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Schoenstatt
Apostolic Movement

Noviciate of the Schoenstatt Fathers: Reception of Sion Tunic

By: Fr. Léonce Ntakirutimana

Saturday October 14, 2023, was an unforgettable day for 11 novices of the Schoenstatt Fathers who were given the Zion Tunic. It is a liturgical garment characteristic of the seminarians of the Schoenstatt Fathers, marking their official entrance into the novitiate (for the two-year period of training for the priesthood). Everything started at 10 a.m. Bujumbura time.

“Priestly people, kingly People”

The mass began with the procession song, the choir in front, the altar servers behind. Then the 11 novices from 4 countries (2 from Burundi, 1 from Tanzania, 1 from the Democratic Republic of Congo and 7 from Nigeria) entered, with a special outfit for that day. Finally, more than 10 priests entered.

In addition to the Schoenstatt Fathers present at Mount Sion Gikungu, Fr. Joy Puthussery, member of the general council of Schoenstatt Fathers, responsible for formation; the vicar general of the Diocese of Tabora in Tanzania (originally from the parish of Isingiro, Diocese of Kayanga) Fr. Rwechungura Faustine Frugensi; and Fr. Gilbert Ndayishimiye of the Diocesan Institute of Priests of Schoenstatt, who was recently appointed regional vice-rector for the region of Nazareth (Burundi), were also present.

The ceremony took place in the Eucharistic Chapel located in the Great Trinity Church. Fr. Herménégilde Coyitungiye, superior delegate, presided over the mass and Fr. Joy delivered the homily in which he essentially invited the novices to make Christ their priority.

The mass ended with a procession to the Shrine of Peace and Reconciliation, where the novices dedicated themselves to our Mother Thrice Admirable for the success of their formation process. The Eucharist was followed by a shared meal in the novitiate garden.

Listen to the testimony of the novices

It was a dream comes true for us. That special feeling of being part of a special and greater call. The investiture with the Zion tunic, as our novice master would always say is a great gift given to you the novices, it is a way to say welcome and it is the official beginning of the Novitiate and this great journey to Emmaus to meet Christ. The investiture ceremony was very significant, and it started with the retreat held for us by our novice master where he elaborately explained what the Zion tunic is and what it meant to us as novices and to the Schoenstatt Fathers community. We also had a talk via online with Fr. Alfred Kistler about the history and background of Zion.

On that day, well prepared we processed with smiling faces from the sacristy. The joy on our faces to eventually receive the Zion tunic after many years of savouring for this moment. During the mass, Fr. Joy who was the homilist said extensively that Christ is our priority and we should continue to make Christ our priority. It was time for the rites of investiture and the resounding sound of us saying “Oui, je suis prêt” that we are ready for this mission and for the journey, our willingness to be part of this mission. After vesting us with the Zion tunic, we were congratulated by our families who were physically present and heavily represented. It was a very nostalgic day for us.

Names and origins of the novices:

HAKIZIMANA Eloge (Burundi)
OGBONNAYA Kennedy Chigozie (Nigeria)
MUHINDO Byeragi Timothée (RDCongo)
UGWUOKE Malachi Ejike (Nigeria)
ORJI Raphael Emmanuel Chukwunonyereanyi (Nigeria)
NGABONZIZA Odilon (Burundi)
NNAWUIHE Jude Chigozie (Nigeria)
BEGUMISA Anord Thomas (Tanzania)
AKUME Wisdom Amejuma (Nigeria)
AHANOTU Kennedy Chibundum (Nigeria)
AYOGU Emmanuel Obinna (Nigeria)

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