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Refugees Are Our Brothers and Sisters Who Should Feel Loved and Welcome!

This week the Papal Nuncio to Uganda, His Grace Archbishop Michael August Blume, S.V.D., is visiting our Diocese from 12th to 15th July 2016. He is visiting the refugee camps in Adjumani District.

I believe the coming of the Nuncio is a blessing to us in Arua Diocese because it shows to us that the Holy Father cares for those in it and he cares for all of us and he has come to be in solidarity with us, for which we are very grateful. My appeal to all is that let us welcome the Nuncio and let us learn from his example of being in solidarity with the disadvantaged people – the refugees. I know his visit will take a few days but let us continue in this spirit that he is coming to show us.

On many occasions Pope Francis has come out clearly that we as Christians have to be in solidarity with the marginalised – those in the periphery as he usually puts it. We have to help them materially, spiritually etc. And if you notice, the Pope is always visiting such places whenever he visits a country and part of his programme is always to be in solidarity with the marginalised.

Like in Kampala when the Pope visited us last November, he went to Nalukolongo, a home for the disabled. He would also have loved to visit the refugees but time could not allow and that is why he has asked the Nuncio to do it on his behalf.

The Nuncio is coming to Adjumani because it has the highest concentration of refugees in Uganda. We have slightly over 500,000 refugees in Uganda and almost half of these live in Adjumani District.

And in our commitment to be in solidarity with the refugees, I have been talking to our priests in those areas where the refugees are to give pastoral care to them. In fact the parish priest of Adjumani, Fr. Peter Lodo is doing this very well. He speaks Madi, Arabic and Dinka and he goes there and communicates with the refugees in their own language.

Then in Djaipi, I have also encouraged Fr. James Edema and Fr. Julius Nyaraga to be involved and they are doing their best. At the onset of the refugee influx, their parish and the area in general served as a reception centre where the aid agencies registered the refugees from. 

But now they go to pray in the camps especially in Nyumanji area. They have also sent a catechist to the camp and he is based at the Sant’ Egidio the School of Peace which we set up for refugee children in Nyumanji camp. He is teaching catechism to the Catholic children in that school.

 

So as the Nuncio comes to Adjumani, I appeal to Parish Priests to mobilise their Christians and at least send some representatives to attend the Mass to be held on 14th July2016 at Ayilo I Refugee Camp. I have also told them to have prayers in their various places so as to be in solidarity with the refugees. We want to create awareness that refugees are our brothers and sisters, and that we should give them the necessary support.

It is not easy to move people all the way to Adjumani but this awareness that the refugees need our support is what we are trying to create. And I have insisted that we should treat the refugees as our brothers and sisters. They should feel loved and welcomed by us. We need to see God in them and to support them morally, spiritually and materially.

And I am glad that Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), Caritas Gulu Archdiocese and Sant’Egidio in collaboration with Arua Diocese are supporting the refugees. SantEgidio has set up a primary school for refugee children at Nyumanji Camp, while JRS is sponsoring refugee students and other students from the hosting community in secondary education. Caritas Gulu has also built a school for refugee children in Ayilo I Refugee Camp and they are providing scholastic materials to them.

The first time the Nuncio told me about the visit, I had the possibility of visiting some of the camps and those refugees took me around. And whenever I go to Indriani Holy Cross Pilgrimage Centre, the refugees do come to pray there especially from Ayilo II Refugee Camp. I have been interacting with them and they are very eager to receive the Nuncio and they have been preparing for the prayer.

The Holy See has a whole department - the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants. It is responsible for the spiritual welfare of migrant and itinerant people and this department annually gives message for refugees and Migrants and I am sure the Holy Father has given this message to the Nuncio to deliver to us.

I pray that the visit may become an eye opener for our struggle to work for peace in the world – peace in South Sudan, peace in Uganda and peace all over the world because without peace, life is very difficult. 

 

+ Bishop Sabino Ocan Odoki



4th February 2016

Warm Apostolic Greetings from the  Bishop’s Office- Arua

I hereby notify you of the new appointments I made in January 2015.

I have appointed the following people to the respective responsibilities indicated against their names:

1.       Msgr. Louis Ajusi; Pastoral Coordinator, Arua Diocese

2.       Rev. Fr. Lino Buni; Teacher/Formator, Pokea Seminary

3.       Rev. Fr. Acquilino Acidri; Parish Priest, Maracha Parish

4.       Rev. Fr William A’bukua; Vocations Director, Arua Diocese

5.       Rev. Bro. Erminio Drakare (Brothers of the Immaculate Heart of Mary);  Deputy Director, Caritas, Arua

6.       Rev. Sr. Julie Awacango (Sacred Heart Sisters); Assistant Project Desk Manager, Arua Diocese

7.       Rev. Sr. Alice Drajea Jurugo (Sacred Heart Sisters); Deputy Education Secretary, Arua Diocese

8.       Miss Edith Lekuru; Internal Auditor, Arua Diocese

May Almighty God, who  calls you to daily commitment,  continue to empower all of you for His Greater Glory!

Rt. Rev. Sabino Ocan Odoki

BISHOP OF THE DIOCESE OF ARUA