There were great celebrations in Yei Diocese, South Sudan, on Sunday June 20 when Bishop Levi Marandulu was consecrated and installed as third Bishop of Yei. Connor and Yei have been in partnership since 2007.
Archbishop Justin Badi carried out a pastoral visit to the diocese, and welcomed and prayed for Bishop Levi as he takes on this new responsibility.
In a service that lasted several hours, retiring Bishop Hilary Luate Adeba spoke, thanking the various Governors of Yei State that he had worked with during his time as bishop, and emphasising the importance of good Church / State relations in building and maintaining peace and for community development.
Bishop Hilary also paid tribute to retired Archbishop Daniel Deng and to the Primate of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan, Archbishop Justin Badi, for their leadership and moral support.
Bishop Hilary then turned attention to the Partners who supported the Diocese of Yei during his time as bishop saying:
“I want to thank our partners in the Church of Ireland, CMS Ireland in particular, the Diocese of Connor, and parishes in the Republic of Ireland, who have partnered with us in the Diocese of Yei throughout our ministry.
“Without these partners, our ministry would not have been the same… I want to thank you all for having supported my ministry and help make the diocese what it is today. Without these partners it would have been very difficult for us.”
Reflecting on some of the challenges he faced, Bishop Hilary thanked the Government of Uganda and the Church of Uganda for accommodating over 103,000 refugees who fled from the Yei area to seek refuge in Madi West Nile Diocese. Many of these people have lived in Rhino and other refugee camps for several years, building churches and ministering to one another. People are now slowly returning to try and rebuild their lives hoping for peace to establish.
Bishop Hilary thanked Bishop Collins of MWN. “The Church of Uganda has given us harbour and shown us love – my best regards to you,” the bishop said.
Concluding his address and 20 years serving as Bishop of Yei, he reminded people that the Church’s foundation is Jesus and called for peace building and unity, saying “The Church is the only hope of the people.”
It is for this reason that Church Mission Society Ireland (CMSI) continues in partnership with the Diocese of Yei, link parishes in Ireland stand together with the people of God in Yei as they represent Christ, the only hope of a community that continues to face many challenges.
CMSI Mission Director Jenny Smyth wrote a goodwill message to the new Bishop of Yei. In this she stated: “Many of us would have liked to come and join you today as you take on this new role and responsibility in leading the diocese. We are sorry that this has not been possible due to the constraints of international travel at this challenging time. However we assure you of our ongoing commitment to our partnership and look forward to the time when we can meet in person to congratulate you and pray for you.”
Jenny added: “Let us pray for Bishop Levi in these weeks of transition and continue to pray for the people of Yei and our partnership with them.”