AFRICA/ETHIOPIA - Border mission and the Pope's blessing

Friday, 30 April 2021 mission   evangelization   women   consecrated life  


Gode (Agenzia Fides) - "In the tribulations of this very strange time, the Lord has reserved for us one of those consolations that rarely happen in life. In March, here in Gode, we unexpectedly received a visit from the Apostolic Nuncio, Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, who then left immediately for Italy to be vaccinated against Covid-19 and on this occasion he had the opportunity to meet Pope Francis", Father Angelo Antolini, OFM Cap, Apostolic Prefect of Robe tells Fides. "Aware of the news - continues the missionary in post-covid convalescence in the mission - Sister Joachim took the opportunity to send the Holy Father a letter written together with the women in difficulty we assist every day, in which they have expressed their difficulties and the human and moral dangers in which they live. In mid-April, just as unexpectedly, a personal response arrived from Pope Francis to Joachim, the women and all the collaborators. With emotion we read the letter before Sunday Mass", writes Fr. Antolini. Gode is located in the Somali Regional State of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia.
The mission was founded in 2007 by Fr. Christopher Hartley, a missionary from the diocese of Toledo currently working in South Sudan. Sister Joachim had arrived in Gode seven years ago, but for two years, until November, she was in England for medical treatment. In the mission, together with four volunteer lay missionaries who arrived a couple of months ago and will remain until May this year, she serves women in difficulty, who have had children by several men, some in half marriages, others only in sporadic relationships in very violent contexts. "Life in mission unfolds in a very simple way - continues the Apostolic Prefect: in the morning those who want to go to pray in the chapel where Joachim lives. At half past seven the bus driven by a Catholic boy from the mission leaves to pick up the ladies and their children in the city. In fact, the mission is more than five kilometers from the city and is located on the banks of the great Wabi Shebeli River. In total there are eight ladies and twelve children of all ages. They prepare breakfast for themselves and the children and then the tasks are distributed, some in the kitchen and others in the different jobs indicated by Joachim. In this way, with the salary we give them, we try to make them financially self-sufficient. The volunteers take care of the children according to their age. At lunchtime we all eat together until the bus takes them back to their homes in the city, a real Babel. In the afternoon the volunteers continue working on what needs to be done in the mission, until we celebrate the Eucharist all together and have dinner exhausted by the high local temperatures. Here life is very simple but also very intense, we are always prepared for unforeseen events of all kinds" Gode's mission is located on the northeast bank of the Wabi Shebeli River, in the Harar vicariate. Sixty meters away, on the southwestern shore, is the Prefecture of Robe. In December, the two Ordinaries signed a joint document entrusting the pastoral care of the entire area along the river to the Apostolic Prefecture of Robe. The Somali population is Muslim. The town of Gode, founded in the 1960s by Emperor Haile Selassie for military strategies, also has a small Christian Amara community. The Somalis of the city live off various commercial activities and the population of the herding countryside. Only recently are agricultural projects being attempted, exploiting the high potential of the great river. (AA/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 30/4/2021)