Centenary Celebrations Launch for South Sudanese Catholic Parish Postponed amid Insecurity

Members of the organizing committee of the centenary celebrations of Ave Maria Parish of South Sudan’s Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambia (CDTY). Credit: CDTY

The launch of the centenary celebrations of Ave Maria Ngboko Parish of South Sudan’s Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio (CDTY) that had been scheduled for April 29 has been postponed due to “ongoing insecurity” in the area.

In a statement shared with ACI Africa Wednesday, April 26, the Local Ordinary of CDTY says that the launch has been postponed until further notice” and that he regrets the “unexpected happening”.

“It has been our wish to have this launch to materialize but the ongoing insecurity in the area has turned everything down,” Bishop Edward Hiiboro Kussala says in his statement dated Monday, April 25.

Bishop Hiiboro adds, “Looking at this unexpected happening and after a number of intensive consultations with the government and the Clergy, we resolved that the Diocesan mutual relations open space, launching, and rededication of the Church of Ave Maria should be postponed until further notice.”

He goes on to thank the Parish Priests of Ave Maria Parish, and St. Thomas in Rii-Yubu “for the credible preparation they have been doing for the launch of this centenary celebration.”


“I am appealing for you to have courage and hope that soon the current situation will subside,” the South Sudanese Catholic Bishop says.

On April 21, representatives of the Azande Community in Western Equatoria State (WES) issued a statement accusing the governor of deploying members of the South Sudan Defense Forces (SSPDF), a move that they said endangers the lives of civilians in Tombura and Ezo counties. 

In the statement, they also accused the governor of causing cross-border conflicts between communities along the borders of South Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR).

In his April 25 statement, Bishop Hiiboro appeals for prayers for peace in the affected territory of his Episcopal See.

“We continue to pray for peace and tranquility in the area,” he says following the postponement of the launch of the 18-month-long celebrations that had been scheduled to conclude on 8 December 2024, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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“Please accept my sincere sympathy, collaboration, and above all my prayers for you and the faithful of Ave Maria Catholic Mission,” the Local Ordinary of CDTY says in reference to Parishioners of the Parish that Comboni Missionaries established in March 1923. 

In an interview with Radio Anisa reported December 2022, the Parish of Ave Maria, Fr. Avelino Bassols, outlined some of the activities during the centenary celebrations. 

“During this one and a half year, we expect to have retreats, recollections, and workshops for different movements but also for the traders, footballers, musicians, comedians, security forces and anybody who is somehow involved in rebuilding the society in Western Equatoria state,” Fr. Bassols was quoted as saying. 

The Italian-born member of the Comboni Missionaries added, “Prayers will be prioritized during the Centenary, praying the Holy Rosary and also bringing different people together.”

“Ave Maria is not the shrine for Azande but rather for the people of Western Equatoria and South Sudan as a whole,” he clarified. 


In his April 25 statement, Bishop Hiiboro announces the change of venue for another Diocesan event amid insecurity, saying, “The ordination of three deacons into Priesthood can take place in Yambio at St. Mary Mother of God Catholic Parish at the end of this month.”

On April 24, South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit chaired a National Security Council meeting to discuss the crisis in Sudan and the recent border clashes between the organized forces in South Sudan’s WES and some elements along the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and CAR.

At the end of the meeting, the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, said, “The government has resolved to form a committee composed of the Chief of Defence Forces, Inspector of Police and other high-ranking officers to investigate the recent border clashes between the organized forces deployed in Western Equatoria State.”

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.