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Updates from Fr. John

Update - February 14th: Hi Everyone,
Greetings from South Sudan. Hope you are all enjoying the challenges of life there with frost and snow.  No such worries here - as we are coming into the hot season with up to 40 degrees of heat most days. I am settling into my new parish in Rumbek.  Originally, the Church was built a chaplaincy to Rumbek Secondary school, The secondary school was built by the British during their time of colonization in Sudan.  A house was built for the Priests but no priests have ever lived in it.  It has been occupied, for the past many years,  by teachers for the secondary school and if we can get other suitable accommodation for these teachers, then I will renovate the house and move in. Presently, I am living in a hostel of the Diocese, which is basic - but fine.
The strange story of the toilets: In the parish,  I have taken responsibility for 2 primary schools - a 600 pupils primary school -started 6 years ago  and an "all girls” primary school – which was established last year.  I was shocked to find that there are no toilets for the students in either of the schools, so I am working on getting temporary toilets built for both schools. The reason they give - why no toilets were built at the schools - is that the children do not have breakfast before leaving home and they don't  get lunch in school -so they didn't need toilets !!!  However, now through a Scottish organization called - Mary's Meals, children get lunch -  so they need toilets !!!
Life continues to be very challenging here for all of us missionaries as the economy is in bits and " home comforts " are very few - but still the people, and especially the youth,  continue to look to the Church for hope and inspiration for a better future – so we will continue to journey with them as long as we are physically and mentally able to do so.  Thank you for your continued prayers and support.
Blessings. John

Update - December 22nd: Hi Peadar, Christmas Greetings from Rumbek – I moved to here a few days ago as I have been asked to open a new parish in the town of Rumbek. I originally worked in the minor seminary near to here, up to last year,  before going to help the Franciscans in Juba in the UN camps. I left Juba last Thursday  and yesterday, the  Franciscan house that I had been living in  was robbed by armed men – 2 of the students were wounded and the Italian priests there were held at gun point as the armed men stole laptops, money etc from the house. I had only just left the house a few days ago to come to Rumbek -so a lucky escape for me. The Franciscans in the house are quite traumatized by it all.
Wrapped in swadling clothes” - Here, in Cumbria,  there has also been a lot of violence and unrest. Two days ago I brought a young girl and her mother to our mission  hospital - 5 hours from Rumbek. The young girl of 12 years of age has a tumour growing on her spinal cord and a hole in her foot -probably from leprosy. When gun men attacked their village, two weeks ago, everyone ran off to hide in the bush and to escape to safer areas. However, the mother realised her daughter would not be able to escape on foot from the village and if she left her there, she would be eaten by the hyenas - so the mother went back and collected her daughter and carried her to the safety of the Loreto sisters -which was roughly 6 kilometres distance from the village. I then took the daughter, wrapped in swaddling clothes ( as the mother is dirt poor and had no proper clothes to put on her daughter) - to the Mission hospital escorted by heavily armed troops as the road was dangerous. Such is the chaos of life here at present – definitely no sign of the peace of  Christmas here yet.   

“Pigeons for Christmas” : I was very happy a few weeks ago to visit the largest refugee camp in the world for South Sudanese people in  Northern Uganda. There I met up with Noeleen Loughran from Emyvale -who is doing a very fine work of treating people in the camps who are suffering mainly from malaria, typhoid, scabies etc. Definitely, a great work of mercy being done by Noeleen at this time. In the camp , I was told, some  people were fattening up pigeons for to eat on Christmas Day – there is a few fellows around Truagh and Emyvale that I know that  it would take quite a few pigeons to fill them up on Christmas Day !!!!
Wishing all our readers of Emyvale.net a very blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year.
In Peace. John

This is a photo taken by Sr. Orla  Treacy of a baby born during the fighting around the convent.  Nice Christmas photo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update - December 19th 2017: Greetings. I was over in the largest refugee camp in the world in Northern Uganda but now I am back in South Sudan and have moved back to my original diocese as the acting bishop there wanted me to open a new parish in the town of Rumbek. I may get a chance to write before Christmas but as I am travelling tomorrow again, I may not. Anyway, wishing you every blessing for this festive season and a very Happy Christmas and New year.

Blessings  John

Update - November 28th 2017:  Greetings once again from South Sudan – happy to be back here after a successful few weeks of collecting the “small change boxes” around the Truagh area. Once again – I am very grateful to everyone for the continued support to our mission work here.

 

I had 98 Baptisms in the UN camp last Saturday – it was very well organised indeed and an uplifting occasion for the people in the camps - as the conditions here continue to deteriorate . . I am forwarding to you an article written by a brother Bill whom we work with quite closely here. (You can read the article HERE)Bill is in his 70’s and from Australia.  He also mentions in his article Sr. Orla – a  Loreto Sister from Bray -  who was recently awarded a Humanitarian Prize in Ireland  for her work with girls education in South Sudan.  She was interviewed on the Six One news.

Will be in touch again before Christmas.

Blessings.   John