Rwanda: Good Friday – No Way of the Cross for Christians

This year’s Easter holidays will not be celebrated as usual in Rwanda, owing to the current need to continue preventing the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Among the notable changes to the celebrations is the fact that Catholics will not carry out “the Way of the Cross,” a popular symbolic practice in which a large group of Christians walk a relatively long distance carrying the cross, in remembrance of the sorrowful experience Jesus went through on his way to Calvary where he was crucified 2000 years ago.

Catholics always take part in the ceremony on Good Friday the day on which Jesus Christ died on the cross, and two days before Easter, the day on which he rose from the dead.

According to information from the Ministry of Local Government, the practice will not happen this year, however, Christians will be allowed to attend church services both on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

As such, churches in the country have organised gatherings for Good Friday and Easter Sunday where Christians will listen to the Word of God and key messages from clerics on the important holidays.

Catholics will celebrate mass on Easter Sunday, but not on Good Friday, while some Anglican and Pentecostal churches will have gatherings on both days.

Easter season messages from the clergy

Speaking during a Holy Thursday Mass celebrated on April 1, Cardinal Antoine Kambanda preached about love and selflessness, picking an example from Jesus’ service to his disciples during the Last Supper before he was crucified.

“Like we read from the Gospel, on the night before Jesus died for us, he performed an important sign of washing the feet of the apostles, showing them the selflessness that turns the master into a servant of those he leads,” he said.

“If this is how our world perceives leadership, there would be peace and stability, because instead of fighting for honour and wealth, people would struggle to serve others. Everyone would strive to do things that have positive impact on others,” he added.

Bishop Nathan Rusengo Amooti, the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Kigali, told The New Times in an exclusive interview that the Easter season should be a time in which Rwandans should look at their past, evaluate their present, and determine how they are going to live their future.

Noting that the Easter Holiday comes in April when the country is commemorating the Genocide against the Tutsi, he said this can be a season for Rwandans to have hope for a better life,

“When people don’t see the hope and light in their future, trauma can take over. People who are alive today should have hope that they can live a better life. There is still hope, the past should not hold us prisoners,” he said.

Bishop Fidèle Masengo of Four Square Church in Kimironko, Kigali said Easter is “a season of rethinking God’s love for us and acquiring new hope.”

Despite the fact that this will not be the usual Easter celebrations as we knew them, there has been an improvement from last year when the holidays found Rwanda in a country-wide lockdown where churches were totally closed, and so the Christians celebrated using virtual means.

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