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Missionaries of Africa in Ethiopia Lauded for Dedicated Service, Celebrate Golden Jubilee

CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 18 January 2018

white fathers mark 50 years in ethiopia 2018The Missionaries of Africa have been lauded for their dedicated service among the people of God in Ethiopia as the 250-year-old international Missionary Society of priests and brothers celebrated 50 years of presence in Ethiopia last Sunday, January 14.

The Catholic Bishop of Adigrat in Ethiopia, Abune Tesfaselassie Medhin acknowledged with appreciation the various contributions the Missionaries of Africa have made in the life of the Eparchy for the past 50 years, emphasizing their dedicated role in the formation of seminarians to the priesthood.

The pioneers of the Missionaries of Africa (also known as “The White Fathers”) in Ethiopia arrived in Adigrat in 1967 in response to Abune Hailemariam Kahsay’s invitation to assist in the formation of the local clergy. Since then, they have been teaching at the Major Seminary of Adigrat in both philosophy and theology departments.

Later, the White Fathers extended their apostolate to other areas, including interreligious dialogue and ecumenism, Education at St Mary’s College in Wukro, Justice and Peace and Integrity of creation, street children and orphans, youth ministry, girls/women promotion, vocation promotion and university chaplaincy.

Bishop Medhin praised the courage and resilience of the first missionaries to his local Church especially when the conditions were tough in the country.

He also lauded other apostolic activities initiated by the Missionaries of Africa in St Mary’s Wukro, Bruh Tesfa Youth Development Centerin Adigrat, Kidist Mariam, St Paul’s Formation House and Kombolcha.

The Bishop went on to remind the Missionaries of Africa that for the future it will be important to stick to their charism and identity so as to make a unique impact in the Eparchy especially by adapting their charism and apostolic engagements to the current realities and challenges of today’s society.

In a special way, the bishop insisted on the formation of young people and families. These two areas seem to be very important for our evangelization today in Ethiopia and in Africa as a whole.

On their part, the Missionaries of Africa expressed appreciation for the opportunity to serve in Ethiopia.

In his message, Father Bonaventure Bwanakweri who is the Superior of the Missionaries of Africa in Ethiopia, Jerusalem and Lebanon said, “The celebration of the 50 years is a time to look at our past with gratitude and thank God for the many blessings showered upon us and the Eparchy of Adigrat.”

“It is also time to live the present with great passion in our various apostolates and also to plan for the future with more determination, enthusiasm and hope,” Father Bwanakweri added.

He thanked the Eparchy for its support, care and collaboration as well as the clergy and religious ministering in Adigrat for their proximity and pastoral generosity.

He also extended a word of gratitude to laity of the Eparchy and thanked the Ethiopian Orthodox church and the Muslims with whom the White Fathers always work for peaceful co-existence.

“As we celebrate 50 years of our presence in Ethiopia, we are happy to announce that we have 6 Ethiopian confreres,” Father Bwanakweri said, mentioning Yosef Giday working in Kombolcha, Belete Fanta working in Adigrat, Gazena Haile working in Ghana, Simeon Kalore working in Malawi, Addise Markos working in Nigeria and Deacon Mekonen Girmay in Nairobi, Kenya. “We also have 8 Ethiopian students in different houses of formation around Africa,” he said, naming Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and Ethiopia.

Father Bwanakweri shared with CANAA the names of the Missionaries of Africa who have served in Ethiopia. They include: Max Gmur, Gildas Nicolas, Kevin O'mahoney, José Bandres, Gerry Stones, Dietmat Lenfers, Friedrich Stenger, Angel Olaran, Stolarski Krzystof, Ian Buckmaster, Eddie Ndahinda, Gaetano Cazzola, Jean Pierre Roth, Gerry Murphy, Aloysius Beebwa, Everisto Mwelwa, Sabu Puthenpurackal, Bonaventure Mashata, Cor de Visser, John Amona, Belete Fanta, Gazena Haile, Stephane Zoungrana, Bonaventure Bwanakweli, Yosef Giday, Paul Reilly, Apollinaire Chishugi and Clayb Caputolan.

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