Bishop Guillory in Liberia: Signs of Hope

Liberia_Bishop Guillory MOC Mass
Bishop Curtis J. Guillory SVD of Beaumont, Texas celebrates Mass at the Missionaries of Charity chapel in Monrovia, Liberia.

Most Rev. Curtis J. Guillory SVD, Bishop of Beaumont, Texas, who is on Catholic Relief Service’s Board of Directors, recently visited Liberia. Earlier, he blogged about his meeting with former child soldiers. Here, he shares some final impressions of his trip:

One stop on Bishop Guillory’s itinerary was a village where CRS has been active rebuilding infrastructure. He remembers the village chief telling him that CRS “did not overlook them,” that they built a school in the village.

“He said, ‘Some NGOs come all around us, but never stop,’ ” says Bishop Guillory. “CRS never left during the war. CRS continued to bring food and medicine at great risk.”

In Gbanga, a town ravaged by the war, Bishop Guillory talked to Bishop Lewis Jerome Zeigler about the Liberian Catholic Church’s role during the war and its biggest proponent of peace: Archbishop Michael Kpakala Francis. Archbishop Francis became internationally know for his stand against the injustices of the war, condemning those who perpetrated them. He wrote in detail about human-rights abuses and accused the ruling party of a perpetuating a political climate of “arrogance and impunity.”

In more than 50 pastoral letters and numerous meetings with high-ranking international officials, Archbishop Francis drew attention to the war. Forced at gunpoint to flee in 1996, Archbishop Francis continued his quest to call attention to the war. Described by President Johnson Sirleaf as the “conscience of Liberia,” Archbishop Francis is credited by many as helping to bring the war to an end.

Bishop Guillory was impressed with his work and the peace that it spurred. This peace continues today with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first democratically elected female head of state in Africa, steering the country toward unification and reconstruction.

“The infrastructure [of Liberia] is gone; it’s like starting all over again,” says Bishop Guillory, who experienced firsthand the road conditions — only 400 miles of road are paved in the country. “It’s like the aftermath of Hurricane Rita: No water, no electricity,” he says, referring to the storm that hit Texas in 2005. “The difference is, within a few weeks we were up and going again.”

But Bishop Guillory also saw signs of hope. “The president is determined to better the country. She is putting a great emphasis on education and getting rid of corruption.”

She’s also focusing on agro-enterprise and is interested in working closely with CRS in this field.

Now that he’s returned to Texas, Bishop Guillory is spreading the word about Liberia and CRS’ role in the country. His goal, he says, is to “make people more aware” of the needs in developing countries and the good work CRS does. “You have to look beyond your own household, beyond your own community,” he says.

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One Response to “Bishop Guillory in Liberia: Signs of Hope”

  1. julie Says:

    I read that you went to gbanga. I have been talking to a girl on msn who sais she is from gbanga. I am horrified about what I am hearing. No food, no proper housing, no money, no education, no doctors or medicine-only herbs. This girl sais there is a small church there in the village with a pastor Mr.Abu F. Abass and has asked for money and help for her brother and sister and sick mother. I want to be careful as there are so many internet scams going on. Most of her story sounds real but some of it does not make sense and she becomes frustrated. She has asked to call me mom…I am concerned about this village and its people.How can I help? What should I do? Can you tell me much about this place?Thankyou.Julie

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