News, Papal visit in South Sudan

Speech to Cardinal Parolin


His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin
His Eminence Cardinal Zubeir
Your Grace, Archbishop Bert van Megan
Your Grace, Archbishop Stephen Ameyu
Your Grace Archbishop Michael Didi
My Lord Bishops
Monseigneur Ionut Paul StrejacFellow Priests, and Religious
I stand representing the Religious Superiors Association of South Sudan (RSASS) which
was recognized in 2016 by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and
Societies of Apostolic Life and is successor to a similar association in Khartoum. We
represent 51 religious congregations present in the 5 dioceses in this country, with over
500 members. The majority of our members are sisters and while good number of our
members come from South Sudan, including the indigenous congregations, the majority of the membership are from other countries. We have one national retreat and conference centre, The Good Shepherd Peace Centre, which is at the service of religious and the dioceses in the country.1. The first point I would like to make is that there is a real solidarity between
international religious congregations and the local church in South Sudan.
Recently we conducted an induction workshop for new RSASS members with 36 male and female religious attending who were new to this country within the last two years. In the 11 years since independence, numerous congregations have committed to establishing communities and ministries in this country. Their contribution is considerable. We are also aware that more needs to be done to promote vocations to both local and international congregations.2. During the year dedicated to consecrated life in 2014, Pope Francis wrote ‘In a polarized society, where different cultures experience difficulty in living alongside one another, where the powerless encounter oppression, where inequality abounds, we are called to offer a concrete model of community.’ (Apostolic Letter to Consecrated, 2014)With our international and intercultural communities we aim to value diversity, tolerate difference and witness to that in our ministries and in our parishes. We believe that, no matter where people come from, all need to be treated equally in the church. We do not always succeed in living this fully, but it is one of our aspirations. We believe that this witness is very necessary in our church today, as we reflect on the spirit of synodality (of opening our ears and hearts to those
who are different) in our communities, parishes and dioceses.

This is my second point, we need more witness to promoting tolerance and
mutual respect, at all levels in Church and society. This is a sign that is needed
if we are to emerge from conflict and make the church a home for all in this

3. One of the concerns of the Pope in coming to South Sudan is to further the cause of peace in this country. We all live in a situation of non-peace, marked by the memory of violence and the fear that more violence can erupt anywhere, anytime. This has a debilitating effect on the country and our Church: lives lost, families scattered, and people bearing the scars of physical and psychological wounds. I do not wish to go into the effects of this, simply to say that our
members, religious and priests are ministering to this situation and are also affected by it. Some examples.

Sr. Veronika Racková SSpS (Holy Spirit Sisters) was shot and killed on the 27 th May 2016 outside of Yei town, while ministering to the sick at night.
Fr. Victor Luke Odhiambo sj was shot and killed on the 15 th November 2018 in Cuibet, Rumbek. (Fr. Victor studied Philosophy with me decades ago).
Srs. Mary Daniel Abut and Regina Roba, Sacred Heart Sisters shot by unknown gunmen on 16 th August 2021, while returning from a parish feast in Torit Diocese.
Sr Regina was working with Solidarity in the Health Training Institute in Wau. We do not mention by name other sisters who were violently attacked in Yambio on December 28 th 2016 or those attacked elsewhere.
And the happenings in Rumbek in March 2021.

Each person in this room could tell their own story, of tragedy and of faith, of wounded healers ministering to others. In our own vulnerability and fragility, we strive to be witnesses of compassion, but we require help and support.

Please tell the Holy Father that we need assistance, psychological and especially spiritual. To witness to reconciliation, healing and wholeness, we need personal care and to know the support of the church.

4. As well as working in parishes and as pastoral agents, our members minister in schools, universities, hospitals and health centres. Some people call us NGOs dressed up in religious habits. However, it is our firm conviction that when Jesus fed the multitudes, cured the sick and healed those who were wounded, He was not working for an NGO. He was making visible the love of the Father. We attempt to follow in those footsteps. We work with lay partners in these areas,
but the needs in this country are great and our resources few.

We ask that the church be strengthened to address the dimensions of human
need in health, education and development in each diocese in the country. As
religious congregations with charisms in these areas, we see this as part of our
proclamation of the kingdom of God and not simply offering a social service.

5. Our Church is a relatively young church, with a very young population. As religious we are part of the Church militant, striving to address the many social and pastoral challenges in front of us. We all are tempted by the attraction ofactivism. Individually, we need to continuously remind ourselves of the need for balance in our spiritual lives. In addition, we need religious communities that witness to a life of prayer, contemplation and worship, communities which consciously dedicate themselves to the love of God in adoration. Our present church militant needs to be enriched by a church contemplative, with groups that make their whole lives a prayer of solitude, silence and community.

We need communities of prayer and contemplation in this church.

Fr. Jim Greene M. Afr.
Chairperson RSASS


Date Published:

11 July  2022


Claudia, Office Manager

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Latest news, South Sudan, Solidarity, Pope Francis, Papal Visit in South Sudan

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