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!