The first Marian Evangelization Center planned for Africa in association with the “Mary of Nazareth” Project will be located near the site of the Marian apparitions of Kibeho in Rwanda, also known as the “Lourdes of Africa.” The paramount importance of the Shrine of Our Lady of Kibeho comes from the fact that the apparitions were officially approved by the Roman Catholic Church in 2001 and that they are currently the only Marian apparitions in Africa with this status.
Between 1981 and 1989, the Virgin Mary appeared to several girls at a Catholic boarding school. Her message is an urgent call to convert and do penance. Mary encourages us to love God and our neighbor; she stresses the redemptive role of suffering, the necessity of sincere, heartfelt prayer, and the importance of the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows of Mary. At this time, the Virgin clearly predicted the terrible genocide that occurred in Rwanda in 1994, the smallest yet the most populated country in Africa, where one eighth of the inhabitants were killed and two million displaced. The Virgin’s messages also mentioned the threat of punishment caused by immorality and the insidious spread of apostasy.
She is honored in Kibeho under the title of "Mother of the Word," according to her own wish. The Virgin's messages are addressed to the whole world and echo many other famous apparitions of our time. These apparitions were approved on behalf of the universal Church on June 29, 2001, by the bishop of Gikongoro, Msgr Misago (d. 2012).
The Church of Our Lady of Sorrows of Kibeho, like many other places in the world, was chosen by the Virgin Mary to encourage pilgrimages, to help people to pray and obtain graces. Its construction was delayed by the civil war and the difficult economic recovery. It was not until May 31, 2003 that the church was finally blessed and inaugurated. The operation and spiritual activity of the Shrine of Our Lady of Kibeho is entrusted to the Pallotine Fathers.
The numerous pilgrims who visit the Shrine come from Africa and other parts of the world (United States, Poland, Germany, France, Italy, etc.). After praying at the Shrine of Our Lady of Kibeho before the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows, the faithful will often come to pray before the large statue of the Divine Mercy at “Cana” Marian Formation Center of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception (MIC), which also provides thirty rooms for pilgrims. According to the Marian Fathers’ estimates, more than 2 million pilgrims have already visited the "Cana" Center since the year 2004 when the statue of Jesus was erected.
“Nazareth” is the name of the future Marian Evangelization Center of Kibeho. It will be an extension of the existing “Cana” Marian Formation Center, situated one mile from the Shrine of Our Lady of Kibeho. The principal mission goals of MICity (the “Cana” and “Nazareth” complex) are Marian formation and evangelization through the media. Five different showrooms will present the Creation, the life of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, and the Church after the Pentecost.
Many other apparitions of the Virgin Mary around the world will also be evoked.
The project includes:
The Congregation of Marian Fathers (MIC) would like to later add to this list the following projects:
The architectural drawings for MICity were made pro bono by the American architect Henry Fitzgibbon. God willing, the Marian Evangelization Center of Kibeho is expected to open its doors in September 2015.