(2019) At the end of last summer ROTA was blessed to finally meet Abuna (Father) Kuol Dut, one of the former “Lost Boys of the Sudan” who now is a priest in the Diocese of Wau. Last year I was able to speak by phone with Fr. Dut who was in the country for mission appeals. This year we were especially blessed to have the opportunity for Fr. Dut to meet many ROTA board members.
As for all the “Lost Boys” their families were devastated by the reality of a twenty-five year civil war between the Islamic North and Christian South. “The captured adults and young men are subjected to excruciating and reprehensible torture such as maiming, castration, sexual exploitation, beatings, and other similar forms of cruelty. Captured young women and girls as well as children were raped and taken to the North as slaves. Villages, houses, and other forms of shelters were set on fire and reduced to ashes. Dinka’s principal source of life, pride, wealth, and prestige such as cattle, goats, and sheep were looted and taken to the North. For Dinka, without cattle, there is no food, marriage, economy, progress, and more importantly, Dinka man will have no reason to live.” Fr. Dut witnessed this brutality firsthand.
Fr. Dut’s survival journey would have him join many thousand other “Lost Boys” making their journey on foot to Ethiopia and then back through Sudan to Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. “Apart from African traditional religion, I knew nothing about Christianity until when I was in Ethiopia.” After having acquainted myself with Catholic Church, I decided to enroll myself into the catechumenate class. Unfortunately, On May 21, 1991, I left Ethiopia for Sudan without completing catechesis needed for baptism. In August, 1992, after I came to Kakuma Refugee camp, I resumed my catechetical classes. On April 10, 1993, I was baptized and got confirmed two years later. I purposely chosen the name ‘Gabriel’ as my Christian and baptismal name solely because I have had always wanted to be a messenger like Angel Gabriel recorded in the Sacred Scripture."
Fr. Dut was resettled into the United States with many others of the “Lost Boys.” His destination was Atlanta, Georgia. As with many of the “Lost Boys” Fr. Dut attended a Community College and earned his GED. "In December 2001, I went to Sioux Falls to visit some friends. It was during this visit a friend introduced me to the late Rev. Fr. Thomas J. Ryan, who was assigned by his Bishop to take care of immigrates. During my conversation with Fr Ryan, I told him that I wanted to go to seminary to become a priest. In January 2005 when I was sent to the University of St. Thomas Aquinas in St. Paul, Minnesota, to study Philosophy."
"I went back to visit South Sudan in the summer of 2008 for the first time since I left it in 1989. My pastoral experiences during my three-month visit persuaded and gave me the courage to request that I return home to continue my studies. In March 2010, I returned to South Sudan and joined my native diocese. On December 20, 2014 I was ordained deacon by Bishop Macram Gassis and on April 1, 2015, I was ordained priest. Both of my diaconate and priestly ordinations took place under the tree, simply because there was no and still there is no physical building in Turalei parish."
Immaculate Conception parish to which Fr. Dut is assigned, is suffering from lack of trained catechists. The one parish has forty-five “Out Stations” or “Mission Churches.” Out of the forty-five catechists, one leader in each of the Out Stations, only three had received formal catechetical training. The rest are trying to do what they could in their ministries. ‘This is not on their faults” Fr. Dut recalls. “They had never had any opportunity in the past.” It is for this reason that Fr. Dut had proposed to conduct the workshop for them, if and only if, we secure funds from the people of goodwill or “Good Samaritans.” If this workshop succeeded, it would indeed help and prepare the catechists to be more competent and active in their own ministries. This request made it back to ROTA and last summer we enabled Fr. Dut to meet some of our ROTA leadership. With the approval of our Executive Board, we were able to assist. There was great excitement as the forty-five catechetical leaders came together with a few guests to begin a weeklong series of sessions that taught them the essentials of the faith. Blessings to Fr. Kuol Dut and all the members of Immaculate Conception Parish. We were glad to assist your parishes.