As a young priest, Father Boniface first lived in neighbouring Ethiopia for eight years before he decided to go to South Sudan in 2013. During a recent visit to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) Headquarters, he shares about his mission to the African Country and his experiences throughout these years of war.
“After the country gained independence, my order was urgently looking for priests and missionaries to work here. I wanted to do something new and was ready for this new mission,” Father Boniface recalled. He sees it as his calling to bring peace to this war-torn region.
Almost immediately upon his arrival, the priest discovered that his parishioners were longing for education. “In some cases, the schools in South Sudan are located quite far apart,” he deplored. “They are overcrowded: in general, there are 60 pupils in each class and sometimes more than 100 people have to be taught in the same room.” According to official statistics, about three quarters of all inhabitants of South Sudan over 15 years of age are illiterate. The priest soon realised, “Education is the key to eliminating the recurring tensions in the populace. Education will bring peace!”
According to Father Boniface, about 38 percent of the approximately 13 million South Sudanese are Christians. About 180,000 Catholics live in his diocese. He said that many even consider the Catholic Church to be the only functioning institution in the country.
Since the civil war broke out in 2013, a time when the African country was only in its second year, South Sudan has been left in a desolate state with hundreds of thousands of casualties and millions of refugees.
Even though South Sudan is the third poorest country in the world, the cost of living is comparatively high. “Many are not even able to afford the most basic foods and are reliant upon aid and support.” The country is saddled by even more problems through the many diseases such as malaria. However, in spite of so much adversity, Father Boniface remains confident, “My heartfelt thanks to all who support us and are close to us in prayer. I very much hope that, in the future, it will be possible to lead a good life in South Sudan.”
Since 2015, Aid to the Church in Need has sponsored projects in aid to the Church in South Sudan such as the rebuilding of churches and pastoral facilities, priest formation and Mass stipends.