Bishop Christian Carlassare in Rumbek this week. (Fr Wanyonyi Eric Simiyu) Bishop Christian Carlassare in Rumbek this week. (Fr Wanyonyi Eric Simiyu) 

South Sudan: Look beyond the status associated with the office of Bishop.

Gabriel Cardinal Zubeir Wako, the Archbishop Emeritus of Khartoum, Sudan, preaching at the ordination ceremony of the new Bishop of Rumbek in South Sudan, has called on the Catholic faithful to help Bishops carry out their mission.

Paul Samasumo – Vatican City. 

On Friday, before preaching to the congregation, Gabriel Cardinal Zubeir Wako, the Archbishop Emeritus of Khartoum, led the people as they invoked the Holy Spirit.

Something beyond our strength

“You have just taken part in invoking the Holy Spirit to come down on the Bishop-elect Christian and all of us. To invoke the Holy Spirit is to tell ourselves that we are doing something beyond our strength,” Cardinal Zubeir Wako told the congregation in Rumbek.

The ordination was live-streamed by the Diocese of Rumbek’s Good News Radio 89FM.

Bishops are there to serve you

Speaking during the ordination Mass of the Italian-born Comboni missionary, Bishop Christian Carlassare, Cardinal Zubeir Wako told the packed Holy Family Cathedral of Rumbek Diocese that Bishops were there to serve them spiritually and that there should be less focus on the prestige associated with the office of Bishop.  

“Very often, the work of a Bishop is misunderstood, especially by our people. They see the Bishop as a big man. Just as you see an army general or a minister…Believe me, you are going to be nothing when you become a Bishop…It is unfortunate that many of us do not understand that. Look at me. Do I look like a rich man? And I have been a Bishop since 1975. You would think by now with such a long experience this man would have a lot of money, many houses or cars. Instead, Jesus has told us that is not what we are here for,” Cardinal Zubeir Wako exhorted.

A communal sigh of relief

The ordination of Bishop Carlassare was a communal outpouring of joy that exhibited itself in a colourful yet sober and solemn liturgy. Young girls in white and yellow dresses put on an impressive liturgical dance that must have taken time to choreograph and perfect. No doubt, the ordination was also a moment for a collective sigh of relief among the Catholic faithful of this diocese. 

A year ago, in the early hours of 26 April 2021, Bishop Carlassare was attacked and shot in both legs by assailants. After receiving initial treatment in Rumbek, he was airlifted to Nairobi, Kenya, for specialist treatment. Upon being discharged from the Nairobi Hospital, Bishop Carlassare came to his native country of Italy to continue with his recovery. Last year, in October, the Apostolic Nuncio to Kenya and South Sudan, Archbishop Hubertus van Megen, announced the postponement of the episcopal ordination of Bishop Carlassare “to 2022, at a date still to be determined.”

All is well that ends well.

Welcome for Bishop Christian Calassare upon his arrival in Rumbek.
Welcome for Bishop Christian Calassare upon his arrival in Rumbek.

Support your Bishops

Cardinal Zubeir Wako reminded Bishops, priests, the religious and the faithful gathered for the ordination to seriously rethink their notions of a Bishop.

“As Bishops, we also face and meet with a lot of discouragement. People approach us and wonder- where is the money, where is this project, what are you doing, where is this and that. On his consecration, I want to tell the new Bishop Christian that I am not giving him any money. The only thing he will get from me is: May the Lord bless you for accepting his calling,” the Cardinal said, much to the congregation’s approval.

He continued, “In these confusing times, begin to think better about your Bishops. A Bishop needs people to help him. Bishops need support, and that support is you. Support your Bishops so that they too will support the poor among you. At the same time, we are also telling ourselves as Bishops to walk in faith. Fortunately, these kinds of celebrations help us reflect about the office of Bishop,” the Cardinal said. 

Thank you for choosing South Sudan

Cardinal Zubeir hinted at the suffering encountered by Bishop Carlassare following his appointment as Bishop. Turning directly to him, the Cardinal thanked him for accepting to serve in South Sudan.

“We thank you that you have accepted to serve here (in South Sudan) instead of serving in the palaces of Europe or those of Eastern Africa. You have chosen to be a Bishop here. Thank you,” said the Archbishop Emeritus of Khartoum.

Rumbek has had no Bishop for ten years

The Diocese of Rumbek became vacant on 16 July 2011 upon the death of Bishop Cesare Mazzolari, 74. Bishop Mazzolari was also a Comboni Missionary.

For his part, Bishop Carlassare, 44, was born in Italy. He made his solemn profession as a member of the Comboni Missionaries in 2003. He was ordained a priest in 2004. The Comboni missionary priest arrived in South Sudan in the year 2005. In 2020 he was appointed vicar general of the Diocese of Malakal. On 8 March 2021, Pope Francis appointed him Bishop of Rumbek.



25 March 2022, 13:29