Source: Catholic Information Service for Africa (Nairobi) Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro

The Catholic Archdiocese of Juba in South Sudan is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its pastor, Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro.

In a pastoral letter issued Friday to mark the jubilee, the 68-year-old Comboni missionary reaffirmed his commitment to serve the people of Juba. He also thanked them for their support during his episcopacy.

"I see all of you as the reason of my vocation as priest and archbishop in Juba. I still humble myself before our Lord Jesus Christ and before you for making and accepting me as your shepherd."

Archbishop Loro recalled that on assuming the leadership of the metropolitan see on July 31, 1983, the archdiocese had very few local Church personnel. The infrastructure was poor and the civil war, which ended in 2005, was beginning.

"The politics of the country were those of divide and conquer. Family values were disintegrating. I realized I had a mission in Juba! I wanted to see the mission of Christ, that all be one, incarnated into you and our pastoral life. My motto and message were very clear and loud: 'The Word Became Man' (Jn 1:14)."

Today, there are 54 diocesan priests, three deacons, 39 major seminarians, and a maturing number of local religious, laity and Christian communities, he said.

"In the hard years of the war, some of our priests were sent to prisons and tortured; many Christians made capital sacrifices for the sake of our people. These are our martyrs today. We pray for them."

As a maturing Church, the shepherd said, the greatest challenge facing the archdiocese is deepening the faith of the believers. "Let us become more genuine and committed believers of our faith and our various vocations. Let us become more active builders of our communities, and responsible in caring for our Church."

With regard to the peace process in South Sudan, Archbishop Loro asked the government to seriously continue implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005, specially the programs on good governance.

Archbishop Paolino Lukudu Loro was born in Luri, Kworijik, in 1940, and was ordained a priest of the Comboni Missionaries in 1970.

He was appointed Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese of El Obeid in 1979, and was named bishop of the diocese the same year. Bishop Loro was nominated Archbishop of Juba on February 19, 1983 and installed on July 31, 1983 at St. Theresa's Cathedral Kator, the same year the civil war broke out.

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