A mother who loves her children warns them when they are in danger. The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus, has been warning her children for years. Some have listened. Others have not.

In November of 1981, she began appearing to three students in Rwanda. At the site of the only Vatican-approved apparitions on the African continent, Our Lady of Kibeho told the visionaries that if people did not turn from sin and hatred, there would be “a river of blood.”

In 1994, the prophecy came true. Nearly a million Rwandans were killed in a genocide that raged for three months, with members of the Hutu tribe engaged in a frenzied effort to obliterate the Tutsis. Immaculée Ilibagiza, who survived the massacre, spoke about her ordeal — and the faith that saw her through it — at St. Andrew the Apostle Parish last month.

A dear friend of mine, Fr. James Kelleher, SOLT, read Ilibagiza’s book a few years ago and was deeply moved by it. Fr. Kelleher, who travels the United States promoting the rosary, was asked to lead an event at Our Lady of Kibeho Church in Rwanda in 2007.

Billed as a five-day pilgrimage for healing and reconciliation, some 1,500 Hutus and Tutsis began their journey at the site where Our Lady of Kibeho appeared. They walked 15 miles each day, praying the rosary, until they arrived at a large stadium where the bishop — a Tutsi whose life was threatened in the 1994 killing spree — celebrated Mass.

Back in the early 1980s, Our Lady of Kibeho stressed that her messages to pray and repent were not just for Rwandans — they were for the entire world. In other words, just as Our Lady of Fatima emphasized in 1917, prayer and conversion of heart can help avert disaster. Ignoring the call to conversion proved disastrous then, too, and the horrors of World War II resulted.

‘Rivers of blood’

Although Fr. Kelleher was in Fatima during the Nov. 6 election, I spoke to him a week prior to his departure and asked how he thought Americans might be awakened to the fact that we need to return to God. According to a report published by the Pew Research Center last month, about 20 percent of American adults have no religious affiliation. For adults under 30, it climbs to almost a third.

“I would suggest that if people have been thinking about praying the daily family rosary but they keep putting it off, they should start. Their praying the daily family rosary could stop rivers of blood,” Fr. Kelleher said. “The United States is not immune — it’s so vulnerable right now. We have set ourselves up for heavy chastisements.”

It’s not a message we like to hear. We prefer instead the niceties of a sentimental religion, the dangerous deception that there couldn’t really be a hell, there couldn’t really be a coming chastisement for sin. After all, a “nice” God wouldn’t allow it.

The effect of his trip to Rwanda, Fr. Kelleher said, was sobering. “I said to myself, “How bad could these Rwandans have been? How can we escape?”

America, with its 50 million abortions, rampant sexual sin and an entertainment industry that spreads its corrupting influence throughout the world, has a lot of repenting to do. Yes, we give a lot of money to help the poor. Yes, we are the freest, most prosperous nation in the history of the world. We are also the most decadent ever. “To whom much has been entrusted, much will be expected.”

Fr. Kelleher says that as he travels the country, he is encouraged that he sees more and more people praying the rosary. “One of Our Lady’s promises is that those who pray the rosary every day receive the grace of special protection. When people don’t pray the rosary,” Fr. Kelleher said, “they are many times more vulnerable.”

To read more about Our Lady of Kibeho and the Seven Sorrows rosary that she asked people to pray, visit Immaculee.com. Perhaps if all of us recommit ourselves to prayer we can help bring peace to our world.