Immaculée Ilibagiza, a New York Times best-selling author and inspirational speaker, on Thursday, Sept. 8. Ilibagiza will present “Immaculée’s Story of Faith, Hope and Forgiveness,” a powerful telling of her survival in the Rwandan genocide. (Provided photo)
Immaculée Ilibagiza, a New York Times best-selling author and inspirational speaker, on Thursday, Sept. 8. Ilibagiza will present “Immaculée’s Story of Faith, Hope and Forgiveness,” a powerful telling of her survival in the Rwandan genocide. (Provided photo)
It’s a heart-moving tale of triumph, survival and faith, and it’s coming to the Albany Diocese.

Holy Family Parish in Little Falls will host Immaculée Ilibagiza, a New York Times best-selling author and inspirational speaker, on Thursday, Sept. 8.

Ilibagiza will present “Immaculée’s Story of Faith, Hope and Forgiveness,” a powerful telling of her survival in the Rwandan genocide and how she learned to forgive through the power of faith. The presentation will run from 6:30-8 p.m., with a book signing from 8-8:45 p.m.

“We’re very lucky to have her,” said Peggy Romano, event chairperson for Holy Family Parish. “She’s a national bestseller. This is a real blessing that we have her coming.”

Born in Rwanda, Ilibagiza’s life came crashing down in 1994 when her country descended into a deadly genocide perpetrated by the Hutus against the minority Tutsi ethnic group. Ilibagiza’s family was brutally murdered during a killing spree that lasted three months and claimed the lives of nearly a million Rwandans.

Incredibly, Ilibagiza survived the slaughter. A Hutu pastor helped conceal Ilibagiza and seven other women in a small bathroom, no larger than 3 feet by 4 feet, for 91 days. During her hiding, Ilibagiza taught herself English, found her faith, and despite all her suffering, committed herself to a life of peace and forgiveness — even for those who murdered her family.

After the genocide ended, Ilibagiza immigrated to the United States and found work with the United Nations. Ilibagiza is most known for her New York Times best-selling book, “Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust,” an autobiography of her survival through her country’s genocide.

She’s gone on to receive five honorary doctoral degrees and has written six additional books about her faith and life journey: “Led by Faith: Rising from the Ashes of the Rwandan Genocide,” “Our Lady of Kibeho,” “If Only We Had Listened,” “Visit from Heaven,” “The Boy Who Met Jesus,” and “The Rosary.” She has been recognized and honored with numerous humanitarian awards, including The Mahatma Gandhi International Award.

“We were surprised when they said, ‘We can come to Little Falls,’ ” Romano said. “We’re all very excited.”

The idea for Ilibagiza’s visit came from the parish’s book club, which had just finished reading “Left to Tell.” Romano reached out to Ilibagiza’s agent and mentioned an interest in hosting the speaker for a night. It felt like a shot in the dark, but to Romano’s surprise, her agent said yes.

“I think it’s provincial that we were able to get her,” said Father Brian Slezak, pastor of Holy Family Parish. “Another church in the area tried to get her and they couldn’t.”

This won’t be the first time Father Slezak has heard Ilibagiza’s story. In 2005, while discerning the priesthood at St. Isaac Jogues Seminary, Father Slezak saw Ilibagiza speak at a Siena College event.

“This was (just over) 10 years after the genocide,” the pastor recalled, “and I remember thinking ‘God is with this woman.’ ”

Today, Ilibagiza is regarded as one of the world’s leading speakers on faith, hope and forgiveness. Father Slezak noted how honored he was for the opportunity to speak with Ilibagiza one-on-one about her faith and her relationship with God.

“She can speak the Gospel in a way that people can relate to,” said Father Slezak. “I’m very privileged; having the time to sit at her feet and listen to her is great.”

Tickets are $15 per person, $20 for a family (parents with children under the age of 18), and can be purchased online at holyfamilylittlefalls.org or by calling (315) 717-2249. Everyone is welcome.