Shortly before Christmas I was asked to go with three other Redemptorists to the new country of South Sudan to explore the possibility of a Redemptorist presence in that country.
Deeply concerned at the devastation which accompanied decades of civil war, the major superiors of Religious Men and Women in Rome set up a structure called SOLIDARITY WITH SOUTH SUDAN and put in place various initiatives to help rebuild the shattered infrastructure.
Solidarity with South Sudan (SSS for short) focuses on four areas:
Education, Health, Agriculture and Pastoral Ministry. Two teacher training colleges have been set up and distant learning programmes begun.
A Health Training Institute concentrates on training midwives. The training of small farmers is a priority so community farming projects are being implemented.
As Redemptorists we were most interested in the Pastoral Work. Like in South Africa there is a great need in terms of trauma healing, reconciliation and peace building. The Clergy, Religious and Lay missionaries in the country are in need of support and encouragement; there is great scope for retreat work. The national seminaries are also in need of resources –both personnel and facilities. Then, of course, there is the daily work in urban and rural parishes.
The fact that disputes and fighting are continuing makes the whole situation very fragile. But the extreme poverty of South Sudan, its clinging to the faith of the Church and its welcoming spirit make it an attractive missionary challenge.
I will have to make a presentation about our impressions of the country and the pastoral invitations which we might be able to accept at the Assembly of the Redemptorist Conference of Africa and Madagascar in Harare this August. You can read more about SSS on their website
The bishop of Tombura-Yambio (Eduardo Kussala) wrote an interesting piece in the TABLET (1ST December 2012). The April 2012 edition of WORLDWIDE carried a special report: NORTH AND SOUTH SUDAN.
Fr Sean Wales, C.Ss.R.