Bishop Paride Taban Speaks about Peacemaking in South Sudan

April 12, 2013

General

On Tuesday, April 9, the Center for Mission at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis hosted a speaker’s forum for Bishop Emeritus Paride Taban to hear his personal stories of joy, struggle and heartbreak as he works for much needed peacemaking in the South Sudan.

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Bishop Paride Taban served in the Diocese of Torit in the South Sudan from 1983 – 2004 and was present during the brutal and socially debilitating war between the North and the South.  Villagers were often killed or kidnapped by the army, and the conflict left many homeless and hungry.  He spoke of villagers, left without food, eating “dogs, cats and rats” whatever they could find. Taban himself spent 100 days in jail and with other prisoners went on a hunger strike until international pressure forced his release.

As a reaction to these events, Bishop Taban became an outspoken leader for peacemaking and established Holy Trinity Peace Village in Kuron in 2005.  This village emphasizes human dignity and sharing of the common good regardless of age, sex, political affiliation or religion (Christian, Moslem or Tribal).  The village has successfully accomplished his objectives of peace and tolerance providing food, education and health care for all.

This year, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon awarded Bishop Taban the 2013 Sergio Vieira de Mello Peace Prize for his tireless efforts at peacemaking in war-torn Sudan.

After speaking at the Center for Mission Forum, Bishop Taban accepted an invitation from Principal Kathleen Segna and Assistant Principal/Teacher Amy Hoenecker to speak at St. John’s Catholic School in Hopkins. The entire school assembled to greet him with a rousing “Karibu” (“welcome” in Swahili).  Bishop Taban shared his experiences and walked among the student to greet everyone, answer questions and shake hands.   At the end, the students presented the Bishop with several items from Minnesota and sang a farewell blessing.  He was so touched, that this 77 year-old Bishop demonstrated for the kids his ability to hop like a frog 100 times and led students in jumping jacks.

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The Center for Mission will continue to periodically host guest speakers for the Mission Forum lunches.  For more information regarding the forum or Bishop Paride Taban, contact Mickey Friesen, missions@archspm.org.