Fr. Avelino Bassols
1. Where are you from originally? I come from a mixed family. That is, my father was Spanish and my mother German. I grew up in Barcelona, Spain, however mostly within a German culture.
2. Do you remember when you felt called to mission work? As a boy I was very much impressed by the stories we heard about people in Africa, Latin America and Asia. I had read about the life of some missionaries, mostly of the 19th century, and I was very impressed by their example. When felt called to follow a vocation it was to the priesthood, not necessarily to a life as a missionary. After three years in studies I asked for a break. I wanted to see Africa for myself. I came to Kenya and immediately fell in love with the country and its people. From that moment on I knew that this was my call. I have never been happier in my entire life. 3. How did you end up in South Sudan? In 2017, to celebrate 25 years in the priesthood, I did the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in the Cave of St. Ignatius in Manresa (Spain). On the first day the retreat master told us to imagine some imagery of our mission. Instead of images from Turkana (Kenya), there came to my mind images from South Sudan. I was surprised. It was in October 2018 when I finally moved fully into South Sudan. 4. What are the biggest challenges to carry out your work? One challenge for the work is the lack of educated people, of people ready to become teachers, of technical people of all sorts, carpenters, masons, plumbers, and so on. We are lacking the most basic things. We need building materials, as well as farm tools, seeds. Even food is a challenge. 5. Can you describe a happy moment or memory from you work? I was supposed to go to a village I had not visited before. There stood a beautiful church, simple, with a grass roof as usual. I was carrying in my backpack all the necessary items for the celebration of the Eucharist. However, to my great surprise, everything was prepared already. Before starting the mass, I blessed the church building. Normally a bishop is required for the blessing of a new church, but I figured out that in this case, being the church in such a remote place, I could, in the name of the bishop, bless the church. The joy of these simple people who had not seen a priest in their village for years, and the devotion of the altar servers, who without expecting anything in exchange had taken up that sacrifice, really just for a celebration. I must say, this experience filled me with awe. 6. What do you love most about the people of South Sudan? What I love most about the people of South Sudan is to see people of great faith. It may sound funny, when said by a priest who already has celebrated his silver jubilee, but the faith of these people brings me closer to God. I have seldom seen people of such a profound faith. 7. What is the current need? The needs are numerous. Apart from education, there is no proper healthcare. It pains me seeing young people dying for no reason. However, the greatest need of all is still the supply of water. There is one borehole in Ave Maria Parish. It not only supplies the parish, but the Vocational Training Centre, the Secondary School, and the entire village. 8. How do donations help your ministry? Without the donations we receive, the entire work here would be impossible. In this sense, our donors take part in this great work of evangelization, bringing development and peace to these people and building up the Kingdom of God in this very remote corner of the World.