St. Peter’s Church is not the kind of place you would expect to see people from Rwanda. But every year at this time, this Catholic church across from the Harvard Astronomy Observatory holds a Mass to commemorate the Rwandan genocide. This year was the fourteenth anniversary of the killings. It’s my fourth year at the memorial Mass, which is a record for me in Catholic church attendance, since I am not a Catholic. Sister Ann Fox from the Paraclete Center was there. Her project to build a middle school for girls in Rwanda was recently featured on the front page of the Boston Globe. The Maranyundo School for girls opened its doors in February 2008. Sister Augusta was also there. She came to the Paraclete Center on sabbatical from her convent in Rwanda. Her entire family was wiped out in the genocide, along with 77% of the entire Rwandan Tutsi population. Father Romaine officiated the Mass. He received his call to the priesthood when he was hiding in the forest during the genocide. His homily included a story about the stars, which I want to relate to you.
When I was a little boy, my grandmother would sit us children down under a clear night sky and say: “The stars are not just stars. They are the eyes of angels in heaven. When you are good, the angels are happy. When you are bad, the angels are sad.”He paused. “During the genocide, my parents were killed, my brothers and aunts and uncles and cousins were killed. My friends were killed. And my neighbors were killed. But you have to go on. You must figure out a way to gain the courage to keep living. So I looked up at those same stars. The angel eyes now had names. They were my parents, my uncles, my cousins and my friends and neighbors. And I have a responsibility to them to keep going and to make some good in my life.