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.