Fr. Zeno Mbishinzimana
The Chaplain believes that every person has dignity and value in the society. These elements are both physical and spiritual. So, in the chaplaincy, within the University, we offer all possible opportunities to safeguard and develop these elements in our community members (students, staff and neighbours). The Chaplain is here to help the people under his care in any way possible.
The following services are provided in the various ways.
- Spiritual nourishment of the university community: First and foremost, the chaplain takes care of the souls of the community Christians, and all those people who come to his reach and yearn for his spiritual service. In this category, he conducts Holy Eucharist for the community on a daily basis. On weekdays, Holy Mass is at 7.15 am, while on Sundays it is at 10.30 am. He encourages and gives Sacraments to those who are in need (especially confession). However, other sacraments like baptism, confirmation, marriage and the anointing of the sick may be administered after due arrangements. He encourages personal prayer and meditations when the opportunity permits.
- Guidance and counselling: The chaplain constantly guides his Christians (generally through Sunday homilies). Sundays are the main occasions for the chaplain to get big audiences for his input. But in particular cases, he avails himself for the individuals who need his guidance and counselling. This may be spiritual in matters of faith, or it may be social in matters of social issues like conflicts, crises, tragedies, or family problems among others. Sometimes, dilemmas in regard to career choice may also be tackled.
- Moral and ethical building: The chaplain mainly deals with young students who are still active in the area of discovery for their future, for friends, for identity, for faith, and for prosperity. Such experiences pose a great deal of challenges, sometimes generating confusion to individual students’ concerned, and quite often exposed to strange and crazy behaviours. This is quite a difficult area because it involves correction, and not many students want to admit mistakes. In any case, this service is not limited to students only. Even staff members, married or unmarried, are also offered the opportunity.
- Meetings and prayer groups: The chaplain engages student leaders in meetings to discuss issues that pertain to the church community. It is also an occasion for him to train young people to face and solve their own problems. This is done mainly after Holy Mass on weekdays or Sundays, or at some other time on appointment. I do encourage prayer group meetings, but it is still a challenge for one chaplain to be available for all the group meetings or prayers since they very are often held on the same day (Sundays).
- Chapel development: With a chapel established in the university, it provides a proper place with opportunities for worship. It offers a proper place for: Holy Mass, holy adoration and Benediction, or prayers, or for personal meditations. And the chaplain has the obligation, in collaboration with the university authorities, to ensure security and maintenance of the chapel status. He also has to ensure that relevant means of engaging the community members, for effective service, are employed. In future, modern means like live streaming may be used to reach a wider audience.
- Lay apostolate faith groups: The chaplain directs the lay apostolate groups that exist in our institution. Currently, there are 3 of them: Legionaries, Catholic Charismatic Renewal, and the Chapel choir. The chaplain coordinates their activities, and gives them pieces of advice when needed. For the sake of socialization, the chaplain facilitates them in most of their workshops and get-together functions. But this is done when funds are available- mainly on private donations level. We hope that sooner or later, the chaplaincy or the university will be capable to facilitate these functions.
- Lay leadership: Although our university campus structure is different from our church parish structures, given the nature of our population, we still encourage lay leadership in our chapel community. We encourage the students and staff members who are willing to serve the community to use the opportunities given, so that they can develop their skills. They serve in different capacities, as chairpersons, committee members, or altar servers, or readers (lectors) in the church.
- Training Readers or servers for Church Liturgy: The chaplain tries to get time to train readers (lectors) from students for liturgical functions, especially for the Eucharist. This is to encourage personal involvement in church liturgical functions for the students. Experience shows that students and staff involvement in liturgical functions is increasing from time to time. They only need to build confidence for public speaking.
- Training chapel choir: to empower the chapel choir to have quality liturgy music for Masses and prayers, the chaplain ensures that the choir gets regular training. This is aimed at inspiring the Christian prayer. Two instructors are facilitated to train the choir members twice a week in principle. But in case of need, the training can be done more than twice a week in some occasions.
- Marriage and Baptism Centre: these two sacraments (Marriage and Baptism) require that the place in question be registered for them. To facilitate the university community with these said sacraments, the Chaplain, through the Diocesan authorities, will ensure that the staff and students who desire to have them at the university chapel will conveniently have them. The plans to apply for the said Centre Registration is underway.
- Community sharing and get-together: We have been encouraging some community meal sharing on some occasions. This is to encourage inter-personal relations between students themselves, as well as between staff and students. It is also meant to enhance brotherly care and spirit of sharing resources among members, and eventually spirit of service for the community. The big challenge for this activity is finance, which limits the number of times that a community can have such re-unions.
- Need of external facilitators on pertinent issues: With sufficient financial facilitation, there is a need to involve some experts in some areas to address the students (especially) in some important issues that affect their health, studies, social relations, religion and science, readiness for marriage obligations, etc.
- ‘Sharing Hall’ and students’ hostel: In partnership with the diocese, there is a plan to secure space for facilities like a Sharing Centre or Hall to comfortably facilitate students’ functions of get-together and workshops. It is also envisaged that a decent hostel built and run by the chaplaincy may give a conducive environment to the learners for studying well. Such a hostel (or hostels) will also ensure security for our students.