Inauguration of our Parish Church: St Stephen's
Monday 26.12.2011 (Feast Day).
KHARTOUM North Sudan
It was such a great and wonderful ceremony!
There were 24 priests concelebrating, with a few among the congregation
who arrived a bit late. 35 Sisters from different Religious Congregations
also attended. The 1,000 seats for people inside the church were filled; the
compound was also full and there were many people outside in the street. Anyway,
it was great!
We first received the Cardinal at our community house, and then went to the church, 500 metres away. The Cardinal cut the ribbon and he went in to have a look inside the church and the sacristy. At the time, the church was already packed and when the Mass started, it was a quarter to ten.
It began with a hymn to St Stephen, a hymn composed by a parishioner. (Blessed are you, St Stephen, we you honour as community....) The procession began.
After this, the parish priest welcomed the Cardinal. The keys of the church and the original of the documents of the church were given to the Cardinal by Fr Martin Wullobayi, MAfr, and Anthony, the builder. It was the first time since 1969 to have had this kind of ceremony here in North Sudan.
We could then start the proper ceremony for the blessing. Many people were invited for this occasion; ,
the officials of other Churches: the Coptic Orthodox priest, the African Inland Church and many Protestant denominations were present. This day was not only for the Catholics, but for the all Christians in Sudan and in Khartoum.
In his homily, the Cardinal recounted the history of his demand for a church in the past. He wrote 18 letters without reply and no answer in favour of building a Church. He then gave up, but individuals continued asking and asking for places to build a Church. Among those who continued asking and asking was our community of White Fathers; and especially Fr Felix Sompougdou, the former parish priest.
Then the Cardinal insisted on the sense of the Church as the
People of God, giving the meaning of the Altar, and stressing the preciousness
of such a building in Khartoum to meet the Risen Lord for healing, for life-giving
It was a great day, and at the end of the Mass, we could thank all those who helped us by the 'Tooba-tooba'. 'Stone by stone let us build our Church.'
Fr Paul Hannon came from the UK to attend the ceremony. His presence was highly valued, as he translated the rites of the different blessings into proper Arabic.
It was demanding for all of us to receive all the guests. Finally, things turned out well beyond our expectations. Blessed be God! Thanks also to the intercession of St Stephen.
We thank all who were united with us in prayer this day.
Emmanuel Tredou Parish priest