At the end of the World Mission Sunday Mass in Nairobi, Kenya on 23 October, 2011 Father Michael Kirwen, MM gave a short overview of the Maryknoll Society’s 65 years (1946-2011) in Africa. He recalled that during these 65 years no Maryknoller has ever died in an automobile accident – quite a miracle for us considering the poor roads and dangerous driving in Africa. One priest Father Tom Mantica had died in a small plane accident.
And now for the rest of the story. In early October, 2011 I spent 10 days in Juba, South Sudan. I paid a courtesy call on Archbishop Paolino Lukudu Loro. When I presented him some gifts of Maryknoll’s 100th Anniversary he said “thank you” and spoke very warmly about Maryknoll’s missionary work in Sudan and South Sudan. Then he suddenly became very serious and looked down. When he looked up he said sadly, “Yes, I remember Maryknoll well. I was the bishop of El Obeid at that time and invited Father Mantica to come to our diocese to give a pastoral workshop. That’s when he took the plane that crashed and he died in the accident.”