Immaculée Ilibagiza, survivor of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and a New York Times best-selling author, will discuss her journey of survival and forgiveness on Tuesday, October 19 at Mount Saint Mary College.
The talk, hosted by the college's Campus Ministry and the Catholic and Dominican Institute, will begin at 7 p.m. in Aquinas Hall on campus. Mount Saint Mary College is located at 330 Powell Ave., Newburgh, N.Y.
The public is invited to attend the presentation. Please see the "attending the panel" heading below for important instructions on how to secure a seat.
Ilibagiza was born and raised in a small village in Rwanda, Africa. She went on to the National University of Rwanda to study electrical and mechanical engineering. But while she was home from school on Easter break in 1994, her life was transformed forever: The assassination of the Hutu president on April 6 of that year sparked months of massacres of Tutsi tribe members throughout the country.
Ilibagiza's father told her to hide at a local pastor's house for protection. She and seven other women hid in the pastor's bathroom the next 91 days, while the genocide raged on. During the ordeal, Ilibagiza turned to prayer. Her father, a devout Catholic, had given her a set of rosary beads. She began to pray the rosary as a way of drowning out the anger inside her.
When Ilibagiza was finally liberated, she emerged weighing 65 pounds. Her entire family had been murdered, with the exception of one brother who was studying abroad. In addition to her family, one million of her fellow Rwandans had been killed.
After the genocide, Ilibagiza came face-to-face with the man who murdered her mother and one of her brothers. She told the man, "I forgive you."
In 1998, Ilibagiza emigrated from Rwanda to the United States and continued her work for peace through the United Nations. She has released several books about her ordeal, including Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust and Led by Faith.
Attending the event
If you are a visitor to the college, you may attend this event. To attend the presentation, please provide your name, your phone number, and one of the following proofs to Fr. Gregoire Fluet at Gregoire.Fluet@msmc.edu by 5 p.m. on Monday, October 18:
- Proof of COVID vaccination (photo/copy of Excelsior pass or vaccination card)
- Proof of a negative COVID test within the past 72 hours of the date of the event. (Rapid or PCR tests are acceptable)
- Proof of a positive COVID test within the past 90 days (photo/copy of lab report with guest's name, date of birth, and date of test. If using this option, the guest must have recovered completely by the time they visit campus).
If you are not comfortable with sharing this information via email, please contact Gregoire.Fluet@msmc.edu to set up an alternate means of verifying your COVID proof.
On the day of the event, all guests attending must fill out the MSMC daily health screener (www.msmc.edu/screening) and be symptom free. Guests must show proof of having completed this screener (a "green" screen) by either showing their results at the front gate on a smart phone or as a printout. Do not come to campus if you get a "red" screener result.
All attendees must wear a face covering when on the Mount campus at all times.