South Sudan: Peace-march by the Catholic Church in Juba (9th January14)
On 9th January, Thursday, the faithful of the different parishes in the Archdiocese of Juba gathered with banners and posters in one of the sub-centres of the Cathedral parish, namely, the Assumption centre, about three kilometers from St. Theresa Cathedral, praying and singing peace, love and reconciliation hymns and songs, thus asking God for the gift of true peace and security in South Sudan.
The peace-march had three STATIONS – FORGIVENESS, UNITY and LOVE. The Archbishop, Rt. Rev. Paolino Lukudu Loro at the start of the march delivered a very touching and inspiring talk during which he as well as many in the crowd wept. He read the episode from the book of Genesis about Cain killing his brother Abel . God asked Cain: “Where is your brother?”
The Archbishop with tears in his eyes asked the people gathered for the march, “Where is your brother? Where is your sister?” “Where is your brother and sister who before 15th December were coming to the different churches to pray, some of whom many of us know, with whom we talked and shared ideas? Where are they now?” Certainly tears rolled down the cheeks of many of the Christians as the Archbishop asked these questions. All of us were aware that many of them are no more as they became the victims of the revengeful killings of the past days. And there are thousands living in camps in the South Sudan or elsewhere who would have wished to join us in prayer today but are unable to move out of their camps due to fear and trauma. The Archbishop said that each one of us is the cause of this sad situation, directly or indirectly. Our sinfulness and selfishness have brought us to this dangerous and sad plight.
The faithful prayed the special PRAYER FOR PEACE IN SOUTH SUDAN, prepared specially for this occasion and marched towards the Cathedral singing and praying. The CROSS led the way as if to tell the people that the LOVE of Jesus on the Cross was inviting all the people towards forgiveness and unity.
When the procession reached the Cathedral compound, the Blessed Sacrament was brought solemnly to the middle of the compound as if to say that JESUS in the Blessed Sacrament was welcoming all to the Cathedral. The faithful were invited to empty their hearts of all that was evil and fill them instead with the LOVE and FORGIVENESS that JESUS gave. After the blessing, the CROSS and the BLESSED SACRAMENT led the faithful to the Cathedral church.
In the Cathedral there took place the solemn celebration of the Eucharist. During the prayer of the faithful, there were ten participants who came forward and prayed for the TEN STATES in South Sudan. After this prayer, while those who prayed held the one NATIONAL FLAG that was erected by the side of the altar, all the faithful joyously and zealously PRAYED (sang) the NATIONAL ANTHEM.
All in all, this was a wonderful celebration that brought forgiveness and peace to the hearts and lives of thousands present at the function.
May the voices of all in the South Sudan and others elsewhere rise up to God that He may expedite the gift of PEACE and SECURITY to this beloved young country – the SOUTH SUDAN!
Fr. Jacob Thelekkadan sdb