Saturday, November 27, 2010

In thanksgiving from Nyamlell

Father Michael Barton sent this e-mail on Thanksgiving Day from his parish in Nyamlell:

Here they are registering for the January 9 referendum for independence for the South Sudan.

There was an attack yesterday (Nov. 24) in our parish with some injuries of soldiers but it was still far from the parish center.

The superior of the OLSH Sisters read an article and looked at a map and decided to withdraw their Sisters on December 13th even before the end of the school year and so this will be more burdens to bear.

In October I developed a terrible lung infection and could not get any proper help and so it got worse and fever and a cough were so bad until I went and told a nurse that I was not going to move until she helped me and she did. It was a bad month but I only missed three classes in the whole time and now I am all right again.

White ant is another problem. They have gone to the rafters in some of the classrooms and in my room and the dinning room. So I got burnt or used engine oil and two class boys painted away to save our roofs from termites.

Last Saturday we had a wonderful day of recollection for our class eight pupils who will finish before Christmas. We prayed and laughed and even confessed and adored and celebrated a wonderful class of 2010. I am sure they will do well and will get good results.

In early November I got a Sudanese priest to live in the rectory and help with some liturgies. He will remain until the end of December. His name is Father Angelo Agany.

Today is Thanksgiving and I shall have some rice and lentils when I go back home and join with you in thanking God for HIS GOODNESS TO US.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bishop Caesar pays a farewell visit

Saint Teresa Parish
Comboni Missionaries
P.O. Box 21102 Nairobi, Kenya. 00505

September 2, 2010

Dear Friends,

I received a lot of Christmas mail all at the same time on August 6th. It seems they arrive in Nairobi and then are taken to Rumbek in the South Sudan by lorry and then delay a lot there until someone comes this way to the Northern Bahr el Ghazal state and so came Bishop Caesar Mazzolari, MCCJ, on that day.

The Bishop came from Rumbek as part of a farewell pastoral tour that was organized to thank him for 17 years of pastoral service that he has given to the Dinka Malual. He arrived in Aweil by plane and we went the same day to Udhom where a large number of faithful Christians gathered – maybe 3,000 - from 12 chapels and we had Mass and they had made a special song celebrating Caesar’s 17 years as our Catholic shepherd.

We were given a spectacular lunch and then we an extra 100 kilometers to have the car situated on the North bank of the River Lol from the next few days right across from our mission station of Saint Teresa. The OLSH Sisters met us as we crossed and accompanied the Bishop and me to the rectory. Of course that night I was up late opening Christmas cards.

On August 7th we divided ourselves, the bishop went with the sisters to Marol Tiit where a multitude of returnees from Darfur have their chapel and the Bishop had given a lot of assistance. I went to another chapel called Mathiang Jongkor where I had confessions and Mass and did a few baptisms. I walked there as the car would never have made it due to the mud, and even walking, I got stuck and also fell. Can you imagine what the car would have got stuck for sure.

We met up again in Gok Macar where we found the choirs practicing for the Sunday’s blessing of the new church.

We went back to Nyamlell. One of the new Indonesian sisters was frightened by the river crossing in the canoe but by the fourth time seemed to take courage. In Nyamlell we had a few meetings.

On Sunday the 8th of August we crossed the river and found many youth and villagers going to Gok Macar for the blessing of the new church, which was started on December 1st and finished on June 30th and blessed August 8th and named Saint William and Saint Julia.

We got there and the bishop and I each had an hour of confessions and then the long procession and Mass with the blessing and one confirmation and one marriage, and the choirs and the alleluia dancers were all prepared and did wonderfully. After Mass there were many speeches and I had anointing of the sick and fifty baptisms and we left just as the food was ready but the bishop was tired. I drove the bishop to the boat and then the car the long way around to the new bridge to get on the other side of the river and back to the mission.

On August 9th Nyamlell had its chance to thank Caesar with an assembly and each class presenting a welcoming poster and at the same time remembering some of the many things that Caesar did for us during those years of his service and with everyone vested we had a very solemn Eucharistic celebration in the church for everyone who wanted to come. This was followed by prepared and not prepared entertainment. A bull had been slaughtered on Sunday evening to welcome our VTP and so after the entertainment we had lunch – everyone meat eaters.

On August 10th we had school but Bishop Caesar went to Marial Baai with the two new OLSH sisters for more thanksgiving; that day it rained but the celebration went on. I did not go as I had a full day of classes. That evening we had dinner with the Sisters and teachers for the ‘’Last Supper’’ together.

Early on August 11th Caesar returned to Rumbek by plane out of Aweil.
Now we are under the diocese of Wau and will wait to see the advantages and disadvantages of either arrangement.

In July we had a robbery of the Kenyan teacher’s room and the thief stole quite a lot of money. They caught the thief and got some of the money back.

In the latter part of August, I had the six remaining doors put on the rectory – three last and six this year at a cost of $2,500 and they are strong but not totally thief resistant.

In July 21 the provincial form Indonesia came and brought two young sisters with her to work with us but first they have to learn English. So now we have four and one will be transferred to Cameroon in West Africa in the new year of 2011 and three will stay here.

On August 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th we had semester exams, four days for the High School and two days for the primaries. We have done three weeks of the 2nd semester and from the 28th of August to September 11th we have a semester break.

I drove to Wau after Sunday Mass on the 29th of August and will stay here for a few days and then back again. I’ll get the car checked and buy some can goods and rest and eat and pray.

All the best to you. Thank you for helping and praying and thinking of me.

Father Michael D. Barton, MCCJ.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The bishop of Rumbek meets the bishop of Wau

The Bishop of Rumbek, his Lordship Caesar Mazzolari, on Aug. 12 in Wau met with the Bishop of Wau Diocese, His Lordship Rudolf Deng Majak.

Bishop Mazzolari was on his way back to Rumbek after spending five days in Nyamlell mission, bidding farewell to the missionaries and Christians who from now will be administered by the Catholic diocese of Wau.

Bishop Mazzolari told Good News Radio that he expressed to the Bishop of Wau the longing of the people of Nyamlell and Gordhim to be visited by their new shepherd, adding that the people would like to establish a “family-like friendship” with him besides expressing their concerns and needs as a Christian community.

Bishop Mazzolari described his five-day experience in Nyamlell as “overwhelming”, expressing gratitude to God for the many accomplishments through various people.

Bishop Mazzolari shared about his Sunday experience with the pastor of Nyamlell, Fr. Michael Barton, at the blessing of Gogmachar Catholic Church, where 3000 to 4000 people gathered to witness the blessing of the Church and conferring of the sacraments of confession, baptism, confirmation, and matrimony.

The Bishop said that the baptisms at Gogmachar were so many that they ran out of baptismal water, adding that they had to suspend some of the baptisms.

The Bishop also said that the people of Nyamlell expressed their gratitude for all that the Catholic Diocese of Rumbek has accomplished in their midst for the last 17 years.

Bishop Mazzolari, on his part, expressed gratitude to the missionaries in Nyamlell in the persons of Fr. Michael Barton and Our Lady of Sacred Heart sisters, explaining that “they have created a most Christian Community of people who pray and sing with all joy and enthusiasm”, among them war victims and the displaced from Darfur.

With this visit of Bishop Mazzolari to Nyamlel, the missions of Nyamlell and Gordhim in Northern Bahr El Ghazal State are officially handed back to the Catholic Diocese of Wau.

Fr. Don Bosco Ochieng
Director, Radio Good News (Rumbek - Sudan)
P.O. Box 21102, 00505, Nairobi (Kenya)
News Desk:
Mobiles: +254733877750 or +249913051931
or +249922506827 or +249955249914
Skype: Onyalla

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

News from St. Teresa Parish January-June, 2010

Saint Teresa Parish

June 7, 2010

We just ended the Easter season with Pentecost last Sunday and on June 4 we shall end the first term or 25% of the school year and so I have to put everything else away and write you a letter with a bit of news for the first five months of 2010.

I had a nice late December and early January pastoral visits to five centers and twenty chapels and then on the 15th of January I saw the first solar eclipse of my 62 years and spent two weeks in Juba and went to two of my former parishes. It rained while I was visiting one of them and it never rains in January here and rain is always seen as a great blessing so I could tell my former parishioners that I had brought them rain and they had received me in a very wonderful way.

A former seminarian went out with me and walked me around to all the corners of the mango and gawafa-fruit rich village. The second village was a bit farther away but a Comboni brother took me and I saw the big church I had built twenty-three years earlier named Saint Peter. So much of the village was destroyed by the Northern troops but the big church was used by them as a weapons store and the statues are gone but the altar is still being used and with a new roof it will be good as new. They now have a resident priest and where I was working by myself there are now eight priests serving the four parishes. Will that happen here too? My eyes of little faith doubt it but my hope is in the Lord Our God.

I was back to Nyamlell on Jan. 29 and got my car stuck in the river mud on the 31st. One should never get stuck in the dry season and it stayed in the mud till Monday morning. That first day of February I continued my pastoral work up to and including Palm Sunday. I celebrated many Masses and baptisms and confirmations and even a good number of annointings of the sick and even a few marriages and a few new chapels were blessed and named. I visited a few places that I had never been to before and so many others that I had been so many times. In the evenings I read and studied a bit with the help of a flashlight and I had very little car trouble and just a few flat tires.

When I was in Juba the state class eight leavers exam was held and we had twelve candidates sit for the examination which I have never seen and have nothing to do with. In late March the results came out with Comboni Primary School in Nyamlell in Aweil West taking first place for the entire state as well, of course, as in the county and that is for the second year in a row. The pupils were happy but the parents and the government remained totally indifferent.

On the day after Palm Sunday we started a teachers’ workshop for the three primary schools of the Catholic parish here and it went very well. We had two Kenyan teachers join our staff right around the same time and will serve mainly in Sacred Heart High School. The two young sisters returned from their home leave to Indonesia in mid-April and are a great blessing to our parish in all they do.

We also now have a small organ for the church bought by the youth group and local benefactors and now some youth are learning to play it.

There were elections and campaigning during March and April here and all over the Sudan with lots of fraud and serious irregularities etc. but we started school on time and nothing closed even for a day. Many were working and getting paid for their election activities and most came back to school after the elections were over but not all. The school year is going well till on June 1st someone broke the lock off the Form Two door and stole the class chairs and are not yet found. The school year is a quarter over and three quarters to go. We are going on as well as we can.

This last weekend we had a day of recollection for the students of Sacred Heart High School and their feast is this Friday which is also the opening of the first World Cup ever to be held on the African continent.

In the end of March cell phones have come to Nyamlell and those phones are with many and I am so happy for them but I am waiting to see before I get one.

Cordaid had left Nyamlell on May 26th and their compound was looted as they were leaving and now I have the police living inside and maybe in July another NGO might come to live in it and do health work in the area. So I have lost my internet connection until the new NGO comes but there is another internet connection much farther away and I shall go there much less often than before. It’s too far and I am always too tired and have too much work.

Now I plan the pastoral wok at weekends and am two weekends out and the next Sunday I am here in Nyamlell. On Corpus Christi Sunday we had a marriage here in the parish center, the first in my years here and the last was around Christmas 2001. What made it so special for me was that they had not slept together and had paid the bride price of 12 cows and come to the mission for the sacrament before beginning their married life together. Almost all of the other Christian marriages before this one involve people with children already and sacramentalizing their traditional tribal marriages.

After more than two years malaria came back to attack me with a wild kick and threw me for a loop for a few days in May. I am fine now. I hope that you are too. I have a young Seminarian living and helping me for half of May and most of June. One Sister left on Friday for a sabbatical in France and we hear two new sisters are to come from Indonesia in July or so.

We hear that on the first of August we will pass out of the hands of the diocese of Rumbek and into the hands of Wau. New administration means more changes and uncertainties as life is always changing.

Happy Summer!

Yours in the Sacred Heart,

Michael D. Barton

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Father Michael makes the NY Times

Op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof on May 1 wrote a column about the many missionary priests, nuns and lay people who are making a difference in Africa, especially Sudan.
In it he mentions the contributions of Father Michael Barton, a Comboni missionary priest from Indianapolis who serves in Nyamlell, south Sudan:


Juba, Sudan -- Maybe the Catholic Church should be turned upside down.

Jesus wasn’t known for pontificating from palaces, covering up scandals, or issuing Paleolithic edicts on social issues. Does anyone think he would have protected clergymen who raped children?

Yet if the top of the church has strayed from its roots, much of its base is still deeply inspiring. I came here to impoverished southern Sudan to write about Sudanese problems, not the Catholic Church’s. Yet once again, I am awed that so many of the selfless people serving the world’s neediest are lowly nuns and priests — notable not for the grandeur of their vestments but for the grandness of their compassion.

As I’ve noted before, there seem to be two Catholic Churches, the old boys’ club of the Vatican and the grass-roots network of humble priests, nuns and laity in places like Sudan. The Vatican certainly supports many charitable efforts, and some bishops and cardinals are exemplary, but overwhelmingly it’s at the grass roots that I find the great soul of the Catholic Church.

The Vatican believes that this newspaper and other news organizations have been unfair and overzealous in excavating the church’s cover-ups of child rape. I see the opposite. No organization has done more to elevate the moral stature of the Catholic Church in the United States than The Boston Globe. Its groundbreaking 2002 coverage of abuse by priests led to reforms and by most accounts a significant reduction in abuse. Catholic kids are safer today not because of the cardinals’ leadership, but because of The Boston Globe’s.

Yet the church leaders are right about one thing: there is often a liberal and secular snobbishness toward the church as a whole — and that is unfair.

It may be easy at a New York cocktail party to sniff derisively at a church whose apex is male chauvinist, homophobic and so out of touch that it bars the use of condoms even to curb AIDS. But what about Father Michael Barton, a Catholic priest from Indianapolis? I met Father Michael in the remote village of Nyamlell, 150 miles from any paved road here in southern Sudan. He runs four schools for children who would otherwise go without an education, and his graduates score at the top of statewide examinations.

Father Michael came to southern Sudan in 1978 and chatters fluently in Dinka and other local languages. To keep his schools alive, he persevered through civil war, imprisonment and beatings, and a smorgasbord of disease. “It’s very normal to have malaria,” he said. “Intestinal parasites — that’s just normal.”

Father Michael may be the worst-dressed priest I’ve ever seen — and the noblest.

Anybody scorn him? Anybody think he’s a self-righteous hypocrite?

On the contrary, he would make a great pope.

In the city of Juba, I met Cathy Arata, a nun from New Jersey who spent years working with battered women in Appalachia. Then she moved to El Salvador during the brutal civil war there, putting her life on the line to protect peasants. Two years ago, she came here on behalf of a terrific Catholic project called Solidarity With Southern Sudan.

Sister Cathy and the others in the project have trained 600 schoolteachers. They are fighting hunger not with handouts but with help for villagers to improve agricultural techniques. They are also establishing a school for health workers, with a special focus on midwifery to reduce deaths in childbirth.

At the hospital attached to that school, the surgeon is a nun from Italy. The other doctor is a 72-year-old nun from Rhode Island. Nuns rock.

Sister Cathy would like to see more decentralization in the church, a greater role for women, and more emphasis on public service. She says she worries sometimes that if Jesus returned he would say, “Oh, they got it all wrong!”

She would make a great pope, too.

There are so many more like them. There’s Father Mario Falconi, an Italian priest who refused to leave Rwanda during the genocide and bravely saved 3,000 people from being massacred. There’s Father Mario Benedetti, a 72-year-old Italian priest based in Congo who fled with his congregation when their town was attacked by a brutal militia. Now Father Mario lives side by side with his Congolese congregants in the squalor of a refugee camp in southern Sudan, struggling to get schooling for their children.

It’s because of brave souls like these that I honor the Catholic Church. I understand why many Americans disdain a church whose leaders are linked to cover-ups and antediluvian stances on women, gays and condoms — but the Catholic Church is far larger than the Vatican.

And unless we’re willing to endure beatings alongside Father Michael, unless we’re willing to stand up to warlords with Sister Cathy, we have no right to disparage them or their true church.

I invite you to comment on this column on my blog, On the Ground. Please also join me on Facebook, watch my YouTube videos videos and follow me on Twitter.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Security based on African justice

St. Mary Makuei Catholic Chapel
Comboni School,Makuei(ANC) Northern Bahr El Ghazal State South Sudan
March 31st 2010

Reported by the head catechist
Zachariah Noon Ajongi
Makuei Centre
Corrected by the head Catechist
John G. Garang Nyamlell
Dear Fr. Michael D. Barton,
St Teresa Parish, Nyamlell

I submit warm greetings to you and our sisters and all people who are working with you in the mission.

I am sending you this information which happened almost 3 months ago in January. This problem caused seven people to lose their lives in a day attack.
It happened,when SPLA soldier named Mabior Kuol Kuom whose cows had been robbed by Bagara (Arabs) a year before in Dheen (Southern Darfur State). These are the cows which were promised to him by one of the Bagara in Dheen as payment for employment. He was employed to look after cattle thereafter, he would be given a cow for each year, Mabior worked with the Bagara for 12 years and was given 12 cows which were robbed on his way home.

On January 26, 2010, this SPLA soldier, called Mabior Kuol Kuom shot seven Bagara, a donkey and camel and they died instantly. This caused a great problem between the Dinka and the Bagara, and for a week some of them were trying to fight but luckily the Bagara never found the Dinka, all the communities in Makuei Centre ran away from their homes for a week so as not to be found by the Bagara.
After a few days, the Northern Bahr El Ghazal State Governor Paul Malong Awan, surrounded by many police and soldiers, visited the place where the killing occurred and held the meeting between the Bagara and the Dinka. The meeting went smoothly and the Governor promised that the Bagara cattle could go where ever the Bagara liked to take them for grazing and also promised that the Government will give compensation for the dead people, for each deceased’ the Bagara would get as blood money 31 thousand Sudanese pounds and the total for seven people is 217 thousand SDPS, The Government will pay for the Donkey 150 SDPS and also a camel 175 SDPS. The total for the dead people is 217 thousand + 325 SDPS for the two animals and the total is Ls 217,325 SDPS which is equivalent to $ 86,930.00 in US dollars.

The Governor also promised the area would be secured. All the people are now back to their homes but there is still fear. The Bagara Pastoralist from Darfur were killed in two different places, two were shot in Akuang Malual and five in Juma stream Mabior Nyang. Please pray for us to let the Almighty Father give us unity between the Dinka and the Bagara tribe.

Now we have soldiers and police stationed in several places in our payam location.

Postscript from Fr. Michael D. Barton. MCCJ.

I think this is an example of a political leader who acts quickly to keep law and order and security based on African justice. All the money will be deducted the state workers little by little until the full debt is paid. Justice and peace is why there is no fighting in Northern Bahr El Ghazal as there is in the other 9 states of the South Sudan. The Governor Paul Malong Awan, who also happens to be Roman Catholic, comes from Gordhim parish.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Lenten letter from Father Michael Barton

Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus Parish-Nyamlell February 23, 2010
Comboni Missionaries
P.O. Box 21102
Nairobi, Kenya 00505

Dear Friends,
Greetings as we are at the start of the Lenten season of 2010.

I came back from Juba on January 29th after a meeting and a good six-day retreat and resumed my pastoral visits to the chapels. It is very hot and dry but in Juba on Jan. 24 it rained when I was visiting my first mission of Kworijik-Luri and it never rains in January; then on the 31st as I had already had two masses and a parish council meeting and baptized 33 infants and had Mass in the hospital and anointing of the sick with tuberculosis. Then as I was crossing the Lol River I got stuck in the mud -- all four tires and no way out that day because I had a third mass for a SPLA officer who had died in Juba but brought for burial in his home.

Well, I left the car in the mud very near the mission (one should never get stuck in the mud in the dry season so go figure). So on Monday, at dawn, the first day of February, I and three other boys were out jacking up and digging out my Toyota pickup; it took a lot of effort and by ten o’clock we were on our way not to return till the parish center till Feb. 21.

I was happy to bless and name five newly constructed chapels and have all the sacraments but Holy Orders on many days. However, I was sorry to hear on Feb. 8 that the favored Indianapolis Colts had lost the Super Bowl. In the evening I got into a heated argument with the head catechist over nothing and then had a pouring out of diarrhea even before I could get out of the hut. I had to clean everything myself. Everything returned to normal again with all agreeing with the proverb that the least said the soonest mended.

I also spent two days visiting three missions in a neighboring state and another diocese that I had heard of but never seen and as the roads are vastly improved it make travel quite easy. They were Mayen Abun, Turalei and Abyei. I even visited our neighboring parish of Gordhim for a few hours and had a nice lunch and lots of sharing and laughs.

Saint William Church, which is also Saint Julia Activity Center in Gong Machar, is about half way completed with doors and windows in, and may be finished in three to four months.

Up to Holy Week will be non-stop pastoral visits but Holy Week will have me back to give a Teachers Training Workshop here in Nyamlell and I shall be in Nyamlell for Easter as well.

In this Year of the Priest let us pray for each other.

Have a wonderful Lent!

Father Michael Barton, MCCJ.

A poem: Dying to Live

Father Michael Barton sent this poem composed by Steven Mutua and Daniel Mourcol Garang of Sacred Heart High School in Nyamlell (Aweil West County) in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State in the South Sudan.

It was written in honor of Saint Daniel Comboni.

Death is sure to come to each one of us.
None knows the manner or the hour though some of us may chose without knowing.
Choosing their manner and even the hour of death.
Fate you may call it but the name matters less.
For there’s a mission not for the many but for the few.
Those that literally choose to lay down their lives for others
Like Bishop Saint Daniel Comboni, without counting the cost no matter what it may be.
Those who choose to shout even while the rest have chosen silence.
The Spirit of Jesus knowing the risk chooses the path less travelled.
Those who risk belling the cat when everyone else is running away.
Men and women of courage and determination.
Those who die as losers in order to win.
Those are our heroes whom we should never forget.
For they lived and died for all humanity.
Gave up their lives to give life and their dying was never in vain.
Never should we betray what they stood for.
For these are the men and women who last.
These are our heroes whom we should never forget.
For they lived and died for humanity and gave up their lives in order to give life.
Their dying was not in vain and we should never betray what they stood for.
Those that literally choose to lay down their lives for others like
Saint Bishop Daniel Comboni!
Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus!
Saint Josephine Bakhita!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Busy 2009 ended with solar eclipse

Nairobi, Kenya.00505
January 25th, 2010.

Many greetings to you, in this last year of the first decade of the 21st century of the second millennium. I am writing this in Juba, the capital of the Southern Sudan where I came on the 15 of January, for a meeting and a retreat.

I drove to Aweil from Nyamlell and on the way soon after sunrise there occurred a solar eclipse and was right ahead of us all the way to the state capital. The catechist who was with me told me he had never seen just a thing and I told him that neither had I. It was right in front of us so we could not miss it. Yet most people along the road did not seem to notice anything strange or different.

I remember in 1998 in Mapuordit,seeing a lunar eclipse and the people were shouting and even shooting guns at it and now a solar one that caused hardly any reaction at all. I caught the plane of the UN and flew to Wau and then on to Juba. Five days were meetings and I came to hear about the chapter and the new General Administration of the Comboni Missionaries and then I gave six days to a spiritual retreat and to get money for the rest of the year and to write some letters.

We had a wonderful celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of the parish and of evangelization in our state on October 1st, 2009, and people took it all very seriously and collected 12 bulls and many sags of grain and make for a wonderful celebration and the governor gave 4 more bulls but the teachers tried to take them for themselves but after two months I was able to get them all back. Then a teacher left and I had to hire a new one and we were able to complete the school year.

The other big event which had been programmed for 2009 was a YOUTH CONGRESS for the Diocese of Rumbek in our neighboring parish of Gordhim. Sister Jeviana, OLSH, was very dedicated to preparing for it and there was a second collection throughout the year for this event, they also grew tree seedlings for sell to buy a small organ for the parish church and that they succeeded and this organ should arrive sometime in this new year. This is a wonderful result of the work of the Sisters and the dedication of the youth of the parish. I did not go to the youth congress but all the sisters did, two for the entire three days and one for just the closing Mass on the fourth Sunday of Advent. We had 77 youth attend and I had planned to go for one day but I just couldn’t fit it in. But before I explain why let me go back to November, 2009.

I got permission to build a church in Gok Macar from the diocesan and congregational superiors and so I went by bike to present the plans to the center and chapel communities and to encourage them to raise funds and give what they could to build Saint Julia and Saint William church and activity center there. They were mostly men at the meeting and seemed very committed to the project. I gave two receipt books to record all local donations.

I continued with the pastoral visits to the outstations of the parish and in November and December with Sr. Jeanne, OLSH, preaches one Sunday and Catechist John Garang Garang does the next and I do the next with the Mass in the parish center. The rest of the weekends I was out in the chapels and on weekdays in the school and in the classrooms.

In December we had an invasion of the school premises of people from a nearby market who had heard that one of their relatives had been beaten by a teacher and in the ruckess they slugged me in the chin and hurt my hand and one of my knuckles still pain me. I was not the teacher who they were angry with but they took it out on me. Just as suddenly as they had come so did they leave. The rest of the day and week and month were normal.

Also in December we had a father and a sister come to give a weeklong workshop to all our 85 parish catechists during the 3nd week of advent and help us with ministry for Christmas and up to the feast of the Holy Family.

The Sisters all went out for Christmas as well as me and there were huge crowds in all our services.

For the first time we prepared the certificates and did the external exam and we had a day of recollection for our class eight leavers to give them some spiritual input. Then on December 27th we had baptisms and confirmations and then gave certificates to all our pupils in Nyamlell and the next day the same in Makwei and visit to chapels and January 1st the same to the Comboni School and Catholic Community of Marial Baai.

In all of them there was testing and them baptisms and confirmations and giving of certificates. I continued out visiting centers and chapels up to and including January 14th. That takes me to the beginning and the solar eclipse, which is a once in a life time experience, on Jan. 15th.

In 2009 we had in our parish of Saint Teresa in Aweil West County in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State in the Southern Sudan form Jan. 1st to Dec 31:

2025 baptisms, 153 Confirmations, 18 Catholic Marriages, 550 Masses, 789 anointing of the sick, 821 confessions, and 14,755 holy Communions given.

Thank you for all your prayers and donations, we are so very interdependent and I would not be able to do anything without your help.

God bless you!

Yours in the Lord,
Father Michael Barton, MCCJ.