The Lakes State Minister narrates that the doctor was aware of what the excitement of independence declaration would have on his health.
Mrs. Akech recalls the Bishop’s reply to his doctor, “All I have ever wanted was an independent and peaceful South Sudan. If I die after I have seen South Sudan as a separate nation, I will die a happy man.”
The Italian-born Bishop presided over prayers on South Sudan’s Independence Day at Rumbek’s Freedom Square and died one week later.
The Rumbek-based Lakes State government official likens the life, work and death of Bishop Mazzolari to that of Jesus, saying, “It was just like what Jesus said on the cross, ‘it is accomplished!’ Jesus did what his father sent him to do on earth and it was time to return to his father.”
(Story continues below)
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“The late Bishop Caesar Mazzolari passing on a week after independence declaration, showed that he has accomplished his mission for peace in South Sudan,” she says, and adds, “It was time to go back home to the father who chose him to be a peacemaker and the shepherd of this Diocese.”
Bishop Mazzolari died at the age of 74 while concelebrating Holy Mass the morning of 16 July 2011.
Those present at the Eucharistic celebration said the Bishop had a seizure. He is said to have stumbled back onto his chair during the time of consecration and grabbed his chest while gasping for air. After being rushed to Rumbek State Hospital in Rumbek, the medical doctor at the hospital pronounced dead at 8 a.m.
In messages shared with ACI Africa on the 10th anniversary of his passing on, the late Bishop was described as “a true man of God…a man of the people” and a true peacemaker who gave his all for the liberation of South Sudan from years of civil war, poverty and illiteracy.
Mrs. Akech describes the passing on of Bishop Mazzolari as the hardest moment for the Catholic faithful in South Sudan, especially in the Diocese of Rumbek.
“We were all heartbroken and confused. At that moment I felt like a sheep without a shepherd. Without his guidance we would lose direction and go astray,” she says in her reflection shared with ACI Africa.
“When the late Bishop Caesar Mazzolari came to South Sudan, the Catholic Diocese of Rumbek saw light at the end of the tunnel,” the Lakes State government official says.
She adds, “Those of us whose hopes for education were dashed got them restored. He established Comboni school Mapuordit and that school became the champion of education in a war-torn South Sudan.”
She says that the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the death of the native of Italy’s Brescia Diocese brings back fresh sorrow.
“I personally miss him a lot because he was my spiritual guardian. This day brings back fresh tears in my eyes just like on July 16th 2011,” Mrs. Akech says, and adds, “Your Lordship Bishop Caesar Mazzolari, we love you but God almighty who gave you to us loves you the most.”
“Please intercede for us and this Diocese such that the peace that you yearned for while alive can prevail. May your precious soul continue resting in perfect peace!” Mrs. Akech implores.
Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.