South Sudan is the youngest country in the world today. In 2011, when the predominantly Christian and animist South of the country finally declared its independence from the overwhelmingly Muslim North, after a quarter of a century of bloody civil war, there was initially great rejoicing. However, the joy did not last long, for in 2013 South Sudan slipped back once again into a new civil war. And once again - as in so many other countries around the world - the Church is the only institution in which the suffering people can place their trust.
With an area of over 81,000 km the diocese of Tombura-Yambio is almost the size of Austria. The shortage of priests here is acute; many parishes do not have any priest at all. But even where there is a priest, he has to minister to an area so vast and with so many remote and widely scattered villages that the faithful in the local communities can only rarely receive the sacraments. As a result many Catholics die without the last rites of the Church, many children remain unbaptised and the ordinary faithful are left longing to be able to attend Holy Mass and receive Holy Communion.
Consequently, the most pressing concern of the diocese is to provide its future priests with a good and solid formation. For every new vocation is a sign of hope for the future. Hence it is a source of great joy that there are 21 young men currently preparing for ordination in the diocesan seminary - the downside, however, is that the Bishop has no resources to fund their training. So often the parents of the seminarians have nothing, having lost everything in the war, been uprooted and expelled from their homes, seen their houses burnt down and their few possessions looted.
(Seminarians from the diocese of Tombura Yambio © Aid to the Church in Need)
"We are turning to our fellow Christians, hoping you can help us to train up our seminarians, so that they can become priests and serve the suffering people in our country, and at the same time become promoters of peace", writes the rector of the seminary to us. And his bishop supports his request with these memorable words: "I do not want to see the future of the Church crumble in my hands." He also asks our help. We have promised to assist with a grant $27,000.
The vital work of Catholic charities like Aid to the Church In Need provide a lifeline to the Church wherever she is poor, persecuted or threatened. Please help our work by donating online or send your donation to Aid to the Church in Need, PO Box 7246 Baulkham Hills NSW 2153. Ph: (02) 9679-1929