SCNs joined the Passionists and the Catholic community in Botswana to bid earthly farewell to Rev. Julian Black on Oct. 14, 2017. Sisters are closely connected to the Passionist community in Botswana since their arrival in the country.
Father Julian (81), a Passionist Priest from Ireland came to Botswana as a missionary in 1963, three years prior to their Independence. He mastered the language and became a citizen of Botswana over the years. He has worked in several parts of the country and started many income-generating initiatives such as dressmaking, bricklaying, and the famous Thamaga Pottery Center, which has helped hundreds of families to find work and sustenance. Later he also designed the Forest Hill Passionist Novitiate and the chapel. Father Julian was an artist, a mystic, and a spiritual mentor to hundreds of people. Sisters have known him very closely as a confessor, spiritual director, retreat director, a mentor, and a friend.
Several years ago he became a victim of muscular dystrophy and his mobility began to deteriorate gradually. He moved from crutches to a walking frame, to a wheel chair, finally became bedridden and developed sores due to the condition. He was admitted to the Hospice on Sept. 21, 2017, for terminal care. During his stay at the Hospice, Father Julian experienced intense pain while we dressed his wounds, he refused to take any pain medications, instead, he transcended his pains into grace. Amidst the pain, he continued to pray and bless all those who cared for him and visited him. He lived for others till his last breath.
Father Julian was very radiant a few days prior to his death. On the Oct. 7, he told a couple of people that the next day was Christmas. On Sunday morning he received the Holy Eucharist with much delight, enjoyed his breakfast and even asked for his special soup for the afternoon. At 10 a.m. his condition deteriorated. Within a short time, the doctor and other Passionist Brother and Priests were at his bedside. The day was very clear and there was no cloud in the sky. A little after 1:00 p.m. the sky turned dark and hailstones fell and carpeted the whole ground. Hospice campus and the surrounding area looked like a beautiful bride dressed in white, ready to receive her beloved. The ground indeed looked like a Christmas day, white as snow! SCNs said, “the heavens are being opened to receive Father Julian.” At 2:30 p.m. he breathed his last and went to God to celebrate Christmas at his eternal home.
Father Julian nurtured the Catholic community in Botswana for the last 54 years with his passion for God and passion for humanity. He was a man of few words. He lived a life of contemplation speaking the language of silence. His family, the two sisters, brother-in-law, and a nephew from Ireland were present for the funeral. After the funeral, his family visited the Hospice to express their gratitude for the loving and compassionate care, the Sisters, and the staff gave to Father Julian in his last days. SCNs and Pabalelong staff were privileged and blessed to care for this holy man. We are blessed because of the blessing this Holy priest and saint imprinted in our hearts as we cared for him.