In his four-day pastoral visit to DRC, the Holy Father is scheduled to meet the people of God in the cities of Kinshasa and Goma. In South Sudan where he is to arrive on July 5, he is scheduled to spend three days in the country’s capital, Juba, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni announced March 3.
When realized, the July 2-7 pastoral trip to the two African countries will mark Pope Francis’ third visit to sub-Saharan Africa.
The journey will mark the first time a Pope has visited the world's youngest nation of South Sudan and the third Papal visit to DRC, which is home to Africa's largest Catholic population.
In his March 14 Lenten Message, Mons. Carlassare expresses appreciation to the people of God in Rumbek Diocese for their prayers.
“The prayer that the people of Rumbek recited every day in my name has been a source of great strength. Thank you,” the Bishop-elect says in reference to the prayer below:
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Prayer for Bishop-Elect and the Diocese of Rumbek
We pray for all the faithful in our Diocese.
We pray especially for Bishop-elect Christian.
Strengthen him as he continues his recovery and returns to us to take up his role as our Bishop. Bless his family Lord and all those who care for him.
May we follow his example of being a missionary of peace and courage.
Bless all those who work in the Diocese, that they will be good shepherds for the people they serve. May the sacredness of their work bring light and renewal in the service of your Church and your Kingdom.
We pray for all those who are working in our local and national government, as they safeguard the wellbeing of the people of our land. May their commitment to justice and integrity be the foundation and inspiration of all that they do.
May we all continue to grow in faith and hope, so that the joy of the Gospel may be shared in our world. As a pilgrim people of God, we journey together, supporting one another along the way, and sharing a message of forgiveness and unity with those we meet.
St. Josephine Bakhita. Pray for us.
St.Daniel Comboni. Pray for us
Mary Mother of the Church. Pray for us
In his March 14 Lenten Message shared with ACI Africa, Mons. Carlassare goes on to recall the 26 April 2021 attack when he was shot in both legs.
“A year after my appointment as Bishop and the attack I suffered, I return to Rumbek for the Episcopal Ordination and to celebrate Easter,” he says, and adds, “I (live) with feelings of renewed trust in God who never abandons us, and in the local Church and Christian community to walk together hand in hand.”
“The South Sudanese Church is a poor Church with only few means, but rich with a lively community of people who are resilient and generous,” the Bishop-elect further says.
He continues in reference to the Church in the world’s youngest nation, “It is a wounded and suffering Church, but there is no lack of faith and hope in healing.”
“It is a young Church that has a long way to go before it. It is a fragile and imperfect Church that experiences the compassionate love of God and is called to be a witness of mercy,” Mons. Carlassare says in his Lenten Message titled, “Starting Anew from Forgiveness.”
He emphasizes the need for the values of truth, mercy, and forgiveness to guarantee peace in his envisaged Episcopal See and in the East-Central African nation.
“The Church of Rumbek demands truth and forgiveness,” the Bishop-elect says, adding that “since misery and violence unfortunately continue” in South Sudan, the people of God there demand “truth and mercy. Only by welcoming these gifts will there be room for peace.”
He encourages compassion that is rooted in the mercy and love of God saying, “Our heart is compassionate when the misery of others makes us recall our own misery, inadequacy and emptiness which are filled only by the merciful love of God.”
“When Pope Francis announced the Holy Year of Mercy in 2015, he shared that he had often thought about how the Church could fulfill its mission of being a witness of mercy. And he also said that Mercy is the very substance of the Gospel,” Mons. Carlassare further says in his March 14 Lenten Message.
“This is my journey of Lent this year in preparation to celebrate Easter,” he goes on to say, and describes his Lenten journey as “a deep experience of mercy and forgiveness which opens the way to start anew and welcome new life in Christ.”
Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.