Established on September 11, 1961, the Diocese of Butare then called Astrida, was detached from Kabgayi. Bp. Jean Baptiste GAHAMANYI, was ordained bishop on January 6, 1962. He resigned his episcopal office in January 1997 and died on June 19, 1999. His successor, His Lordship Monsignor Philippe RUKAMBA, was appointed bishop on the 18 January 1997, his episcopal ordination took place on April 12 of the same year and his motto is: « Considerate Iesum »
From a geographical point of view, the Diocese of BUTARE, located in the South of the Country, shares its borders with: the Diocese of Kabgayi in the North, the Archdiocese of Kigali in the Northeast, the Republic of Burundi in the South and East and the Diocese of Gikongoro in the West.
On March 30, 1992, the Catholic Diocese of Butare gave birth to the Diocese of Gikongoro.
On the national evangelization plan, it is on the current territory of the Diocese of Butare that the evangelization of our country began in the locality of SAVE, the first catholic parish in Rwanda.
The Diocese of Butare also hosts the Grand Interdiocesan Seminary of Nyakibanda (1936) which trained hundreds of priests from Rwanda, Burundi and the East of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; There is also a propaedeutic seminary at Nyumba (2006) that guides young people to the discernment of their priestly vocation.
The Diocese of Butare is home to a large number of religious communities due to the houses of formation located there. It currently comprises 26 parishes and includes the university parish. It covers an area of approximately 1,958 km² with a density of 441.9 inhabitants/km². According to the diocesan statistics of the year 2020, the total population reaches 984,425 with a percentage of 59.49 Catholics. Parishes are sub-divided into 98 centers and 2,857 ecclesiastical communities (infrastructures).
At the pastoral level, the Catholic Diocese of Butare is subdivided into deanaries namely:
- Butare : Butare, Karama, Ngoma, Rango and Saint Dominique (University).
- Kansi: Kansi, Cyahinda, Higiro, Nyumba et Gikore.
- Mugomba: Mugomba, Gisagara, Kibilizi, Kirarambogo and Magi.
- Nyanza : Nyanza, Busoro, Kiruhura, Nyamiyaga and Ruyenzi
- Save : Save, Byiza, Gakoma, Mbazi, Rugango et Simbi.
The Catholic Diocese of Butare currently covers the administrative districts of
- Gisagara which has 11 parishes : Sacré-Cœur de Save (1900), Notre Dame des Apôtres de Kansi (1910), N-D of Mount Carmel de Mugombwa (1938), la Présentation de Jésus de Gisagara (1944), Sainte Bernadette de Gakoma (1963), Saint Joseph de Higiro (1963), Sainte Trinité de Byiza (2002), Sainte Marie de Fatima de Gikore (2004), Saint Annibale de Magi (2004), Sainte Marie Reine du Ciel et de la Terre de Kibilizi (2010) and N-D de la Paix de Kirarambogo (2012).
- Huye has 11 parishes: N-D de la Sagesse de Butare (1928), Saint André de Nyumba (1945), N-D du Rwanda de Simbi (1956), Cœur Immaculée de Marie de Kiruhura (1956), Saint Mbaga Tuzinde de Rugango (1959) ‘Assise de Mbazi’ (2007).
- Nyanza which has 3 parishes: Christ-Roi de Nyanza (1935), Saint Michel de Nyamiyaga (1961) and Saint Charles Lwanga de Busoro (1998).
- Nyaruguru who owns the Saint Laurent de Cyahinda Parish (1945).
On the territory of the Diocese, there are 121 guardian schools, 218 primary schools, 86 secondary schools, all under the responsibility of the Catholic Church as well as six faculties of the Catholic University of Rwanda which opened its doors on July 12, 2010.
In the social work sector, we have a hospital (Gakoma), 15 health centers, 3 homes for the elderly (Gisagara, Ngoma and Tumba), 2 centers for physical and mental disabilities (Mugombwa and a center for young deaf and mute de Ngoma), 2 centers that deal with street children (Nyampinga, Intiganda), 3 centers that help people living with HIV AIDS (Gikore, SNDV and Igiti cy Ubugingo).