On June 27, my Sisters posted on our community blog, asking for prayers for our Sisters and the people of Sudan, through the intercession of Saint Josephine Bakhita (our wonderful Sister-Saint Bakhita – which means ‘Lucky One’ in Arabic – was kidnapped from her Sudanese family when she was nine and sold into slavery. You can read her story here).
We have received a letter from the Canossian Leader of the Province of North-Eastern Africa, which includes the country of Sudan. In her words there is rejoicing for the independence of Southern Sudan, and yet, a continued call to prayer for our African brothers and sisters during this time of transition.
I ask all of my readers, if you would please join us in praying for the Holy Spirit to guide our communities of Sudan during this time of discernment. May Saint Bakhita intercede for us still.
Dearest Sisters, Greetings of peace in the Lord.
As you have already heard from the media, yesterday was another great day for the African Continent: the peaceful recognition of the Independence of South Sudan and the birth of the 193rd newest state: the Republic of South Sudan.
Once again the people of Sudan showed to the whole world their determination and capacity to come together in peace for a greater cause, as they did in January, on the occasion of the Referendum to decide on the independence of the South.
Yesterday 9 July 2011, was a day of celebration after years of struggle and fighting for independence, the beginning of the fulfilment of a dream that in the course of years claimed many lives.
After the referendum, many Sudanese refugees and displaced returned to their native land from the nearing countries of Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia where they had fled because of war, and from the North Sudan. They have one thing in common: hope for the future.
The Republic of South Sudan, one of the poorest region in the world: a country with 8,000,000 people, facing enormous internal problems after 16 years of the North-South civil war; with no exact border demarcation yet; still experiencing conflicts on border areas and on the Nuba mountains; with the oil dispute unresolved (the South producing the ¾ of the Sudan oil-put and the control of it in the North); with the 80-90% illiteracy, no infrastructures, good roads and development; a nation to be strengthened, where everybody is involved and plays a part in this new beginning. And this will require God’s help together with a skillful leadership dedicated to his people and free from personal interests, an active growing civil society, everybody’s readiness to work hard and the International support to rebuild and put the Republic of South Sudan on its feet.
But we thank God for what has been achieved until today and for the way it has been carried out. We continue to pray that Justice, Peace and the good and dignity of every citizen in South Sudan may be safeguarded, while policies and political agreements are stipulated and signed.
I thank each of you, my dearest Sisters, relatives, friends, and benefactors for praying “with and for” Sudan at this moment. I ask you to continue to pray; it is not done yet. Conflicts of interest and power games over the boundaries and the oil, ethnic and tribal fights, poverty and hunger, struggle and sickness continue to threaten this young state.
Geographically we are in the North Sudan, predominantly Muslim, while the Republic of South Sudan is Christian. Our 12 Sisters there are safe, though stressed by the tension of the uncertainty of this moment. Our ministries, however, are affected; our institutions had some Christian staff and co-workers from the South. The North Sudan Government has issued a rule that obliged all employers to terminate the work contract with employees from the South, giving them their due and forcing them to return to South Sudan. Because of this we lost many teachers and collaborators, but even with shortage of personnel, sisters continue with the mission of education and serve the students in our schools regardless of who and which religion.
It remains with us now, as Sr. Margaret Peter (General Superior) mentioned in her recent prayer appeal for Sudan, the search for God’s will and the continuity of our presence in the North Sudan. Dearest Sisters, do not get tired to pray with us and for us, for the discernment we are called to do and the choices and decisions we have to make.
With gratitude and affection, on behalf of the Sisters in Sudan and indeed in the name of all of us in North –Eastern Africa Province, I thank you for your sisterly support, prayer, encouragement, sacrifices, and I ask God to bless you and reward you abundantly.
With love and gratitude,
Sr. Giovanna Tosi
Queen of Apostles Province
(of North-Eastern Africa)