South Sudan is the youngest country in the world today. In 2011, when the predominantly Christian and animist South of the country finally declared its independence from the overwhelmingly Muslim North, after a quarter of a century of bloody civil war, there was great rejoicing. Sadly, the joy did not last long. In 2013, South Sudan slipped back into a new civil war. And once again – as in so many other countries around the world – the Church is the only institution in which the suffering people can place their trust.
With an area of over 31,000 square miles, the Diocese of Tombura-Yambio is almost the size of South Carolina. The shortage of priests here is acute; many parishes do not have any priest at all. But even where there is a priest, he has to minister to an area so vast and with so many remote and widely scattered villages that the faithful in the local communities can only rarely receive the sacraments. As a result, many Catholics die without the last rites of the Church, many children remain unbaptized and the ordinary faithful are left longing to be able to attend Holy Mass and receive Holy Communion. Consequently, one of the most pressing concern of the diocese is to provide its future priests with a good and solid formation.
Every new vocation is a sign of hope for the future. Hence it is a source of great joy that there are 21 young men currently preparing for ordination in the diocesan seminary. The downside is that the Bishop has no resources to fund their training. Often the parents of the seminarians have nothing, having lost everything in the war; they have been uprooted and expelled from their homes, seen their houses burnt down and their few possessions looted.
“We are turning to our fellow Christians, hoping you can help us to train up our seminarians, so that they can become priests and serve the suffering people in our country, and at the same time become promoters of peace,” writes the rector of the seminary to us. His bishop also supports his request with these memorable words: “I do not want to see the future of the Church crumble in my hands.”
They have asked for our help. We have promised them $20,600.
Will you help us fulfill this promise to support these future priests in South Sudan? We are sure they will remember you in their grateful prayers.
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