"I was a liturgical dancer when Pope John Paul II came to the then Sudan in 1993. And now that Pope Francis has come, I happen to be among those that have been chosen to serve him in the sacristy," the native of Nuba Mountains in Sudan’s El Obeid Diocese said.
Sr. Agnes Leila Andrewous. Credit: ACI Africa
The two Sacristans underscored the need for the people of God in South Sudan to reflect on the message of Pope Francis and to work for peace in the country.
Sr. Grace, a lecturer at the Catholic University in South Sudan said that the Holy Father's message in the Ecumenical Prayer, as well as his address to Bishops, members of the Clergy, women and men Religious, and Seminarians on February 4 was especially reassuring to the troubled African country.
"I am impressed with the Holy Father's message," Sr. Grace told ACI Africa just before the Holy Father arrived at Dr. John Garang Mausoleum for the Papal Mass.
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She added, "The message in his address to the Religious, and when he came for the Ecumenical prayer and urged us not to be afraid but to love because we are all children of God was very powerful."
"All of us living in South Sudan have had our own experiences of conflicts, of violence, of hatred. The message of Pope Francis inviting us to pray for me is very important. We have to take this message very seriously, of love of prayer, of hope, and not to be afraid because God is with us," the native of Uganda’s Gulu Archdiocese said.
Sharing her love for young people in South Sudan, Sr. Grace said, "I saw them take a photo with Pope Francis and I was excited. Young people need to hear the message of the Pope, to be encouraged, and to take on leadership with humility as the Pope has encouraged."
"I'm going to work with our young people at the university, to deepen the aspect of loving everyone without discrimination, and having the spirit of forgiveness and working together in humility," she said.
Describing Pope Francis's trip to South Sudan as a "graceful moment" for South Sudan, Fr. Pagan, on his part, noted that the Holy Father's message was a call for a "change of heart and attitude".
"It has been a fulfilling and very graceful moment for me and also for my country fellows, and especially for our Church in South Sudan. We are very thankful to God that the Holy Father came to visit us, to share the word of God with us," Fr. Pagan said.
The South Sudanese Catholic Priest added during the February 5 interview, "The Ecumenical prayer he held with us (on February 4) was very touching and also calling for a change of heart and attitude. As the Holy Father's visit comes to an end, we remain with blessings of God upon us."
He appealed to the people of God in South Sudan to read the messages of Pope Francis and to reflect on them in their lives.
Fr. Pagan also called on the people of God to pay attention to the message in which Pope Francis calls people to concentrate on the call of Jesus, and be faithful to that call.
"Let the visit of the Pope remain a mark in our lives. Let something change in our lives," the Catholic Priest said, and added, in his message of gratitude, "I say thank you to the Holy Father; thank you for making us know Jesus. Thank you for talking to us about Jesus. And thank you for directing us to Him."