News from Rumbek

Visit of Pope Francis and our Loreto Pilgrimage of Peace

Our Pilgrimage of peace to Juba

We prayed and hoped for years that the Pope would visit South Sudan and, if possible, our school in Loreto. When we heard rumours of his visit, it caused great excitement for the citizens of this country.

As a Catholic school, inspired by the vision of Mary Ward, we decided to organise a nine-day pilgrimage of peace to Juba for our students, staff, and members of the Diocese.

We started our journey at Holy Family Cathedral and were joined by Bishop Christian. Each night we slept on the floor of schools in the parishes under the Diocese of Rumbek. We had prayers and a reflection on our journey every day. Our arrival into Juba was a wonderful experience. We were welcomed by past Loreto students, who cried tears of joy. This was because previously in times of insecurity, such a walk would have been impossible.

The Pope’s reception at Juba Airport was a triumphant moment for all the people. The following day, when he heard about our pilgrimage, he took time to meet with us and he gave each of us Rosary beads.

Many of us were interviewed by the national and international press. The youth that had taken part in the pilgrimage considered themselves blessed and quickly forgot about the blisters or sore knees that they picked up along the way.

Before his departure, the Pope lead Mass in the grounds of the John Garang Mausoleum. This was attended by a huge crowd, including many church and civil leaders and even the President himself. During the visit, South Sudan experienced a time of reconciliation and unity. People forgot their differences and celebrated their faith in the name of Christ together.

The Rumbek pilgrims began their journey back home. They gave testimonies about how their pilgrimage changed their lives in regards to their beliefs and faith as Christians. As it was a first time for most, they faced a lot of challenges, but emerged victorious.

We continue to hope as citizens and ambassadors of Christ, that peace and unity will spread among the people of this nation and we pray for more pilgrimages to be done to bring reconciliation in the future.

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