The Catholic priests of Sudan know all too well what suffering is. Their knowledge comes not from reading the newspaper or watching television, but directly and personally, as part of the bloody Way of the Cross of the Catholic Church in Sudan. The younger priests grew up during the long civil war and completed their studies in the most difficult of circumstances. An entire generation has known practically nothing else but violence, persecution and poverty. The almost 25 years of civil war, which led to the split with the new country of South Sudan, have still left many open wounds that mark the people of the country, here in the North.
The priests are there for their suffering people in every possible way – providing pastoral care, material support, education and much more besides – and all in the knowledge that there are far too few of them to cope with the ocean of need that surrounds them. Their own souls are just as wounded as those of their people, and they know their hands are empty because they, too, have nothing. Yet, God had called them to be shepherds to his suffering flock.
The average age of the priests in the 27 parishes that make up the Archdiocese of Khartoum is just 40. Given the numerous difficulties and immediate challenges they face, few of them have ever had the opportunity, after their initial formation in the seminary, to take stock, pause for breath, refresh themselves spiritually or continue their own spiritual and pastoral formation.
To address this situation, the Archdiocese has now furnished a house that will be open to these priests whenever they need to seek counsel or help, share their problems with their fellow priests or pursue their own ongoing priestly formation. It will also be a place for priests suffering from burnout or sickness, a place of healing and recovery.
It is intended that in future it will be open to Catholic priests from all over the country, and also from neighboring South Sudan. For the moment there is not much space available, but the activities are already underway. Now the plan is to extend the house.
ACN’s donors have already helped with $11,300, and we are now giving a further aid package of $32,600, so that the house can soon be ready to accommodate as many priests as possible.
Will you give to help these priests in Sudan have access to a place where they can recover and renew their strength for their heroic work of service in their troubled country?
We are sure they will remember you in their grateful prayers.
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