20200416 174714 - Missionary warmed by greetings of his flock, even from a distance

Father Michael Bassano greets children in the camp. “In all that’s happening around us,” Father Bassano writes, “I find solace in the words of Bertha Callaway, an African American activist and historian who said, ‘We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust our sails.’” He misses his church activities, but he is abiding by COVID-19 rules.

Father Michael Bassano, a Binghamton native, has emailed the Sun his reports from South Sudan, where he serves as a Maryknoll missionary.

He is the Catholic chaplain in the United Nations Protection of Civilians (POC) camp outside the town of Malakal by the White Nile. Up to about 3,000 of the 30,000 people in the  camp are members of Father Bassano’s parish in the country that has struggled with civil war.

Last week he wrote:

“Greetings from South Sudan. … There are still only 4 confirmed cases of [coronavirus] here but without any testing on a national scale we do not know how many are infected as we hope for the best.”

In a dispatch titled “Bond of Oneness,” Father Bassano added:

“We have all been affected by the coming of coronavirus in our world. Here at our UN camp in Malakal, South Sudan, we are restricted from seeing our people or having any large gatherings and church activities. The other day I was given permission to go walking in the camp. I felt the warmth and heartfelt greeting of people and children as we saw one another from a safe social distance. It was a sharing of loving appreciation for each other.

Also, along with some youth from our Catholic church, we taped the Sunday liturgy on our public radio station in the camp called Nile Radio. In this way we remain very much connected with all the people as well as those of our Catholic community through prayer united in faith hoping for better times to come in our lives.

“What is happening among us to prevent the spread of this disease has filled me with an awareness that there is a bond of oneness uniting all humanity which is God’s great gift to us, filling me with gratitude. …

“Be safe and well. Warm regards, Mike Bassano.”

Father Bassano also sent along some recent poems, included below.


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