Rome, Tuesday, April 12, 2011
The Comboni Province of South Sudan celebrated its annual assembly in Juba from the evening of March 31 to April 7, 2011. Auxiliary Bishop Santo Loku Pio of Juba presided over the concluding Mass during which four young Comboni missionaries took their vows.

Twenty eight Comboni missionaries working in South Sudan joined in studying and planning another year of activities under the theme “Sudan will never be the same again” with the help of John Ashworth, an adviser to the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference. The Provincial of the Comboni Sisters, Giovanna Sguazza, shared with the assembly the guidelines from the Sisters’ Chapter Acts.

Each community and office holder presented a report, including the former provincial, Fr. Luciano Perina, who sent his reflections. The Provincial Directory and the Six-Year Plan were finalized and the participants welcomed the starting steps for a possible merging of provinces.

Nine bishops and some officials taking part in the Extraordinary Plenary Assembly of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference visited Comboni House for supper during the assembly. Archbishop Paolino Lukudu Loro of Juba praised the Combonis for merging with the local church, overcoming the historical “Comboni Kingdom” attitude.

Auxiliary Bishop Santo Loku Pio of Juba presided over the concluding Mass during which four confreres took their vows. Bishop Santo said that the Comboni Missionaries came from many parts of the world on a special mission to work in the vineyard plated by Daniel Comboni, to bring to reality his dream together with the local church. He challenged the Comboni Missionaries to be positive when assessing the needs on the ground and looking for local solutions.

Four young Comboni missionaries took their vows
During the Mass which concluded the provincial assembly one confrere made his perpetual profession and another three renewed their consecration. Phillip Andruga took his final vows prior to his ordination to the diaconate, due to take place in Yei on May 15. Philip studied theology in Brazil and spent his first year of mission service in Old Fangak mission. He is currently in the mission of Lomin, where he will remain until his ordination to the priesthood in December. Brother Andres Gaspar and scholastics Jacek Pomykacz and Yakob Solomon renewed their consecration for one year. Andres, a nurse from Mexico, works in Mapuordit Hospital. He will make his perpetual profession early next year. Jacek, from Poland, and Yakob, from Ethiopia, are in South Sudan for their mission service. Jacek will work in Mapuordit while Yacob will be part of the Leer community.

Catholic bishops urge the community to remain calm but vigilant
At the end of their extraordinary plenary assembly the Catholic bishops of the Sudan issued a statement urging the community to remain calm but vigilant ahead of Independence Day. Eleven bishops and other top church officials, together with the Apostolic Nuncio, discussed the current reality in the country and the challenges the independence of South Sudan poses to the Catholic Church, as well as other very pressing issues such as the status of the bishops’ conference after independence.

The bishops called for patience, understanding and restraint as dramatic changes take place. They urged all parties, all forces and all citizens to embrace a culture of peace and to reject violence, calling them to turn away from division, incitement, hate speech, rumors and accusations and to resolve disputes through dialogue in a spirit of unity. The extraordinary plenary assembly took place in Juba on April 1 through 7, 2011. The bishops decided to have two secretariats, one in Juba (the main office) and one in Khartoum, while they are still discussing whether to have one or two bishops’ conferences.

Attached, some photos of the provincial assembly and of the vows.