Sacred Heart Seminary opens its door to all those friends
and benefactors who wish to come and spend some
time at Sacred Heart Seminary as lay missionaries to
share their talents and skills with our seminarians, some
work at our new school in Pader teaching or doing some
construction work as a way of sharing knowledge with
our youth and future priests. They would love to have
you do something for and with them. We need teachers
of science subjects (physics, chemistry, biology and
mathematics) including computer skills. I always share
with my American friends that there are three ways to be
By GOING to the mission to witness to God’s love with
By SHARING ONE’S BLESSINGS with the mission,
By PRAYING for the success of the mission.
These, among others, are some levels of participation in
the missionary dimension of the Church as ordained and
non-ordained ministers. The fact is that God has given to
each one of us a gift and He desires that each one of us
share it with our brothers and sisters in need. Sacred
Heart Seminary will provide accommodations and meals.
Our food is simple, tasty and nutritious and I’m sure you
will enjoy it just as much as our recent visitors.
Here are the stories of some who have come or are planning to come.
Heathcare in Northern Uganda
By: Dr. Gary Ivins
I arrived in Uganda on May 10th, looking forward to visiting
my son, Zachary and Msgr. Matthew who has been a
friend for several years. Since I am a practicing internist
in Minneapolis, Msgr. Matthew made arrangements for us
to visit three Catholic hospitals in northern Uganda. St.
Mary’s Lacor Hospital, the largest of the three and located
down the road from Sacred Heart Seminary, was
founded by the Comboni Missionaries and serves as a
teaching hospital. Although they still practice with 1950’s
technology, their medical care is driven by compassion,
love and education. The lack of technology doesn’t limit
the treatment of the most common illnesses, which
include malaria, tuberculosis and pneumonia. The antibiotics
for these illnesses are inexpensive and simple, but
the cost of the HIV drugs limits those that can receive the
life saving therapy. Unfortunately, ongoing management
of a hospital like St. Mary’s still requires charity gifts to
cover 80% of its 3.2 million dollar budget.
We visited the Anaka parish health clinic just one hour
from Gulu. The clinic was staffed by a nurse who was
skilled at diagnosing and treating malaria. For extensive
illnesses, the nurse refers patients to the hospital. They
often travel to the hospital by the same means they traveled
to the clinic, on foot. The clinic is located adjacent
to an IDP Camp, which brings the clinic, on average, 50
cases of malaria each week. At times, the quinine medication
for treating malaria runs out and the people must
wait for more to arrive before being treated.
Although it’s difficult to serve such a large rural area as
northern Uganda, the education of Uganda nurses and
physicians is on the rise. It only takes five years post
high school to become an M.D. Science education is critical
for creating future nurses and physicians, which is
why the completion of Archbishop Flynn Secondary
School (AFSS) is so important. AFSS will provide northern
Uganda with its second fully equipped science lab!
It only takes one day of traveling and seeing roads filled
with walkers and bicyclers, traveling miles to work in
fields, to realize how little the families here have to get by each day. We met a group of children whom had traveled
10-20 miles to attend a one-day sacramental class at a
rural church. I can only pray that ongoing charities continue
to support this rebel torn area of northern Uganda.
Msgr. Matthew and his fellow priests provide hope and
spirituality for people who survive on so little material
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Zach, Archbishop Odama, Gary, Msgr. Matthew
My Four Months in Gulu
By: Zachary Ivins
During my stay at Sacred Heart Seminary, I taught senior
three and senior four students (high school equivalent to
freshman & sophomore) in computer studies. They have
limited time to practice on the computer since they are
required to have a teacher supervising their lab time.
Having me live at the seminary allowed the students to
increase their computer practice time for academic and
personal use. I have enjoyed watching the students
develop their knowledge of the Internet as well as their
ability to operate Microsoft Excel. To date they don’t
have access to the Internet, but BOSCO Uganda (Battery
Operated Systems for Community Outreach) plans to
include Sacred Heart Seminary in their project to provide
Internet access to northern Uganda. Along with teaching
computers at the seminary, part of my free time has been
used working with BOSCO Uganda developing tutorials
and lesson plans for teaching computers in the IDP
camps. After one of the seminary’s teachers noticed my
typing speed I went from helping Msgr. Matthew type
emails to typing the seminary’s science labs and the term
finals for all the teachers.
I have developed many friendships here in the seminary
as well as in the local community. My friendships range
from the students (my age), teaching staff and priests at
the seminary to a stranger who continued to challenge
me to checker games in town until I won (which I have
yet been able to do) and a local student who dreams of
becoming a hip-hop artist that I helped design music
African life is simple but filled with a variety of activities
that usually occur at least two hours behind schedule
(Africa Time). Although I arrived back in Uganda during
the dry season, which was 110 F change from the –20 F
Minnesota temperature the day I left, I was rewarded the
last month with the beginning of the rainy season with
cool breezes and daily rains.
I will always fondly remember my four months here. They
have truly shown me what is important in life and not
only prepared me for my time at University Wisconsin-
Madison, but my future career as well. I hope to return
again over the summer while studying at the university to
see the progress of the Archbishop Flynn Secondary
School as well as the ongoing students.
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Truax, Williams, Ivins Uganda Visit
By: Pete Truax
In August of this year Wendy Ivins, her son Zachary, my
youngest daughter, Susan Truax, my granddaughter,
Denise Williams and I spent three weeks in Uganda. The
abbreviated answer to how the trip went is: “No one got
sick, no one got hurt and everyone wants to return.” I
consider it a great success. You can view highlights of
our trip in a 9 minute video that Zach Ivins put together
on our website www.sacredheartseminary.com. Click on
“NEW VIDEO OF SHS.” Below are comments from my
travel mates and Msgr. Matthew.
Wendy Ivins: Our trip to Uganda was one of the most
memorable experiences of our lives. We met so many
incredibly faithful, joyful and courageous people who
warmly embraced us into their community. The Acholi
people welcomed us into their homes, their villages, their
chapels and into their lives. We shared Mass, laughter
and sometimes tears. If we had to choose one thing that
we will always remember about northern Uganda, it
would be the stories of the people and their lives. From
the brave priests who faced grave danger and violence
during the war, yet refused to abandon their parishioners,
to the young boys and girls who had been abducted by
rebel soldiers, yet refused to abandon their faith in God.
The individual stories were each different, yet the same,
though each person had experienced immense suffering
and had lost so much in their lives, the one thing they
never lost was a belief in the goodness of God and the
possibility of hope. For us, it was a testament to the
power of the human spirit and a lesson in unwavering
faith. Uganda is no longer just a country in Africa. It is the
homeland of people we now consider family and friends.
We will carry their stories with us always.
Denise, Susan, Fr. Paul, Wendy
Zachary Ivins: I learned a lot about myself during my
trip. I learned that I really enjoyed immersing myself in a
different culture and developing friendships with people
whose lives are very different from mine. My favorite
memory is the time spent with the students and priests
at the Seminary. The people I met have experienced so
many hardships in their lives, yet there wasn’t a single
frown on their faces. We spent time together talking and
sharing our lives. They taught me about their culture,
their food and how to speak Acholi. I taught them about
our schooling system, our laws and how to use a video
camera. The friends I made in Uganda will be relationships
that I hope will last a lifetime and that we will continue
to learn from each other.
Denise Williams: Being in Uganda felt like being home.
We gained many new friends who we now keep in touch
with on a regular basis. I still cannot fathom how these
people can be so exuberant after having suffered so
much. They are in one word: joyful. Being around them
taught me to really smile, not just make the facial expression,
but to have the smile reach my eyes. I’ve brought
that back with me, hoping to influence others to help the
lively citizens of Uganda.
Blessing of a well
Susan, Msgr. Matthew, Denise, Wendy, Zachary
Susan Truax: Visually Uganda is beautiful. The mix of
light, color and shape of the villages, towns and rugged
landscape of the bush is ever changing – each image
more astounding than the last. The sounds of strange
birds and insects, the music during Mass, immense thunder
and pouring rain of the rainy season fill the ears.
Discovering the new aromas and flavor of the fresh, simple
and delicious foods always most welcome. The exotic
animals while on safari were a real treat. None of this
compares to those we met. I have never encountered nor
had the honor of spending time with so many astounding
people. From those at the seminary, to those in the
towns, villages and IDP camps. I went to Uganda hoping
to find a way to help the people rebuild their lives and I
hope to continue on that path; however I quickly realized
I was receiving far more valuable gifts from those I met
along the way. They taught me about dignity, grace,
enduring faith, pure joy, eternal hope and most of all I
experienced a sense of peace I have never before felt. I
am eternally grateful to those I met and I hope one day
to meet them all again.
Msgr. Matthew: From July 30 through August 18, 2008, Sacred Heart
Seminary was blessed with the visit of five of their
American friends in the persons of Pete Truax, his daughter
Susan Truax, granddaughter Denise Williams (18
years old), Wendy Ivins (wife of Dr. Gary Ivins) and her
son Zachary Ivins (18 years old). It was a great visit.
During the time they spent with us they fit very well into
our daily routine of Mass, meals and other programs I
had planned for them. They formed relationships with
priests, seminarians, nuns and staff of Sacred Heart
Seminary. They attended the ordination of Fr. Leonsyo
Akena Angep at Pajule Parish on August 2nd, visited six
of the 16 wells drilled this year and the site of our new
school in Pader, participated in the blessing and handing
over of motorcycles to our two newly ordained priests
with Archbishop John Baptist Odama, visited several
refugee camps, visited the two martyr’s shrines at
Namogongo and Wi-Polo at Primol, visited the national
park to see animals and talked to and encouraged our
seminarians to persevere in their vocations to priesthood
as well as spending time with many new friends.
Everyone enjoyed their company. They left behind lasting
memories of joy and happiness.
Newly ordained priests receive motorcycles
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YOU ARE ABOUT TO EMBARK ON AN ADVENTURE…
By: Marcia Farniok - Teacher at Epiphany Catholic School
Packed with little more than good intentions, I departed from Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport on July 7th.
When I heard of Epiphany Catholic School’s relationship with Msgr. Matthew Odong, I leapt, heart first, at the opportunity
to visit Uganda. I am not a lifetime activist, or a professional good-deed do-er. However, I felt called to go,
even though I knew little about Ugandan history, Gulu and
never heard of the LRA.
I kept a journal during my 30 days in Northern Uganda, and
want to share some of that with you. Now that I have
returned, how do I best communicate all my learning and
experiences? I concluded my journal with top five lists to
summarize and organize my over hundred pages of writing.
You can read elsewhere what the conflict is about, and
ways that you can help these people. What I hope to
portray to you is an average person’s experience.
There was no way I could be prepared for the adventure on
which I was about to embark. My Ugandan itinerary was little
more than teaching English at Mother Angioletta’s
Kindergarten and attending an ordination in Kalongo.
However, I had no fear that my days and nights would be
consumed with activities that would fill my time and heart.
Top 5 Things I Never Thought I would get Used To in
Uganda…But I Did!
1. Cold water showers and baths in my laundry tub with
three liters of water.
2. Lack of electricity – In one 48-hour period we had a
total of 4 hours of electricity.
3. The mosquito net around my bed.
4. The new smells – There is no trash collection so it is all
burned. With the lack of electricity there are numerous
fires to provide light. Then there are the new foods,
animals, flora and fauna.
5. Getting up early, attending Mass everyday and the
lengthy services – the music is AMAZING!
Top 5 Things I Never Did Get Used To…
1. The Abundance of Large Flying Termites.
2. Lack of Sanitation – It is an absolutely atrocity the living
conditions of those in the camps.
3. New Bacteria – My skin reacted in a rash from the tap
water and I ended up in the hospital due to food
poisoning from under-refrigerated food (see #2 above).
4. Uganda Time – Nothing, except Mass, was ever on
5. The sight of all the internally displaced people and lack
of freedom in the North versus the apathy and fear to
help in those of the South.
Top 5 Favorite Things I Did…
1. Being Inquisitive – I learned so much by giving up the
fear of curiosity.
2. Beginning to learn the Acholi language and customs.
3. Holding the baby in Adilang while singing and talking
with the children from the camp.
4. Being allowed the opportunity to become a part of the
5. Kalongo – The entire trip to and from Kalongo was an
adventure. I was able to meet and speak with Bishop
Franzelli, attend an ordination, travel on treacherous roads,
see and visit remnants/places of atrocities against Acholi by
the LRA and gather together with priests, deacons, sisters
and other lay people.
Top 5 Things I Will Miss…
2. Abundance of Fresh Fruit.
3. Prayer – I will miss the natural integration of prayer into
my life each day.
4. Meal Times with all Priests and Deacons.
5. An easier and calmer approach to life – although doing
anything took more work and time compared to
activities in America, everyone in northern Uganda was
happy, hopeful and full of faith.
As my days came to an end, I wanted nothing more than to
stay in Northern Uganda. Perhaps it was the legumes, millet
or ground nuts that enticed me or maybe it was the tug
I felt inside, that feeling of doing more for the people who had given me so much. My last journal entry: “You know,
when I was leaving I would say to people, ‘It is only for a
month.’ On the inside I was thinking, ‘But it is a whole
month, in a new place, by myself,’ but on the outside I was
trying to pretend it was no big deal. Looking back, it really
was only a month – no big deal.
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