“I am grateful to Pope Francis and the Church for the love and trust that have shown by calling me to the episcopal ministry and appointing me to be the Bishop of Rumbek,” the 44-year-old Comboni Missionary who, until his appointment, has been the Vicar General of South Sudan’s Malakal Diocese, further said.
Writing on behalf of the Nairobi-based representative of the Holy Father in South Sudan, Archbishop Bert van Megen, the Chargé d’Affaires at the South Sudan Nunciature, Mons. Mark Kadima said, “On behalf of the Apostolic Nuncio, I wish to announce that the Holy Father, Pope Francis has today, 8 March 2021, appointed Rev. Fr. Christian Carlassare, MCCJ, as the new Bishop of the Diocese of Rumbek.”
“United with all of you, we wish to thank Rev. Fr. John Mathiang for his dedicated service to the Diocese of Rumbek, which he has governed in the capacity of the Diocesan Coordinator for the last eight years,” Mons. Kadima stated in his letter announcing the appointment that was also published by the Holy See Press Office March 8.
The South Sudanese Diocese became vacant in July 2011 following the sudden death of Bishop Caesar Mazzolari. The Comboni Missionary Bishop collapsed during the celebration of Holy Eucharist on the morning of 16 July 2011, one week after South Sudan’s independence, and was confirmed dead at the Rumbek State Hospital that morning.
Fr. Fernando Colombo, a member of the Comboni Missionaries governed the Diocese as Diocesan Administrator until 27 December 2013, when Fernando Cardinal Filoni, then Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed Fr. Mathiang Diocesan Coordinator.
In his message to ACI Africa, Bishop-elect Carlassare acknowledged with appreciation the leadership of Fr. Mathiang alongside members of the Clergy ministering in the Diocese, members of various Religious Orders, as well as the people of God in DoR.
“My thought goes to all the people of the diocese and their desire to encounter Christ in the Church,” he said and added, “My obligation goes to all priests that are serving in the diocese, in particular Fr. John Mathiang for his commitment to lead the Diocese in the past years as Diocesan Coordinator.”
“My appreciation goes to all the religious institutes and communities of men and women that enrich the Diocese with their charisms, among them I show special gratitude to my confreres, the Comboni Missionaries and Sisters, especially those we have shared in the ministry,” the native of Italy’s Diocese of Padua told ACI Africa.
He recognized the commitment of Laity serving in Rumbek Diocese saying, “I also acknowledge the commitment of many lay people, whether native from Rumbek or from other places and countries, those who work in the offices and institutions of the Diocese, and committed Christians such as catechists, members of church councils, associations, men and women, youth and elders who form and build up this family of God.”