By Allison Gingras
In September 2018, WINE held an Anchor of Hope conference in Sommerville, NJ, which I was blessed to attend. Also, in attendance that weekend, a holy sweet priest by the name of Ubald Rugirangoga. Fr. Ubald, whose smile could light up not only a room but right to the core of your soul, was a survivor of the Rwandan genocide, a renowned healer, and a powerful agent of forgiveness and peace around the world. He touched millions of lives—here is how I was blessed to have him touch mine.
Encounters with Holiness
First through a blessed chance encounter, the afternoon of the conference. The night before, Fr. Ubald, prayed with the core group of women who organized and facilitated the conference. WINE knows women can not give what we do not have. We must be filled with the Spirit in order to share it with others. Many of the women were slain in the Spirit as they allowed the peace and love of the Lord to wash over them and bring them rest. When it was my turn, I fought, in fear, the urge to surrender and literally walked away, feeling empty.
The next day, through truly a gift of the Spirit, I found a unique opportunity to speak alone with Fr. Ubald. I shared my experience and sought his wisdom and counsel on my block to trust God. He gave me his trademark broad, warm smile and said, “Come, walk with me.” For twenty minutes, Father taught me about surrender to the will of God as a choice and a gift. As I shared some difficulties to trust, which stemmed from my childhood, he spoke so gently about reconciliation, forgiveness, and healing.
Today, as I learned of Fr. Ubald’s passing, my heart ached to recall his words. Why had I not paid closer attention? Why was I so occupied with what I wanted to say and ask? His words feel muted, and many are simply lost. Today, I wondered how many times have I done this with Jesus? Come to him with questions and as He tries to answer, I miss what He has to say because I am preoccupied with my own thoughts. Why, in the presence of holiness, do I fail to embrace the grace before me? How grateful I am to serve and follow a God of second chances and endless mercy.
Gift of Healing
Later that evening, Fr. Ubald would leave a lasting gift with me—one I gratefully was open to receive. At the time of the conference, I was suffering from acute dyshidrotic eczema on my hands. They were practically useless from the fissures, swelling, and pain, exacerbated by my crippling fear of infection; my work and life had been almost on hold for three years. Although exhausted like the rest of us, Fr. Ubald agreed to do another special evening of prayer for the ladies gathered to celebrate the incredible graces that poured from the conference that day.
As Father placed his hands upon my head, I felt a warmth and hope I’d never experienced before. Later, after praying over everyone, Fr. Ubald announced the healings he believed had occurred, including the healing of someone’s hands. Shortly after our visit, after years of trying every cream, diet restriction, and antidote I could find—with absolutely no change to my hands—they miraculously healed.
The most important lesson I carry from these memories—when walking among saints, pay attention; these moments are precious and may not come again. And peace comes from giving yourselves completely, totally, and wholeheartedly to Jesus because He is trustworthy and has already given everything for you!
Eternal rest grant unto Fr. Ubald, O Lord, may perpetual light shine upon him as you welcome him into your loving arms. Dearest Fr. Ubald, please pray for us.
Call to Action
Set a resolution this year to talk less and listen more intently to the wisdom and hearts of others.