By Tim Bishop
CLARKSBURG—Sister Maria Rukwishuro, SJI, has been appointed as national adviser of the Zimbabwen Ministry in the United States by Auxiliary Bishop Rutilio J. del Riego of San Bernadino and chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees and Travelers (PCMRT). As national adviser, she will serve as a liaison between the Zimbabwen community in the U.S. and the PCMRT.
“This came as a big surprise to me,” Sister Rukwishuro said. “Here, in West Virginia, we don’t have many Zimbabwen Catholics.”
Sister Rukwishuro said the task of locating Zimbabwen Catholics has been daunting. “It’s been a problem knowing where they all are,” she said. “It is very hard for us to gather everyone in the U.S. So we are trying to support individuals in different states to cinduct regional gatherings.”
Sister Rukwishuro said she was able to locate a Zimbabwen community in Dallas. She traveled there in June to meet with them and discuss what the community needs from the USCCB. “I sat down with the people there and said, ‘what do you need from me?’” she said. “What they told me was that they would really like to have a priest who could say a traditional Zimbabwen Mass in their language.”
Sister Rukwishuro said the meeting in Dallas felt like a homecoming of sorts. “I felt at home with them,” she said. “They gather every Friday to recite the rosary in their homes and enjoy food and prayer. It was very special for me to be with them.”
In a letter to Sister Rukwishuro, Bishop del Riego said that he looks forward to working with her in the challenging yet rewarding ministry of caring for the Zinbabwen community in the U.S. Bishop del Riego said that he is confident that her pastoral outreach will be a source of strength for the community.
Sister Rukwishuro will serve as national adviser until November 2015.