The Ethiopian Catholic Eparchy of Bahir dar-Dessie, baptised 300 Catechumens among the people of Gumuz, in Banshagul Gumuz Regional State, this week, on the Feast of the Miraculous Medal. Many of the newly baptized converted from local traditional religions to Catholicism. Most of the Catechumens are from a place known as Banush, a very remote area located 600 km from the capital, Addis Ababa.
At the request of the people’s request, Bishop Lesanu-Christos, the Eparch of Bahirdar-Dessie, blessed and erected a cross and a bell on the future site of a Church. Another cross was placed at the community’s cemetery as a sign of a new Christian community. The Bishop with the help of 6 priests then baptised the 300 new Christians who comprised old, young, men and women as well as some infants.
In his homily, Bishop Lesanu-Christos said that the day was a joyous one for the Church.
“God is Great, and God is a Father to all of us; we say the Our Father Prayer here and throughout the world and this proves that we are all children of one God who he created everyone equally and with the same human dignity. Today when you receive this great Sacrament of Baptism you become sons and daughters of God, people of God and members of the Church, this brings great joy in heaven and great joy on earth for the entire Church,” said Bishop Lesanu-Christos congratulating the new followers of Christ.
The Bishop of Bahirdar-Dessie also noted that the community was evangelised by a local, young man named Takel. It was Takel who first brought the request of the village to the Church’s attention asking the Church authorities to bring the light of Christ to his community in the remote area of Banush.
The Bishop stressed the importance of continued evangelization in the area saying there still many people who have not been as lucky as the Baptised Banush community.
“The testimony of one young believer and the diligent efforts of the pastoral agents of the Catholic Church have brought 300 more children of God home. However, there are still more of our brothers and sisters who have not yet received the Good News of the Lord, and with God’s Grace we shall continue to shine the light of Our Lord and spread the Good News,” the Bishop said.
The newly baptised Christians celebrated by wearing and lighting candles as a sign of the light of Christ shining in them. They sang in the local language: “We know what we trust in.” The ceremony was attended by families of the baptised, the clergy, religious men and women, Catechists and the faithful from different parishes of Diocese.
The Eparch of Bahirdar-Dessie is the youngest Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction of the Ethiopian Catholic Church. Currently, there are more than 500 Catechumens in neighbouring villages who are eagerly waiting to be baptised. The Catholic Church first went to the Gumuz people 15 years ago. Three Comboni sisters planted the first seed of faith: Sr. Jamilety, Tilda, and Bertila. The sisters first arrived in Mandura district and begun the work of evangelisation.
(Makeda Yohannes in Ethiopia)