Profile - Gabe Hurrish - Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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Gabe Hurrish

Year Joined MKLM: 2017

Country: South Sudan

TOWN: Riwoto, Eastern Equatoria

Ministry: St. Mary Magdalen Parish and School.
Education, parish administration, socio-economic development, peace building.

Ministry Area: Education and Leadership Training.

Goals of Ministry: Be a presence and witness through action of God’s love and mercy.

Nonviolence Focus:

Prevention and reconciliation/restoration. I work in education of youth toward acceptance and tolerance of all ethnicities. St. Mary Magdalen Parish attempts to mitigate violence through sharing of Gospel values and Catholic Social Teaching. My witness displays another way through reflection on the life of Jesus.


Ministry Context:

South Sudan became the newest country in the world in 2011. However it has been crippled with inter-tribal and intra-ethnic violence and conflicts throughout the country for the past 50 years. Entire generations of children are growing up in this toxic environment. 


Current Ministry:

Gabe’s primary duties are teaching at Tim Galvin Secondary School, which is part of St. Mary Magdalen Parish located in Riwoto, North Kapoeta. He teaches English grammar, computer science, agriculture and citizenship. Gabe is also involved in some parish ministry, such as small Christian Communities and providing administrative support to the priests of the parish. Gabe also maintains a small tree nursery to serve the parish and the community.

Gabe lives in a simple one-room guest house located on the parish grounds. He often walks to villages to meet and talk with Toposa elders and others to get their stories. He writes these stories down to serve as a repository of Toposa culture and folk lore for future generations. Gabe has been quietly assisting individuals in need with whom he comes into contact in the wider community. Using his personal funds, he has helped those women with children who are struggling to survive without a man.


Personal Data:

Gabe is a parishioner at St. Bartholomew Church in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, in the Diocese of La Crosse. He has a master in public health from the University of Boston and a bachelor of science from the University of Dayton in health, education and school health administration. 

Gabe’s inspiration in life has always been an uncle who was a Franciscan T.O.R. priest and served for 32 years in India and Brazil.

When Gabe reached out to Maryknoll Lay Missioners about joining, he was interested in serving in South Sudan. At the time, MKLM had no presence in the country, but its missioners had served there throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.

Having already served in Africa over 15 years, MKLM made it possible for Gabe to return to South Sudan as a long-term Maryknoll Lay Missioner. He joined MKLM in 2017 out of a desire to be part of a larger Catholic initiative serving the needs of the poorest. In 2024 Gabe is in his eighth year in this nation.

Gabe has lived and worked overseas in several different relief, development and mission organizations for more than 30 combined years in 11 countries, many in Africa. While with the Peace Corps in Kenya in the 1980s, he worked as a water technician. He was the medical director of two refugee camp hospitals with American Refugee Committee and for four years served in Ethiopia with Food for the Hungry International.

Gabe was the Central American Coordinator of the Volunteer Missionary Movement in El Salvador for almost four years. After that, he worked for the Association for International Teaching, Educational and Curriculum Exchange in China as an English professor in three different institutions. In 1998 Gabe was offered a dual post in Rome with the international men (USG) and women religious (UISG) office for Justice, Peace, Integrity of Creation (JPIC) and the Solidarity with South Sudan secretariat. Gabe also served in South Africa with the Southern Africa Catholic Bishops Conference for a short time. He also provided development and relief consulting in Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, South Africa, Peru and Indonesia during the tsunami crisis.

After his return to the U.S. in 2010, he served for seven years as the coordinator of religious education at St. Stephen Parish in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. In the summer of 2016, he volunteered as professor in South Sudan at the Solidarity Teacher Training College in Yambio. The following year he returned to serve there with Maryknoll Lay Missioners for 18 months before being transferred to Juba in August 2019 to serve as Project Officer for Solidarity. From October 2020 to February 2023 he worked in the remote project of Holy Trinity Peace Village Kuron, Eastern Equatoria. He began teaching at St. Mary Magdalen Parish’s secondary school in Riwoto in June 2023.