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Racing against the clock

DEACON Ladu Yanga, from Banyo’s Holy Spirit Provincial Seminary, is praying for a miraculous unravelling of government red tape so his mother can fly from Sudan to attend his ordination to the priesthood this month.

He’s tried once with the help of immigration lawyer Peter Lee to get his mother Kolorina Martin to Australia in time for the June 29 ordination.

Deacon Yanga attempted to get his mother here from newly independent South Sudan on a “Visitor visa – Sponsored Family stream”.

The attempt failed when he could not prove Mrs Martin was his mother.

“There is nothing that can identify her as my mother except what I say,” he said.

“In the civil war, if I can’t grab my siblings, how can I grab a piece of paper (birth certificate) to run with?”

Seminary vice-rector Fr Frank Devoy, along with Peter Lee’s office, is spearheading a new attempt to get the Sudanese-born deacon’s mother here on a “Visitor visa – Tourist stream”.

This will not require Deacon Yanga to establish his relationship to Mrs Martin.

A letter has been despatched to Wayne Swan, Federal MP for the electorate to which the Holy Spirit Provincial Seminary belongs, in the hope a complex visa approval process can be sped up.

The letter, signed by all the seminary’s staff and seminarians, outlined the urgency of the situation.

“It stated that Deacon Ladu is known to us all as a remarkable and dedicated person who wishes to use his gifts in a lifetime of service in the Church in Australia and the community at large,” Fr Devoy said.

“The seminary offers a financial guarantee that Mrs Martin will return home to Sudan after her son’s ordination.

“We appeal for the issue of this visa so all at the seminary may have the joy of her presence at this memorable and holy event in her son’s life.”

But, as Fr Devoy explained, “time is of the essence in what is a very complex process”.

The process was carried out in the failed attempt to get Mrs Martin on a “Visitor visa – Sponsored Family stream”.

“First we had to scan the relevant form and get it to Mrs Martin who lives about 80 kilometres from the South Sudanese capital Juba,” Fr Devoy said.

“Mrs Martin then had to get the document to Juba where she signed it with a thumb print in front of government officials.

“The form then came back to us to be packaged with other forms and sent to the Immigration Department at which time the application was refused.”

Fr Devoy said this whole process had taken nearly five weeks.

“Now we’re back at the start of a new application process with Mrs Martin having to sign the new visa application,” he said.

“And at this stage we haven’t received Mrs Martin’s newly signed document back from South Sudan yet.

“Once this is verified, the Immigration Department will send the documentation on to the Immigration Office at the Australian High Commission in Nairobi.

“This is the office which will issue the relevant visa to allow Mrs Martin to come to Australia for her son’s ordination.

“With the ordination so close, time is of the essence which is why we’ve contacted Wayne Swan in the hope the process can be somehow expedited.”

Deacon Yanga was accepted as a refugee to Australia in 2001, more than a decade after being separated from his family and escaping to Kenya as a teenager.

He said he listed Mrs Martin’s name as his mother on his refugee application.

The deacon sponsored three brothers to migrate to Australia in 2006 but his mother chose to return to a newly independent South Sudan to look after her other children after years in exile in neighbouring Uganda.

Mrs Martin has more than a dozen grandchildren in the country.

Deacon Yanga said he was not happy about the situation.

“But at the end of the day, what can I do,” he said.

“We’re trying every possible means but we’re running out of time.

“It is so important to have my own mother with me for this memorable and holy event in my life.

“I’m still hopeful, but these processes take at least four weeks even when things are working well.

“So right now, I’m praying for a miracle.”


Written by: Paul Dobbyn
Catholic Church Insurance

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