SOUTH SUDAN: Bishop Carlassare Welcomes Transfer to New Diocese of Bentiu, Describes Appointment as God’s Work

By Paschal Norbert

MALAKAL, JULY 5, 2024 (CISA) – On July 3, 2024, Pope Francis erected the Catholic Diocese of Bentiu in South Sudan, excising it from the Catholic Diocese of Malakal and appointed Rt Rev Christian Carlassare, M.C.C.J.,  as the pioneer bishop, thereby transferring him from the Diocese of Rumbek.

In response to his appointment as the founding bishop of the diocese of Bentiu, the 46-year-old prelate characterized his transfer as a demonstration of the Holy Father’s confidence in him and a testament to the Gospel’s transformative impact among the people of South Sudan.

“His Holiness Pope Francis has created the Diocese of Bentiu, carved out of the Diocese of Malakal and appointed me as the first Bishop. I am profoundly touched by the love and trust of the Holy Father as He calls me, limited as I am to serve the Church in Bentiu,” said Bishop Carlassare.

The local ordinary of Rumbek, who has been working in South Sudan since 2005, recognized the daunting task of establishing a new diocese, creating the structures and evangelizing the faithful.

“I accepted this appointment with the trust in the lord. Let him take my understanding, my will and my energies. I surrender them to the guidance of his will. What I ask is His grace and your prayers,” noted the bishop.

The Comboni bishop expressed gratitude to the faithful of Rumbek for their companionship and collaboration during his three-year tenure as the local ordinary, emphasizing that though brief, the time was productive and fruitful.

“We stood up together and made a journey. It is now three years. Maybe time was too short but we had many remarkable initiatives during the last two years and few good achievements as well,” he said, adding “ Therefore, though short time, I would say it was full time really filled with many graces and blessing. We bonded together. I received so much love, I feel strengthened by your commitment by faith and I am grateful.”

Bishop Carlassare was born in Schio, in the Catholic Diocese of Vicenza (Italy), on October 1, 1977. He made his Solemn Profession in the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus in 2003 and was ordained a priest on September 4, 2004.

In 2005, he was missioned to South Sudan. In the period between 2005 and 2021, he held the following positions: Assistant Parish Priest, Parish Priest, Vocations Promoter and Director of the orientation course for the Comboni Missionaries, Member of the Secretariat of vocational animation and basic training, Councilor Provincial of the Comboni Missionaries, and Vice-Provincial of the Province of the Comboni Missionaries in South Sudan.

From 2020 to 2021 he was Vicar General of the Catholic Diocese of Malakal. On March 8, 2021, he was appointed Bishop of Rumbek and consecrated on March 25, 2022.

The new diocese of Bentiu is located in Unity State in South Sudan and has 621,643 Catholics out of a total population of 1,131,886 people in the state. The diocese has 7 parishes with 7 diocesan priests and 4 religious priests. It also has 10 seminarians.

With the establishment of Bentiu, the total number of dioceses in South Sudan now stands at eight, which include: Juba, Yei, Torit, Tombura-Yambio, Rumbek, Wau, and Malakal.