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World Day of Prayer for Vocations: Catholic Bishop in South Sudan Reflects on His “own vocation story”

 

On the occasion of the annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations 2024 marked on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, Bishop Edward Hiiboro Kussala of South Sudan’s Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambia (CDTY) has reflected on his “own vocation story”, highlighting gratitude, encouragement, unworthiness, trust, and openness as key.

In a statement shared with ACI Africa on Good Shepherd Sunday, April 21, Bishop Hiiboro says, “This Sunday challenges me to hold to the true image of the Good Shepherd. Good Shepherd Sunday is also the World Day of Prayer for vocations.”

It is a day of great joy and celebration for me and for my family and friends – as l am surrounded by the people, religious, priests and as such, I do pray that God would help me in my life as a bishop to be like the Good Shepherd – I’m still trying, and still praying! I am arriving from afar, still very far and l am going very far,” he says.

The Local Ordinary of CDTY since his Episcopal Consecration in June 2008 further highlights and explains “a number of words”, which he says “come to my mind today as I reflect on my own vocation story – gratitude, encouragement, unworthiness, trust, and openness.”

Gratitude

Bishop Hiiboro says he feels an “overwhelming sense of gratitude” for his parents, family members, friends and the people of God in general “for sustaining me in my vocation as a Priest, and now as a Bishop.”

I am grateful for the opportunities I have had for education, for growth and change, and I am humbled by the immense love and support I continue to receive,” he adds.

The Local Ordinary of CDTY, who doubles as the President of the Integral Human Development Commission of the Sudan and South Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SSS-CBC) says that “gratitude and thankfulness help to sustain every vocation – it’s vitally important in marriage and in the caring vocations of any kind. And it’s related to my second word, encouragement.”

Encouragement

Encouragement literally means to put fresh heart into someone. It acknowledges that in our chosen vocations we make mistakes, but it tries not to dwell on these – it searches for the good in others, rather than concentrating on their weaknesses,” Bishop Hiiboro says.

He adds, “Encouragement is built on the premise that we can all change, we can all do better – despite our sinfulness and unworthiness.”

Unworthiness

The South Sudanese Catholic leader says unworthiness is “especially important for us Priests, never to think that we are better than others, more especially chosen or comfortable on a pedestal- even when some good people want to put us up there. I am a sinner, and so are all Priests.”

He says that his response to youths, who tell him they are not worthy to become Priests has been, “I say to them – precisely the opposite – it is God who calls us, knowing that we are sinners.”

God’s grace helps us through and no matter what our vocation, we must trust that God is always with us, despite our failings,” Bishop Hiiboro emphasizes in his reflection shared with ACI Africa.

Trust

Bishop Hiiboro says he chose the word “trust” because “without trust in God, I am nothing at all.”

I love the way that Good Shepherd Sunday is chosen for vocations Sunday. The sheep know the shepherd. They hear and recognize his voice. They trust the shepherd to care for them, to pick them up when they get stuck, to search them out when they are lost and to carry them home,” he explains.

Bishop Hiiboro further says the sheep “rest gently to know that the shepherd sleeps across the gate of their sheepfold to protect them from the danger of wolves and brigands. And it’s the same with us and Christ – our Good Shepherd.

No matter what our chosen vocation – to marriage, to the single life, to parenting, to teaching, caring, to being a priest or religious sister or brother – trust in God is essential,” he emphasizes.

Openness

Bishop Hiiboro says, “Vocation is always open to new challenges, to new aspects of the call. It does not end with the day of ordination or the first ‘I do’ on the wedding day. In fact, the opposite”.

I have found that vocation unfolds gradually; all it needs is our openness and generosity to respond to what God’s will is for us,” the Local Ordinary of CDTY says in his reflection shared with ACI Africa ahead of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, on April 21.

 

Credits to Jude Atemanke for ACIAFRICA

Date Published:

25 April 2024

Author:

Alice, Officer

 

Article Tags:

Latest news, South Sudan, Solidarity, World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Bishop Hiiboro, Gratitude

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