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 CNS Story:

SUDAN-NOVENA May-27-2011 (340 words) With photo. xxxi

Sudanese bishops plan novena leading up to independence July 9

By Sara Angle
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Sudanese Catholics will mark the emergence of the Republic of South Sudan with prayer and action leading up to its independence July 9.

Southern Sudan's bishops are launching a pastoral program with the theme "one nation from every tribe, tongue and people," beginning May 28 with a eucharistic procession and culminating with a Mass of Thanksgiving July 10.

A novena will be the highlight of the program. The nine-day series of prayers and devotions will begin June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Each day will focus on a specific principle of Catholic social teaching, including human dignity, the common good, rights and responsibilities, the preferential option for the poor, solidarity, integrity of creation, reconciliation, participatory government and peace.

The program for the novena says, "It is on this basis that families, communities and our nation can be built, bringing about spiritual and social change to improve the quality of life for all groups, especially the most disadvantaged."

The bishops said the novena program will be used in all dioceses across the South, but is adaptable for use worldwide.

Each day during the novena, a daily national prayer will be said, thanking God and asking that Sudanese people "overcome hurt, hostility and bitterness in our hearts so that we become reconciled citizens in our new nation."

Other events to be held during the 40-day celebration include a day of reconciliation, a day of fasting and prayer, and friendly competitions in art, music and poetry among Catholic schoolchildren and parish youth groups.

Activities will include a prayer and cleaning day July 8, and a special meal is scheduled in communities that evening.

This program is similar to last year's peace and prayer campaign before the January vote for independence. That campaign became an international ecumenical effort.

More than 98 percent of voters approved independence from Sudan in a January referendum.

Although the South is seceding from Sudan, the Sudan Catholic Bishops' Conference will remain united. The single conference will have separate secretariats in both capitals, Juba and Khartoum.


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