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May 13, 2006

It’s all about love

And that comes from God

MANNINGTON — By Debra Minor Wilson

Times West Virginian



MANNINGTON — Ask Father François Gonda Babulu what’s the most important thing about life and he’ll tell you.

It’s all about love.



In 1990, he had achieved a lifelong dream: to be ordained as a priest. It was his goal to share God’s love with the world.

Then, in 1998, war broke out in his native Democratic Republic of the Congo. He fled to the United States in 1999 to wait for the war to end. But it didn’t, so in 2000 he applied for and was granted political asylum.

He came to Fairmont in 2001 to serve as associate pastor at St. Peter the Fisherman Catholic Church. In 2002 he was transferred to Proctor, Marshall County, and returned to Marion County earlier this year, where he is currently pastor at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Mannington.

“It was providential that I came to West Virginia ... part of a plan,” he says.

When he first came to the States, he stayed in Chicago.

“The people I stayed with there were a West Virginia couple who helped me to get my driver’s license. That’s just to tell you how good the people in West Virginia are. I’m really glad to be here. It’s a good state. It has nice people.”

It’s obvious he’s not a native of the United States, he says with a wide grin.

“You can realize from my accent, I speak French,” the language of his homeland, he says.

“The Congo is such a beautiful place. When people talk about Africa, they say it’s a deserted place, but no. The Congo is a place with a lot of rain, a lot of forest ... a lot of potential. Everything is alive there.

“It’s an old civilization. People do not realize that man started in Africa. We are part of that history, that cradle of humanity.”

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