A Presbytery for a New Parish in South Sudan
Project Code: 166-00-00
The Missionaries of Mary Immaculate is a young congregation; it has many vocations. Only established in India in 1998, it currently has 118 priests, and another 350 young men are now preparing to receive ordination and take their permanent vows. No fewer than 50 of its priests are working in Africa, providing their pastoral service in Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Ethiopia and South Sudan.
In South Sudan, there are 24 priests of the congregation who care for seven parishes. These missionary priest are also working in schools, a task that is particularly difficult, as Father Albert Amal Raj explains, since for a quarter of a century people have known only war, and now, after a brief glimmer of hope, the country is once again sinking into violence and chaos.
"The only game many children play is war," he tells us. "They pretend they have a gun and shoot at each other. When we ask the pupils what they want to be when they grow up, they often tell us, 'We want to be policemen, so that we can shoot and kill people.' They know nothing else but violence.”
“Many have actually witnessed their own family members being murdered. Human life is worth little here." Now the missionaries are trying to teach the children to treasure life, to respect other people and to take responsibility for their own lives, for society and for a peaceful future.
The people are very happy that the missionaries have come to them. The parishes they serve are situated above all in underdeveloped, disadvantaged and inaccessible regions. In many villages, Holy Mass is still celebrated in the open air, under the trees. But again and again, the people say to the priests, "You are our father, and we are your children," or else, "You are a priest. God has sent you to us!"
The people look to the priests for everything – not only for consolation and hope, but also for their material needs. Many have lost everything as a result of the war, while others have been forced to witness their own family members being murdered in front of their very eyes. To bring healing, reconciliation and new hope to places like this is a challenge that can only be taken on with God's help.
In Barsherki, in the Diocese of Wau, many people have waited for years for a priest to provide them with regular pastoral care. Today, there are three priests working in the newly established Parish of the Missionaries of Mary Immaculate. But there is no house for the priests themselves, who instead have to live in a small rented hut that does not even have running water or electricity. It is also dangerous for the priests, since there are many desperate people and they have been attacked and threatened in the past. The house is so insecure that anyone can wander in at any time and attack and rob the priests.
ACN is planning to give $9,900 so that the congregation can build a presbytery where its priests can live in security. Will you join in supporting these missionary priests so that they can minister to the people of South Sudan?
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