Rome, 24 March 2017 – Bishop Erkolano Lodu Tombe of the Diocese of Yei, South Sudan, visited us in the Generalate, after almost a year since our Sister Veronika Rockova was murdered while driving the ambulance that brought to the hospital a laboring mother in critical condition. He was accompanied by Fathers Zecharia Angotowa and Alex Lodiong Sakov.
Bishop shared about the difficult situation in Yei brought about by the longstanding civil war in South Sudan. All missionaries were forced to leave, as innocent people are being killed indiscriminately by armed men. Churches were closed, some burned down. There is no way to leave the city except by plane.
Bishop Erkolano further shared that last Christmas, he could not compose a Christmas message. He said, “How can I write a message that God is love and God loves us while in the midst of pain, sadness and death, all because of a senseless civil war. As I sat inside the house I could hear from everywhere gunshots and explosions that killed thousands and thousands of people”. Sr. Eleonora encouraged him to speak out in the name of the people of South Sudan.
As he spoke about Sr. Veronika, he stated several times that she is a martyr. Although it is not known why the soldiers fired at her, the people, nevertheless, believe that she shed her blood for their sake. Fr. Zecharia said that the people placed a cross at the place where she was shot; they often go there to pray and offer flowers. In May this year, to celebrate the memory of Sr. Veronika, there will be a procession starting from this place and ending in the church with Holy Mass.
Sr. Maria Theresia assured the Bishop that our Sisters who were forced to evacuate our convent in Yei are willing to go back as soon as it is possible. We are all hoping that conflicts will finally end so that we can resume our mission and service to the people of South Sudan.
The visit ended with a prayer and blessing by Bishop Erkolano.