Updated: Oct 4
In September, the Assistant General for Africa Fr Edward Daleng, in the name of the Prior General, made an exploratory visit to this African country with which there is a special bond but where, for the moment, there is no official presence
For some time now, it has been the intention of the Prior General to visit South Sudan, since there are several Augustinian friars of South Sudanese origin who live their Augustinian vocation in other circumscriptions of Africa and Europe.
The visit has now finally taken place, three years later, with Fr Daleng representing the Prior General, with the objective of discovering first hand the current situation on the ground and to give support to the Province of Belgium, which is exploring the possibility of establishing a mission there, taking into account that in 2017 the Union of Augustinian Friars of Africa (UAFA), during its conference at the Convent of St Augustine in Nairobi (Kenya), had already considered this same possibility. Although the Prior Provincial of the Province of Belgium, Fr Martin Davakan, had been expected to accompany the Assistant General on this visit, this was not possible because of a delay with a visa to enter the country, and so in the end Fr Daleng was accompanied by South Sudanese solemnly professed friar Anthony Baumuke Joseph Batimanga.
The expedition had the "invaluable help" - Fr Daleng’s own words - of Catholic organisation ‘Solidarity with South Sudan’, an initiative of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) and the Union of Superiors General (USG), and which collaborates with the local Church and shows solidarity with the people of South Sudan through social, health and human development projects. White Father Jim Greene M. Afr., an executive director of the organisation, not only shared the richness of his experience in the country, but also facilitated the meeting with Archbishop Stephen Ameyu Martin, (Archbishop of Juba), Fr Gregor Schmidt (Provincial Superior of the Comboni Missionaries), and Fr Paul Loboka (Superior of the Apostles of Jesus Christ)
Fr Greene also coordinated a visit to Yambio, where all but one of the Order's South Sudanese friars come from. There, Solidarity with South Sudan runs a teacher training school, where Fr Daleng was able to meet four simply professed friars who were on vacation. In the absence of the local Ordinary, Monsignor Eduardo Hiiboro, Vicar General, warmly welcomed the group to the diocese, leading to an enriching exchange of ideas and opinions.
In the words of the Assistant General, "the two dioceses we visited and in which we spent time are in great need, both in terms of pastoral development as well as at the social and human level." In this regard, they were able to witness a great deficit in all spheres of life, noting that any improvement to the living conditions of the local faithful would require a collective effort and real generosity from many people of goodwill. When asked what we, as Augustinians, could do for and with the people of South Sudan, Fr Daleng asserts that "if the Order decides to take up a mission there, our presence can be an agent of transformation, since through our life we can bring our spirituality of unity of mind and heart on the way to God into daily life, to dispel tension and mistrust among the various tribes, and to create a mutual and harmonious coexistence."