Graduates at Catholic University of South Sudan Urged to Help Others in “their search for a purpose in life”
CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 08 May 2017
The latest group of graduates at the Catholic University of South Sudan (CUSS) has been encouraged to help others in society to live meaningful lives by sowing seeds of peace and development.
The President of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC), Bishop Barani Eduardo Hiiboro, made the appeal last Saturday, May 6, when he officiated the fifth graduation ceremony at the university’s main campus in South Sudan’s capital, Juba.
“As graduates of the Catholic University of South Sudan, the number two University in South Sudan and first private university of South Sudan, I hope we can be of help as children of the Catholic University,” Bishop Barani said and added, “To help people, our society, and all of humankind, in their search for a purpose in life.”
Bishop Barani clarified that the purpose of life is found in going “beyond oneself” in order “to praise God, to revere God, to serve God.”
He emphasized, “The purpose of the human person is to get out of our confinement, to get out of our shells, to get out of ourselves, to out of our homes, to get out of our individual tribes, to get out of our regions, and to reach out to God in praise, in reverence, and in service of others.”
The theme of the graduation was: 5th Graduation of the Catholic University of South Sudan Seed of Hope for Peaceful South Sudan.
“Today’s ceremony is one of the largest the Catholic University of South Sudan graduation ceremonies with about 197 students from all over South Sudan, receiving certificates, diplomas and degrees,” Bishop Barani revealed in his speech, adding, “Nearly 55% of all graduates are females and the vast majority of the medals and prizes recipients are also female.”
Bishop Barani, who heads the Catholic diocese of Tombura-Yambio, also encouraged the graduates to be ambassadors of peace by helping spread the culture of peace.
Below is the full speech of Bishop Eduardo Barani Hiirobi at the 5th graduation of the Catholic University of South Sudan.
Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro's Speech at 2017 Catholic University of South Sudan Graduation Ceremony: May 6, 2017
Theme: 5th Graduation of the Catholic University of South Sudan Seed of Hope for Peaceful South Sudan
Acknowledgements and Greetings
Honourable Justice Yien Oral Tut, Minister of the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology;
Government Ministers and State Governors;
Excellencies and Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Heads of International and Regional Organisations;
Honourable Members of the Legislative Assembly, National and State levels
Colleagues and Members of Staff;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Welcome and a very good morning to you all.
2. It is a pleasure and privilege for me to officiate this noble and historical function of the Graduation Ceremony. I thank you all for your presence here today to recognize and honour our students on their achievements.
Thank you very much once more, Hon. Minister for gracing this special occasion.
4. Graduation Ceremony
Today’s ceremony is one of the largest the Catholic University of South Sudan graduation ceremonies with about 197 students from all over South Sudan, receiving certificates, diplomas and degrees: Nearly 55% of all graduates are females and the vast majority of the medals and prizes recipients are also female;
I would like to thank the Board of Trustees (of the Catholic University of South Sudan), to our teachers, to the families, and especially the parents of the graduates.
Heartfelt thanks and appreciation go to our Donor and Partners for their enormous and undivided support to the university. They are represented her Mr. Dave Dettoni of the Sudan Relief Fund. Dave thank you for being here this important event.
I also thank the university staff, from the guards, the cleaning staff, those in the canteen, and those who quietly bring life to the school, but who are rarely seen.
I’d especially like to thank those graduating. Thank you for inviting me to speak to you this morning.
I am pleased to inform you all especially the Honourable Minister Justice that the Catholic University of South Sudan continues to make significant progress and is reforming and transforming itself with vision, passion and energy into an even higher quality, more relevant and sustainable university. I want to thank you for giving to our University a Provisional License for our University to operate to award degrees. I want to assure you dear Hon. Minister that the Catholic Church is serious and determined to provide an excellent learning institution for our people. Do not doubt us, I promise we shall prove to you in deeds not words in no distant months.
This year, our student enrolment has increased beyond, which is a recognition of the quality of our programmes and the value that Catholic University of South Sudan delivers;
The University continues to show improved financial performance, with better than budget performance in 2016;
We have begun work on Strategic Plan covering 20117-2021 with the theme of transforming Catholic University of South Sudan from a good to an Excellent university.
When I graduated in 1994, 2003 and 2006 respectively, if you ask me what the speakers said that day, I will admit, I don’t remember a thing. But the feelings of such great words such has be learning on, make great choice, be good and be job creator can influence my words to you this morning.
But all in all, we simply wanted to graduate and face the world. That’s what you want. Perhaps some of you are in a rush to leave the university. Don’t worry; the management and the teachers are in a rush to have you leave.
Yesterday, I celebrated thanksgiving Holy Mass with you and for you. I shared the words of Christ in which he asked his disciples to follow him and to be peaceful.
Just some reminders for the graduates. Especially because the world knows that you lived, grew, and finished in a Catholic university, a university headed by the children of South Sudan.
When I recount my time as a student, and I realize I have remained reading, still teaching...this is the virus of the university at work -- when you enter the system, it so difficult to leave.
Let me also take this opportunity to remind you graduates that you must continue to learn and better yourself. Success is a journey, not a destination. Receiving your certificates, diplomas, or degrees today does not signal an end but rather the beginning of a long journey—I have often said at graduation ceremonies that it is what you do, and how you do it after graduation that will determine your success in life.
Your Purpose and Goal:
As students of South Sudan and especially way graduating at this time in the South Sudan of now, where the news about HER is or sadness, worries, hopelessness, etc, but is your graduation not a blessings being received? Each blessing has its own obligations and responsibilities. There are many, however, I wish to point your attention to a specific few.
The first is this: as graduates of the Catholic University of South Sudan, the number two University in South Sudan and first private university of South Sudan, I hope we can be of help as children of the Catholic University. To help people, our society, and all of humankind, in their search for a purpose in life.
As a church we do not lay out plan for competition in opening centres of learning but our ultimate goal is to contribute in silent manner to the good of humanity and its environment as a command of God. So we are not graduating you to join the groups of South Sudanese who are sowing the seeds of violence, hate, disunity, etc, but to be sowers of peace and development, to be part of sustainable solution.
Then there are those who say, “I have a goal in life. I have a purpose in life.” When you look at them, what is their purpose? It doesn’t seem true and pure. Why are we here? What is your life’s aim? According to St. Ignatius, man lives for a life of praise.
Smile, why don’t you? It’s like you don’t offer praise. There. Yesterday I told you that study indicate that the saddest people on the face of the earth are South Sudanese. We look ever sad, our faces show violence and furies. If you deny look to your left or right out of the three of you two look very angrily! Hahaha!
With other people, their faces seem like they were born to be desperate. But they're not. We are people born to praise God. Not only to praise, but to respect, to despair, to kneel, just like Ignatius. To humble himself before someone greater.
However, praise and respect comes back to service. "Here is your waiting servant, send me. Where You wish for me to serve, there I will be."
If we look at that, the purpose of life is to go beyond oneself. If we look at the three keywords -- to praise God, to revere God, to serve God -- the purpose of the human person is to get out of our confinement, to get out of our shells, to get out of ourselves, to out of our homes, to get out of our individual tribes, to get out of our regions, and to reach out to God in praise, in reverence, and in service of others
And it is only by losing ourselves that we find our true selves.
Salvation. Life. You graduates, when you are asked, “What is your purpose in life?” and your answer is, “I want to be prosperous.” We have a problem.
“I want to be famous.” We have a problem.
“I want to be honourable.” We have a problem
“I want to be rich.” We have a problem.
Children of the Catholic University of South Sudan, what is your life’s purpose?
What is the purpose of your being here?
And you died to self, you died to your projects, you died to your studies, you died to your opinions and your programs. And you seek only what is God's purpose. By the way when the purpose of man is broken, the purpose of society is broken.
How many graduates are here? 197. Some might say, what can 197 do to create change for about 11,000,000 South Sudanese who are now confused by fighting each other not over anything or for anything but found themselves in senseless war!
If your purpose is clear, and it is not directed to self-promotion and self-propagation, then you can really be an asset to bleeding and starving South Sudan and to the world.
You can smile you know? There you go. (wala khefu?)
Go back to the purpose of your existence.
Spreading a culture of Peace
The second thing I ask of those graduating, and this is part of the root of our lives as people of God, is to be ambassadors of Peace. I do hope the graduates can help in spreading a culture, a culture of Peace.
It’s saddening to note how easy it is to accept the spreading culture of violence, hate, revenge, disunity, superficiality. Let us become so attractive that it bothers us.
Now, what is this “Ambassadors of Peace?” You graduates might think, “Oh alright, I’ll show the world how Peaceful I am,” and in your daily lives you speak in a manner that makes it hard to be understood. You employ a very destructive language, hate speech, violent communication over social media. Instead as a graduate from Catholic University you should polish your language to an inclusive and nonviolent communication.
Let us not confuse others. Culture of peace will help you not to be jobless because there just quite too much to do on behalf of PEACE. Build the culture of Peace my dear graduates everywhere you may go!
Be God fearing individuals:
Some of you graduating may be in tears after one lecture. Sometimes, you leave the classroom not in tears, but in anger. Why is it, however, that a simple story about a simple man is just right in its reality? We cited for you at the opening of this ceremony today with mention of two men: Bishop Rudolf Deng Majak and Rev. Fr. Mike Shulthise who devoted their lives enhancing the opening of this university. Those two men believed and knew their Creator, God the Father.
Because God is the heart, the motion within every person, within every occurrence, within the history of the world.
A mind and heart with a clear purpose seeks God. Perhaps it can also be said that God wants to be found in the times when we feel our purpose is unclear. In the times when we feel we can’t see Him, perhaps He’s the one searching for you. That is part of faith.
That profound humility that made the founders of this university, the Bishops of Sudan and South Sudan to open an institution for higher learning like this. In order to bring men and women who will bring about solution to the limitation of South Sudan.
Please graduates South Sudanese tell stories, listen to stories
But you have to be attentive to the suffering people of your beloved nation. Even when they do not verbalize their suffering, these people have many ways of communicating their suffering.
In my experience, especially as a priest, many people come to me carrying their life’s burdens, their problems. Sometimes you’re able to offer solutions, but why is it some people keep coming back?
Problems can be solved but you cannot solve dilemmas. Dilemmas continue. You can solve problems that you can only make sense of dilemmas. People with problems seek solutions, but people in a situation of dilemma will look for meaning, will look for sense. And that's where compassion enters.
We can’t solve all the world’s problems. For many people, however, they don’t carry problems, but dilemmas - they are life’s ironies, they are problems that won’t go away because they lack a solution.
How do we find sense or meaning in the middle of life’s dilemmas. You know what I learned? To problems, give solutions in clear formulae. For those with dilemmas, tell stories - stories of courage. Tell stories of valour, of dignity, of nobility. And they are strengthened to move on. But how can you tell stories if you don't listen to stories?
Listen to people. Listen to the cries of the little ones - those who are experts because their lives are a never ending dilemma.
I can see your parents, families, benefactors, friends celebrating you more than you. The law of physics say, the amount of force applied produces the same opposite reaction proportionated to the applied force. The Azande people say Ini vo tiso na giri kuraha (literally meaning, gifts a wrapped back to the donor with same strings). So how much you will put into society is what you will get at the end of the day. You reap what you sow!
Listening to their stories, and telling the stories to others, we become agents of hope.
Please allow me to thank all stakeholders of the Catholic University of South Sudan for their faith in the work that the University is undertaking – with this strong and steadfast support, our tasks have been made easier. I once more express our sincere ‘thank you’ to our Donors and Partners for their valued donations for the sustainability of the University. I wish to especially acknowledge the Support of His Grace Archbishop Lukudu Loro and all his collaborators to this university.
As you walk across the stage and receive your award, you start at that end as a student, and leave this end as an alumnus. I invite you to continue your interest in your University, actively participate in alumni activities and stay connected as we all join hands to contribute to the development of South Sudan we call home.
Make the University proud by being hard-working, innovative and committed. Be ethical in your future work, lead a life of meaning and impact, and be willing to make a difference. These should be the inspiring elements of the Catholic University of South Sudan brand of which you will all be ambassadors.
Your Honourable, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen thank you all once more, a final word to the graduands – Congratulations to you all, and I wish you the very best in the future. Today you celebrate your achievement; but you also start another journey. The future is what you make of it and much is expected of you; Make the Catholic University of South Sudan proud by your contributions.
Graduates as you go forth: Keep your eyes fixed above; be champions in love and remember Jesus leads and we follow. So, walk don’t run. Walk trustingly, lovingly and humbly with your God and you will know great joy at this exciting time in your life and always. God bless you, protect you, and watch over you forever and ever. Amen.
God bless you all, and God bless South Sudan with Peace!
Thank you all!