In 2021, you provided essential support to the young Catholic community of Hosanna in the south of Ethiopia. Created in 2010, this young Apostolic Vicariate (a group of parishes in a missionary region which does not yet have a large enough Catholic population to form a diocese) has a growing community, scarce resources, and has been plagued by conflict.

Throughout 2021, this region experienced widespread violence in the Tigray area. According to Vatican News, war broke out in November 2020, after a group called the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) attacked federal military bases. Since then, fighting has escalated into a widespread conflict involving ethnic-based militia groups, as well as Eritrean armed forces.

Over two million people have had to flee their homes and thousands are dead; some as a result of the civil war and others as a result of hunger leading to famine in the region. Tigray, Amhara, and Afar, have been among the most affected, and millions of Ethiopians are now in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.

Faith in a time of despair

The situation in Ethiopia is undeniably bleak. In an interview with Vatican News, Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel of Addis Ababa, the head of the Ethiopian Catholic Church, explained:

‘Whenever there are wars and conflicts, it’s the people who suffer a lot. The ordinary people have been suffering greatly, mostly in the Tigray region… People are still suffering in these areas of displacement, hunger and destruction. Much infrastructure has been destroyed, including schools, healthcare facilities, and bridges. These need to be reconstructed.

‘I have seen in some areas where children are asked to go to school just to keep them safe from staying always at home. While they have been able to return to their school facilities, they found their schools destroyed. They therefore are sitting on the floor or on stones or wood logs, and following courses. But the togetherness for the students is very important’.

Bishop Seyoum Fransua, the Apostolic Vicar of Hosanna and National Director of Missio in Ethiopia, has been shepherding the faithful in his community since 2017, and he continues to guide them through this most difficult time. He explained:

‘When there is a conflict, the victims are poor people. It is necessary that there is a dialogue between the parties to restore a social balance. War is useless; people are suffering a lot and it is necessary to seek peace and security… It is necessary to pray, to have a dialogue with God. True peace comes only from God, I ask everyone to pray for this situation’.

Signs of hope

Thankfully, Ethiopia is currently a few weeks into a ceasefire, and negotiations are taking place between the opposing sides. Cardinal Souraphiel is confident that Pope Francis’ prayers and words during his Urbi et Orbi addresses have had a real impact. He shares:

‘The Orthodox, Protestant leadership, as well as the Muslims in the country, have a great respect for the Holy Father. Here in Ethiopia, the ordinary people still are all praying for peace’.

He added:

‘I would say the people are praying for peace and for unity. We have lived together for centuries. Ethiopia should not be seen as a country of conflict or war, which is only the case for the last 40 or 50 years, and that’s because of different interpretations or political interests. We do have many challenges here in Ethiopia, but I believe and I trust in the prayers of the people who have been united for centuries, who have intermarried and have been living as Ethiopians.

‘We hope we will have some solutions so that the people will go back to being one and being united. We pray this as Christians under the gaze of our Lord Jesus Christ who died crucified on the Cross for all of us’.

Thanks to you

Through this time of fear and despair, faith has become a vital remedy. And the Church a beacon of hope and help to all who are suffering. Through your generosity, we were able to send a grant to the Hosanna community, to help them through this turmoil, enabling Bishop Seyoum and his team to continue to ignite God’s love throughout the crises they are facing.

Upon receiving the much-needed funds from Missio, the Bishop wrote:

‘… this grant will be used for the sustenance and health-related support of the Diocesan Priests, especially those who suffered so much during the pandemic. It will also help us support the Priests in the poorest dioceses with transport costs to visit their remote communities, and a part of the funding will be used to support the essential formation of lay catechists.

‘I am very hopeful that peace will be restored in the society with the help of God. We keep praying for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia and beyond’.

Join us to pray for ‘forgotten wars’

In February, the Holy Father urged the faithful to remember ‘the forgotten wars.’ Acknowledging the heartache he felt at the war in Ukraine, he said:

‘Let us not forget the wars in other parts of the world, such as in Yemen, in Syria, in Ethiopia… — I repeat: Silence all weapons! God is with the peacemakers, not with those who use violence’.

Here are some ways you can join Missio as we help communities in need around the world:

Click here to share a special message from Bishop Seyoum>>

Image: Bishop Seyoum with parishioners, Missio. Additional information via Fides.org and Vatican News
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