Faith Not a Mere Program, South Sudanese Bishop Says, Urges “new evangelization”

Immagine

Tuesday, January 25, 2022
On his first anniversary of Episcopal Ordinary, the Bishop of South Sudan’s Wau Diocese has urged the people of God under his pastoral care to think about new ways of evangelization and to refrain from perceiving faith as a mere program. [In the picture: Bishop Matthew Remijio Adam of South Sudan's Wau Diocese. Credit: Courtesy Photo. Text: ACI Africa]

In his Monday, January 24 pastoral letter shared with ACI Africa, Bishop Matthew Remijio says that there is a need for the people to renew all things in Christ through new evangelization and to foster pastoral zeal. “Our Faith is not merely a program but rather an opening of the heart to a person who is Jesus Christ,” Bishop Remijio who was Ordained Bishop on 24 January 2021 says, and adds, “We have to think of new ways to evangelize and recommit to our pastoral zeal, in order to renew all things in Christ.”

The member of the Comboni Missionaries (MCCJ) says that since the church exists to evangelize, the mission of evangelizing will remain the main focus of his Episcopal See. “The Church exists to evangelize; thus, the evangelization is and will remain the top priority for the Diocese of Wau. We have to reclaim our heritage and the great Commission of Jesus,” he says.

The Local Ordinary of Wau Diocese who doubles as the Apostolic Administrator of South Sudan’s Rumbek Diocese further says that despite the challenges faced by the people of God under his pastoral care, evangelization needs to continue without anyone giving up. “It is clear that today we are bogged down by so many important issues and concerns. There is a great deal of anger, division, anxiety and search for power. In times like these, we are tempted to retreat and circle the wagons,” the South Sudanese Bishop says in his pastoral letter shared with ACI Africa. He urges members of the Clergy, women and men Religious, and the Laity to leave the comfort of their homes, and Parishes and imitate Jesus in seeking out the lost and evangelize, spreading the good news of salvation.

In his Pastoral Letter a year since he was ordained a Bishop, the South Sudanese Catholic Church leader highlights different stages that the Diocese of Wau has gone through as it grew through the work of evangelization that was spearheaded by the Comboni Missionaries. “Missionaries, religious, and lay people came to this Diocese from across the world, bringing the message of salvation with them. Over time, the Church was organized, first as a prefecture Apostolic of Bahr el-Ghazal, vicariate apostolic of Bahr el-Ghazal, Vicariate apostolic of Wau. Finally, in 1974, the Diocese of Wau was erected, during the time of Bishop Gabriel Zubeir Wako. Since then, the Gospel continues to go forth,” Bishop Remijio says.

He further makes reference to the motto of Wau Diocese, “To renew all things in Christ”, and calls for reflection on what the church is and the need to glorify God and announce the good news. “By her proclamation of the Gospel, the Church draws her hearers to receive and profess the faith, she prepares them for baptism, snatches them from the slavery of error, and she incorporates them into Christ so that through love for him they grow to full maturity in Christ,” he says, making reference to the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church, Lumen Gentium.

The Local Ordinary of Wau Diocese urges the faithful to support the church financially through tithes and other forms of financial aid so as to enable the church to carry out her mission. The 49-year-old South Sudanese Catholic Bishop says that the purpose of sacraments does not only make people holy; they also have a teaching function, he says, and calls upon Parish Priests in his episcopal jurisdiction to prepare adequately before the celebration of baptism.

He also highlights the need for altar servants to practice and know their roles before participating in Holy Mass. Among other directives, Bishop Remijio urges those who read the word to prepare well beforehand and for family Masses to be restricted between Monday and Friday. Saturdays, the Bishop says, are to be left for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and for Priests to prepare for Sunday.

Bishop Remijio further acknowledges the challenging times in South Sudan and calls upon the people of God in the East-Central African nation to embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a solution to the challenges. “We are living in challenging times, to be sure. Our world, our country, our families and even our beloved Church, is experiencing a great deal of division and confusion. It seems as though we are condemned to exist in a country where everyone either agrees with us,” the South Sudanese Bishop says.

In his call to the people of God to participate in the ongoing Synod on Synodality, Bishop Remijio says there is need to appreciate the fact that the Holy Spirit generates life and find ways of letting God to work fully rather than focusing on what is not going well. He says, in reference to Diocesan Synod, “It gives opportunity for Parishes and faithful to encounter, experience, and live out the Synodal journey together.”

“This Synod desires to promote and develop the practice and experience of being Synodal in the course of the process and moving forward in the future,” Bishop Remijio says in his Pastoral Letter on the occasion of his first anniversary of Episcopal Ordination January 24.

[Silas Isenjia – ACI Africa]