The late Bishop Paride Taban, founder of Holy Trinity Peace Village Kuron in South Sudan and long-time friend of the Diocese of St. Cloud, was announced as the 2023 Opus Prize Laureate on Nov. 9. As the winner of the annual faith-based humanitarian award, Bishop Taban’s Holy Trinity Peace Village Kuron will receive the $1 million prize that recognizes social entrepreneurship championing faith-filled change.
Bishop Taban was the first bishop of the Diocese of Torit in South Sudan from 1983 until 2004. He founded Holy Trinity Peace Village Kuron in 2005 as an intentional community for people of diverse backgrounds who have experienced conflict. With a focus on conflict resolution and peacebuilding, as well as agricultural training, education, health services and food security, the Peace Village has allowed thousands of Sudanese affected by years of armed conflict and struggle in the North to flourish there in peace. In the nearly two decades since the founding of The Village — which has become globally recognized for its peacebuilding efforts in the region.
Father Bill Vos, who currently serves as St. Cloud diocesan director of Catholic Relief Services and Maryknoll returned missioner, attended the ceremony at Villanova University in Pennsylvania (visit https://www1.villanova.edu/university/opus-prize.html for more information on the award and to watch the video of the ceremony).
“When Bishop Taban was installed as the first Bishop of the Torit Diocese in South Sudan in 1983, he already knew about Maryknoll, who had priests, brothers and sisters working in South Sudan, said Father Vos. “He strongly pleaded to have Maryknoll Lay Missioners come and serve in his new diocese. In my role as coordinator of the Maryknoll Lay Missioners in Africa, I fully appreciated this need, and was able to arrange for many wonderful lay U.S. Catholics who would spend years working at various sites within his diocese.”
Because of Bishop Taban’s friendship with the late Bishop Emeritus John Kinney and Father Vos, Bishop Taban visited St. Cloud numerous times. Bishop Kinney traveled with Father Vos twice to visit him in Africa.
“Our St. Cloud support of both Bishop Taban and the Peace Village has been very significant, particularly through the efforts of Rosanne Fischer, as the former director of our Mission Office, who eventually became and continues as a member of the international support group of the Holy Trinity Peace Village. Her long-term engagement, which includes visits to South Sudan, attracted the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls to also become close partners of Bishop Taban and the Peace Village. The relationship also continues through the work of Elizabeth Neville Brown, current director of the St. Cloud Mission Office.”
Bishop Taban died Nov. 1 at the age of 87 in Nairobi. He was laid to rest Nov. 10 at the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral in the Diocese of Torit.