, 06 November, 2019 / 9:01 AM
When the Bishops and heads of dioceses in Sudan and South Sudan met for their weeklong Annual Plenary Assembly in Juba that concluded October 30, they not only deliberated about the situation of their sister countries and delivered a message of hope but also elected new leaders for their umbrella body, the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC).
The leaders elected the Local Ordinary of Sudan’s diocese of El Obed, Bishop Yunan Tombe Trille Kuku to be the new President of SCBC. He is expected to take over from Bishop Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala of South Sudan’s Tombura-Yambio diocese.
Confirming his election to ACI Africa soon after the process, Bishop Tombe said referencing his brother Bishops and heads of dioceses in Sudan and South Sudan, “Election has taken place and they voted me for president. I will take the office in January 2020.”
SCBC President, Bishop Hiiboro also confirmed the election in a phone interview with ACI Africa saying, “We elected Bishop Tombe of El Obeid diocese to be the president of our conference.”
He further expressed appreciation for his successor, 55-year-old Bishop Tombe, testifying, “He is a wonderful person, a great guy, very humble, down to earth, very sharp pastorally and committed to the cause of people in enhancing unity.”
Ordained a priest for El Obeid, Sudan in April 1991, Bishop Tombe was ordained Bishop in April 2017.
He was elected SCBC President in accordance to the Statutes that guide the conference, Bishop told to ACI Africa.
“The bylaws of our conference of Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference has it that the election of members must be done in respect of the two countries (and) that the representation of the two countries must be filled in the way we organize ourselves,” the South Sudanese Prelate who has headed SCBC for the last three years told ACI Africa.
“For the term of service each member in the leadership is assigned to work for three years after which the leadership is changed and the term goes to another country,” Bishop Kussala further explained.
“If the president comes from one country, the vice comes from the other country, so this time the president has been elected from Sudan, the vice president is from South Sudan,” Bishop Hiiboro.
Bishop Tombe will be deputized by Bishop Stephen Ameyu Martin of Torit Diocese in South Sudan, Bishop Hiiboro confirmed.
“We work together to ensure that we are able to take care of the different situations of pastoral needs in the two countries,” Bishop Hiiboro said in reference to the Bishops and heads of dioceses in Sudan and South Sudan.
The Church leaders who met at the Good Shepherd Peace Center, Kit in the outskirts of Juba also elected heads of various Commissions of their conference.
“Pastoral commission has been opened where we elected Bishop Stephen Nyodho Ador Mojwok of Malakal diocese, South Sudan assisted by Bishop Erkolano Lodu Tombe of Yei diocese (South Sudan),” Bishop Hiiboro said.
The Commission for the Seminary will be headed by the Auxiliary Bishop of Khartoum, Daniel Adwok, assisted by the Archbishop of Juba, Paolino Lukudu Loro.
“I would like to encourage all the rest of the team that we collaborate with Bishop Trille whom we have elected to see that our pastoral vision and program is realized,” Bishop Hiiboro appealed.
South Sudan, which has seven dioceses, seceded from Sudan in July 2011 after an overwhelming majority of South Sudanese voted to become independent in the January 2011 referendum.
The two countries are served by distinct Papal Representatives: Sudan that has two dioceses by a Khartoum-based Nuncio who is yet to be appointed since the transfer of Archbishop Bert van Megen in February 2019 to become Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya and South Sudan.
While the Nairobi-based Papal Representative serves both Kenya and South Sudan, the latter country has an Apostolic Nunciature in its capital, Juba where Kenyan-born Mons. Mark Kadima is the Chargé d’Affaire.
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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