Archbishop John Baptist Odama passionately conveys a message of His Holiness Pope Francis to the resilient community at Yoyo Zone, Bidi-bidi Refugee Settlements in Yumbe District, Arua Diocese.
This was during the commemoration of the International Day for Refugees and Migrants that was held in Bidibidi Refugee Settlements, Yoyo Zone three, Yumbe district , Arua Diocese.
Present were; Archbishop John Baptist Odama , (Bishop of Metropolitan City of Gulu) as the main celebrant of the Holy Eucharistic mass. Rt.Rev Sabino Ocan Odoki, the Bishop of the Diocese of Arua, Fr. Andrew (SVD Mission Superior), Fr. Rommie (SVD, Vice Mission Superior), Monsignor Constantine (Parish Priest, Lodonga Minor Basilica), Sr. Leonora (Director of Counseling office Arua Diocese), and Monsignor Felix ( Missionaries of Africa, Vicar for Refugees/Refugees Vicariate), government and cultural leaders from both the refugee and host communities. amongst other dignitaries
From left; Fr Rommie( SVD, Vice Mission Superior), Mosingor Constantine(Parish Priest, Lodonga Minor Basilica), Bishop Sabino Ocan Odoki(Bishop of Arua Diocese), Arch-Bishop John Baptist Odama, Bishop of Metropolitan City of Gulu, Fr Andrew(SVD Mission Superior), Sr Leonora, (Director of Counseling office Arua Dioces), Mosingor Felix(Missionaries of Africa, Vicar for Refugess/Refugees Vicariate)
Archbishop John Baptist Odama who represented the Apostolic Nuncio to Uganda, Most Rev. Luigi Bianco called upon refugees to be messengers of God's Love. Bishop conveyed that the Holy Father emphasized refugees and migrants should not be compelled into their status; instead, the path they choose should be based on their personal decisions.He urged the leaders of South Sudan to leave aggression as a way of solving problems encouraging them to engage more in dialogue. Archbishop also appealed to the 64 tribes from South Sudan residing in Uganda as refugees to use this time in exile to learn to co exist and to live harmoniously as one society of humanity.
The Archbishop related the refugee situation as that of baby Jesus who fled from the arms of King Herod to return when there was peace. He assured the refugees that their situation is in God's hands.
Addressing the diverse South Sudanese tribes, he implored, "Feel that while you are here, God is concerned about your plight. Some of you were forced to flee without anything in their hands. Some of you fled when their relatives were killed. Some of you fled without knowing where exactly they were to go next. Even now the conditions here in the Camps, you do nott get everything you need. But thank God that you are alive. Your being alive is more important, than what you would have done, or died that would not please God. Now you are here like baby Jesus who was to be taken to be killed by king Herod. God told his foster Father to take this child with him to Egypt until He will tell Joseph to come back. Now you are here. Do you know when you will go back to South Sudan? So, we need to hear the voice of God. The voice of God is to let south sudan have peace so that you have peace and return to this country." Said the Archbishop
He emphasized the importance of expressing God's voice to leaders, citizens, and the global family, urging leaders to resolve issues
through dialogue and service, not aggression, and encouraged citizens to welcome each other as fellow inhabitants of the same world.
"Through this prayer that is internationally organised , the voice of our loving God is to be expressed to the leaders, to the
citizens and to the family of humanity. Leave aggressivity to solve problems. Do not solve problems by war. solve problems by dialogue ,
involve the people who are concerned, make the family of humanity together in your leadership. Love the citizens of your county, offer
yourself to serve them , be a servant to them rather than a dictatorship." Said the Archbishop.
"To the citizens, what is God saying to them, You have to be holy refugees, I took you from all these situations, welcome one another as fellow citizens of the same world, love one another as I have loved you. I loved you before you were created. After creating you I continued to love you even when you rebel and fight one another and continue to love you. My mercy is greater than the evil you do. I am more interested in receiving the sinner than the sinner dying in his or her sin. Look at the cross on our alter, the one who had everything , has been reduced to nakedness, why?, because he wanted to express the maximum of how much he loved each one of us, and indeed his love is a love of forgiveness, and he forgives every sinner who repents and comes back to him, i would wish each one of you who run away from the violence , from the war to forgive one another." Said the Archbishop.
"Your period of migration here in Bidibidi, and everywhere, is the period of learning from God how to live together as one people, some may be in kenya, central africa and the whole world." Said the Archbishop.
"Dear brothers and sisters, how long will we have to keep hatred, violence division, amongst us, if we are not satisfied with the results that w e have received? You are 64 tribes in south sudan, during this period of exile, you are to learn how to accept each other. I know a few tribes very well by name, and you know which ones are fighting each other. To a level that things like cows make you fight one another. Some even fight over land, do you know what the land tells you and me ? The land tells you and me that you fight over me, i was here before you, you came trampled on me, you fight, kill yourself, i will burry you. You better use me to cultivate cassava , rice, simsim , so that you enjoy the fruits of my creativity. This is what you are to do with the land and the land is telling you. "For the cows use them plough the land, sell them and share the fruits, or get married with the cows rather than fighting to kill each other." Said the Archbishop.
The Archbishop concluded by highlighting the fundamental teaching of love, urging everyone to be messengers of God's love in their interactions."Brothers and sisters the lord has alot to teach but all his teaching are summarised in the commandment of love. God loves each one of us. We are filled with the love of God and he wants us to use that love for love for one another. Have been telling people,everywhere i go. In your own language say to the one next to you, that God loves you. Let us be messengers of God's love." Concluded the Archbishop.