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Evansville, Indiana
June 7, 1996     The Message
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June 7, 1996
 

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2 The Message m for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Evansville native visits family, returns to By PAUL R. LEINGANG said. Most of the fighting has Message editor been in the rural areas while the Holy Cross Brother Thomas Dillman is eager to return to Liberia, to help the people of a nation torn apart by civil war and violent power struggles. He doesn't know what he will find there. "God knows," he said. But he remains optimistic that his beloved school buildings might still be standing, and that he will be able to help the refugees. Brother Dillman is an Evansville native who has de- voted 28 years of his life to working in the West African country. He teaches math at St. Patrick High School for boys and at St. Theresa High School for girls, both in Monrovia, the na- tion's capital. Liberia has been the scene of sporadic fighting for most of this decade. Violence broke out on Christmas Eve, 1989. In the summer of 1990, Brother Dillman helped hospi- tal patients flee the fighting in Monrovia, escaping to an area in the country's interior. After finding safety for the patients at a Lutheran hospital about 100 miles from Monrovia, Brother Dillman went to the neighbor- ing country of Ghana. Four months later, he went back to Liberia m but the fighting and the killing did not come to an end. In 1992, five Catholic nuns were killed, apparently by sol- diers of one of the warring fac- tions. The nuns were friends of Brother Dillman and also had friends and relatives in south- ern Illinois and southern Indi- ana. The nuns had fled Liberia in 1990, but they too had returned to continue their work as nurses and teachers in Liberia. Their bodies are now buried at Red Bud, Ill., the home of their com- munity, the Adorers of the Blood of Christ. Since 1992, things have been "touch and go," Brother Dillman city of Monrovia has been rela- tively safe -- until once again this year, Brother Dillman was forced to flee the city. He re- turned to the United States in mid-April. After a six-week stay with family members in the Evansville area, Brother Dill- man departed May 30 for Africa. He plans to stay in Ghana until a safe return is possible, "when the airport re-opens," he said. During his stay in Evansville, Brother Dillman tried to devote "equal time" to his two sisters, DoDe Miller and Marian Niemeier. They and their families are mem- bers of St. Benedict Church. "I think we feel it's hard to say we are comfortable with it (his missionary work) but it is what he's devoted his life to, and we support that," said his sister DoDe. "He has always had such a strong will to do that." Brother Dillman spoke briefly after all of the weekend Masses at St. Benedict, May 18 and 19. Parishioners contributed ap- proximately $2,500 to help him in his work. Benedictine Father Gregory Chamberlin, pastor at St. Bene- dict, welcomed the chance to help. "Here is a man who is closely connected to St. Ben and to Memorial High School, who by his presence could put flesh to the whole notion that we are all called to be missionaries," Fa- ther Chamberlin said. "He wasn't there to talk about the dangers, escaping with his life, but only about what he could do now to help the people." In a telephone interview with the Message four years ago, Brother Dillman had spoken with some reluctance about the dangers he had encountered. He described scenes of devastated crops, of people having nothing to eat but toads and lizards, of others dying because they had no food at all. He described how he would often be "sitting on the floor, hunkered down, because Washington Auto Trim 27 Years Service I Funeral Homes Four HIGHLAND CHAPEL 6300 FIRST AVENUE Convenient Locations of the bullets and bigger things." He described the massacre scene where the bodies of some 200 victims remained three weeks after they were gunned down inside a Lutheran Church. During his recent stay, how- ever, Brother Dillman did not talk about his past or recent ex- periences. He concentrated on raising money, buying hard-to- get items, and planning for his return to Monrovia. He collected enough money from his Memorial High School classmates, 1945 graduates, to replace an electric generator. He also was able to obtain a water pump for a well. Parishioners at St. John Chdrch, Newburgh, contributed more than $1600, after Brother Dillman spoke at two Masses on the Feast of the Ascension. An- other contribution came from St. Joseph Church, Evansville. One of the first things he plans to do when he is able to re- turn is to pay salaries to the teachers who have not been paid now for several months. Brother Dillman is the business man- ager at St. Patrick School, where about 550 boys are enrolled in grades 7-12. Brother Dillman also had ironic good news to report. A cargo container full of books and supplies which he had collected at Christmas time in the United States had not been shipped. Be- FIRST FEDERAL Savings and Loan Association Washington & Loogootee jli00,.mw III II KREMPP LUMBER CO. BUILDING MATERIAL SUPPLIES & GENERAL CONTRACTING HOMECENTER CONSTRUCTION 482-1961 482-6838 ii JASPER LUMBER CO. COMPLETE BUILDING SERVICE Ph: 482-1125 RT. 4, JASPER SOn 00bop Christian Books & Gifts Bey & Charlie Mendel, owners (812) 634-77, 416 Jackson St Jasper, IN 47546 L , i!,,,ii ii  / ii I DoDe Miller pauses outside St. Benedict Church with Cross Brother Thomas Dillman, following Sunday  19. Miller and Marian Niemeier are the Message photo by paul cause of what would have been a frustrating delay under other cir- cumstances, those supplies are safe, he said, and they will be very useful after the latest round of fighting and destruction. The latest news pictures show a great amount of death and de- struction, looting and burning, but Brother Dillman hopes they are isolated scenes and that the fighters may have spared the school buildings. "The Catholic Church is doing more than any one else" to help Liberians, he said. "I hope the buildings are still intact." He won't find out until he gets gets reliable news who have fled to Brother too that the come through in aid, which he help pay for peace forces "There never without d troops are needed to Brother Dillman troops are and throughout the that all the said. armed at once, he AUTO TOPS. SEAT CovERS ' STEREO SALE 254-3! HWY 50 EAST, BEH EUGENE St. John Catholic Church U.S. Highway 50 East, Loogootee, I Summer Soc # Sunday, June 9, 1996 Famlilyfood, fun, and Dinners! All you can eat chicken and roast beef with trimmings! parish Served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the air.conditioned St. John Center. Children under 6 eat free, Children 6-12 $2150 each, Adults $5 each; Family Meal tickets are $20 Raffle! Tickets available all day; prizes include: $500 cash Color television 2 Handmade quilts An original painting t Bzngo. In the air-conditioned St. John Parish Center. $1 O0 given away every houri From 1 to 4 p.m. No purchase necessary-- must be present to win. Parish Yard Sale! From 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Over 500 families will donate items for sale. All.day fun and events! Country Store Games for all ages Pie in the Eye ' Obstacle All activities will be hem rain or !