In Our Own Words
As we waited in the Amsterdam airport for our flight back to the United States, we thought about how we could best share our experience with our fellow parishioners. We decided that one way would be to write short articles for the bulletin or newsletter, each focusing on some aspect of the pilgrimage that we felt strongly about; something that had a profound impact on us. Here then are the stories we told:
FROM THE PASTOR’S DESK:
by Fr. Tom Eichenberger
Our parish pilgrimage to St. Paul Parish in Mukono, Uganda was outstanding in every way. We nine SFB pilgrims will never forget it. Our little delegation included a 13-year-old boy, a 50th wedding anniversary couple, two young moms, an attorney, a parish council member, and a 24-year-old young adult. And one old priest. It was ten days of shocking grace.
I say shocking because we were overwhelmed at every turn. The joy of the parishioners, the sound of the liturgical drums, the hard work of the Ugandan planning committee, the welcome from Fr. Paul Ssebitoogo and his parish, the extreme poverty of the majority, the exuberant children…
PASTORAL PAGE: Reflections on Our Trip to Uganda
We dined on goat!
We saw ant hills ten feet tall.
We stood on the equator.
We used primitive latrines.
We saw the source of the Nile River.
We saw thousands of people living in shacks.
We prayed on the spot where a pageboy was stabbed to death for being a Christian. We saw the name St. Francis Borgia on a nursery school built with our funds. We went to bed dead tired but very happy each night.
And, most importantly…
UGANDA PILGRIMAGE: Progress Since 2001
by Tom Guszkowski, Twinning Committee Member
“Courtesy of St. Francis Borgia Parish” is the prominent inscription displayed on the preschool building adjacent to St. Paul Catholic Church in Mukono, Uganda, East Africa. This inscription is also on piggery units in the rural sub-parishes of St. Paul Parish.
It was both a surprise and an honor to see our parish name so far from home…
UGANDA PILGRIMAGE: The Schools
by Anne White, Teacher at SFB School
It is difficult to verbalize the indelible impression that our visit to our twinning parish, St. Paul, Mukono made on me. As a teacher at St. Francis Borgia School I was especially interested in the diocesan schools, the teachers and the students we would encounter. Although the schools were on holiday, the staff and students not only came to school to greet us, but also put on beautiful performances punctuated by song and dance. The receptions we received from the children were filled with such joy and enthusiasm that it was humbling. The sincerity of their clapping, singing and joyful spirits warmed the soul.
The obstacles these children face just to arrive at school are beyond comprehension. Many are barefoot …
UGANDA PILGRIMAGE: Hospitality
by Linda Fehl, Parish Council Member
“We welcome you… We love you… We are grateful to you… Please thank the others…”
Throughout our pilgrimage to our sister parish, St. Paul the Apostle in Mukono, we experienced the warmth, love and welcoming nature of our sisters and brothers in Uganda. Here are some examples.
– At 9:30 p.m. on a Tuesday night, after an hour’s wait while we went through customs, more than 30 smiling St. Paul parishioners and clergy greeted us warmly as we exited the Entebbe airport, embracing us, taking charge of our luggage, and leading us in the darkness…
UGANDA PILGRIMAGE: People to People
by Bob Slobig, Twinning Committee Member
Having recently celebrated our fiftieth anniversary and been given the opportunity to renew relationships with family, relatives and friends, I felt that “my cup runneth over.” We have been blessed beyond imagination. People we love had seen fit to come to Wisconsin to celebrate with us – to share in our joy and to break bread with us.
With that celebration barely over, we had the opportunity to renew some personal relationships that started five years ago. It was then that we were introduced to Fr. Ignatius, Mary, Bonnie and Jimmy from Uganda. We discovered that they shared the same hopes and desires for family, the same Catholic values, and were on the same spiritual journey as we were. Then Fr. Paul visited last year to share his perspectives and puns.
Little did I know that these relationships would grow exponentially when we set foot on the continent of Africa. Imagine walking into an airport waiting room late in the evening and being greeted by more than 30 people…
UGANDA PILGRIMAGE: The Children of Uganda
by Nathan Siudak, Eighth Grade Student, SFB School
We recently returned from Uganda. Many things that happened there will be told here, so listen up and get ready for the experience of a lifetime.
When we went to Mukono, Uganda, children and adults waited outside the airport with great excitement to greet us American pilgrims. They looked a little curious about who we were and what we do for fun. It was unusual for them to see a young American boy. I was welcomed…
UGANDA PILGRIMAGE: First and Lasting Impressions
by Martha Slobig, Twinning Committee Member
How did our pilgrimage to St. Paul’s in Mukono affect me? I think in Africa I finally saw clearly who we are and why we are here.
Sr. Joan Chittister has said, “We are made to be part of a people. We live in the arms of God together; we are responsible for one another; and God relates to us as one.”
On our first day in Mukono, we boarded a mini-bus for the sub-parish of Kirangira. There were the nine of us from SFB, two young men from St. Paul’s parish and three women from St. Paul’s Women’s Guild…
UGANDA PILGRIMAGE: Going To Mass
by Susan Fehl, Young Adult
Our first Mass at St. Paul Parish in Mukono, Uganda was on a weekday morning at 7:30 a.m. People came from miles away; many of them walked. I am amazed at the motivation Ugandans have to make it somewhere, even when they don’t have a car. Religion is so important to them; you can see it in their actions and in their faces.
The church itself is very simple inside. When walking into the church, we saw benches to sit on with no back supports and we noticed there weren’t any kneelers. Surprisingly, we did end up kneeling…
UGANDA PILGRIMAGE: Social Concerns
by Christine Siudak, Human Concerns Committee
As a child of God and a Catholic, I am very interested in the well-being of our Lord’s children all over the world. I feel honored and blessed to have been welcomed into one of the most loving communities on this earth – St. Paul Parish in Mukono, Uganda.
Our pilgrimage was truly blessed. From our departure to our return, we were guided and protected by the Holy Spirit. The twinning relationship that began about six years ago, through the help of the archdiocese, brought us to be greeted by so many thankful souls.
But life there is hard for so many people…