AFRICA/ETHIOPIA - The missionary team of the small community in Gode, 'channel of God's goodness'

Thursday, 2 November 2023


Gode (Agenzia Fides) – “We live on the 'frontiers of the Gospel' in Gode, a place where the vast majority of the population is Muslim; there is a small presence of Orthodox and Evangelical communities, and a tiny presence of the Catholic Church in our mission of seven missionaries, three of whom are volunteers", emphasizes Sister Joaquin Brown, who lives and works as a missionary in the Somali region of Ethiopia, in a report to Fides on the visit of the Apostolic Nuncio of Ethiopia and Djibouti, Archbishop Antoine Camilleri, in the small Catholic community. "Through the nuncio's short visit here in Ethiopia, we experienced the special attention of the church", writes the missionary. "Normally the Prefect of the local Church, Father Angelo Antolini, OFM cap., visits us every two weeks to celebrate Holy Mass and help us in our mission of making Christ present both through our work with vulnerable women and their children, and the work of transforming our desert through growing fruit and vegetables to make us more self-sustaining".
"For various reasons," the missionary continued, Father Angelo had to be absent, a priest who had kindly offered to come for a few days had a death in the family, and without any replacement we ended up having no Mass for more than a month. Therefore, Archbishop Camilleri's presence - even if it was brief - was particularly important for us and helped us to feel the closeness of the universal Church". "To reach us", emphasizes the missionary, "the Nuncio braved the plague of insects and beetles that had arrived with the rains which we had hoped would fall since we had had very little rain until then. And so we received both natural rain and supernatural grace at the same time: Holy Mass, homilies on the Word of God, and the possibility of confession….we had the gift of hearing again the proclamation of the life of the Church in different places, of being comforted with the news of the latest Apostolic Letter of the Holy Father on St Therese of Lisieux".

"Once Nunzio Camilleri left" continues the missionary, "we returned to some of the practical challenges that were brought on by the welcomed rainfall. It is usual that when rain falls heavily, as it did for a few days, the local electricity from the town cuts out, and whilst we have a generator, the high cost of petrol means that we have to be careful, and anyway it can’t substitute all our electrical needs, one of which is to be able to pump water for our needs and to be able to pump 20,000 litres of water a day for our neighbours in the prison!
"In the next few days, during the ongoing repairs", adds sister Joaqin "we found a ‘flood of needs’ on our doorstep: people in desperate need of help. One of whom was a mother of new-born twins, whom we were taken to see in a forlorn little hut on the outskirts of the town where the rubbish is thrown. Her five other children had not eaten that day, when we arrived at four o’clock in the afternoon. We were able to share with two families food we had in our house, and then take the mother and her husband, with the new-born boys to the hospital".
"Each time I take poor people to the hospital, I am struck by the complexity they are confronted with, for not only are they sick, and maybe cannot speak the language of the attending doctor, but they have very little idea of how their bodies function, and of what could be wrong with them. They resemble ‘lambs led to slaughter’, pushed and pulled from one examination to another, never questioning or even understanding what is going on, receiving pieces of paper that they cannot read, for medicine they cannot afford and which they do not even know how to take".

"In the mission in Gode", Sister Joaquin continues, "we also have Jesus, a volunteer from Spain who is a physiotherapist and who, in carrying out his work, ‘radiates’ the presence of the Church in the hospital. He has direct contact with the sick people who come to him from home and ask him for help, but also with the patients in the hospital. It is a special aspect of our mission to be channels of God's goodness, both in our actions and in our words. Together with Jesus, two Ethiopian university graduates also decided to work with us as volunteers for a while", the nun concluded, " and together with Tesamma, Abdella, Bethelem and myself form missionary team in Gode. We are aware of the great privilege to be part of the mission of first evangelization entrusted to us by the Lord, His presence in the Church, made tangible for us through our shepherds, strengthens and encourages us not only to continue, but to ‘go further’!" (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 2/11/2023)