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Prayers for South Sudan, bushfire victims


Those who gathered for the feast day of Sudan’s patron saint St Josephine Bakhita on February 9 took the opportunity to pray for civilians in the region who have been killed in recent conflicts.

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The Mass held in St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral on February 9 was well attended by members of the African Catholic community and local Canossian Sisters.

During the service there were prayers to remember the 30 civilians, including children, who lost their lives in violence between the Ngok Dinka and Misseriya communities in the Kolom area of Abyei earlier this year.

Worshippers were also asked to pray for peace, unity and harmony for the people of South Sudan as the government and opposition leaders prepare to form a unity government.

As reported previously in The Southern Cross, indigenous communities of the Nuba Mountains, Abyei and Blue Nile territories just north of the border with South Sudan were promised self-determination by the Sudanese Government as part of the peace agreement with South Sudan in 2005.

However, this has not occurred and attacks on civilians by the Sudan army have forced thousands to flee to refugee camps in South Sudan and farmers have been unable to work the land. Aid organisations have pulled out of the region and there has been little communication with the outside world.

The feast day Mass also served as a time to pray for those who were affected in the recent bushfire crisis in Australia.

Also known as Mother Moretta, St Bakhita was born in 1869 in the Darfur region of Sudan. In 1877 she was kidnapped and forced into slavery, eventually being sold to a family in Italy.

Circumstances saw her entrusted to the care of the Canossian Sisters in Venice where she leant about God.

St Bakhita lived with the Sisters for the next 50 years until her death on February 8 1947.

Her feast day is now also designated as a day for prayer, reflection and action to end the injustice of human trafficking.



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