By Sr. Henriette Anne, FSSA
As the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio (CDTY) commemorates the life of Bishop Gasi on Friday, September 15, 2023, the iconic South Sudanese Prelate who has been described as a prayerful man who served the Church wholeheartedly, Mr. Simon Mikanipare Dukpurokari urged all the CDTY Seminarians at various seminaries to follow the footsteps of Bishop Gasi since they are the light and salt for the Diocese.
“I woke up thinking about my Rev Seminarians of CDTY starting in Maingbangaru, in St Bakhita, in Juba St Paul, in Uganda, in Kenya, in Italy (Roma) in Spain, and elsewhere that I have not mentioned, you are the light, the salt, and hope of the future of the Diocese. As we conclude this week of Titarani Bishop Gasi, I know you are already filled with the strength of his wisdom and focus”.
In his Friday 15th, message shared through WhatsApp, Mr. Simon reminded Seminarians that young men like them had often been distracted from their spiritual calling, lost in the chaos of the world. But now, in a world fraught with challenges and uncertainties, the need for their spiritual leadership is more critical than ever appealing to all of them to get to the altar so that the Catholic faith may be rooted into generation coming up.
“Gone are the days when young men were interrupted in their spiritual call and had no proper focus on their spiritual calls, but with all the needs in our world now, we need many of you to get to the alter so that the Catholic faith is rooted into our generation coming up”, Mr. Simon explained.
He added that the face of the world is changing rapidly stressing that the commitment of Seminarians and their dedication is paramount in bringing God’s word and guidance into the lives of people of Baguga, Rangu, Nabiapai, Baragu, Sinakpuro, Source Yubu, Bafuka, Gangura, and many other places.
“It’s your commitment that will keep the word of the Lord to be respected and save us.
The evil war of the world has just started to spread, we need Godly guidance to see us through”.
Reflecting on the life of the 12 Disciples who left everything to follow Jesus, Mr. Simon reminded the Seminarians that the timeless truth of God’s word and work remains steadfast, it had been, it was and it would continue to be now and forever, therefore, they should also do the same.
He further assured them that they are loved, thought of, and cared for by the community and they are destined to serve in Parishes, and chapels, bringing God’s grace and love to the faithful.
Inspired by the words of Pope Francis, he urged them to embrace unity and faith as they looked forward to the day of their ordination.
He expressed gratitude to the rectors who have shouldered the responsibility of nurturing the young men in their spiritual growth.
“We thank our rectors in all these seminaries for dressing up this responsibility, it is not easy to nurture young men in their spiritual growth. May the Lord bless you”,
He extended a warm greeting and welcome to Bishop Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kusala, who had been a pillar of support for their journey.
By Sr. Henriette Anne, FSSA
At the celebration of the 9th anniversary of the late Bishop Joseph Gasi Abangite, “Bishop Gasi Day”, on Friday, September 15, 2023, Bishop Eduardo recognizes the impact Bishop Abangite had on the lives of numerous individuals.
“My memories of Bishop Gasi Abangite are vivid and enduring. I am not alone in this. Bishop Joseph Gasi Abangite touched the lives of many, many people in ways that are not forgotten”.
Bishop Gasi who passed away on 13 September 2014 had been at the helm of the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio (CDTY) since his Episcopal Ordination in April 1975. He retired in April 2008 at the age of 80.
This year’s Bishop Gasi Day was marked from September 12-15, themed as “Celebrating Titarani Gasi Abangite in New-Leadership Worthy Following”, and marked with the celebration of the sacrament of confirmation and blessings of associations.
In his homily on Friday, September 15th during the celebration, Bishop Eduardo emphasized Bishop Abangite’s belief that life is a pilgrimage and that our ultimate fulfillment comes from the vision of God.
“We cannot understand and value the good of this mortal life unless we have a clear vision of that other life of immortality’. Bishop Abangite used these words to introduce his reflections on the value of prayers, something he loved deeply”.
He also highlighted Bishop Abangite’s strong emphasis on prayers saying that for Bishop Abangite prayer was not just a theoretical concept but something to be practiced daily.
“He knew that these priorities had to be put into practice, not simply talked about. And at the center of that practice was prayer: his prayer, his teaching about prayer, and his call to us, always to be a people of prayer. During the year’s main celebrations, he spoke about prayer and we knew we were listening to words fashioned not in theory but in daily practice”.
The prelate further noted Bishop Abangite’s strong faith even during his suffering days mentioning his deep connection with the crucifix and how it served as a focal point for his prayer, “He often spoke of his morning prayer before it, and how, when his mind was tired, he would simply gaze at the figure of Jesus. It was there, he told people who asked for his prayers, that he remembered them each day. He once wrote: ‘Looking prayerfully at the image of Christ dying on the Cross is an essential exercise for all who are in search of God. This became more and more important to him. When he was in the pain of his final illness that was the only form of his prayer: looking at the cross, touching the wounds of Jesus with his fingers, placing himself in his outstretched arms”.
He added, “Behind every crucifix,’ he wrote, ‘hidden, for we cannot see him, stands our Risen Lord, there is life hidden in every suffering and pain is the joy of closer union with him. His is the victory. He invites us to share it.’ This was the faith that enabled him to write that unforgettable letter, sent to his priests when he heard the news of his impending death. He wrote, ‘I have received two wonderful graces. First, I have been given time to prepare for a new future. Secondly, I find myself – uncharacteristically – calm and at peace”.
In his Friday homily, he shared that he has the privilege of praying in the same chapel and using the same spaces that Bishop Abangite once used something he considered a blessing in his life.
He went on to appreciate the thousands of Christians including government officials, religious leaders, the king, and community organizations for their support and involvement in the celebration of Bishop Gasi Day.
“I thank you all for coming to this Mass. I thank the All-Saints Central Deanery, All the priests, Religious, Hon. National Minister of Labor, Hon Commissioner of Juba County, all the government officials of all levels, all people of God of CDTY, our beloved King of the Azande, NGOs, CBOs, Youths, CSOs, for helping so much in its preparation and for the beautiful impacts you have produced. They contain many lovely memories and reflections. Please do ponder on them attentively and quietly. They will reward such careful activities”.
Concluding his homily with thanksgiving prayer, Bishop Eduardo, thanked God for Bisho Abangite’s life and ministry and requested guidance to follow in his footsteps and ultimately know God face to face.
By Sr. Henriette Anne, FSSA
At the launching of the celebration of Bishop Gasi day, Fr. Bagbiowia Thomas the Vicar General of CDTY underscored that the late Bishop Gasi was a profound spiritual man, affectionately known as “Baasaangbaa mbori,” which meant a man of God, he was a beacon of love and faith that radiated from his very being.
During the launching at St. Mary Mother of God Parish, Yambio, Fr. Thomas stressed that Bishop Gasi’s legacy was one of selflessness, inclusivity, and patriotism. His love for his nation and its people was unwavering, and he served as a guiding light for all. His life, a testament to faith, morality, leadership, and diplomacy, continues to inspire generations, urging them to embrace his qualities and values in their own lives and communities.
In his presentation, Fr. Thomas said that Bishop Gasi was the cornerstone of his existence. He embodied God’s love in every aspect of his life. His unwavering commitment to prayer was a testament to his faith, and he was known for his steadfastness in this regard. His life was marked by the virtues of celibacy, chastity, and purity of heart, qualities that he held dear and exemplified for all to see.
He added that what set Bishop Gasi apart was his authenticity. He didn’t just preach about his faith; he lived it. He engaged in heartfelt conversations with God, speaking to Him, talking about Him, and talking with Him as if God were a constant presence in his life. His existence was a sacramental journey of holiness, and he sought regular penance and confession, with Fr. Andrea Mbuniwia being his trusted confidant.
He further explained that as remarkable as his spiritual life was, Bishop Gasi’s moral character was equally exceptional. He had a remarkable command over his passions and emotions, and there was never a whisper of irregularity in his moral life. His chastity was an unwavering commitment that left no room for doubt.
Reflecting on his leadership styles, the Vicar acknowledged that his influence extended far beyond his personal virtues. He was a shepherd to his flock, and his love for his community knew no bounds. He held a special place in his heart for the priests, religious men, and women under his care. With a passion for education, he established schools that became pillars of knowledge and enlightenment in the region.
He added, his leadership as a shepherd was marked by a deep connection with his people. He cared for them with a love that was contagious and guided them spiritually and morally. His pastoral visits to all the parishes and institutions were a testament to his accessibility and concern for every member, big or small. He was a loving father to his community, the embodiment of their faith.
Bishop Gasi’s intellectual prowess was another facet of his remarkable character. “A teacher by profession, he was an eloquent speaker, proficient in several languages, including English, Latin, Italian, French, and his mother tongue, not to mention his grasp of Arabic’, he explained. He was a man of his times, well-informed and updated, making him a source of wisdom for those around him.
In his speech during the launching, the Vicar stated that diplomacy was yet another skill in Bishop Gasi’s arsenal. He approached matters with a measured and thoughtful perspective, never rushing into decisions. His interpersonal relationships were exceptional, and his reputation was one of trustworthiness and reliability. He was esteemed and valued not only within his church but also by civil and religious leaders alike.
He also said that values like integrity, transparency, love, holiness, humility, and visionary leadership were ingrained in Bishop Gasi’s character. He was a patient and tolerant leader, capable of bringing people together. His fatherhood extended beyond his church; he was a true peacemaker and reconciler, playing a pivotal role in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between late John Garage and Doctor Riek Machar.
Bishop Gasi, the man of God, had left an indelible mark on the hearts and souls of those fortunate enough to know him.
A group of 11 students from Sustainable Agriculture for Rural Development (SARD) Institute, comprising 4 women and 7 men, 11th 9, 2023, embarked on an enriching two-month practical experience at the renowned Solidarity Farm in Riimencie. “It was a day filled with blessings, good wishes, and heartfelt farewells as the students set out on a journey that promised not only personal growth but also a deepened sense of solidarity”, says Br. Kyalo.
The 4 women and 7 men, representing diverse backgrounds and interests, symbolized the unity in diversity that SARD Institute holds dear. They wore bright smiles that mirrored their enthusiasm for this unique journey. The students had spent weeks preparing for the journey by practicing different farming technologies, which included making the “Mandala Garden”, but nothing could fully prepare them for the transformative experiences that lay ahead.
SARD Institute is an initiative of the CDTY initiated in 2021, with the sole objective of transforming a peaceful, food-secure, and economically enabled society through improved modern sustainable agriculture for rural development.
The SARD institute has three agriculture courses, which include,16 months, 6 months, and 1-6 weeks courses. Currently, the institute operates at St. Augustine Parish in Yambio.
The institute has established a demonstration farm at St. Augustine Parish of about one hectare which has been divided into small plots of 150m square per student for practical training.
By. Baraka John
The National Minister of Public Service Hon. Joseph Bangasi Bakosoro together with the commissioner of Juba County landed in the morning Tuesday at Yambio airstrip to attend the 9th anniversary of Bishop Joseph Gasi slated for this week.
Hon. Bakosoro was received by the deputy governor of Western Equatoria State Dr. Keneedy Gaaniko, commissioner of Yambio County, Hon. Mbiko Barakati, and other government officials.
Speaking to reporters, Hon. Bakosoro noted that he came to join the people of CDTY in celebrating the life of Bishop Titarani Joseph Gasi.
“We are grateful to be here. I came purposely to attend the anniversary of Bishop Joseph Gasi, and we came together with the commissioner of Juba County to learn more about Yambio”.
Hon. Charles Joseph Wani acknowledged that his visit is based on the invitation to attend the feast of the iconic Bishop Joseph Gasi, whom he described as a man with unforgettable legacies.
“We came here based on an invitation on the occasion of the memorial of Bishop Joseph Gasi. We also brought the wishes of the people of Juba to you ahead of this feast”, Wani stated.
Some parishioners in the Catholic diocese of Tambura Yambio have started arriving at the venue of the feast.
By Sr. Henriette Anne, FSSA
Bishop Gasi Day is an annual celebration in the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio, dedicated to commemorating the life and legacy of Bishop Gasi Abangite, who was the first native Bishop of the diocese. Here’s some additional information about this celebration and Bishop Gasi:
Bishop Gasi Abangite:
Bishop Gasi Abangite was born on January 1, 1929. He was ordained as a priest on December 21, 1957, and later consecrated as Bishop on April 6, 1975. He played a significant role in the Catholic Church and the Diocese of Tombura-Yambio, particularly as the first native Bishop.
Appointment as Bishop:
Bishop Gasi Abangite’s appointment as Bishop on March 5, 1974, was a historic moment for the diocese and the Catholic community in South Sudan. His leadership and contributions to the church and community are remembered and celebrated on Bishop Gasi Day.
Bishop Gasi Abangite passed away on September 13, 2014, at the age of 94. His passing marked a significant loss for the Catholic community in the Diocese of Tombura-Yambio.
Bishop Gasi Day is an annual event in the diocese, held to honor the memory and contributions of Bishop Gasi Abangite. Each year, the celebration may have a specific theme, and it provides an opportunity for the Catholic community to come together in prayer and reflection.
This Year’s Theme:
The theme for the 9th anniversary of Bishop Gasi’s passing is “celebrating Titarani Bishop Gasi Abangite in New-Leadership Worthy following.” This theme likely reflects on the enduring impact of Bishop Gasi’s leadership and the importance of continuing his legacy.
Leading up to Bishop Gasi Day, there are various activities and ceremonies. On September 13th, recollection, the Sacrament of Penance (confession), and intense prayer are conducted as a means of spiritual preparation for the main celebration.
The main celebration typically includes a Mass, which is a central part of Catholic worship. Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala will celebrate the Mass at St. Mary Mother of God Parish in Yambio. During the Mass, Bishop Kussala will officiate the Sacrament of Confirmation and bless associations within the Catholic community.
Bishop Gasi Day serves as a meaningful occasion for the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio to remember and honor their first native Bishop, Bishop Gasi Abangite, and to reflect on the values and leadership he represented. It is a time for the community to come together in faith and unity.
Bishop’s Wisdom Guides Seekers to Deeper Spiritual Connection at the Tomb of Titarani Bishop Gasi Abangite
Sr. Henriette Anne FSSA
As the days draw near for the pilgrimage to the Tomb of Titarani Bishop Gasi Abangite, bishop Eduardo Kussala noted that it is essential to understand the deeper purpose behind this annual tradition and how one can maximize the experience. Here are some key points to consider before and during the pilgrimage:
- Clarify Your Intentions: Before setting out on the pilgrimage, take time to reflect on your intentions. Why are you participating in this pilgrimage? What spiritual or personal goals do you hope to achieve? He encourages the participants to set clear intentions for their journey, whether it’s seeking spiritual growth, solace, healing, or a deeper connection with God.
- Spirit of Prayer and Intercession: He called upon the pilgrims to emphasize the power of prayer during the pilgrimage, to not only pray for themselves but also to pray for others, whether it’s loved ones, the community, or the world at large. This collective intercession can bring a sense of unity and purpose to the journey, the bishop explained.
- Spiritual Engagement Along the Way: As pilgrims travel to Yambio, he said, “I encourage them to visit churches and parishes along the route. Take time to pray and engage with the local communities and fellow pilgrims you encounter”. These moments of connection can enrich the pilgrimage experience and highlight the broader community of faith.
- Openness and Mutual Support: He stressed the importance of being open to connecting with fellow pilgrims. Encouraging a spirit of mutual support. He added that Pilgrimages often provide opportunities to form deep and lasting relationships with people who share a similar spiritual journey.
- Embrace Adaptability: He reminded pilgrims that challenges and unexpected situations are a natural part of any pilgrimage. He has called upon all Church leaders to encourage pilgrims to maintain a positive and adaptable mindset, as some of the most profound experiences can arise from overcoming obstacles.
- Accepting Diversity: He explained in his statement that pilgrimages often bring together people from various backgrounds asking pilgrims to embrace the diversity they encounter along the way, recognizing that everyone is on their own unique spiritual journey.
- Documentation and Reflection: Suggest keeping a journal or taking photos to document the pilgrimage experience. This can help pilgrims remember their journey and reflect on the insights and revelations they gain along the way.
- Engagement with Authorities: He also said that the participants to inform local authorities about the pilgrimage, ensuring safety and coordination. This also shows respect for the community and authorities you will encounter.
- Spiritual Legacy: Highlight the historical significance of the route you’re taking. Discuss how the roads you travel and the locations you visit have been part of the faith journey of those who came before you, including Titarani Bishop Gasi Abangite and the missionaries who brought the faith.
- Spiritual Discovery: He emphasized that the pilgrimage is an opportunity to step away from the complexities of daily life and immerse oneself in a focused spiritual journey. He asked the participants to approach the pilgrimage with an open heart and mind, ready to discover new insights about themselves, their faith, and the world around them.
“Annual Pilgrimage Honoring Bishop Gasi Abangite: A Spiritual Journey of Renewal and Communal Unity”
By Sr. Henriette Anne FSSA
The tale of celebrating the life of Titarani Bishop Gasi Abangite began in 2012 during the joyous commemoration of the First Centenary in Mupoi. According to Bishop Eduardo, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio (CDTY), People embarked on pilgrimages, traversing miles upon miles, guided by the compass of faith. Under the guidance of Fr. Mark Kumbonyeki, the faithful from St. Mary Mother of God Yambio walked with unwavering determination. Others, like Fr. Moudie from Bakhita, Fr. Richard Mangu from Naandi, Fr. Jacinto in Ezo, Fr. Bagare and Fr. Githinji in Rii-Yubu, Fr. Basana and Sangu in Tombura, and Fr. Kumyangi in Nzara, along with their parishioners, joined in this spiritual odyssey.
On his statement of August 24th, shared with the Rurugene Online Newsletter, the prelate stated that the annual celebration of Bishop Gasi day is an opportunity for the renewal of their faith and as a CDTY family they need to hold onto it and use it profitably.
“Titarani Bishop Gasi Day is yet another milestone and a home opportunity for the annual renewal of our faith. As a diocesan family, we need to hold to it firmly and build our spiritual riches. Every one of us needs to use it profitably well for us as individuals and for those we stand up for as leaders or collaborators”.
He added that “Pilgrimage is a meaningful journey to a sacred place. It provides the opportunity to step out of the non-stop business of our lives, to seek a time of quiet and reflection. It gives us the chance to ‘walk through’ those issues that we have on our minds, whatever they might be. It is a time of simply ‘being’ rather than always ‘doing’”.
He further said that Pilgrimage is a communal affair, where strangers become companions on the road. Conversations flow like rivers, and bonds are formed like unbreakable threads. Physical, mental, and spiritual energies are rekindled, and a symbiotic connection with nature and cultural roots is re-established.
“Pilgrimage was a communal affair, where strangers became companions on the road. Conversations flowed like rivers, and bonds formed like unbreakable threads. Physical, mental, and spiritual energies were rekindled, and a symbiotic connection with nature and cultural roots was reestablished”.
Bishop Kussala explained that through the pilgrimage, the faithful rediscover the essence, in the footsteps of Titarani Bishop Gasi, the pilgrimage finds solace, inspiration, and an unbreakable connection to the eternal.
By Ballash Jerome
The seminary of St. John Paul II Philosophicum in the Catholic Diocese of Tambura-Yambio on Tuesday resumed its vocational mission following seminarians’ pastoral holidays of about three months. Addressing seminarians and religious faithful during a holy mass Rev. Fr Andrea Mbuniwai who presided over the Mass, reminded the Seminarians about commitment, unity, and love.
Fr Mbuniwai during a night event while addressing the seminarians says “Vocation is a process of transformation and seminary is a formation house where one is built both spiritual and physical. He encouraged the seminarians to follow the rules and regulations of their formation house in order to succeed in the process of their vocation to priesthood encouraging them to have goals for the spiritual profession.
On his part, Rev. Fr. Vairi Natale reactor –St. John Paul II Philosophicum seminary also urged the seminarians to behave rightly at the right time and to resist situations in their vocational journey by following the rules.
Fr. Natale with joy welcomed a new lecturer, Bro. Emmanuel from Nigeria to the seminary.
During the welcoming ceremony, new members were welcomed into the seminary.