AFRICA/ETHIOPIA - Apostolic Prefect of Robe: "Easter projects us forward to heaven and eternal glory"

Monday, 3 April 2023


Robe (Agenzia Fides) - "Here we are in the year of grace 2014 that began in last year's Easter (Christians count the year from one Easter to another, for this reason we write the current year in the Easter candle!) and here comes the new Easter 2015, which destroys all the pain, sorrows, anxieties, frustrations that we have accumulated in this past year", writes to Fides Fr. Angelo Antolini, ofm chap. on the occasion of the Easter period which is approaching. "Easter projects us forward toward heaven and eternal glory where risen with Christ we will live forever".
The missionary, who is Apostolic Prefect of Robe, with the collaboration of many lay people of good will, between ups and downs carries out various activities in the entire Prefecture, which has an area of 103,769 km².
"During the month of March - he says - I lived the first week in Gode, in the Somali area of the Prefecture, two weeks in Robe, where work on the hospital continues (see Fides, 7/2/2023) and this last one again in Gode. Among the activities during this period, I visited the Community of Gode Negelli, now legally in the parish of Kofale, to formalize the erection as a Parish to be held next June 29".
"In Gode this past week we are concerned about the flooding of the Wabe Shebali River which is impressive. It rose overnight and flooded our motor pump damaging it beyond repair. The raft with the electric pump also got entangled in the plants in front of it. With great difficulty, after the flood had passed and the level lowered by four meters, the boys managed to disengage the raft and thus pump water for irrigation, for the needs of the house and the prisoners held in a neighboring prison. The paradox - explains Fr. Antolini - is that we are flooded, but here in Gode it has not yet rained, there is a scorching heat as well as a great dryness." The floods are caused by rains in the high plateau and high desert of the Somali region. "The Wabe Shebali is a nasty beast; it is a river to be treated with great respect and caution. It originates in the West Arsi Plateau and winds its way to Somalia for 2050 kilometers. Despite being such an important and long river, it has a torrential regime. During the rains it rises in its bed up to ten meters and, a little further downstream, in this period it gives rise to many outflows".
Over the course of the week spent in Gode, the Prefect had several activities planned with the children present at the mission, but then due to unexpected health reasons and, lack of suitable medicines, he was forced to stand still. "If there was still a need, it is a confirmation that the mission in the Somalis is not about doing, but being there" - was his comment.
Finally, Fr. Antolini dwelt on the image of the tree stretching out its roots toward the waterways, taken from the passage from the prophet Jeremiah. "I dwelt in particular on the verb 'to stretch out.' I pictured with my mind this slow, silent, subterranean, invisible, involuntary, irresistible movement of the roots toward the underground humidity. I felt that this is prayer. The motion of our soul toward the coolness of grace, of God's love. I am increasingly considering that prayer, even liturgical prayer, is either contemplative or it is not. To certain prayers reduced to mechanical, noisy, sometimes broken ritualism, I prefer the moments when in silent prayer I fall asleep, and this often happens to me. Even in those moments my soul continues to stretch out its branches toward the coolness of grace". (AA) (Agenzia Fides, 3/4/2023)