“Though we have lived through tough historic periods, we have celebrated one hundred years of faith,” he said, and added, “On the one hand, our Church has produced two Saints: St. Daniel Comboni and St. Josephine Bakhita, and on the other hand, the local Church has witnessed to the faith through martyrdom.”
He continued, “Among those martyred during the first war, known as ‘Anyanya One’ (which lasted from 1956-1972), were Mr. William Deng, Fr. Saturlino Ohure and Fr. Leopoldo Anyuar.”
The South Sudanese Archbishop recalled those he described as “martyrs of the current civil war”, including Sr. Veronika Teresa Rackova, a member of the Mission Congregation of the Servants of the Holy Spirit who was killed on 16 May 2016 while serving in the Catholic Diocese of Yei.
Other martyrs in the most recent history of South Sudan, he said, are Sr. Mary Abbud and Sr. Regina Roba, members of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (SHS), who were murdered on 16 August 16, 2021, while they were on their way back to Juba from the centenary celebration of Our Lady of Assumption Loa Parish of Torit Diocese.
“Your Holiness, our country is truly suffering due to the civil war. Therefore, we are looking for peace and reconciliation,” Archbishop Ameyu said in his message of gratitude at the end of the Papal Mass held on the grounds of the Mausoleum of Dr. John Garang, the liberation leader known as the “father of South Sudan”.
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He clarified, “The peace which our country so badly needs is not a purely human peace based on personal interest, but rather the peace of Jesus, who says, ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.’”
“Your Holiness, once again, we thank you and assure you of our prayers for your health as you return to Rome,” the Archbishop whose Metropolitan See hosted the ecumenical visit that Pope Francis undertook alongside the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Rev. Dr. Iain Greenshields said.
“May this great event of your visit bring blessings and lasting peace to our country,” Archbishop Ameyu said at the end of the Eucharistic celebration, the last event of Pope Francis’ three-day ecumenical visit to South Sudan.
At the Eucharistic celebration, the Holy Father urged Christians in the East-Central African country to make “a decisive contribution to changing history” by refusing to repay evil with evil.
“In the name of Jesus and of his Beatitudes, let us lay down the weapons of hatred and revenge, in order to take up those of prayer and charity,” Pope Francis said in his homily.
He added, “I gather here with you in the name of Jesus Christ, the God of love, the God who achieved peace through his cross. … Jesus, crucified in the lives of so many of you, in so many people in this country; Jesus, the risen Lord, the victor over evil and death.”
Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.