Facts and Figures on the Rwandan Catholic Church

Kigali Archdiocese - The Bishop is Archbishop Taddée Ntihinyurwa. The priests working in the diocese are as follows: 40 diocesan; 3 fidei donum; and 43 religious. There are about 210,000 Christians of other denominations. The population has been increasing since 1994 due to the many Tutsi returned from exile.

Butare Diocese - The Bishop is Mgr. Philippe Rukamba (from Kibungo Diocese, nominated 2nd. January, 1997). He took over from Mgr. Jean-Baptiste Gahamanyi. The diocese was created in 1961 as Astrida and was renamed Butare in 1963. Before the genocide the population, mainly Tutsi, was 900,000. There were 500,000 Catholics and 30,000 catechumens in 1992. Save was the first parish established in Rwanda (1900). At present the priests in the diocese number as follows: 87 diocesan; 4 fidei donum; and 32 religious. Many of the diocesan priests live outside Rwanda (studies, work for the Church, and in exile). Since 1994 25 diocesan priests have been ordained. The Nyakibanda National Major Seminary is in Butare Diocese.

Byumba Diocese - The Bishop is Mgr. Servilien Nzakamwita. The priests working in the diocese are as follows: 4 diocesan; 14 fidei donum; and 12 religious. During the genocide more than 200,000 people were killed in the diocese and 300,000 have returned from exile. These comprise of 50% under 15 years old, 10% are orphans and 70% women. A great deal of the diocese's work is caring for this population.

Cyangugu Diocese - The Bishop is Mgr. Jean Damascene Bimenyimana (from Nyundo Diocese, nominated 2nd. January, 1997). The diocese is in the west of the country and was created in 1981. The area is still suffering from the effects of the genocide and the insecure situation. Missionaries who worked in the diocese left, there are no male religious congregations (previously 4) now and there are 8 congregations of women religious (previously 13). 25% of the population follow traditional religions, and 3% are Muslims.

Gikongoro Diocese - The diocese suffered a great deal from the genocide and the ensuing war. 75,000 people, the bishop and 12 priests were murdered, despite the area being part of the French 'Operation Turquoise'. The present Bishop, Philippe Rukamba (from Butare Diocese), took over after the arrest of Bishop Misago. There are 4 diocesan priests and 10 fidei donum priests.

Kabgayi Diocese - The present Bishop is Mgr. Anastase Mutabazi (1996). In 1994 the then Bishop, Mgr. Thaddee Nsengiyumva, was murdered. Fr. André Sibomana took over as Apostolic Administrator until the appointment of the new Bishop. There are 39 diocesan priests, 9 fidei donum; 5 religious priests. As a result of the genocide and the war there are many social and pastoral problems.

Kibungo Diocese - The Bishop is Mgr. Frédéric Rubwejanga. There are 44 diocesan priests. The population of the diocese has increased by 200,000, mainly Tutsi, since the conflict. 17% of the population follows the traditional religion and there are a number of sects.

Nyundo Diocese - Mgr. Wenceslas Kalibushi stepped down on the 2nd. January, 1997, and Bishop Alexis Habiyambere S.J. (from Butare Diocese, Regional Superior of the Jesuits in Rwanda and Burundi) took over. The diocese is the largest in the north of the country and was established in 1959. During the genocide 32 priests were murdered and several priests and major seminarians are in exile. There are 22 diocesan priests, 2 fidei donum, Josephite Brothers and 5 different Women's religious congregations in the diocese. Islam is a growing influence in the diocese as are the 'Eglise de la Restauration' and the 'Bahai' sects.

Ruhengeri Diocese - The Bishop is Mgr. Kizito Bahujimihigo (from Kibungo Diocese). There are 12 diocesan priests, 1 fidei donum, and 19 religious priests. Of the 51 major seminarians 23 are in the country and 28 study abroad. The diocese has 35,000 catechumens and there are 240,000 Christians from other churches. Security is a problem in the area as many of the 'Hutu army' have returned from the Congo and there are clashes with the Rwandan army.

The First Rwandan Bishop was Mgr. Aloys Bigirumwami (b. 22/12/1904) consecrated Bishop of Nyundo on the 10th. November, 1959.

The First Rwandan Priests were Balthazar Gafuku (from Zaza Parish) and Donat Leberaho (from Save Parish) ordained on the 7th. October, 1917. Joseph Bugondo (from Save Parish) ordained on the 29th. June, 1919.

The First Rwandan White Fathers were François Xavier Bigeziki, born on the 20th. April, 1948, from Runaba Parish, and was ordained on the 28th. August, 1983. Now working in Burkina Faso.

Ladislas Komezusenge born on the 30th. December, 1949, from Rwaza Parish, and was ordained on the 5th. August, 1984. Worked in Tanzania and was killed in a car accident at Arusha on the 9th. August, 1997.

André Lyumugabe, born on the 9th. December, 1963, from Muyunzwe Parish, and was ordained on the 8th. August, 1993. Worked in Zaire and is now working in Burkina Faso.

Jean Claude Kaburame born on the 18th. March, 1965, from Muhororo, and was ordained on the 18th. August, 1996. Now working in Mali.

The First White Fathers established the Save Parish on the 8th. February, 1900.

The First White Sisters established themselves at Save on the 12th. March, 1909.


Main sources for information about the dioceses: International Fides Service of: 23rd. January, 1997; 13th. and 20th. March, 1998; 8th. May, 1998; and 18th. September, 1998; material received from Rwanda about the Jubilee.


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