The Good Shepherd Peace Center opened in October 2016. It is the only Catholic retreat and conference center in South Sudan.
Sister Annette St. Amour, IHM, works at the center. For the past five years, her ministry has encompassed ongoing formation of diocesan pastoral teams, catechists and facilitators of small Christian communities; training for trauma healing; development and management of the center, preparing sisters for final vows, and providing directed retreats, as well as producing newsletters for the center.
“To be part of the initial team developing the center has been a privilege, ” she said. “Meeting participants from all over the country who come for peace-building and trauma-healing workshops, for training and coordination as diocesan pastoral teams, brings a richness of stories and experiences to all our lives. In a country where tribalism is a stumbling block, we experience people from every part of the country, various tribes coming together, sharing their stories, listening to one another and articulating the same desires and dreams for their lives. They feel empowered to make a difference.”
She recalls hosting the center’s first trauma healing weekend. “We hosted 31 street children… on the final day of that workshop, two boys approached Sister Barbara and me with a person who could translate their Arabic into English. One was about 12 years old, the other about 16 years. They said, ‘We want to thank you for what you gave us. We have learned a lot that will help us.’ I thought of the Gospel story of the lepers and the one who came to thank Jesus. Such goodness brings hope.”
Photo of girls walking at Good Shepherd Peace Center by Paul Jeffrey