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