Sisters, family and friends gather outside the Carondelet Motherhouse in St. Louis to offer a fond farewell to the CSJ Uganda Project Team in June 2008: Sisters Monica Lubitz (LA), JoAnn Geary (SL), Patricia Haire (LA), Marion Weinzapfel (SL) and Pat Murphy (SL).
“Everything in me wants to not turn my back on them, but to affirm the love of God that has sustained them and brought them and all the people of Acholiland through immense sufferings; to affirm God present in their midst and to be privileged to walk with them.” says Sister Marion Weinzapfel on serving the people in need in Uganda.
On June 4, 2008, the CSJ Uganda Ministry Team embarked on their journey to share in the ministry of the Archdiocese of Gulu, Uganda. Sisters Patricia Haire (Los Angeles), JoAnn Geary (St. Louis), Monica Lubitz (St. Paul), Pat Murphy (St. Louis) and Weinzapfel (St. Louis) have ministered toward healing, restoring and deepening family and community relationships as part of the church of Gulu and its ministry among and with the Acholi people.
“I sensed that I was being told I should not be afraid to say ‘yes,’ and that the future and hope was for the people of Uganda,” says Murphy.
After 20+ years of war between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF), the Acholi people have been working to re-develop their country. Amnesty, reconciliation and forgiveness are key parts of the fragile peace process which is now in place. These core cultural values of the Acholi people have been tested by the trauma of the recent war and their life in camps to which many were removed for their own safety.
“For me it’s about connections, it’s about relationships, it’s about recognizing needs,” said Geary. “…and so I offer myself and my gifts to be used as the people see fit.
Haire and Lubitz returned home from their two-month ministry in Gulu on August 6. While serving in Uganda, they helped the others get settled and interacted with the schools and St. Jude’s orphanage.
Geary, Murphy and Weinzapfel continue their ministry in Gulu. Murphy teaches math to young women in high school and child mothers, Geary works at Gulu Hospital Clinic and Weinzapfel works trains religious leaders in leadership development at the Catechist Training
To learn more about the experiences of the CSJ Uganda Ministry Team, visit their blog site, http://csjgulu.blogspot.com.