St. Mark Parish, Maban, Celebrates the Feast of St. Daniel Comboni

01 November 2022|Emmanuel Loboka

Related: Pastoral, South Sudan

It is not surprising to us, especially to me, that Comboni Day is celebrated both at Jesuit Refugee Service (hereafter JRS) and in the Catholic host parishes. Although I grew up among different faiths: My mother is a Muslim, my stepfather is a Protestant, my uncle is a Jehovah’s Witness, and I am a Catholic. St. Daniel Comboni had a significant influence on the development of my faith in the Catholic Church. I attended Comboni schools in Sudan from 1996 until I graduated from secondary school. These years have shown the influence Comboni had on me and all the South Sudanese who attended the same schools for over twenty-five years.

The Comboni Schools are remarkable because they consider students from poor backgrounds and families who cannot afford to send their children to school for admission, with special consideration given to refugees from South Sudan. In addition, they created the best social mechanism to promote peaceful cohesion between people from different contexts. They did not show parity between faiths and closely followed gender inclusion in schools.

Now that I am working with JRS, I have recovered my experience from 2011. I am glad I witnessed how the host community in Maban celebrated Comboni Day

I realized that the faith and hope that St. Daniel Comboni inspired in me continues to grow and live in many South Sudanese.
Emmanuel Loboka

The desire to spread the good news, seek hope, and provide education to those in need has become a part of many people with similar backgrounds as me. My task now is to continue to impact others where God leads me.

To celebrate Comboni Day, JRS Maban and St. Mark Parish organized a Mass under the theme “Voice of God,” which was derived from the readings from the Holy Scriptures and the message of the letters of the Provincial of the Comboni Fathers and Sisters to the parish community: listen to the right voice (voice of God), take courage and spread the good news.

The congregation was invited to emulate St. Daniel Comboni. The feast day was lively, and many faithful participated in the celebration. The Mass was marked by great enthusiasm, expressed in shouts of joy and clapping hands. The choir sang symphonic melodies, the liturgical dancer led the entrance procession with a new style of dance and accompanied the music with dances throughout the Mass, the Legion of Mary and the women’s group escorted the guests and organized the children, and the rest of the congregation listened attentively. This active participation reflects the beauty of unity in diversity. Indeed, we are assured of blessings when tensions and fears have no place in our midst. We are grateful to God.

After the Mass, the congregation gathered for entertainment and light refreshment. When various presentations were performed at the end, all present felt happy, for they were well entertained and refreshed. The day ended with a speech of thanks from the various leaders of the community committees. In this, the community leaders and the community thanked God for their safety. They also thanked the JRS and its partners for their efforts to assist people in their time of need.

We want to bring to your attention that the largest refugee camp in South Sudan is located in Maban (Upper Nile State), due to ongoing violence and insecurity and has experienced severe flooding over the past three years.

This natural disaster, apart from insecurity, has made it difficult to reach and care for the refugees and host communities. However, in this unavoidable situation, the people hold on to their faith, pray and hope that God will respond to their needs.

In the end, the celebration truly reflected the theme of the “Voice of God,” witnessed by St. Daniel Comboni, who became the Good Shepherd to bring the Good News to the people of Africa. The people of Maban, filled with faith, courage, and hope, are called to follow his path. Moments like the feast of St. Daniel Comboni bring joy and allow people living in difficult situations to experience God’s loving embrace. We, the JRS staff, are committed and will continue to be committed to accompanying, serving, and advocating for refugees and host communities. As we all know, these efforts are derived from faith and hope based on our mission identity as a faith-based organization.