Bishop Eduardo Recognizes Bishop Abangite’s Enduring Impact on the Life of Many
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.