In her opening address OVCI’s Sudan representative Franca Cattorini said that the inauguration was a unique moment in history. The result of longstanding and friendly cooperation between OCVI and the Archdiocese of Juba, the university has a clear purpose: to rebuild Southern Sudan by training a new generation of men and women who can take responsibility for the future. Indeed as of March 2009, 13 students have already been attending courses in the College of Rehabilitation Sciences.
The Education Minister Stephen Lemi for Central Equatoria said that St. Mary’ University shows the Church’s commitment to education in Southern Sudan.
Similarly, in an address on how “education makes better citizens”, Mary Kiden Gimbo, minister of Gender, Social Welfare and Religious Affairs in the Government of Southern Sudan, praised the Church for its role in providing assistance to the people of the region during the civil war. She noted that during the war schools in areas under the control of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) were run by the Church, a fact that shows the latter’s commitment to child education in Southern Sudan, its health care system and the peace process which ended 21 years of civil war during which more than two million people were killed and another four displaced.
Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro, head of the Catholic Church in Southern Sudan and St. Mary’s chancellor, said that St. Mary’s University and the Catholic University of Sudan in Juba are at the top of the Catholic Church’s educational agenda, and had been planned even before the war but could only be realised last September.
“Today the Catholic Church is not only in charge of running kindergartens, elementary schools and high schools, but also university faculties,” he said.
The campus of St. Mary’s University provides students with modern facilities, including housing, and is divided into three colleges, one dedicated to Rehabilitation Sciences, another to Social Services and a third one to Education.