Staff and news service reports

Father Michael Bassano, a Binghamton native who is serving in South Sudan as a Maryknoll missionary, has emailed his latest poem, “Troubadour,” to the Sun.

Father Bassano is the Catholic chaplain in the United Nations Protection of Civilians (POC) camp outside the town of Malakal by the White Nile.

His email came days after Catholic News Service (CNS) reported that “a newly brokered peace deal between the government of South Sudan and opposition leaders increased the chance of a papal visit to the African nation.

“The agreement signed in Rome Jan. 13 was significant because it involved opposition leaders who had not signed previous peace deals, said John O’Brien, country representative for Catholic Relief Services in South Sudan.

“The Rome-based Sant’Edigio Community brokered the talks in Rome Jan. 11 and 12, and the agreement took effect Jan. 15. Signers included representatives of the government and the South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance.”

CNS added: “South Sudan’s [civil] war, which broke out in 2013, two years after the country achieved independence, has left nearly 400,000 dead and displaced nearly four million people.”

  The CNS story indicated that much work needs to be done:

“Barnaba Marial Benjamin, head of the government delegation, told Vatican Radio the leaders could feel the spirit of Pope Francis in the room as the agreement was being discussed.

“He told Vatican Radio leaders must find solutions to crucial questions regarding elections, boundaries, good governance, accountability for crimes committed, transparency in the management of resources in the country and fighting corruption.”

Up to about 3,000 of the approximately 37,000 people in the POC camp are members of Father Bassano’s parish.

In his Jan. 18 email, Father Bassano wrote:

“Wishing you a new year of peace for all people in our world especially in South Sudan. May we have an ever greater awareness of the climate crisis and more compassion for migrants and displaced people in our world.”

Here is his poem:


Gracious gift of now

living moment of today

 Need of letting go

following love’s way

Repeating your name

lovely sweet sound

on the journey

homeward bound

Entering the mystery

through faith revealed

Pain and suffering

becoming gradually healed

Hoping with trust

encouraging all

Choosing to respond

to your beckoning call

Beating of my heart

Your dwelling place

My life surrendered

to saving grace

Grant me wisdom

seeing with your eyes

Troubadour of compassion

confounding the wise

Your Spirit comes

setting us free

For in my nothingness

You are ev

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