"We are a family of God's people": first diocesan Synod in the history of the Country

Nzara (Agenzia Fides) - "We are a family of God’s people, in participatory service to the Church". This is the theme of the first Diocesan Synod organised by the Diocese of Tombura-Yambio in South Sudan, from November 27th to December 7th, at the Palica pastoral center, in Nzara, in the State of Gbudue. This is the first synod of its kind, in the history of South Sudan. Priests, religious and laity from across the diocese are taking part in the historic meeting.

Mgr. Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala, Bishop and organizer, tells Agenzia Fides: "God almighty and always alive, guide and continually support your pilgrim Church, which you have established as the universal sacrament of salvation": this is how the 'Prayer for the diocesan Synod begins', which all the faithful prayed for almost three years while we were preparing for this very important event, the first in the history of our Country".

"As a pilgrim Church - the Bishop continues - we are not a static reality ... but are on a continuous journey through history, towards that ultimate and marvellous end which is the Kingdom of Heaven, following Jesus’ invitation to ‘go ... and make disciples of all nations.’ The Church’s missionary activity flows from this commissioning by Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Savior of the world. The Bishop, together with delegates, expressed satisfaction with the proceedings of the Synod. "Since the beginning of the Synod process, the dynamic has been that of seeking, listening and discerning: seeking input from everyone, listening to everyone and discerning with all those who are part of our Church. This practice positively impacted the faithful, religious and priests. The process is taking place in the name of a fruitful dialogue. Delegates, men and women of each of our 35 parishes and of the six deaneries, as well as many members of the clergy of the diocese, came to this first diocesan synodal celebration motivated by the challenges we face in our diocese of Tombura-Yambio. They are ready to "go out to the highways and hedgerows and make people come in that my home may be filled" (Luke 14:23)".

Mgr. Hiiboro highlights the love for the Church, the faith and the hope for the future demonstrated by the participants: "In all the deliberations the need for the diocese to continue listening to the Good News of God’s mercy, which abounds even in the midst of so much suffering surrounding the people of South Sudan emerged. South Sudan is a place of dramatic and worrying suffering, and all saw the Synod as an opportunity to personally promote and embrace the possibility of a lasting remedy to the country’s ills".

"It is more than evident that inner renewal requires a profound change of mind and heart, and personal spiritual growth must be rooted in the Eucharist (especially through participation in the Sunday Mass) as well as devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. We must also embrace the teachings of the Church, engaging in the life of the parish and in works of mercy", said the Bishop.

"Among the objectives of the Synod was the need to reach out to groups in the Diocese who are on the periphery of the Church, esepcially the so-called "vanished Catholics” of the Diocese. Others on the periphery include many young victims of war. Reaching out to them with love and compassion would be part of a diocesan mission that will require new methods. All the members of the Catholic diocese of Tombura-Yambio are called to joyfully share our love for God and for the Church towards all those we meet".

Mgr. Hiiboro recalls two aspects that generate hope: the peace agreement signed to end the bloody civil war that broke out in December 2013 (see Fides, 20/09/2018) and the announcement by Pope Francis who wants to visit the country (see Fides, 21/11/2019). "Let us look at the positive signs and move forward, trusting in the grace of God", concludes the Bishop.

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