Tuesday, March 28, 2023
At the Eucharistic celebration to mark one year since he was Ordained Bishop, the Local Ordinary of Rumbek Diocese has presided over the consecration of the South Sudanese Episcopal See to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In a note he sent to ACI Africa following the March 25 event, Bishop Christian Carlassare said he presided over the Act of the Consecration of his Episcopal See to the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the conclusion of Holy Mass at Holy Family Parish church, Rumbek. [Credit: Fr. Wanyonyi Eric Simiyu, S.J/Rumbek; Fr. Don Bosco Onyalla – ACI Africa]
“At the end of the Eucharistic Celebration we did an act of consecration of the Diocese of Rumbek to the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” Bishop Carlassare said in his WhatsApp note March 25. The Italian-born member of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus (MCCJ) who has ministered in South Sudan since 2005 was Consecrated Bishop on the Solemnity of the Annunciation, on 25 March 2022.
His Episcopal Ordination that Gabriel Cardinal Zubeir Wako presided over after more than 12 months of waiting had been initially scheduled to take place on Pentecost Sunday of the previous year, on 23 May 2021. The celebration was postponed indefinitely when the Comboni Missionary who had been appointed Bishop for Rumbek Diocese on 8 March 2021 was shot in both legs on 26 April 2021.
He was airlifted to Nairobi for specialized treatment and later relocated to his native country of Italy days after he had been discharged from the Nairobi Hospital in Kenya. The Catholic Priest who had been at the helm of Rumbek Diocese as Coordinator was among four suspects who were sentenced over the shooting of the then Bishop-elect in the case that was first mentioned on January 26.
“Fr. John Mathiang of Rumbek Diocese, Sebit Morris Ater and Laat Makur Agok are sentenced to seven years imprisonment without bail under Penal Code 334, 4,335, 2008,” Justice Alexander Sebur Subek was quoted during the 25 April 2022 court session in a Catholic Radio Network (CRN) report. The sentencing started on the day each of the suspects had been arrested, Justice Sebur Subek reportedly said, adding that the first suspect, Fr. Mathiang, would serve his seven-year jail period from 7 May 2021. Reacting to the verdict, the defense lawyer, Malith Mading reportedly disagreed with the findings of the judge and citing “lack of concrete evidence in the sentencing of the defendants”, went on to say, “We have the right to appeal and we are going to appeal the decision.”
The date of his Episcopal Consecration was made public in a 1 March 2022 letter in which Bishop Matthew Remijio who was serving as the Apostolic Administrator made reference consultations with the Nairobi-based representative of the Holy Father to South Sudan who doubles as the Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya, Archbishop Hubertus van Megen. “After due consultation with the Apostolic Nuncio to Kenya and South Sudan and the Bishop elect, I am happy to announce to you the consecration of Bishop of Rumbek,” the Local Ordinary of South Sudan’s Wau Diocese says.
On his part, the then Bishop-elect of Rumbek Diocese addressed himself to the Clergy and women and men Religious serving in the South Sudanese Diocese in a message that was read out at the Holy Family Cathedral of Rumbek Diocese, saying, “May WE join the YES of Mary to be a Church gathered around his Son Jesus and ready to embrace all people.”
In his note to ACI Africa on the occasion of his first Episcopal anniversary March 25, Bishop Carlassare reiterated the “Yes of Mary”. “Thank you, Lord God, for your first Yes,” he said, and went on to thank the Almighty for the “many” other “Yes of people before me”, including the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Yes of his predecessor, Bishop Caesar Mazzolari. The 45-year-old Catholic Church leader also acknowledged with appreciation the Yes of the members of the Clergy, women and men Religious, and Laity in Rumbek Diocese, saying, “My Yes stands on theirs.”
“Thank you for the Yes of our Christian community in the Diocese of Rumbek as it is coming together,” he said, and also recognized what he described as “the many Yes that will come in the future, consistent, courageous, prophetic Yes”. In the March 25 note shared with ACI Africa, Bishop Carlassare said that in marking his first Episcopal anniversary, he “took inspiration” from the “Beatitudes of the Bishop”, a list of beatitudes modeled on the eight beatitudes that Jesus Christ gave on the Sermon on the Mount.
Attributed to Archbishop Domenico Battaglia of Italy’s Napoli Archdiocese at an Episcopal Consecration of three new Bishops, the eight beatitudes, which Pope Francis shared with Catholic Bishops in Italy during their November 2021 Plenary Assembly, speak to all with leadership roles among the people of God. The eight beatitudes caution against temptations that Catholic Bishops as well as church leaders face, including that of looking out for power, recognition, and a comfortable and easy lifestyle.
Bishop Carlassare who offered his pain, when he was nursing his gunshot wounds at Nairobi Hospital, for the purification of the Catholic Diocese of Rumbek has been inspired by the beatitudes of the Bishops, one that reads in part, “Blessed is the Bishop who does not fear to water his face with tears, so that in them can be mirrored the miseries of the people and the struggles of the priests and religious missionaries”.
“Blessed is the Bishop who has a compassionate heart and join his hands to build a new humanity. He cannot be offended by any sin or inconsistency because he is conscious of his own fragility,” reads in part one of the beatitudes that has inspired Bishop Carlassare who acknowledged the verdict of the South Sudanese High court sentencing his attackers and prayed for “conversion and healing”. “Though sad for what has happened and the resulting sufferings, we pray that truth may bring conversion and healing,” the Local Ordinary of Rumbek said in his 25 April 2022 statement that ACI Africa obtained.
Bishop Carlassare who, ahead of his Episcopal Consecration, entrusted himself “to the Lord” and to the prayers of the people of God in Rumbek Diocese found inspiration in the beatitude that reads in part, blessed is the Bishop whose “office will be in front of the tabernacle in contemplation and at the people’s homes walking with them along the path of reconciliation and peace.”
The Catholic Church leader who has been described as a person who takes his missionary vocation seriously and who has “love for humans” has been inspired by the beatitudes of the Bishop, one of which reads, “Blessed is the Bishop who works for peace and accompanies his people along the path of reconciliation,” reads in part one of the beatitudes that inspired Bishop Carlassare whose Episcopal Motto is build around the expression, “Omnes unum in Christo (you are all one in Christ Jesus)”.
Here below is the full text of the “Beatitudes of the Bishop”, which Bishop Carlassare shared with ACI Africa on the occasion of his first Episcopal anniversary.
[Fr. Don Bosco Onyalla – ACI Africa]