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Christmas Message from Archbishop Paolino Lukudu Loro

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Christmas Message from Archbishop Paolino Lukudu Loro

"I want to remind you and other believers that this referendum is God’s plan for the Sudan at this very time. We went through a peaceful voter registration, despite our predictions fear and doubt about God’s ability to ensure peace."
24 December 2010

YEAR 2010 – A SPECIAL YEAR OF GOD’S BLESSINGS FOR THE ARCHDIOCESE OF JUBA

Christmas Message from Archbishop Paolino Lukudu Loro

Introduction

My dear People of God,

“Do not be afraid. Look, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:10-11).

These were the words of the Angel to the frightened shepherds in the outskirts of Bethlehem and these are my words to every one of you this Christmas Day.

A blessed year

My dear People of God,

The year 2010 has indeed been a specially blessed year for the Archdiocese of Juba.
The Archbishop, the clergy, religious and all the pastoral agents of the Archdiocese of Juba carried out their pastoral mandate with dedication and commitment. The Archbishop ordained three priests, three deacons and confirmed a big number of children and in different parishes of the Archdiocese.

All of these are God’s blessings to us in the year 2010. Our priests administered the sacraments of Baptism, First Holy Communion, Matrimony Reconciliation and Holy Anointment to all sectors of our Christians. Pastoral visits were carried out in the Parishes, Chapels, hospitals, prisons, orphanages and families.

Some important events

Some important events in the year 2010 in the Archdiocese of Juba include the extraordinary Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference Plenary Assembly that was conducted in Juba in July and concluded with a Pastoral letter on the referendum titled “A future full of hope.”

In September, we started the 101 Days of Prayer for a Peaceful Referendum and the campaign has developed and many people indeed were involved in this journey of prayer.

The Kejiko II Forum between the Churches and the Government also took place in Juba at the beginning of October.

The Young Christian Students (YCS) celebrated their Silver Jubilee under the theme “A new beginning with Christ towards a better world” in November. The celebration drew participants from all the Catholic Dioceses of Sudan as well as Kenya and Uganda.
The culmination of God’s blessings for the Archdiocese of Juba and for the Church in Sudan was the appointment of Msgr. Santo Loku Pio as auxiliary Bishop of Juba on November 27.

I feel that the appointment of Msgr. Santo is recognition, encouragement of the faith, pastoral service and the growth of our local Church by the Holy Father.

I thank very much the clergy and the Christian community for responding positively towards the pastoral care and guidance provided by the Church. I know there were events and occasions that occurred in Juba town and surrounding areas which might have been quite annoying and would have caused reactions that could have affected our current fragile political situations quite negatively.

Yet, you always heeded to the call of the Church to remain calm and listen to God’s wisdom and guidance rather than to your emotions.

At national level, the last steps of the Interim Period were taken smoothly with the voter registration for the referendum and while we prepare ourselves to make our choice for separation or unity, the peace partners are discussing the way forward for the Abyei Referendum and post-referendum arrangements concerning borders, citizenship, wealth sharing, the payment of a huge international debt, etc.

Referendum

My dear People of God,

We have been through the Advent season, a period for preparations to receive Christ in our midst as our Lord and Messiah. We have been repenting and confessing our sins and shortcomings to be ready to welcome Jesus, the great gift of salvation. Now as we celebrate Christmas, let us continue to pray so that we are placed on a better relationship with God when we vote in the referendum from January 9 to 15, 2011 in the referendum centres where we registered.

I want to remind you and other believers that this referendum is God’s plan for the Sudan at this very time. We went through a peaceful voter registration, despite our predictions fear and doubt about God’s ability to ensure peace.

Let us therefore, approach the vote with all seriousness and dedication, and make sure that peace prevails among us so that God blesses the voting period and gives us the courage to choose our destiny with his guidance.

For those who have registered, I urge them to be responsible to keep the voter cards safe and make sure to exercise their right to choose God’s future for Sudan and South Sudan in this historic moment.

A Word of thanks

My dear People of God,

I hereby express our gratitude to the Government of Southern Sudan and Central Equatoria State authorities, community leaders and civil society organizations for the positive and cordial relationship that existed with the Church. This has enabled us to guide God’s people together in this country up to this time when we are approaching the last milestone of the CPA in relative peace through the grace of God.
I express our sincere gratitude for the ecumenical spirit that existed with the other members of the Sudan Council of Churches. This has been in line with the Lord’s Prayer “that they may be one” (Jn 17:21).

In the Archdiocese of Juba, another reason to thank God for is the return to Juba of the Philosophy section of our national Major Seminary from Khartoum where it was displaced for the last 20 years. Now we have 50 philosophy seminarians in Juba. We ask for the prayers and support of our faithful and all people of good will for these young men who have chosen to pursue the vocation to Priesthood.

New Year 2011

I urge all of us to live a life full of hope for more blessings in the year 2011. We have in the immediate beginning of the New Year the ordination to the priesthood of Deacon Peter Longoro on 2 January 2011, in Lirya Parish.

Let us praise the Lord because he keeps on blessing us with many vocations to the active ministry.

Other immediate events in the New Year are the referendum vote that may shape the future of this country, the Episcopal Consecration of the Auxiliary Bishop and other events for which all of us are to prepare and pray.

Conclusion

My dear People of God,

I conclude this Christmas Message with my initial words : “Do not be afraid. Look, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”
We are celebrating this Christmas during the final moments of the countdown for the end of the interim period.

Let us welcome Jesus in our hearts, allow him to be born into our life, into our family, into our society so that we may indeed start a new life of stable peace.
Do not be afraid! Celebrate with great joy the birthday of Jesus and live in peace.
I bless you all and wish you a Merry Christmas and a truly new 2011.

Juba, December 25, 2010

Paolino Lukudu Loro

Archbishop of Juba

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