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Late South Sudanese Archbishop Eulogized as Good Listener, “uncommon hero of holiness”

Late Archbishop Paolino Lukudu Loro, Archbishop emeritus of South Sudan's Juba Archdiocese. He was laid to rest on 12 April 2021. Credit : Courtesy Photo.

The late Archbishop Paolino Lukudu Loro who died April 5 at the age of 80 has, during his Funeral Mass, been eulogized as a good listener, truthful, generous, and an “uncommon hero of holiness,” among other qualities.

The mortal remains of late Archbishop Lukudo arrived in the capital of South Sudan, Juba on April 10 and were received at St. Theresa’s Kator Cathedral Parish of Juba Archdiocese by Archbishop Stephen Ameyu Martin. He was laid to rest Monday, April 12.

Conveying condolences from Pope Francis during the late Archbishop’s Requiem Mass Monday, April 12, the Chargé d’Affaires of the Juba-based South Sudan Nunciature highlighted some attributes of the late member of the Comboni Missionaries.

“Personally, there are three qualities of his (late Archbishop) that struck and still strike me today. I found him a very good listener. If you went to him, he had all the time to listen to you, which as you know in the world of today, is a very rare quality,” Msgr. Mark Kadima told thousands of mourners who gathered at St. Theresa’s Kator Cathedral of Juba Archdiocese.

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Msgr. Kadima added, “I also admired in him the quality of calling a spade a spade. He never minced his words; he told you what he believed.”

Archbishop Lukudu “was a thoughtful man; what was in his heart, he told you as it was. If you went to him, you would come out knowing what he thought about any point,” the Vatican Diplomat further said, recalling the South Sudanese Prelate who died at Kenya’s Nairobi Hospital and whose body had been shipped to the capital of South Sudan, Juba April 10.

“I found him also very generous; very generous, not only with his time, but also with his goods,” Msgr. Kadima said, and continued, “For those who went to his house like myself, you always found a big table with chairs and plates and a lot of food.”

Addressing the faithful on behalf of members of the Sudan Catholic Bishops' Conference (SCBC), Bishop Yunan Tombe Trille who is at the helm of the Conference that brings together Catholic Bishops in Sudan and South Sudan highlighted the strengths of the late Archbishop whose tenure at the only South Sudanese Metropolitan See lasted more than three decades.

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“Paolino Lukudu Loro was a Priest respected and beloved among you for his great service in liturgical, spiritual and administrative service in this Church we are in,” Bishop Trille said during the April 12 Requiem Mass at St. Theresa’s Cathedral.

The late Archbishop, the Local Ordinary of Sudan’s El Obeid Diocese added, “had a strong commitment and ministerial formation and growth, respected, cherished for his leadership in the conference with distinctions as a president for years.”

Bishop Trille went on to eulogize Archbishop Lukudu who retired in December 2019 as a man who “had a strong commitment to the formation of the younger evangelizers, younger generation in seminary.”

“Our Church will still benefit from his wisdom and guidance, generosity, everywhere and every year,” the 57-year-old Sudanese Bishop said, and continued, addressing himself to the Clergy, women and men Religious and the faithful of Juba Archdiocese, “Our sincere sympathies and condolences. Please know that the conference is holding you in prayer, for strength and comfort and peace today and days to come.”

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The Bishop who has been at the helm of SCBC since January 2020 further said, “We Bishops also extend our sympathy, condolences and prayers to the entire community and relatives and friends who mourn this great leader, pray for your peace, and comfort at this time of difficulties.”

In his message of condolences to the family, friends and the leadership of the Archdiocese of Juba, one of the Vice Presidents of South Sudan, Dr. James Wani Igga likened the event of Archbishop’s death with that of South Sudan’s founding father late Dr. John Garang Mabior, saying the news of the two deaths presented “the saddest day” in the country.

“Archbishop Lukudu was indeed an uncommon hero of holiness. He was consecrated Metropolitan Archbishop during a very stormy and difficult period where unprecedented prosecutions were conducted by Khartoum soldiers on all South Sudanese without discrimination,” Dr. Wani Igga said.

The South Sudanese political leader recalled his youthful days with the late Archbishop saying he “a great leader (who) became a model to many South Sudanese. Since 1962 of the seminary days, I became a close friend because I was in the seminary.”

“May be if the forces of Khartoum did not come and disperse us at the seminary, probably I would have become one of these holy Priests,” Dr. Wani Igga went on to say.

He added, “Lukudu stood very firm and protected the people; over 500 were killed at different times during the Sudan’s conflict. He visited the White House many times to release South Sudanese jailed or being tortured.”

Dr. Wani Igga urge Catholics in the Archdiocese of Juba to remain united saying, “Let us unite as South Sudanese and be God-fearing people. If we fear God in all that we do, South Sudan can become another paradise before reaching the real Paradise.”

On his part, the Governor of Central Equatoria state that is headquartered in Juba, Emmanuel Adil Anthony, described the late Archbishop as a Clergy who stood firm and unshakable to defend the most deprived people in then Sudan and in present South Sudan.

“As we mourn our leader in Christ, we should rethink and confess our sins that we have perpetuated against ourselves just because we want to satisfy individuals’ desires that we didn’t work for,” Governor Adil said.

The late Archbishop was laid to rest April 12 evening in a crypt inside St. Theresa’s Kator Cathedral of Juba Archdiocese during the event that Cardinal Zubeir presided over, becoming the first Local Ordinary to be buried inside the Cathedral of the South Sudanese only Metropolitan See.

His predecessor, Archbishop Ireneo Wien Dud was buried in South Sudan’s Catholic Diocese of Wau where he was the first Bishop in line with his will.

The late Archbishop Lukudu was ordained a Priest in April 1970. Four years later, he was appointed the Apostolic Administrator of Sudan’s El Obeid Diocese.

He was appointed Bishop of the same Sudanese episcopal see in March 1979 and ordained a Bishop in May 1979. The member of the Comboni Missionaries was transferred to Juba Archdiocese in February 1983, succeeding Archbishop Dud.

He remained the Local Ordinary of Juba Archdiocese until December 2019 when Pope Francis accepted his retirement.