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Evansville, Indiana
April 5, 1991     The Message
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April 5, 1991

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April 5,, 1991, ...... The Message -- for CatholicsofSOuthweStern Indiana .... ' ' : ...... II I 3 Back to Liberia tt t t Evansville's Brother Thomas Dillman returns to his school in Monro,da By PAUL LEINGANG Message Editor Holy Cross Brother Thomas Dillman has returned to Monrovia, Liberia, following a Stay outside the war-torn coun- try he fled last August. Brother * Dillman, 63, is a native of EVansville who has worked as a missionary and high school teacher in Liberia for 23 years. Brother Dillman returned to his school in the Liberian Capitol in January to find that almost everything, including all of his clothing, had been  stelen. His journey had been a difficult one. "He had quite an ordeal get- ting back there by car from Ghana, said his sister, Marian Nierneier of Evansville. The latter part was driven on un- Paved trail roads" at a max- imum speed of eight miles per heur. ,rHe fearfully crossed a river by iving onto four boards across four canoes and then couldn t ge further than Freetown, Sierra Leone, because the roads into Liberia were not open," Said Niemeier. She explained : that her brother left his vehicle nd planned to return for it at a ater date. After some delays, he Was able to find airplane travel late Monrovia, she said. Two or three planes a day now take off from Monrovia ac- Cerding to letters written by Brother Dillman to Niemeier nd to another sister in Vansville, Dolores "DoDe" iller He expressed the hope that mail service would soon be restored. "I got a packet of mail from Ghana, received there after my- departure for Liberia," wrote Brother Dillman. It was "like Christmas, indeed, with greetings from many of the nieces and nephews." A scarcity of food had forced Brother Dillman to leave St. Patrick High School in Monrovia last year. Soldiers took food, leaving nothing then for schools or hospitals. Not everything has changed now, according to his letters. "Thank God we are getting plenty of food into the port now even though Charles Taylor (a man seeking to gover n the country) seems determined to keep the roads closed," Brother Dillman wrote, t'His actions are (also) preventing water and electricity restoration." Monrovia was the scene of heavy fighting in the civil war last year, and the effects of the war are still being felt, accord- ing to the missionary. "Utility poles around our campus and at the University of Liberia next door, and ever- where, are still barren of wires -- a result of the intense shell- ing and crossfire," he wrote. "I am working with the U.N. in food distribution, with a lit- tle more variety coming through UNICEF which deals more with children, handicap- ped and elderly," his letter con- tinued. He said a mid-wives program was also beginning. Brother Dillman said he hoped St. Patrick High School would be open by the end of April, but he described some of the difficulties that remained there before it could return to normal. PONTIAC BUICK 1991 Pontiac Lemans LE 4-dr., auto., a/c, am/fm st, r def. recl. buckets, and much more. LOW MILES. LIST PRICE NEW $10,544.00 SALE PRICE $8,495.00 or $179.00 per me.* 1990 Pontiac Lemans LE 4-dr., auto., a/c, am/fm st., r def. recl. buckets, and much morel LOW MILES LIST PRICE NEW $10,404.00 SALE PRICE AS LOW AS $6,995.00 or $150 per me.** "based on 60 me., 9.75% APR, "'based on 60 me., 10.50% APR. Sales tax not included. Approved credit only. Wuhlngton's Vlnce " City Limits JJ nnes WASH NGTON I II  White River Bridge -- ' ] '" Meysvgle Road O. D. NEFF, Inc. 204 W. Old Hwy. 50, Washington 254-4520 I II Brother Thomas Dillman stands with children at an orphanage near Monrovia in a photograph taken in 1986. Brother Dillman is a native of Evansville who has been working in Liberia. He was forced to flee the coutnry last August, but returned in January. "We had a very high attrition rate on our school chairdesks," he wrote. "At least half are gone from here" and there was "not one wood desk left" at the University of Liberia. Most were taken by soldiers or families to use as firewood, he said. "Our boys may have to bring their own stool and writing tablet as is done in rural areas," he observed. "Sidewalk bandits" had been charging as much as $18 for a U.S. gallon of gasoline, said Brother Dillman, but prices have fallen to about $5 a gallon. The impact on him, however, was neglfgible.  "Since my vehicles were stolen during the civil war, I bought a bike to ride." Brother Dillman is trying to get his own truck back, describ- ing tactics he admitted "would have been unthinkable back in July" at the height of the war. He said he was driving a bor- rowed vehicle when he spotted his own "old blue Isuzu pickup" truck being driven by a soldier. "I got ahead of him and blocked him off at the check point. The soldier ordered me to clear the road. I jumped out and shouted that the Guinean soldier was refusing to give me my truck -- deliberately Liberian church must heal wounds after civil war By STEVE PETER Catholic News Service NEWARK, N.J. (CNS) -- The church in Liberia has a responsibility to "heal the open wounds" caused by the West African nation's civil war, said Archbishop Michael Kpakala Francis of Monrovia, Liberia, during a recent visit to Newark. The church must work "to bring people together and let them realize not only the dig- nity of the human person, but how that dignity may be con- cretized, in the way we behave toward each other," Arch- bishop Francis said. "It's sad to note that brothers and sisters are fighting each other, killing each other, destroying each other, destroy- ing the country, all in the name of freedom," he said. "We believe freedom doesn't mean destruction. If anything, it means building up for abetter life." Archbishop Francis said an all-Liberian conference was to be held in March to decide on a new government. "We just pray and hope for the best," he said. Negotiations last June and July among the three factions broke down, leading to the fiercest fighting in the 14-month civil war and to the execution of Liberian President Samuel K. Doe in September. Archbishop Francis was stranded in neighboring Sierra Leone until November, when a cease-fire was called. Most other priests in the nation, which is 5 percent Catholic, were evacuated during the fighting. Only. two priests re- mained in Monrovia, the Liberian capital, during the most intense fighting. . Many churches and institu- tions were badly damaged, van- dalized and looted, the arch- bishop said. Only the cathedral parish and the chapel at the archbishop's house stayed open in Monrovia. Two other nearby churches stayed open, with deacons conducting services. People went to church whenever possible, Archbishop Francis said, although it was difficult because soldiers "were killing anybody that came out." The church remained respected during the fighting and was not the target of inten- tional harm, the archbishop See LIBERIAN page 15 creating a scene wili onlookers increasing in number... The M.P. assured me I would get the truck back if I produced the papers and proper forms. (An acquaintance) at the U.N. told me it took a month to get one of their vehicles back." Before Brother Dillman left Monrovia, he and others at the school had hidden some tools and other items of value at the school. The effort was suc- cessful, but only partially so. "Everything in the disguised hidden area became visible when a bomb went through tim roof. However the science office in school remained undetected with its disguise and was the only place anything of value was left," he wrote, referring to science and lab equipment and other school items. As for his personal items, Brother Dillman wrote that he was trying to refurnish his residence after finding very lit- tle to work with. "Surprisingly the soldiers and other looters took the back and seat cushions but did leave the frames (of chairs). We have bought foam mattresses and some good material to make new cushions and some drapes for the windows .... The latter were taken along with everything else including all of our clothes." Niemier said she is trying to find out if she can send him clothing and other things, but so far, just getting mail to him has been difficult. Niemeier said a lot of people in the Evansville area have some feelings about that "old blue Isuzu" pickup truck. Members of her scripture study group at St. Beneidct Church, along with some other friends and relatives, had sent about $2500 to Brother Dillman a few years ago so that he could fix up the truck. Niemier said everybody was saddened when they learned his truck had been taken. Now, they don't know yet that there is a possibility he might get it back.