Talk to us

CathNews, the most frequently visited Catholic website in Australia, is your daily news service featuring Catholics and Catholicism from home and around the world, Mass on Demand and on line, prayer, meditation, reflections, opinion, and reviews. And, what's more - it's free!

Fr Mario Debattista at the UN mission in his parish in Juba, South Sudan (The Catholic Leader)

Franciscan Father Mario Debattista sees the heart of the Church at work in the every-day faith of ordinary people. Source: The Catholic Leader.

Fr Debattista is back in Australia for a month’s rest after serving as a missionary priest in Juba, South Sudan, for the past 14 months. 

It was his second time on mission in Juba. He ministered there from 2013 to 2016 until civil war-related tensions flared and he was forced to leave with two students in his care.

On his return, he found the needs had increased for many of the refugees living in the UN Mission in South Sudan, whose pastoral care fell to his parish.

Fr Debattista said the locals also had many material and medical needs, which had been exacerbated by the civil war in the country of Sudan to the north.

He said his favourite thing to do in Juba was to travel with the Legion of Mary to pray in people’s homes and be present with the challenges and triumphs of ordinary life.

South Sudan is a young Church, he said, and it is beautiful to see it flourishing.

He said the Church in places like Africa would come to a screeching halt without the ministry of lay catechists.

Fr Debattista was also fortunate enough to arrive in Juba just in time for Pope Francis’s apostolic visit last year.

He said the Pope brought a lot of energy to the people and his advocacy of the peace process was well-received by the people.

The Pope’s visit was important, he said, because it showed “the world hasn’t forgotten South Sudan”.


Fr Mario reflects on one year of mission in Juba (By Joe Higgins, The Catholic Leader)