By Manyang Mayom
September 26, 2009 (JUBA) – The retired Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS), the Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Marona Biringi, died in Khartoum on Friday, September 18 and was laid to rest on the following Friday at All Saints’ Cathedral in Juba town.
- Late Archbishop Joseph Marona Biringi
The late archbishop died at the house of his son, Hon. Justin Joseph Marona, the Chairman of Economics Committee in the National Assembly at Kalakala, South of Khartoum on Friday at around 10:00 PM.
Rev. Dr. Marona was a Baka by tribe from Munga Can in Maridi County of Western Equatoria State. He was born in Maridi in 1941. In 1981 he was ordained deacon and in 1982 ordained priest. On Apri, 22, 1984 he was consecrated the bishop and became the first diocesan bishop of Maridi under the Diocese of Yambio.
In the year 2000, he was elected the Third ECS Archbishop and Anglican Primate in the Sudan. He retired on December 31, 2007 due to a health problem, after serving eight years as Sudan’s Anglican Primate.
On Wednesday, September 23, religious leaders, faithful and politicians gathered at the All Saints Anglican Cathedral in Khartoum to mourn and pay their tribute to the departed Archbishop.
The body of the late Anglican Primate was flown to Juba early morning of Thursday September 24, 2009, by a small plane chartered by the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS).
His body was received at Juba International Airport by the GoSS President, Salva Kiir Mayardit, GoSS Vice President, Dr. Riek Macher Teny, the incumbent ECS Archbishop, the Most Rev. Dr. Daniel Deng Bul, ECS bishops from all over the Sudan, GoSS officials, religious leaders and diplomats.
Accompanied by the Deputy Governor of Central Equatoria State, Mr. Manasseh Lomule and Ms. Grace Datiro, WES’ Minister for Social Development and Gender representing the GoSS—the body of the late Archbishop Marona was then connected from Juba airport and flown to his hometown of Maridi in Western Equatoria State for his relatives and members of his church to pay their final tribute to him.
The body was returned to Juba the same day and was buried yesterday at the All Saints’ Anglican Cathedral in Juba in a grand funeral attended by all the bishops of the ECS from all over the Sudan, religious leaders from different Churches, members of the different Christian denominations in Juba, GoSS officials, and big number of Christians from all Churches in Juba.
The Archbishop’s body was laid to rest following warm speeches from church leaders, politicians and family members.
Among the dignitaries were the Speaker of South Sudan Legislative Assembly, Hon. James Wani Igga representing the GoSS, the Deputy Speaker of the Council of States, Hon. Remi Oler Itorong representing the Government of National Unity, Representative of the Archdiocese of Canterbury, Rev. Canon Ian Wornwood, Representative of the Christian Missionary Society (CMS), Rev. Canon Andrew Willa paid their tribute and bate farewell to the departing Archbishop.
While addressing the faithful who gathered during the burial at All Saints Cathedral, the Deputy Speaker of the Council of State Remi Oler Itorong called for “courage and endurance” during such a difficult moment.
The Speaker of Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly, Hon. James Wani Igga said the late Archbishop Marona contributed “morally” to the success of the liberation struggle by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).
“He was the one who encouraged us leaders of the movement so that the citizens and Christians could withstand the challenges posed by bush life. We were proud of him (Archbishop Marona) because he also led the church in an exemplary way,” Hon. Igga stated.
The son of the late clergyman, Hon. Justin Marona and the Chairman of Economics Committee in the National Assembly quoted one of his father’s last words saying: “ ‘If you Southerners are not united in love in Jesus, it is difficult for you to achieve your destiny’ — praise the Lord. This is Dr. Joseph Marona.”