Prior to its independence in July 2011 from the old Sudan, South Sudan has known nothing but war and conflict. The devastation that engulfed this part of Africa for more than 20 years included destroyed infrastructure, the highest rate of illiteracy in the world, rampant malaria and typhoid, and a Church re-learning the mechanics of ministry and service. Four years into its independence from the north, the prospect for development is not getting brighter, as political turned-ethnic conflicts dictate the course of everyday life in this, the world’s newest country.
This is the condition that Solidarity with South Sudan embraced when it came to then Southern Sudan in 2008. Solidarity SS (for short) is a collaborative project sponsored by the USG and UISG – Union of Superiors General of Women and Men Religious. Inspired and challenged by the 2004 Congress on Consecrated Life, it seeks to assist the Sudan Catholic Bishops Conference (SCBC) in rebuilding the Church and the people of South Sudan. The volunteer religious men and women and 2 lay persons from 19 countries and representing more than 260 congregations all over the world have embarked on projects to train teachers, nurses and midwives, and update the capacity of catechists, other pastoral agents as well as farmers.
The Vincentian Family has been well represented in this venture. At one time, four branches of the VF worked as part of Solidarity SS, namely, Congregation of the Mission, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth (Kansas), Sisters of Charity of Halifax, and Holy Faith Sisters. They are responding in an innovative way to the call to serve the poorest of the poor in Africa. Theirs is a project that takes collaboration beyond the confines of the Vincentian Family and into the very heart of the entire Church’s mission, engaging consecrated men and women, priests, brothers and sisters from numerous congregations and institutes. They do it in answer to Christ’s summons: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink,” (Mt 25:31-46), and in the process bringing the good news to those in most need.
At present, three members of the Vincentian Family are engaged in Solidarity SS: Sr. Pat Johanssen, in teachers’ training, Sr. Janet Cashman, in nurses training, both from the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, and Fr. Manny Ginete CM, in pastoral services.
Manny Ginete CM
Juba, 31 October 2015