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Hope Ministries Fundraiser
Rwandan genocide survivor to speak in Sioux City May 3

By RENEE WEBB, Globe senior reporter
(Email Renee)

Faith can reach a whole new level when your life is threatened.

Well-known Rwanda genocide survivor and author Immaculee Ilibagiza will share her story of faith and forgiveness at Sacred Heart Parish in Sioux City when she speaks May 3 at a fundraiser for Hope Ministries, an African mission group based in Elk Point, S.D.

“Her faith allowed her to forgive horrible things – that is what brought her through,” said Debbie McCalla, a parishioner at Sacred Heart Parish and member of the board for Hope Ministries.

Immaculee will present two talks at Sacred Heart. The first presentation at 9 a.m. is focused on the rosary and how that prayer helped to save her life. The second presentation will be held at 1 p.m. and will center of Immaulee’s message of faith, hope and forgiveness.

“She has said praying the rosary saved her life,” said McCalla, co-chair of the event. “For me as a Catholic knowing the power of the rosary and relying on our mother in heaven is such a part of our faith. Immaculee talking and letting people know it helped her can help others.”

The speaker’s message of hope, she said, is one that everyone should hear. Immaculee and several others hid a bathroom for more than 90 days as hundreds of thousands were massacred – and yet her faith and hope continued.

Event schedule

The event will be divided into two sessions, with the morning session running 9 to 11:30 a.m. and the afternoon session running 1 to 3:15 p.m. Cost is $20 per session. The doors will open at 8 a.m.

Each session will include a talk that is expected to last about one hour and 15 minutes. McCalla said there will be time for people to check out items for sale by Immaculee such as books as well as additional items for sale like African baskets and jewelry. The sessions will also include a book signing.

Lunch is available for $10 if it is reserved and paid for in advance. A second option, for those who wish to have lunch with Immaculee, costs $30.

Pre-registrations are not necessary to attend one or both of the sessions but are welcomed. You can find a registration slip and more information at hopeministries.co/immaculee.

Hope Ministries

Hope Ministries was founded in January of 2013 by Gayle Stroschein, a member of St. Joseph Church in Elk Point.

After being involved in mission trips for several years, Stroschein decided to start up a new ministry focused on medical mission trips to Tanzania. She became involved in missionary work, after surviving breast cancer.

Thus far, the group has taken just one official trip and two are planned – one for May and June. She has connected and partnered with a congregation of nuns who work at St. Joseph Hospital in Moshi.

In addition to her previous work with medical mission trips, she is drawn to this work partly because she had been a nursing instructor for years.

“Our main message is one of faith, hope and love,” Stroschein said. “While we are medically focused, we do work with children’s homes.”

Given Immaculee’s message of faith, hope and forgiveness, Stroschein felt a presentation by the Rwandan genocide survivor would be a great fit. Plus, there was another tie.

“From the very beginning I had heard about the Rwandan genocide because where I work out of is Arusha, Tanzania, and they do all of the court cases,” noted Stroschein. “I have brought university students over there and we have actually visited this place and listened to a trial.”

Along with medical personnel, college students are encouraged to participate in the trips to gain medical and cultural experience.

Through the trips to Africa, Stroschein has been humbled by the people. She described them as filled with love, joy and prayer – and yet, they often do not know where there next meal if coming from.

“This is a great cause,” McCalla stressed. “Gayle’s commitment and energy is very contagious. You want to be a part of it because it’s such a good feeling to help others. I know there are a lot of people in our country who need help, but there are so many more resources here. Over there, there are not the resources so the need is great.”

Proceeds of this fundraiser will go to Hope Ministries thanks to the generosity of sponsors who covered the speaker’s costs. The upcoming fundraiser is the largest event the ministry has ever organized. In addition to the event in Sioux City, Immaculee will speak at 6:30 p.m., May 2, at St. Michael Church in Sioux Falls.

“Part of doing this large event is to help people learn about Hope Ministries because it is so new,” McCalla said. “We do want people to hear the name and identify us with medical trips to Africa.”

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