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South Sudanese Catholic fatihful at prayer South Sudanese Catholic fatihful at prayer  (AFP or licensors)

Peace agreement and Pope Francis’ visit giving hope to the people of South Sudan

“We are a family of God’s people, in participatory service to the Church.” This is the theme of the first Diocesan Synod organised by the Diocese of Tombura-Yambio in South Sudan.

Agenzia Fides – Nzara, South Sudan

The first of its kind, in the history of South Sudan, the Diocesan Synod started sitting on 27 November. The Synod held at the Palica Pastoral Centre, in the State of Gbudue, officially ends on 7 December.

Preparations for the Synod started three years ago.

A pilgrim Church

Officially presiding at the opening ceremony of the Synod, Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala, described the Diocese as a Church on pilgrimage.

“As a pilgrim Church, we are not a static reality ... but are on a continuous journey through history, towards that ultimate and marvellous end which is the Kingdom of Heaven following Jesus’ invitation to ‘go ... and make disciples of all nations.’ The Church’s missionary activity flows from this commissioning by Jesus Christ,” said Bishop Kussala.

Listening and discerning

The Bishop, together with delegates, expressed satisfaction with the proceedings of the Synod.

“Since the beginning of the Synod process, the dynamic has been that of seeking, listening and discerning: seeking input from everyone, listening to everyone and discerning with all those who are part of our Church. This practice positively impacted the faithful, religious and priests,” the Bishop said.

Delegates were drawn from the diocese’s 35 parishes and its six deaneries.

Bishop Kussala spoke of the need for the diocese to continue listening to the Good News of God’s mercy, which abounds even in the midst of so much suffering surrounding the people of South Sudan.

Inner renewal begins with the individual

South Sudan is a place of dramatic and worrying suffering, and all saw the Synod as an opportunity to personally promote and embrace the possibility of a lasting remedy to the country’s ills, said Bishop Kussala.

“It is more than evident that inner renewal requires a profound change of mind and heart, and personal spiritual growth must be rooted in the Eucharist (especially through participation in the Sunday Mass) as well as devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. We must also embrace the teachings of the Church, engaging in the life of the parish and in works of mercy,” said the Tombura-Yambio Bishop.

Reaching out to “Vanished Catholics”

Among the objectives of the Synod was the need to reach out to groups in the Diocese who are on the periphery of the Church, esepcially the so-called "vanished Catholics” of the Diocese. Others on the periphery include many young victims of war. Reaching out to them with love and compassion would be part of a diocesan mission that will require new methods.

Peace and Pope Francis’s visit

Bishop Kussala stressed that the people of South Sudan have a renewed sense of hope anchored on two pillars: The first is the peace agreement signed by South Sudan’s warring parties while the second is, the announcement of Pope Francis’ intention to visit South Sudan in 2020.

06 December 2019, 16:13