Tuesday, May 8, 2018
“A work of God”, A Long Love Story, the Comboni Mission in South Sudan, Popular Edition, is a shortened form of the original book “The Comboni Missionaries in South Sudan”. The author, Fr. Francesco Chemello [in the picture], is now placing this book in your hands for easy reading. It is not a mere reading but a reading that records “a work of God” carried out by people possessed by a passion for the Gospel and the mission. Moreover, it is the contemplation of the liberating action of God through human persons. This history bears more meaning especially because it recognizes the life of a group of people who have gone to unknown and hostile places whose people they came to know and, above all, made it possible that those people should have life in abundance.

The premature death of our founder St Daniel Comboni (10 October, 1881), and the doubts of those in authority (because of the precarious situation of the Institute) did not deter the Institute from flourishing and becoming what it is now. Likewise, the work of the Comboni Missionaries in South Sudan (Expulsion, 6 March, 1964 and 1983 war...) has not been deterred by the various difficult situations it has encountered and undergone so far. It is the accomplishment of the vision of the Founder who desired to penetrate Africa only to proclaim the Gospel.

This history brings to memory the lives of such people as Fr Barnaba Deng and Bro Giosuè Dei Cas and many others who totally gave their lives for the Gospel. It fills the heart of the readers with gratitude and, above all, makes them aware of the compassionate and merciful hand of God at work.

The beginning was never to be easy, from the death of the Founder to the expulsion, the war of 1983 and up to the present day. None of these events have ever caused us to lose sight of the mission as the reason of our being a Comboni Missionary Province. Instead, we are grateful for the many lives consumed in this land, the Local Church that stands on its own and the all we have received from those to whom we were sent.

This book is now being published at a moment when the situation of the Province is discouraging. The mission is in a constant state of emergency and this re-reading of our history appeals to us to live this event with hope, hope that the hand of God who has started this work will bring it to fulfilment and that with fidelity we may discover the way to continue to be at the service of the Gospel and the mission which has been entrusted to us. Fixing our eyes on the Crucified One will empower us to be faithful and persevering like our Founder.

The vocation and the mission we have received have their roots in the personal encounter with the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ (The Rule of Life, the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus, n° 21.1). It is a gift to be cherished and at the same time to be given out generously so that all may have life in abundance (Jn. 10:10). This reminds us of our dream to be a Province “that goes forth” always, to share the weariness and confusion of the world.

Finally, I take this opportunity to thank again Fr Francesco for placing this book in more hands by producing this Popular Edition. We are indebted to you. As you go to Rome to undertake a new assignment, keep the missionary flame burning and inspire others with your long missionary experience. I wish all the readers of this book a blessed and enjoyable read. May it refresh and strengthen in you the missionary vocation of all the baptised.
Fr. Louis Okot Ochermoi Tony
Provincial Superior South Sudan Province