, 05 May, 2020 / 5:03 AM
Celebrated Bishop Emeritus of Torit diocese in South Sudan on Monday, May 4 marked his 40th Anniversary as Bishop in the Eastern African country, expressing gratitude that he had remained steadfast in serving the needy through decades of war that he says he has experienced in the country.
In a thanksgiving message shared with ACI Africa, Bishop Paride Taban acknowledged those he says have supported his course of helping the poor.
“By the grace of God, the encouragement of my parents, relatives, communities and the support of friends, all organizations who have taken the course of supporting the poor in the world, I still persevere in serving the needy in the world,” the 84-year-old Bishop wrote.
He added, “I had gone through three decades of war in Sudan/South Sudan, from the time I was ordained a priest in 1964 till today; I am still waiting to see the end of war in South Sudan.”
Ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Juba Archdiocese in 1980 and eventually appointed the Local Ordinary of Torit Diocese in 1983, the Bishop Emeritus’s motto throughout his years of service was hinged on the Love of God and service to the poor.
“My motto when I became a catholic priest on 24th May 1964 was ‘Help your brothers and sisters in their difficulties,’ My motto as bishop is ‘God is Love’”, he wrote, adding, “The third is the command of Jesus to His disciples – Mk 16:15, Go into the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.”
The South Sudanese Prelate retired from the administration of Torit Diocese in 2004 and proceeded to complete the establishment of the Holy Trinity Peace Village in Kuron, an initiative he had founded in 2000.
According to the information that is provided on the website of the Peace Village, Bishop Paride established the project in Kuron “to unite the population in the area and set an example of peaceful cohabitation in war-torn South Sudan,”
Kuron Peace Village is situated in Eastern Equatoria State, the Southeastern part of South Sudan that borders Kenya and Uganda. Here, different ethnic groups live and work together in the village.
“I have been dreaming of a community where people with different ethnicities and different religious backgrounds can live side by side with confidence, in harmony and fellowship,” the Bishop wrote, expressing satisfaction of completion of the construction of the project.
Bishop Paride has received awards for his work at the Holy Trinity Peace Village in Kuron, including the Sergio Vieira de Mello Peace Prize awarded by former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Bishop Paride who was the first leader of the New Sudan Council of Churches (NSCC) also won the Hubert Walter Award for Reconciliation and Interfaith Cooperation given by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby for co-founding the ecumenical body, building Kuron Peace Village and chairing the mediation initiative between the Government of South Sudan and COBRA Faction of the South Sudan Democratic Movement/Army.
He has been hailed for promoting a healthy lifestyle through participating in exercises anchored on peacebuilding.
On his anniversary, he has called for prayers writing, “My dear friends, Jesus called us as friends. I have chosen this year, on 4th May 2020 you celebrate with me my eighty forth birthday, seventy year of baptism, fifty sixth year of priesthood and forty years as bishop, wherever you are to thank God with me for His greatest Love.”
Likening his calling to the Biblical Moses who relied on others to execute his God-given mission, the Bishop said, “I look at this God’s gift to me, as He gave Moses to lead His people to the Holy Land. Moses could not do it alone but with the help of Aaron and Joshua. Jesus could continue to carry God’s salvation to all creatures, through his disciple and all those He has chosen including you and me.”
Throughout his years of service as priest and Bishop, the retired Bishop says he had remained optimistic, seeking to “always say yes but never No.”
“Jesus said, ‘Don’t be afraid, I am with you until the end of the world’. There is nothing impossible to God. I am always optimistic. I always say Yes but never No. I am not afraid of Covid-19 either. Many friends ask me to rest, I believe, if God still wants me to serve, I say like Prophet Samuel ‘Here I am Lord to do your will,’” he stated.
In the thanksgiving message labelled, “Thanks giving day to God for having created me and made me a Christian in the Catholic Church, a priest and finally a Bishop”, Bishop Paride expresses his desire to serve the people till his last day on earth.
“I pray, you my dear friends, continue supporting my dreams. I shall never give up in the service of the people of God in this world till my last breath,” he writes.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa