Youth in South Sudanese Diocese Practicing ahead of 400-km Walk to Meet Pope Francis

Young people in South Sudan during celebrations marking International Youth Day. Credit: SSCC

A section of the youth in South Sudan’s Rumbek Diocese who have volunteered to take part in the youth pilgrimage, which the Diocese has organized are practicing for the 400-km walk, a Catholic Priest overseeing the Diocesan pilgrimage to Juba has said.

In the Wednesday, June 1 interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Peter Garang said, “The youth are now making some practice on the kilometers they are going to cover; like last Sunday (May 29), they started walking 15-20 kilometers and it will go beyond as the time goes.”

“We are expecting seventy youth from the 16 Parishes and ten Priests who will also accompany the youth,” he further said, adding that women and men Religious as well as youth leaders will be taking part in the youth pilgrimage to Juba to take part in the ecumenical visit. 

In a letter dated June 1, Bishop Christian Carlassare of Rumbek Diocese gave directives about the youth pilgrimage that will see young parishioners between the age of 18 and 28 walk “up to 25kms a day” to join Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Jim Wallace during their July 5-7 ecumenical visit to Juba.

Bishop Carlassare said, “As part of our preparations in the Diocese of Rumbek, we are arranging a youth pilgrimage to walk from Rumbek to Juba to be with the Pope.”


“The pilgrimage is open to men and women between the ages of 18 and 28 years of age, who are reasonably fit, who are unmarried, and are involved in the life of their parish,” the Italian-born member of the Comboni Missionaries (MCCJ) who was consecrated Bishop on March 25 added.

In his June 1 letter in which he assigned Fr. Peter Garang the responsibility of overseeing the youth pilgrimage, Bishop Carlassare recognized the Holy Father’s solidarity with the South Sudanese saying, “The Pope has shown a deep concern for all the people of South Sudan and for the future of our country.”

In the June 1 interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Garang said the 400-km walk to Juba will give the youth an opportunity to reflect about their vocation.

He said, “It’s a moment for youth to reflect and raise awareness on vocation as well as a call for the youth because there will be a time for prayers while the devotees walk to Juba.”

“We are right now alerting the youth we have nominated from the different Parishes so that they prepare themselves for the journey,” the member of the Clergy of Rumbek Diocese said, and added, “The youth are also practicing songs they will be singing while on the pilgrimage.” 

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There have been awareness campaigns “about the coming of the Holy Father in our Parishes (during) Church events,” he said.

“There are booklets produced on the Pope’s visit and the prayers are being prayed before the final blessings during Church activities,” said the Priest who is also a youth leader in the South Sudanese Diocese. 

As part of the preparations for the visit of the Holy Father, Fr. Garang said, “we are making sure that everybody” participates in prayer.”

Catholic Bishops in South Sudan agreed to spearhead campaigns aimed at making the people of God aware of the planned ecumenical visit in their respective Dioceses.

When realized, the July 5-7 ecumenical visit to Juba will be the first-ever Papal visit to South Sudan.