on a blood bath that still shocks the world today.
Another point in the book that I think has or will raise hackles is where Segatashya tells a protestant minister that Jesus wants all men to be the best they can be in whatever faith they are in. This could come across as syncretism or indifference. I don’t think that is what was happening here, but the lack of explanation could leave Segatashya’s words (on what he claimed Jesus said) open to this interpretation. But there are subtle additions in the text in which Jesus says that those who have more of the faith will have more expected of them. So we see that as Catholics who have the fullness of the Faith being part of the Church Christ Himself founded, we must be better, follow more closely and probably suffer more, than can be expected of good people seeking God who have yet to find the fulness of truth. Essentially it seemed to me that Jesus had told Segatashya that so long as men sought the Truth, whether they had found it fully or not at death, He would show them mercy.
Immaculee met Segatashya only once and spent a few short hours talking with him. He was a simple man who worked as a handy man once the visions stopped. Despite his gift of tongues he never learned to read. Soon after the meeting the lives of both were convulsed by the outbreak of genocide. Emmanuel Segatashya was murdered . His sister Christine managed to survive and she and Immaculee eventually met up.
This is a moving story, in light of the back story. It’s short, perhaps too short, but in light of the other books it is a great little addition to the story.
I hope one day Emmanuel Segatashya will stand alongside Alphonsine Mumureke, Nathalie Mukamazimpaka and Marie-Claire Mukangango as an approved visionary of Our Lady of Kibeho.
The message of repentance, prayer and truly loving our neighbour and especially the sanctity of marriage is still vital today. If we don’t turn around soon, how are we to avoid what happened in Rwanda?