By Salvatori Adit – Bishop Rudolph Deng and I are old timers. He is older to me for two years.

First time I met him was in 2001 in AMCEA office because I was told to go to Nazareth Parish Wau, and needed visas, I was told his relative was working in the Ministry of Religious Affairs in Khartoum. He said he would try but it ended up declaring me persona non grata.

Bishop Deng invited me now and then to his diocese to preach retreats or give seminars. Once he told his priests that the apostles had no vocabulary more than net, fish, high tide, storm, etc, but they were made the Founders of the Catholic Church.

In one of the retreats or open session with the Bishop one of his priests had a heavy argument. Afterwards I asked him that it would have been better that the priest could have discussed privately instead of embarrassing. To that, Bishop replied that he had developed Strong Shock Absorbers.

Often I offered him new books which he appreciated. Once he was going to Juba to meet the President I asked him to give some books to Salva Kiir. Among them was How Big is your God.

It was interesting to see him at his office desk. On his desk there was a pile of files and books as high as half a meter, but he knew where things were and he could pick it up and get it for you ….

In Rumbek the Bishops had a meeting and he was with us for adoration. I mentioned during Adoration that the bishops’ letter read after the Independence of South Sudan never will be the same again, to that I added that the Catholic Church never will be the same. This my quote he repeated when he was addressing the audience.

When Bishop Mazzolari died and his body was deteriorating, a Sister of Mother Teresa and I went to inform him who immediately decided to bury him. He called Bishop Mazzolari Apostle of Rumbek.

Finally, I met him last year in Bethany House in Nairobi. When I knocked his room, he came out and told me that he was reading in the New Testament that we are vessels of clay, fragile, I did not take him seriously probably that he was going through. I gave him a pocket watch just to destruct him from sickness. I stayed overnight together with Fr. Osman Andrea just to give him company and during recreation after dinner he never complaint about his health, when asked who was cooking for him he said he was managing. I noticed his speech was affected…

In Portuguese there is a saying: ‘I am sick in Lisbon but the sickness is in Bilbao’. We took him for granted as if he was thinking sick but we gave no serious attention, and he did not complain.

God is always more.

Abuna Salvatori Adit, SJ

Rumbek Jesuit House

Tuesday, 07 March 2017.

Image: gurtong.net