Choose your language EoF

Biographical note of the late sister Henriette (1955-2023) of the Congregation of Bene Mariya Burundi

Sister Henriette, a missionary bridge who embodied God’s Mercy

“You are Lord, my inheritance, the lot of my heart” (Ps 16)

Henriette Mavakure was born on June 21, 1955 into a very Christian family, in the parish of Muyaga, the first mission of the Catholic Church of Burundi. She asked to enter the novitiate of the Congregation of the Bene Mariya Sisters in which she professed her first vows of chastity, poverty and obedience on August 22, 1983 in Busiga in the Ngozi diocese.

Trained as a catechist, Sister Henriette had always expressed a great desire to live a missionary life when she was still in initial training.  Immediately after her first religious profession, in October 1983, the Congregation sent her to Tanzania in the Diocese of Kigoma, where she joined other Bene Mariya Sisters on mission in this region of Tanzania since 1969. Her first destination was the parish of Kasangezi. She began to learn the Giha language and Swahili as well as the customs of the people. At the same time, she began to take care of the catechesis of children and adults, of the integral development of the population especially in the field of education.

Sister Henriette, a courageous and enterprising missionary

Faced with the multiple needs of the population in the field of health and the shortage of qualified healthcare personnel, Sister Henriette was sent from 1985 to 1989 to study at Kabanga College of Health and Allied Science option midwifery. At the end of her studies, she  went to work as a midwife at the Kabanga Hospital in Kigoma. From 1993 to 1994, she was sent to improve her English at St. Joseph’s Minor Seminary in Ujiji in the diocese of Kigoma.

From 1995 to 1997, she was sent to continue her studies at Fakara in Morogoro in Tanzania in the Faculty of Health Sciences.   On her return, Sister Henriette was assigned again to the Kabanga Hospital in the maternity ward. Endowed with a great capacity for organization, the hospital management entrusted her with the responsibility of being in charge the hospital nurses. She has put her multiple skills at the service of the Hospital for its proper functioning and for the greater good of the patients. In each situation she always tried to find a better solution. She had a collegial spirit because she involved the Sisters, the colleagues, the authorities of the Diocese. She had good understanding with the administrative authorities at all levels, the leaders of different religious denominations present in the territory.

Sister Henriette aimed for the integral development of the human person and of families. She has been a better collaborator of the development managers of the Diocese of Kigoma. It is for this reason that the Congregation appointed her responsible of projects in Tanzania. She was so sensitive that she tried with all her strength to promote the development activities of the Congregation itself and the locality.   She encouraged young girls to go to school. Among them, many of them asked to enter the Bene Mariya novitiate in Tanzania which opened its doors in 1994.

Among so many services that Sister Henriette rendered to the Congregation, she agreed to be mistress of novices while waiting for a prepared trainer. She was very obedient. She took great care of the professional training of the young Sisters in order to have a qualified and competent future religious personnel. She rarely took her holidays with her native family, Tanzania had become her home.

Sister Henriette, a Missionary of the Mercy of God

Sister Henriette was a woman of prayer and meditation, and at the same time a very active person. She loved God and people very much. She rendered her service to the sick with mercy and great dedication: she lived for them. She visited the sick in the villages whenever time allowed, in order to see their situation personally in order to intervene whenever financial means allowed.  She did not only take care of the material side of people, but she lived her charisma of making the Christian spirit flourish in families.

As she liked to say, she did everything for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls (St. Ignatius of Loyola). His mercy was truly contagious. She always had a fair word of consolation and comfort for every person who suffers. She was a point of reference for many families whose patients passed by her.  With a gentle character, Sister Henriette was a person of great patience and an ability to listen and relieve the suffering of others.  Many women who came to give birth asked to be assisted and helped by her. She was a reference for many families whose sick people was assisted by her.

In the community, she was known as a person who easily forgives offenses suffered without delay. With great humility, and recognized her weaknesses. She asked for forgiveness every time she was wrong, whether in the community or in her workplace.

Forty years of religious life, forty years of mission

Her entire religious life was missionary.  A tireless missionary, even after her retirement, Sister Henriette, instead of resting, asked to continue her service to the sick people.

It was in July 2023 that she simply asked the Superiors of the Congregation to return to Burundi for treatment because she had been weakened by the illness for a few years. She gave up her soul on November 23, 2023.   Daughter of the first mission of the Catholic Church of Burundi which celebrated the 125 years of evangelization, she left to join the Christ whom she so loved, proclaimed and served in the people who suffer especially the sick.

At her funeral, a huge crowd of priests, religious men and women, lay faithful, who had come from Kigoma and Tabora wanted to participate physically. Many testimonies of sympathy and affection have joined the Congregation.

Thus Sister Henriette has been and will always be a living witness to the love of Christ and a missionary bridge who embodied and will continue to embody the Mercy of God.

Praise be to Jesus Christ!

Sr. Hyacinthe Manariyo

Bene Mariya Congregation


You might also like