When Winnie Muchuba was invited to be part of a Catholic refugee center's pilgrimage to Rome, her worshiping community at Jubilee Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in St. Catharines, Ont., rejoiced with her and prayed for her on her way. She recently completed the 10-day trip representing Romero House, a refugee housing and advocacy agency in Toronto, Ont.
Muchuba has been part of Jubilee's fellowship, along with her seven children, for the past two years. In 2013, when she was pregnant with her youngest child, she lived at Romero House. She’d arrived to visit a Canadian friend near Toronto, and her friend encouraged her to not risk going back to Uganda where her six other children waited in an orphanage. Her husband had been killed in their native Congo. At Romero House Muchuba made connections with the agency’s interns and volunteers and received help to eventually bring her other children to join her in Canada. One of those connections was with the daughter of a Jubilee Fellowship CRC member who introduced Muchuba to the congregation when she relocated her family in 2016.
Having earned a Master’s degree in Human Rights and International Human Rights at the Universite Catholique of Bukavu and lived a refugee experience, Muchuba now speaks on behalf of and advocates for others who are seeking safety. At the Vatican, she was one of eight representatives for Romero House at the October 14 canonization of Oscar Romero, the archbishop of El Salvador who was killed in 1980.
“The story of Romero is my story,” Muchuba said. “Coming from a country with war, seeing people killed, my husband killed just because he was an activist—he wanted to bring calm.” Muchuba said the several days the group spent in Rome were filled with opportunities to interact with social justice groups, including the United Nations refugee agency. She said she hoped their work would “bring joy and hope to other people’s lives.”
Rev. Jack Vanderveer, community support pastor at Jubilee, expressed joy at having Muchuba and her family share in congregational life. “When Winnie comes to us in the name of the Lord and we receive her in the name of the Lord, that’s great celebration.” he said. “When we members in a Christian Reformed Church happily pray Winnie on her way to go to the Vatican, I believe that we’re demonstrating the unity of the body of Christ, which over the years has become so fragmented—we’re looking higher than the fragmentation that we’ve become accustomed to.”