“We have been waiting a long time”: Nuncio to South Sudan on Eve of New Bishop Ordination

Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya and South Sudan, Archbishop Hubertus van Megen (right) at the Holy Family Cathedral of Rumbek Diocese alongside Mons. Christian Carlassare (left) on 24 March 2022. Credit: Fr. Wanyonyi Eric Simiyu, S.J (Rumbek)

The representative of the Holy Father to South Sudan who has arrived in the Catholic Diocese of Rumbek to preside over the Episcopal Ordination of the new Bishop for the South Sudanese Diocese has said it was a long-awaited event. 

“We have been waiting a long time for this day,” Archbishop Hubertus van Megen told Good News Radio of the Catholic Diocese of Rumbek Thursday, March 24 shortly after landing at the Rumbek Airstrip ahead of the consecration of Mons. Christian Carlassare scheduled to take place on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, March 25.

Archbishop van Megen added, “(It is) good to be here today as we prepare for this great occasion of tomorrow, the Episcopal Consecration of His Excellency, Monsignor Christian Carlassare.”

“The Holy Father has a special interest in this day of tomorrow,” the Apostolic Nuncio who also represents the Holy Father in Kenya further said.

Making reference to the March 14 meeting between the Holy Father and the Bishop-elect for Rumbek Diocese, the Nairobi-based Nuncio explained, “As you may know, Monsignor Christian has been with the Holy Father and the Holy Father has encouraged him in a special way to now come to Rumbek to be consecrated a Bishop and to take possession of the Diocese of Rumbek in order that the Church of Rumbek may continue to grow.”


Credit: Fr. Wanyonyi Eric Simiyu, S.J (Rumbek)

In a message to ACI Africa hours after Mons. Carlassare had a private meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican, the member of the Comboni Missionaries (MCCJ) said the Holy Father encouraged him to take up his Episcopal Ministry with fortitude.

“The Pope said, ‘DO NOT FEAR’ and gave his blessing,” Mons. Carlassare told ACI Africa March 14, adding that during the private meeting, Pope Francis “also showed his closeness to the people of South Sudan and said he looks forward to the visit of July.”

Mons. Carlassare who had been serving in South Sudan’s Malakal Diocese since his arrival in the country in 2005 was appointed Bishop of Rumbek Diocese on 8 March 2021. 

He traveled to Rumbek Diocese on 15 April 2021 following days of spiritual retreat in South Sudan’s capital, Juba.  

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Credit: Fr. Wanyonyi Eric Simiyu, S.J (Rumbek)

In the early hours of 26 April 2021, the Bishop-elect was attacked and shot in both legs. He was airlifted to Nairobi for specialized treatment after receiving initial treatment from Doctors with Africa CUAMM.

Days after he had been discharged from the Nairobi Hospital in Kenya, he relocated to his native country of Italy till March 18, when he returned to South Sudan for his March 25 consecration when he will take possession of the Diocese that has been under the temporary leadership of Bishop Matthew Remijio.

Speaking to Good News Radio March 24, Bishop Remijio said, “We just arrived from Juba to Rumbek to attend this long-awaited historical consecration of Bishop-elect Fr. Carlassare, who arrived yesterday in Rumbek.”

“We are very glad to join these joyful celebrations with all the faithful in Rumbek Diocese,” the Local Ordinary of South Sudan’s Wau Diocese said, and added, “The Christians of Rumbek Diocese have been waiting for a long time to see their Bishop.”


The member of the Comboni Missionaries implored God’s grace for a successful ceremony of the consecration of his confrere saying, “We pray that the event of tomorrow will end up successfully in the solemnity of the Annunciation.”

Credit: Fr. Wanyonyi Eric Simiyu, S.J (Rumbek)

Also speaking to Good News Radio March 24 in Rumbek about the Episcopal Ordination, Archbishop Stephen Ameyu of Juba Archdiocese said, “All the Bishops from Sudan and South Sudan are present in solidarity with the Bishop-elect Mons. Christian Carlassare.”

“We hope that the celebration will be very good and all our prayers and our hope will be with his new mission that he will work with you people here in Rumbek Diocese,” Archbishop Ameyu said.

Members of the faithful who spoke to Good News Radio on the eve of the consecration of Mons. Carlassare expressed their excitement.

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“I'm very excited indeed with the way the people of Rumbek welcome back the Bishop. It showed that there is love and there is peace in the country,” Ajac Machol Ajac told Good News Radio March 24.

Ajac went on to express gratitude to all who contributed to the success of the reception of the Bishop-elect saying, “Thank you so much. We really appreciate you for your prayers. Our Diocese is blessed and the Diocese is very happy. The people are very happy. They're so excited.”

Credit: Fr. Wanyonyi Eric Simiyu, S.J (Rumbek)

In the interview with the Diocesan Radio that is part of the the Catholic Radio Network (CRN), Machol encouraged active participation on the day of the consecration.

“Come and celebrate with us, those who are within Rumbek and those who are coming. Just Please try your best. Show the love, show that kindness, show that forgiveness. So, we are really very happy if we see you in this wonderful celebration tomorrow,” Machol appealed.

On her part, Vecky Alual Juol said, “We are very happy to receive our Bishop-elect Christian to be among us and we are very happy he's recovered … that's the joy of the Diocese of Rumbek.”

“My word to all Christians throughout South Sudan particularly in Lakes State is that this is the gift of South Sudan, this is the gift of the Lakes State, celebrate with us in spirit, physically and other ways of mass communication,” the Parishioner of Holy Family Cathedral of Rumbek Diocese told Good News Radio March 24.

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.