September 8 2009 18:45 | Market Square


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Marguerite Barankitse

Witness of the genocide, Burundi

We prayed together in different places in this town of Krakow, so dear to John Paul II, in the Spirit of Assisi which he left to us in heritage. Walking together in the streets of this town we felt that he was with, and close to, us. This morning we undertook a painful journey: the railway track of the concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau carrying people to death. After that pilgrimage I questioned myself: what will I bring back with me to my country? I have to go back with another perspective. The Spirit of Assisi fills us, and is finally part of our life. The Spirit of Assisi is a spirit of dialogue, of coexistence, of compassion, of respect for life, that unites us despite our differences, and this is what creates our harmony.
I come from a country - Burundi, in the heart of Africa – where we badly need this spirit! We experience the power of evil, of ethnic and racial hatred, of war which is a journey of no return. Thanks to the Community of Sant’Egidio, I say this loud and clear, we have been able to overcome what divided us. There is still a long way to go, but now we know where we should head: not towards death, the journey of no return that swallowed millions of men and women in the gas chambers, but instead we should take the path of life, whose source is the love of God.
The Community of Sant’Egidio took this path heading towards Africa, a continent devastated by war, illness, and poverty, where Africans often live in despair. Sant’Egidio brought us the Spirit of Assisi, a wind of peace that enables us to breath fully and freely. It has showed us that it is indeed possible to live the Spirit of Assisi everywhere and in every context. Here, we experience the power of prayer that opens us  to the future. Prayer enlightens us in the darkness of the obscure night, and in these days our prayer kindled a light for the entire world. It is now up to each of us to return home carrying this light and continue to live the Spirit of Assisi.