St Luke’s parish welcome three distant travellers – from Ethiopia.
Two priests – Abba Solomon and Abba Teum – together with Tamiru Leggesse visited St Luke’s parish in Peterborough to meet the people who have been donating money to support them.
The visit was arranged as part of CAFOD’s Connect2 scheme.
Sebeya parish priest Abba Solomon Beyene Tesfayohannes and Abba Teum Berhe Dane, who is diocesan director of our charity partner in the country, together with Parish Priest Father John Minh celebrated the vigil Mass together on Saturday night, before Father John and Abba Teum met the rest of the parish community on Sunday morning.
Last year, Tamiru who works for three Catholic agencies in Ethiopia (CAFOD, Trocaire and SCIAF) visited St Luke’s Parish as special guest at their church fete. He spoke to St Luke’s parishioners and introduced them to some of the people of the town of Sebeya, the community they had chosen to support a few weeks earlier. On that hot summer day in Peterborough, Tamiru relayed a message from Abba Solomon by video.
Over the year St Luke’s parish raised £1,500 through a series of coffee mornings to help the people of Sebeya in Northern Ethiopia and were on target to raise a total of £5,000 over three years.
But collection boxes sent home with parishioners to coincide with this visit raised another £2,048.41 – bringing the total to more than £3,500 in just over a year.
Abba Teum and Abba Solomon thanked St Luke’s parishioners, and all those in East Anglia who are linked with Sebeya through Connect2, for their ongoing support.
Abba Solomon said: “St Luke’s support gives us strength and helps with many problems in our community.”
St Luke’s parish priest Father John Minh said: “I jumped at the chance of supporting a place through CAFOD where we could get to have proper contact with the people we were actually raising money for. I want the parish to learn from them too. We are not just giving money to them, it is a spiritual connection as well.”
Connect2 is an initiative that brings parishes in England and Wales together with communities in Ethiopia and other poor countries which benefit from their fundraising so the two can gain a deeper understanding of each other’s lives and forge stronger ties.
By working together, we are enabling Sebeya villagers to build an irrigation facility, helping people living with HIV/AIDS and support and empowering women who suffer from domestic violence and abuse. It has also given vital training to unskilled people and give set-up grants to start small businesses.
Abba Teum and Abba Solomon spoke to us about the effects of climate change on their land and their chances, urging people to join CAFOD’s upcoming campaign.
CAFOD East Anglia’s diocesan manager Stephen Matthews said: “We donate money, through CAFOD, to people we have never met, because we believe in them – we trust the money we give will make a tremendous difference to their lives. So, now to meet these two priests from the community in Sebeya brings us such joy. We have become a global family through CAFOD’s Connect2 and it is wonderful for parishioners to meet face to face with the community they have helped.”
The two visitors will return to Ethiopia armed with gifts from their new friends in East Anglia.
The diocese gave Abba Solomon a statue of Our Lady of Walsingham to remember that East Anglia is home to the Roman Catholic National Shrine, England’s Nazareth.
Diocesan manager Stephen said: “The priests were also presented with a statue of Our Lady of Walsingham and said they would make sure it was on display back in Sebeya. Abba Teum explained their church has a special devotion to Our Lady, so it would be deeply treasured.”
The priests, and Tamiru, were also presented with icons of St Luke by the parish and a special picture of The Baptism of the Eunuch from Ethiopia by the Dutch artist Rembrandt van Rijn.
Father John said the picture had special significance as the Eunuch was from Ethipioia and the story appears in Acts, which St Luke was a co-author. The picture will stay in St Luke’s parish as a reminder to parishioners to reach their fundraising target.
Father John said: “And when we have reached our fundraising goal we will post it to you in Sebeya to remind you of us.”