“I was baptized in this Church”: South Sudan President at Catholic Parish Centennial Fete

Credit: Office of the President of the Republic of South Sudan/Facebook

The Catholic Church in South Sudan has played a “crucial role” in spreading the message of the Gospel, fostering formal education, and healthcare, the President of the East-Central African nation has at the event of the centenary celebration of St. Joseph Kuajok Parish of Wau Diocese.

In his speech during the Sunday, March 19 event, President Salva Kiir recalled that he had received the Sacrament of Baptism at the 100-year-old Catholic Parish on 21 January 1961.

“I was baptized in this church where we are celebrating our one hundred years and that’s why I am here to celebrate with you because it's always good to be happy together,” President Kiir said. 

He added, “I must recognize the crucial role played by the Church in areas of evangelization, education and health to our people, especially during the liberation struggle.”

The South Sudanese President underscored the value of evangelization, saying “it unites the nation, races, tribes and cultures by reconciling all humanity to God through Christ.”


“It’s time for us to come together to focus on living together in this church because the church is the only place that can bring us together as one family,” President Kiir said during the centenary celebration of St. Joseph Kuajok Parish in Warrap State marked under the theme, “Lord Guide our Feet into the Way of Peace.”

He went on to express the commitment of his government to facilitating the renovation of schools and hospitals run by the Catholic Church in his native State of Warrap State, recalling an agreement he had made with the former Local Ordinary of Wau Diocese, late Bishop Rudolf Deng Majak.

Plans were underway “to build churches in Luony Aker and Lietnhom in Gogrial East County, Akoc thon in Twic County, Malek Alel, Majak Akoon and Gokmachar in Northern Bahr El Ghazal plus Bahr El Sharge and Majak Achol in Wau,” President Kiir said during the event that brought representatives from all the seven Catholics Dioceses in South Sudan and those from the neighboring Sudan, namely, the Archdiocese of Khartoum and the Diocese of El Obeid.

“We will work on these churches,” the South Sudanese President said. 

President Kiir also pledged to start facilitating “the renovation of the old Church and Schools” in view of fostering what he called “quality education” for South Sudanese.

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“Our education and health systems have improved due to the presence of the Church because they have the people of this country in their hearts,” the South Sudanese President said. 

On his part  Gabriel Cardinal Zubeir Wako who presided at the Centenary Eucharistic celebration urged the inhabitants of Warrap State to live in unity as disciples of Christ. 

“It is time for everyone here to ask him or herself whether they are a brother or sister in this community,” Cardinal Zubeir said, and added, “We go back again to think about the family. We were not born strong but small weak babies. We grew up because other strong people brought us up.”

The 81-year-old Archbishop emeritus of Khartoum Archdiocese continued, “When we grew big, we were also able to help those who brought us up. It is the same way we have to look at one another today.” 

“We are the brothers of Jesus Christ and the children of St. Joseph (Parish),” the Cardinal who retired as Archbishop of Khartoum Archdiocese in December 2016 further said.


“Jesus is telling us we have to be powerful as one family that lives and loves each other,” he added.

Speaking at the same event, the Governor of Warrap State, Manhiem Bol Malek, lauded the Catholic Church for bringing civilization and Christianity during the liberation struggle.

“This celebration is very important for the people of our Diocese because this Church played a crucial role during our struggle for independence,” Mr. Bol said about the Catholic Parish that was established in 1923 by members of the Comboni Missionaries.