Catholic Archdiocese in South Sudan to Devote Next Century to “developing” Local Languages

Archbishop Stephen Ameyu Martin of South Sudan's Juba Archdiocese. Credit: Radio Bakhita/Facebook

The Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Juba in South Sudan has said that the Metropolitan See will seek to prioritize the development of local languages in the next one hundred years.

In his homily at St. Joseph the Worker Parish of the Archdiocese of Juba, Archbishop Stephen Ameyu Martin said developing local languages will go a long way in helping the people of God in the only South Sudanese Archdiocese to better understand the gospel message.

We have celebrated hundred years in the Archdiocese of Juba and these hundred years of faith was due to the strong missionaries that established religion in the Archdiocese of Juba,” Archbishop Ameyu said during the May 1 Eucharistic Celebration, the Third Sunday of Easter.

The South Sudanese Archbishop added, “The next hundred years is for developing our languages. All the languages must be developed so that we can praise God in our own language.”

“The next hundred years is on us, the local people, now that faith has been founded in our country, in our diocese, and in our villages,” Archbishop Ameyu said on May 1, the Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker, the Patron Saint of the South Sudanese Parish where he presided over the Eucharistic celebration.


“I know it is difficult to understand faith and the word of God with different languages,” he further said, adding that having multiple languages “is not disunity but it is an emphasis on the question of language that is connected with the culture.”

The Local Ordinary of Juba Archdiocese who doubles as the Apostolic Administrator of Torit Diocese said, “The more you lose your language the more you are going to lose your culture.”

“The Church will support you to develop these languages that will help you develop the songs that you sing and even the Bible should be translated in local languages,” he further said, and added, “There are a lot of efforts being made to translate songs, liturgy and even Bible in local languages.”

“We know that other languages are difficult, but when it is practiced by the people of the place and used for the celebration of the liturgy, it becomes very lively,” the 58-year-old Catholic Church leader said.

Comboni missionaries spearheaded the evangelization of Sudan and South Sudan, the first mission within the territory of Juba Archdiocese having been Rejaf Parish on the west bank of the White Nile, established in July 1919.

More in Africa

In his May 1 homily at St. Joseph the Worker Parish, Archbishop Ameyu made reference to the establishment of the Catholic faith in the East-Central African nation. He said, “The missionaries have handed us the faith and they have taught us other languages.”

“It is now left for us to make use of our local languages in order to enrich our liturgical celebrations,” the South Sudanese Catholic Archbishop said May 1.

Patrick Juma Wani is a South Sudanese journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. Patrick holds a Diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication from Makerere Institute for Social Development (MISD) in Uganda. He has over 7 years of extensive experience in leading the development and implementation of media, advocacy, communication and multimedia strategy and operations, with an excellent track record of editorial leadership, budget management, and stakeholder outreach. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.