Monday, September 19, 2011

Bishop of Wau's October visit to St. Teresa Parish

Saint Teresa Parish

Nyamlell, (Aweil West County)

NBG State

Republic of the South Sudan.

September 12, 2011


Dear Head Catechist,

We shall have our meeting for head catechists and part-time catechists on Friday September 30th, 2011. You must bring a written report on all the Sunday offerings and other important activities of your area. If you don’t bring with you a written report which you can read to all of us at the meeting no payment will be made. Please do this for this and all of our future meetings. Thank you for this and all your chapel and center work. The meeting should start at 3:00 pm.

The other big news which I want to announce is the pastoral visit of the Bishop of Wau to our parish and just some of the activities planned. The Most Reverend Rudolph Deng Majakwill visit:

Udhom Chapel and Center on October 7th, 2011. Cat, Marko Deng Adel will be there to welcome him in my name. Let the head catechist of Udhom be there waiting and not arriving after everyone else as was done last year to the late Bishop Mazzolari. The Mass of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary can begin at around 11:00 am and followed by a meeting of the bishop with all the catechists and prayer leaders so we hear from our main shepherd in our work of the church and we can present the problems that we face both physical and spiritual. This day is for Udhom Center and the day of the catechists and their bishop. Marko will then bring the bishop to sleep in Nyamlell.

Wetwil Chapel and Center will be visited on October 8th which is Saturday. The work of the chapel will be blessed and the sacrament of reconciliation will be available and Mass will follow at around 11:00 am. This day is for the youth. There will be a meeting held between Bishop Rudolph and the youth after Mass. I shall also be present. This is our youth day with the bishop. From Wetwil we shall move to Ariath where we shall spend the night.

The new church of Saint Dennis will be blessed in Saint Rebecca Center in Ariath (ANC) on Sunday October 9th, 2011. He will meet the authorities of Aweil North County after Mass. This is the second permanent Catholic Church in Aweil North, both in our parish. Hopefully there will be some entertainment prepared but for that we depend on those of Ariath. Reconciliation and Baptisms will be available that day too and after this we shall return to spend the night in Nyamlell.

The bishop will celebrate two Comboni Days, one here in Nyamlell on October 10th, 2011, and another the next day in Marial Baai. Here the Mass will be at 10:00 and before it will be the sacrament of reconciliation and during Mass will be baptisms of some infants. The bishop will, of course, preside at the Eucharist on Comboni Day in Nyamlell. As many who can should try to be here for Comboni and Bishop Deng. Entertainment will be in the hands of the pupils and teachers of Comboni Nyamlell- thii. At 4:00 pm we shall have a courtesy visit to New Life Ministry and at 5:00 we shall continue to South Sudan Hotel to visit the authorities of Aweil West County. At 7:00 there will be rosary and benediction in the parish church and afterwards prize giving. The bishop will sleep in Nyamlell.

October 11th, 2011, Marko will accompany the Bishop to Marial Baai by road or if not possible by boat for Mass and entertainment and afterward the bishop will meet with the teachers of the Catholic schools in our parish. This will be the day of teachers to meet their bishop. He will return to Nyamlell to spend his final night and will return to Wau the next day. We put this entire visit in the hands of God and May Saint Daniel Comboni continue to intercede for us and Our Lady is with us all in good times and bad.

Father Michael D. Barton, MCCJ.

Parish Priest.

Another busy year for Comboni missionary priest and parish

Saint Teresa Parish

Comboni Missionaries

Nyamlell (Aweil West)

Northern Bahr el Ghazal State

Republic of the South Sudan

September 6, 2011

Comboni Missionaries

P.O. Box 21102

Nairobi, Kenya.

Dear Friends, Relatives and benefactors,

I have thought to write you for such a long time and forced myself to sit down and write.

But where do I start? I told you about my dry season activities and the going to Juba for Santo’s ordination as the helper bishop of Juba and then all the pastoral work. It was a lot of travel and sleeping out and preaching and celebrating all the sacraments. I like the contrast of being out of school for three months and being full time into pastoral work for the whole parish and no fear of rain or getting stuck in the mud or a pool. But then when the school year starts it is another contrast to be able to sleep in my own bed for a school week of five days and to have my supper at the dinner table and warm.

From the end of December to the beginning of April I was in Nyamlell only for three Sundays and the rest in the centers and their chapels. This year my goal is to cover the whole parish twice as usual but once in the dry and the second time in the wet season. In the dry season I started just before Christmas and did not finish until March 9th. True, two weeks of those I was away in Juba for that remarkable event of an Episcopal ordination, but the rest was out in the 90 some chapels, and many of those days were in two chapels in one day. I was always tired at night and had some good sleep. Still in the dry season and before the school started I got to three complete centers for a second time.

On March 31 we celebrated a big Mass with all our catechists for the third anniversary of the death of Father Raymond Pox. We prayed and remembered and celebrated him as a priest and as a missionary. That is the day I call "planning day: as I plan the year with the sisters and for three months with the catechists, They come three months thereafter to plan for the next three month period; I schedule all my pastoral visits in those meetings,

On April 1st the school year started. The OLSH Sisters just had returned to South Sudan after being away for almost four months, and generously offered to teach in the school for this school year. So we began.

Pastorally as I would be teaching full time throughout the year I would be out two weekends and the next I would be here in Nyamlell for the parish church and two chapels of returnees who have come back from Northern Sudan and the monthly Eucharist in the hospital. So the other weekends I would be out to visit at least three chapels. In this way I can fulfill my goals of visiting the outstations and caring for the parish center too.

In mid February a faithful friend and builder came from Kenya to help me build another church -- this one named Saint Dennis, a saint who has given his name to many Bartons and even a few Sullivans. This is the third new church in the parish that has been constructed while I have been here and the repair of the parish church all was done by Laurence Makabuya, with me being the yeller and he the worker.

We have built this chapel in Ariath in Aweil North County which is right on the railway and has a rail station. So much has been done but none of it could have been done without you and Laurence. I said the first Mass in it on the late afternoon of the Marian feast of the Assumption and it will be blessed by the bishop of Wau on October 9th, the day of Saint Dennis. It is beautiful in my eyes and heart.

Since we were transferred from the diocese of Rumbek back to the diocese that we really belonged to, which is Wau, we have been in a very unsure place because we need help from the diocese and their permission and support in all that we do. I have heard very little from them. I waited for months to hear from the authorities of the diocese about what to do about the High School as the diocese of Rumbek helped me with two Kenyan teachers in 2010 and in 2009, 2008, and 2007. So now what to do with this silent diocese and our future of the high school?

The sisters have made it abundantly clear that they did not want to be in Nyamlell and so I had to make the very tough decision of closing Sacred Heart High School. We sent some boys to the minor seminary in Mapuordit and the others went to places like Marial Baai, Wau and Aweil, Town, Juba and Uganda. I am convinced that it was a good school but untenable in the present situation. So sorry about that but I did not see any other solutions. Better to make the primary school as good as it can be.

On April 5th after school and the RCIA group that I run, Valentino Achak Deng with some other Sudanese lost boys, now American citizens, came to say hello. Valentino has a very large Senior Secondary School in Marial Baai, his hometown, and I told them that the day was my birthday #63 done and completed. The next day he came back to sing the birthday song and he brought me his book, “What’s the What?”, and other very valuable books. Well, he is an international figure and told me that he had brought George Clooney to visit me and Nyamlell in March but of course I was out doing my priestly duties in the out stations. Can you imagine George in Nyamlell?

Well since then I read an article in TIME and even a picture of George in Marial Baai. So I feel sure that Valentino was telling the truth. Well, another month passed before I got time to read his book and then I enjoyed it so much. It has many insights in the life of the Dinka and the Sudan, and yes, there are even insights into the American way of doing things. It was on the best seller list and translated into other languages and now I can understand why.

Soon after that I got news from out of the blue that the diocese was going to give one Kenyan teacher for the school year of 2011. Why didn’t they tell me before that there was still a chance of them helping us? I was told that in 2010 they would help and that was that, and now we depended completely on Wau. Well, the teacher came and we opened another class one three class ones and one stream of each class after that with an enrollment of 351 here in our Comboni Nyamlell and another 346 in our Marial Baai Comboni and 103 in our Makwei Comboni.

In March the results of the state exam came out and we did not take first place as in the previous two years; the highest we got this year but it was for last year was #9 and #14 out of 2,544 candidates of the primary leaving certificate for Northern Bahr el Ghazal State. First place went to our sister parish, the Comboni School in Gordhim, which is run by the Apostles of Jesus. It was their first time ever and I told some teachers,”Well at least it is still in the family.” I gave it my all but many other teachers did not. We will see what happens this year.

You know that South Sudan has become independent and it was a wonderful and happy July 9th. I said the opening prayer at the ceremony here in Nyamlell. We had prayed for so long for this that on July 8th the schools gathered here and joyfully competed with each other in expressing our joy with a song, marching, poem, dancing and singing the new national anthem ,and finally a football competition. The Sudanese did a great job in spiritual preparation for the referendum and then for independence. For sure that is why is was so peaceful. Yet Khartoum is not happy and has cut off all food stuffs and fuel from coming and everything has doubled and tripled in price. I am just fine but the poor common Joe or rather Deng must really be suffering. Diesel is $4 a liter. Something has to give but no one that I know is sad to see the back of the Arab. Sudan will never be the same. Soda was two Sudanese pounds but is now five yet beer, which never came from the North but from Uganda, is still just six pounds.

In May the Comboni provincial came for a visit. He is brand new. This is my tenth year in Nyamlell and this is only the second time the South Sudan has come for a look. He seems to be a fine young man.

On July 16 as I was preparing to go on safari to say Mass outside, I got a phone call to tell me my friend Bishop Caesar Mazzolari of Rumbek had fallen down dead while he was saying Mass in his cathedral in Rumbek town. He was 74. I knew him since the year that he had been ordained a priest, as his first assignment was to be a spiritual director at Sacred Heart Seminary in Cincinnati. I entered that seminary that very year this month in 1962. He followed me to Sudan and then became provincial and then bishop here but had worked many years in the USA and as he left the States to work in Africa the Cincinnati Catholic paper headlined, “HAIL CAESAR’’. He had been a mentor all these forty nine years. He was at Bishop Santo's ordination and after Santo had publicly called me his father, I told Caesar that if I was his father then Caesar was his grandfather. I knew right away how much Caesar appreciated that remark and he smiled and even laughed. I could never bring myself to call him any of his many titles and when we argued or joked it was always Caesar and Mike.

I had malaria once and the same day got the car terribly stuck in the bush and with help from a lot of people I got better and got out.

You know I am the only priest here and on Sunday I had three Masses and two sets of baptisms; in one 12 babies and in the other 15 babies were sanctified by water and oil and in the third hospital Mass 20 were anointed with the oil of the sick. Well, after the second chapel one man told me, “Hey, you need help!” Boy, do I need help! Yet I do have a lot. Here are some examples, the Eucharistic Ministers were trained in April by others and we may have more Eucharistic centers in all the South Sudan parishes. Then in July another workshop was planned and this for all the song leaders all over the parish. I just got the food and other things needed. And others introduced the new Dinka hymnal for 2011. I went out to chapels. I have a boy of class eight who leads the prayer and he distributes Holy Communion and six other school boys who teach catechism to the lower primary children and I run the RCIA for the more mature. The boy’s name is Marko but his classmates call him BISHOP. I depend on him so much. God has always put such people in my surroundings and I praise him for that. We also completely are dependent on so many prayer leaders and chopel leaders and catechists.

After the Assumption I had Laurence go to Wetwil to put a roof on a church. The Christians there had put up the walls as a self help project and we have the roof to do and will set us back maybe $15,000 but I am so happy the people are doing things on their own a bit anyway. Remember, it is so expensive at the moment. I went to Wau for a workshop for head teachers and to rest too. I saw Bishop Rudolf Deng Majak, who will come in October and will visit five centers here for the Saint Dennis Church blessing in Ariath and Comboni Day here in Nyamlell and then another one in Marial Baai. Plus visits to Udhom and Wetwil.

Well I did not know how to begin and now I don’t know how to end. Yes I do, may Almighty God bless you and protect you from all harm.
Yours in the Heart of Jesus the Lord,

Father Michael D. Barton, MCCJ.