On her part, Ms. Mary John Deng who worked closely with late Bishop Rudolf said the appointment of a new Bishop was a source of pride to the Church in South Sudan and Sudan, which operate under one Episcopal forum, the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC).
“I was extremely delighted to hear the appointment of Rev. Fr. Matthew as Bishop-elect… We are happy when we hear the appointment of any Bishop either from Sudan or from South Sudan as we continue to work under one big Catholic Bishops’ Conference,” she said.
Ms. Deng added, “We are one body of Jesus Christ. We do not mind which Diocese a Bishop hails from. We only need the directives from the Bishop and we will obey all these directives.”
And in her message to the Bishop-elect, Ms. Deng said, “We will stand behind you and support you to serve the people of God and humanity.”
Francis Michael Bingo, a catechist at the St. Kizito Parish of Juba Archdiocese who hails from Wau Diocese cheerfully welcomed the appointment and said he is praying for the protection of the Bishop-elect “until his installation is conducted in Wau.”
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The Diocese of Wau was erected as the Apostolic Prefecture of Bahr el-Ghazal in May 1913 before Pope Paul VI elevated it to Wau Diocese in 1974.
Located within the Ecclesiastical Province of Juba, the only Metropolitan See in South Sudan, the Diocese has a population of 3,081,000 Catholics according to 2017 statistics.
Reacting to his appointment in an interview with ACI Africa November 18, the Bishop-elect said he relied on the support of people of God in the Diocese to execute his mandate.
“It is an appointment that is going to put me in direct contact with the local Church, giving me an opportunity to contribute to the growth of the people of God. I look forward to everyone’s contribution,” the Bishop-elect told ACI Africa hours after his appointment was announced.
“Being called to work for the local church is going to be a real pastoral task. There are certainly going to be challenges and I look forward to facing them through the grace of God,” the Bishop-elect said, and added that he was going to continue what his founders, the Comboni missionaries, started.
Juba-based Clement Aturjong Kuot contributed to this story.