By Tom Maguire | Associate editor

Missionary Father Michael Bassano, who grew up in Binghamton and served for a time in the Diocese of Syracuse, has started the year in a creative mode in South Sudan.

A member of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, he is the Catholic chaplain in the United Nations Protection of Civilians camp outside Malakal, on the east side of the White Nile River in a country where peace has been a shaky proposition. Father Bassano has sent along three new poems he has written.

In a Jan. 26 email, Father Bassano says: “May this New Year bring peace to South Sudan and to our world. It was the Dominican Priest Meister Eckhart who said every creature is ‘a book about God.’

“This attached poem [“Script”] came from my heart. We will soon be distributing 1316 bags of rice (20 kgs each [about 44 pounds]) to our vulnerable people here in the camp as well as in the town of Malakal who are in need of food. The money to buy the rice came from the Maryknoll Famine Relief Fund.

“Warm regards to all.”

In an email, Deacon Paul Bork, director for mission education and promotion for the Northeast Region of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, said Father Bassano’s poem “Script” is “a beautiful vision of the hope and beauty” that he finds in the midst of life in the camp.

Father Bassano has said that sometimes he might be looking at nature or reflecting on the journey of life, and the poetry “just comes.”

On Jan. 14, the Sun received an airmail letter from Father Bassano in which he enclosed two poems: “The Seeker” and “Empty Manger.”

He wrote:

“The first poem speaks of self-surrender, of dying to self, to live for God alone. It speaks of the journey of my life and everyone’s life of the need to let go and let God take over our lives in doing his will.

“The second speaks of being an empty manger in receiving the presence of Christ into our hearts where He lives forever to bring us healing and inner strength to face the everyday challenges of life.

“We pray for peace in our world as this New Year of 2019 begins.”

Here are his poems:

     The Seeker

It was January 1, 2019

    when the Seeker died

His ashes were thrown

       into the flowing river

        of divine consciousness

There is no need to mourn

          or grieve for him

He remains alive

      yet on this earth

Living in the love

       of his Beloved

         beyond all imagining.

— Mike Bassano, Jan. 1, 2019


     Empty Manger

The season was over

       decorations taken away

In the Church

     an inner voice speaking

       desiring to say

That Christmas is eternal

         not just for one day

    Presence of God indwelling

              showing us the way

To live in peace

          as sister and brother

    Conscious of the Sacred

in greeting each other

To be alive with joy

      is the message heard today

Empty manger of my heart

          where Jesus comes to stay.

— Mike Bassano, Jan. 13, 2019



Words no longer mine

Surrendered clearly

To the one who is near

Loving me dearly

Many years in the making

Discerning the way

Gently guided by another

Yielding to the Spirit’s way

Of simply letting go

Leaving all behind

Discovering the treasure

Worthy of the find

That is priceless, eternal

Given as grace

Seen in every precious

Human face

Telling the story

Of compassionate love

Your sacred book

Inspired from above

Truth received today

Marvelous to behold

You are the author

Of our story to be told

God’s script of my life

Emotionally freeing

To live only for You

In my inmost being

— Mike Bassano, Jan. 22, 2019

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