Br. Alexis Marie Secondaire, OP Miss.
Br. Alexis Marie Secondaire
My vocational story would not make much sense without the life changing encounter I had with Christ at age six. I woke up morning after making morning for routine prayers and Angelus after a mile procession, bringing a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her place of honor near my parents’ house. The statue stayed at my grand father's house because the Jehovah Witnesses had broken all the liturgical images and had destroyed all the chapels of the Virgin Mary built by the Catholic Church in the entire country of Rwanda.
There was a very strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary amongst my family and that contributed to the formation of my religious life. With my parents, I would travel on the dates of the Marian apparitions to Kibeho. At the same time, I saw many signs from heaven. I believe my vocation is the fruit of the apparitions of Kibeho. Right now, Kibeho is the place in Rwanda where there is a very strong devotion to the Mother of God. In recent times, the Mother of God has appeared in various parts of the world and asked for the recitation of the Holy Rosary.
One day, while I was in deep prayer, I prayed to God to guide my vocation and clear my way to His will. Suddenly, I looked at how the Virgin Mary responded to the Angel Gabriel: “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done unto me according to thy word.” This unique woman changed our human history by becoming the Mother of the Word of God Incarnate through her immaculate conception of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. I believe that the Virgin Mary guided me more profoundly into the mystery of her Son when I began to love the morning mass before my school day began.
Throughout my primary school until high school, I loved to pray the Holy Rosary for the poor people, for peace in the world, for the souls in purgatory, and for my vocation. I was a member of various Catholic groups: Legion of Mary, charismatic, Marian Movement of Priests, choir, Servant of Mass. I felt very motivated to be involved in promoting God amongst the people.
When the genocide in Rwanda was over in 1994, I realized how much the Word of God was needed in the world - especially in my country! The people were in darkness while most of the priests were out of the country and many of the others were killed or in jail. It was a hard time for the Christians in Rwanda.
I started by searching and collecting the sacred items from the different churches that were stolen by people because they believed that the churches contained gold that was reserved for God. But these places for God were destroyed by people during the genocide. I prayed the rosary with a small group of people and participated in the Marian Movement of priests.
In the short time of six months, over 2,000 people began to gather with us because some other churches were closed and they were hungry for the Word of God. Many wanted to pray in Thanksgiving to God for saving their lives. I preached in public places because I was one of the few who had some knowledge about the church and praying the Rosary. I worked with them to preach the mission of the Rosary in the country. With these people, I went to different parishes within the country to preach the Rosary’s message - unity and reconciliation. I found how strongly my people hungered for the Gospel. Soon, however, I realized that my teaching was inadequate because I was not trained in philosophy or theology.
Finally, I founded an association for the youth: Youth Street. Children would come to see me and we would talk; they would ask my for money for food, and then, they would ask me what Youth Street was. In reality, we find Christ when we serve the poor. The young children were left without parents or families because they had been killed or fled the country to refugee camps. Some children did not recognize their homes when the war was over. I would listen to them and shared their grief, but I had no real practical solution for them. I only shared what little spiritual direction I could with them.
During Lent, I went to a retreat in Centre Christus for one week. I took time for meditation and prayer. After that retreat, I decided to start studying religious studies and to drop every kind of business in which I worked. Teaching in the deaf school in Rwanda and Burundi increased in me the hunger of this vocation of deaf ministry in its familiarity with love, teaching, studying, culture, and for interpreting. It helped me to find the face of deaf people. Through this experience, I discovered that I enjoy working with deaf people and I have adopted deaf ministry as my life time service in the Lord.