After six months of novitiate, the novices of St. Dominic Priory, Kigali, Rwanda were clothed with the habit of the Order of Preachers. As is the tradition in the Provincial Vicariate of Rwanda and Burundi, the ceremony took place on the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, on Wednesday 28th January 2015. It was during the conventual Mass at 6 pm, presided over by brother Sixbert Hategekimana, Vicar Provincial of Rwanda and Burundi. One of the novices, Omer Niyimburana speaks of this beautiful ceremony.

We are five novices from two Dominican entities of Africa to receive the habit of the Order. Aphrodis Nkurunziza, Diogene Sano Mwizere (from Rwanda) and Omer Niyimburana (from Burundi) belong to the Vicariate of Rwanda and Burundi. Rock Mvou'o Kima (from Congo-Brazzaville) and Donald Martimien Bikioli (from Cameroon) belong to the Provincial Vicariate of Equatorial Africa. To strengthen collaboration in formation and encourage his novices, the new Vicar Provincial of the Vicariate of Equatorial Africa, Brother Jean Paul Kamaheu was present at the ceremony. All members of the Vicariate Council of Rwanda and Burundi were also present. They all shared the joy of the novices and the entire community of the priory of the novitiate and the faithful who come to pray with us in our priory church of Kigali. Everyone was happy to see how the five novices, who for 6 months appeared as lay people among others, changed suddenly to look like real brothers.

The Mass began with a procession led by the novices, each carrying his habit in his hands, followed by elder brothers. The faithful joyfully awaited us inside the priory church in the middle of singing "Au sein de son Eglise". Brother Sixbert Hategekimana instructed us in his homily for the occasion. As we celebrated the feast of the Angelic Doctor, and a great model in our lives behind Jesus in the footsteps of St. Dominic, the Vicar Provincial urged us to be defenders of the truth, always and everywhere. Because "Veritas" is a word dear to the Preachers, he said it many times in his preaching and in his speech for the occasion. Brother Sixbert told us that we should have a purified and white heart like the habit we were to be clothed in. Therefore we have to wear this habit with dignity and it must become for us a stimulating element for following our journey. The habit that we wear now has a great significance in our Dominican religious life. It is not just a habit, but is a step in our Dominican life. Of course, this is an outward sign by which we are distinct from other laity. But even more, it is the expression of our being and our desire to follow Christ after St. Dominic and his brothers. It is an outward sign of what we are as sons of St. Dominic and what we want to become deeply and gradually. Our joy will be even greater when, after the next six months, each of us will say: "I ... NN ... promise obedience."

The clothing took place while we were following a spirituality session at the Dominican Sisters Missionaries of Africa (DMA), led by Sister Marie-Pascale Crevecoeur. Providence or coincidence! In any case, this session was for us a true retreat to rekindle our spiritual forces and give us the joy of wearing the Dominican habit as virtuous men in body and soul.

fr. Omer Niyimburana, novice O.P.


(16 February 2015)