South Sudan: Catechists prepare for the Year of Faith
17 September 2012

Pastoral development work with the local community in Yei, South Sudan, is core to building the capacity of the church and its members. Sergi Camara/JRS
With few pastoral workers, limited resources and many church members, the life of a catechist in Yei Diocese can be demanding.
Yei, 13 September 2012 - Catechists trained by Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Yei, South Sudan, ended a recent three-day workshop on a high note exclaiming: "We want more!" The 23 participants met earlier this month to discuss key topics such as leadership in the church, the journey of faith, and church history.

With few pastoral workers, limited resources and many church members, the life of a catechist in Yei Diocese can be demanding. As part of the JRS pastoral programme, and integral to helping the country rebuild after the two-decade long war, JRS feels training of catechists is very important.

The upcoming 'Year of Faith' will commence on 11 October. JRS felt there was a need to discuss the implications of the year and how the catechists could prepare the teachings for their own parishes. The workshop addressed this need.

Designated by Pope Benedict XVI, the Year of Faith will be a time to "rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ" (from the Pope's letter Porta Fidei, 2).

Community impact

The JRS workshop was the second of five workshops to be held this year. The first took place in Kajo Keji and the remaining three will be held at other parishes in Yei. "We enjoyed the workshop and give big thanks to JRS" said the leader of the catechists, talking after the workshop.

At the same time, JRS has been celebrating the success of 11 women who recently completed the six-month JRS tailoring course. Part of the JRS pastoral programme involves support for income generating activities for women and community church groups.

The women now feel confident in their ability to start their own businesses and feel they owe much of this to JRS. The celebrations for the graduates involved a fashion show and speeches.

JRS has been providing pastoral accompaniment and training to catechists in the Yei Diocese since 2007, as well as supporting income generating activities (e.g. tailoring and small-scale farming) for community church groups. At the end of 2012, JRS will withdraw from the Yei project, having empowered community members to manage the activities for themselves, allowing JRS to focus on other areas of need in South Sudan. The workshop series for catechists served as a farewell to the catechists JRS has served over the years.

By Fr. Kevin White SJ, Pastoral Coordinator, JRS Yei, South Sudan

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