, 15 October, 2019 / 1:23 AM
As the people of God in South Sudan celebrated the Solemnity of Saint Daniel Comboni last Thursday, October 10, Catholics of the Archdiocese of Juba used the occasion both to honour Missionaries for their role in evangelizing Sudan and South Sudan and to renew their commitment of faith in the person of Christ Jesus within the context of the Archdiocesan centenary celebrations.
“The celebration (St. Comboni) is providing us with the opportunity to renew our faith,” the Secretary General of the Juba Archdiocesan Centenary celebration, Emmanuel Zangazee told ACI Africa Friday October 11.
The celebration is viewed as a chance to “respond to whatever challenges that we are having in our faith and continue to grow in faith in the spirit of unity, peace and harmony among ourselves,” Zangazee said.
“(St.) Comboni is our father in faith who really took upon himself (the belief) that Africa or death, making sure that the gospel reach Africa, and he died in Sudan,” Zangazee said recalling the work of the first Bishop of Central Africa, St. Daniel Comboni.
Born in March 1831 in Limone sul Garda, Italy, St. Comboni realized his dream of evangelizing Africa at the age of 28 when he arrived in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, where he would also die aged 50.
He founded the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus and the Comboni Missionary Sisters in 1867. Since then, the Comboni Missionaries consisting of “brothers, sisters, priests, volunteers, benefactors, and prayer partners” have reported traveling “to nearly every corner of the world, sharing the good news of Christ and working to protect the dignity of people.”
The missionaries describe their entity as “an international Catholic organization dedicated to ministering to the world’s poorest and most abandoned people, often working in unstable political climate, in the midst of extreme poverty.”
“It is a great event for the Combonians and students, especially those who receive education through the Comboni (schools),” Zangazee told ACI Africa.
He also said that the Thursday event, which brought together clergy, religious women and men, and laity in Juba Archdiocese, was great to the young people to honor and pay respect to all the missionaries ministering in South Sudan despite the challenges of the mission.
The celebration of the Holy Eucharist was presided over by Archbishop Paolino Lukudu Loro of Juba and concelebrated by over 50 Catholic priests with thousands of faithful in attendance.
“It was an event that brought all people together including the government … to promote this spirit of unity, peace and harmony among ourselves as South Sudanese,” Zangazee told ACI Africa.
Zangazee also spoke about the celebratory and jubilant mood that characterized the day that was spent at Rejaf Parish in the outskirts of Juba town, which he described as “the foundation, where the seed of faith started.”
The organizers of the centenary celebrations of the Archdiocese of Juba reserved the solemnity of St. Daniel Comboni, which matches his death anniversary, to recognize and celebrate Missionaries who have been involved in the ministry of evangelizing the territory covered by Juba Archdiocese.
Guided by the motto “Save Africa through Africa”, Daniel Comboni took part in the first Vatican Council as the theologian of the Bishop of Verona, and got 70 Bishops to sign a petition for the evangelization of Central Africa, Postulatum pro Nigris Africæ Centralis, which still continues to date in different sectors.
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