With great sadness Catholic Relief Services staff and leadership this weekend learned of the death of Archbishop Caesar Mazzolari of the Diocese of Rumbek in South Sudan. Archbishop Mazzolari passed away on Saturday morning in a hospital in Rumbek after being taken ill during morning Mass.
A long-standing friend and partner of CRS, Archbishop Mazzolari first started work in Sudan in 1981. As a Comboni Missionary, Mazzolari lived among the rural people of southern Sudan and suffering with them through war, famine and poverty. He was ordained a bishop in 1999 by Pope John Paul II
“Archbishop Mazzolari was a tireless voice for the people of South Sudan, raising their plight with the international community,” said CRS President Ken Hackett. “I recall visiting him in Rumbek in 1998, just as hostilities had ceased for a while in his diocese. His cathedral was totally destroyed, as was his rectory. His people had built a large underground, earthen bomb shelter so that they could be protected if aerial bombing came while they were at Mass.
“He shared the dream of his people that peace should come to southern Sudan. It is of great comfort that we know he saw this dream become reality little more than a week ago with the peaceful celebration of the birth of the nation of South Sudan,” Hackett said.
“The creation of this new country is no small part due to the life’s work of Archbishop Mazzolari.”
He was 74 years old and originally hailed from Brescia, Italy.
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