Pioneer Catholic Bishop of Torit Diocese Eulogized as “symbol of peace” in South Sudan

Late Bishop Paride Taban. Credit: Radio Bakhita

Tributes are pouring in for Bishop Paride Taban, the first Catholic Bishop of Torit Diocese in South Sudan, with many remembering the Bishop who died on Wednesday, November 1 for his dedication to peace in the East Central African nation.

Members of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC) announced that Bishop Taban died in Nairobi, Kenya after a prolonged illness.

In a statement issued November 1, the Local Ordinary of Torit Diocese said Bishop Taban “dedicated his life to serving others and spreading the message of love, peace, compassion, and faith.”

“From an early age, he displayed a deep connection with spirituality and a genuine desire to make a positive impact on the lives of those around,” Bishop Emmanuel Bernardino Lowi Napeta said.

He added, “Bishop Paride's unwavering commitment to his calling earned him the respect and admiration of countless individuals.”


Late Bishop Paride Taban. Credit: Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC)

“Throughout his memorable career, he served as a guiding light offering solace, guidance, and hope to all who sought his counsel,” the 49-year-old Catholic Church leader who was Consecrated Bishop of Torit on January 15 said.

According to the South Sudanese Prelate,  Bishop Paride Taban will be remembered “for his unwavering commitment to faith, his profound wisdom, and his boundless love for others.”

“He leaves behind a remarkable legacy that will continue to inspire generations to come,” Bishop Nepata said, and added, “As we mourn the loss of Bishop Paride Taban, let us be comforted by the knowledge that his legacy lives on.”

“May his soul find eternal peace, and may his teachings continue to guide and inspire us all,” he said.

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On her part, South Sudan’s Vice President for Gender and Youth, Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior has extended her deepest condolences on the passing of Bishop Paride who he describes as “much-beloved.”

Late Bishop Paride Taban. Credit: Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC)

“Today, we mourn the loss of a remarkable individual who dedicated his life to the betterment of South Sudan and its people,” Mrs Nyandeng said.

She added, “Beyond his dedication to education, Bishop Taban stood as a symbol of peace in our nation. He tirelessly pursued reconciliation, unity, and harmony among different communities.”

The South Sudanese government official notes that Bishop Paride “demonstrated the power of dialogue, compassion, and forgiveness in bridging divides and fostering understanding.”


“As we bid farewell to this great pillar of our society, we recommit ourselves to carrying forward his torch of peace and unity in South Sudan,” Mrs Nyandeng said.

Credit: Radio Bakhita

John Ashworth, a lay missionary from England eulogized late Bishop Taban as “a humble, wise and holy man who lived and breathed peace, forgiveness and reconciliation.”

“He was also a personal friend and mentor for the best part of forty years,” Ashworth told ACI Africa Thursday, November 2.

On their part, members of the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) have extended their “heartfelt condolences to the family of Bishop Paride and the entire Christian denomination across the country for the unfortunate demise of the most important figure in the history of the country.”

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In a November 1 statement, they described Bishop Taban Bishop as “embodying excellence and was a figure of peace during the struggles and beyond.”

Born in Katire in 1936, the late Bishop Taban was ordained a Priest in May 1964. 

Credit: Radio Bakhita

In January 1980, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Juba Archdiocese and assigned the Titular See of Tadamata.

The late South Sudanese Catholic Bishop was appointed first Bishop of Torit in July 1983. Owing to the Sudan war, the South Sudanese Clergy would occasionally flee to other countries, including Uganda, Kenya, and the Central African Republic (CAR). Nevertheless, he spent most of his time in the SPLA-controlled areas of South Sudan, also called “liberated territories”, and operated from Narus in Eastern Equatoria State of South Sudan. He also reached out to the people of God in other Catholic Dioceses, where Bishops were trapped in government-controlled townships and could not access large parts of their own Episcopal Sees.

Bishop Taban retired from the administration of Torit Diocese in 2004 and proceeded to complete the establishment of the Holy Trinity Peace Village in Kuron, an initiative he had founded in 2000.

According to the information that is provided on the website of the Peace Village, Bishop Paride established the project in Kuron “to unite the population in the area and set an example of peaceful cohabitation in war-torn South Sudan,”

Kuron Peace Village is situated in Eastern Equatoria State, the Southeastern part of South Sudan that borders Kenya and Uganda. Here, different ethnic groups live and work together in the village.

In a message shared with ACI Africa during his 40th Anniversary as Bishop, late Bishop Taban recalled the reason behind the Peace Village, saying, “I have been dreaming of a community where people with different ethnicities and different religious backgrounds can live side by side with confidence, in harmony and fellowship.”

Late Bishop Taban has received awards for his work at the Holy Trinity Peace Village in Kuron, including the Sergio Vieira de Mello Peace Prize awarded by former UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon.

Bishop Taban who was the first leader of the New Sudan Council of Churches (NSCC) also won the Hubert Walter Award for Reconciliation and Interfaith Cooperation given by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, for co-founding the ecumenical body, building Kuron Peace Village and chairing the mediation initiative between the Government of South Sudan and COBRA Faction of the South Sudan Democratic Movement/Army.

The late South Sudanese Catholic Bishop has been lauded for promoting a healthy lifestyle through participating in exercises anchored on peacebuilding.

Following the news of the Bishop’s demise, South Sudanese have taken to social media to mourn him and condole with the people of God in Torit Diocese.

“You taught many across the country and the world at large to be in unity, love and indeed your legacy lives on for generations to come. Rest well with the angels in heaven your Lordship Bishop Emeritus Paride Taban,” members of the Missionary Choir-Juba South Sudan say in a Facebook post.

In a Facebook post, the Archbishop of Canterbury says, “I’m saddened to learn of the passing to glory of retired Bishop Paride Taban on All Saints Day 2023.”

“It was an honor to meet him in his quest for peace in his beloved South Sudan, both among leaders and the people, at the national and community level,” Archbishop Justin Welby says.

Credit: CRN

He adds, “Bishop Paride’s unique Peace Village provided a venue for rival groups to work close-up at their differences and solve many of them. It was my honor in 2017 to present him the Hubert Walter Award for his peacebuilding efforts and the promotion of the education of boys and girls. “

“I pray for Bishop Paride’s family, all who loved him, and for the people of South Sudan who he served in Christ’s name. May he rest in peace and rise in glory,” Archbishop Welby implores.

Fr. George Both writes in a Facebook post, “Our Mother Church in South Sudan and Sudan, our universal Church, and our entire nation has lost a great man of God, and a true icon of peace Bishop Emeritus Paride Taban.”

He adds, “You have gone to be with the Lord on the Solemnity of All the Saints day because you were a true living Saint among your own people.”

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