To all our sisters and brothers in the Comboni Family and all the friends of Sudan!
Peace be with you!
Last 9th January 2011, feast of the Baptism of the Lord, on the occasion of the historical event of the Referendum for Southern Sudan, we exchanged prayers and words of encouragement among us. We reminded ourselves of Comboni’s legacy: “Courage! Have courage in this tough hour and foremost for the future! Never give up!”
Six months later, on 9th July, 2011 we will witness the declaration of Independence of South Sudan. We are here again to share with you some few thoughts on what we are going to celebrate.
Comboni’s legacy comes again to our aid and speaks to our hearts. With expectations and joy there are also fears about the insecurity in some areas both in the North and in the South and doubts about the possibility of South Sudan of being able of self-governance. Some even say that South Sudan will fail unless external help will pitch in with some key positions in the governance of the nation. Doubts, skepticism, pessimistic bets, etc. As daughters and sons of Comboni, however, we can’t stop at this analysis. In his Plan for the Regeneration of Africa Comboni wrote in lapidary terms:
“The Catholic, who is used to judging things in a supernatural light, looked upon Africa not through the pitiable lens of human interest, but in the pure light of faith” (Writings 2742).
It is with the lens of “pure faith” that we look at the present reality of the people of Sudan. Comboni asked his followers to be women and men who can perceive the potential of those who are belittled, and encourage the full realization of their reality.
In closing her poem “The Summer Day” the writer Mary Oliver poses this question : “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one, wild and precious life?” One, wild, precious… ! Three words that very much fit on what South Sudan is about to take up and live. It seems to us this question is a very fitting one as we, serving in South Sudan in this historical moment, join the people on this journey of the birth a new nation, a new people of God, a new state and society.
One: a striking feature about the story of the feast of Pentecost is the fact that the Holy Spirit came when the disciples “were all together in one place’ (Acts 2,1). Togetherness and oneness allowed the miracle to happen. Like those disciples at Pentecost, we are called by the Spirit to help humbly the various ethnic groups of South Sudan - through our presence and ministries – become one nation under God. In that First and Unique Cenacle, the disciples shared in prayer their personal experience of Jesus, their dreams and hopes, fears and doubts. We, like those disciples, like the people of South Sudan today, experience deep joy but also fears, uncertainties, our human weaknesses and we hesitate. But God’s Spirit broke into the lives of those disciples and transformed their vulnerabilities into energy, power, passion for a great mission. We, Comboni Missionaries- lay, sisters, brothers, priests and bishops-are called more than ever to be signs of hope to the people whom we minister to in the midst of uncertainties and fear of the future. “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. In green pastures you let me grace; to safe waters you lead me; you restore my strength. You guide me along the right path for the sake of your name. Even when I walk through the valley, I fear no harm for you are at my side; your rod and staff give me courage” (Ps 23:1-4).
Wild: We don’t know how is going to be after July 9th, what will enfold, how South Sudan will become. We do know that God’s Spirit is moving all over South Sudan and Grace will happen. We do know that God does not leave us orphans. We do know that God is in full control and we just have to listen to His Spirit calling us to leave that upper room and to walk the ways of an untamed Spirit, Who demands that we become a new people, seeing with new eyes, speaking with new tongues and choosing with new hearts. It means leaving the upper room where we have been dwelling in the past and to go forth to proclaim with the Sudanese people the Kingdom of God and its values, the Gospel of Life, the Social Teaching of the Church. We know that independence will transform this land into interdependency on a local, national, continental, global level. It will mean networking with everything and everyone.
Precious: the words of the prophets of the Old Testament reach our hearts in these days: “You are precious in my eyes. Do not be afraid, I have called you by your name, you are mine” (Isaiah 43). It’s consoling and encouraging to remind ourselves that each one of us, each Sudanese, is precious to God because we are the beloved daughters and sons of the one God revealed in Jesus Christ. Thus, no matter what the future will unveil to South Sudan, which ways it will take, which policies and institutions will be set up, we are solidly rooted in God’s guiding Mind and Heart. Empowered by God’s grace and love, we will try to contribute with our ministries to make South Sudan and each of its inhabitants realize that life is a gift. A precious gift to be cherished and nourished by all through respect, love, forgiveness, justice in truth, oneness and solidarity in fashioning a new people of God.
And so, led by the Holy Trinity, hand in hand with the local church, civil society, all men and women of good will who dream of a Holy Nation under one and loving God, let us walk together towards 9th July, 2011 and the horizon afterwards, “See, I am doing a new deed, even now it comes to light: can you not see it?" (Isaiah 43, 19).
We would like to suggest to all of you, sisters and brothers, that on July 9th in each community we pray together the homily of St. Daniel Comboni of Khartoum 1873 (Writings 3156 – 3164). Our founder and father in faith of this great people and land, has given us a great example of love and service. He will rejoice in heaven for this particular historical time together with his beloved people.
In Comboni, St. Bakhita and All African Saints,
Sr. Giovanna Sguazza and Fr. Daniele Moschetti
Provincial Superiors of the Comboni Sisters and Comboni Missionaries