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Father Mario Falconi, an Italian priest and human rights defender based in Rwanda, has served as the Priest of Muhura Parish since 1990. Falconi is renowned for his courageous actions during the 1994 Rwandan genocide when he provided shelter and food to over 3,000 Tutsis, including 200 orphans, at Muhura Parish.

His missionary journey began in 1972 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he spent nearly twenty years in Birava and Bukavu. In 1990, he moved to Muhura, Rwanda, after crossing Lake Kivu. When Father Mario arrived, the situation was already difficult: relations between the Hutus, who were in power at the time, and the Tutsis were tense.

The horrors began in 1994, marking a devastating period in Rwanda’s history that claimed the lives of one million people. In Muhura, violence erupted immediately, resulting in daily massacres. Father Mario, who treated everyone equally regardless of ethnicity, sought to save as many people as possible.

One day, as he drove a group of hidden Tutsi children from a village chapel to safety, he encountered an Interahamwe checkpoint. Aware that stopping meant certain death for the children, facing machete-wielding militiamen, he prayed, closed his eyes, and accelerated. The militiamen moved aside, allowing him to escape with the children.

Despite many Europeans fleeing the country, Father Mario Falconi chose to stay in Rwanda and continue his mission.