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Support Ongoing Pastoral Outreach to the Borana People of Ethiopia

The Holy Cross Parish is based in the village of Dhadim, in a remote and underdeveloped region of southern Ethiopia. Its people are members of the Borana tribe, who were until very recently nomadic. Today, more and more of them are becoming settled, although some of them continue their traditional pattern of migration with their herds of cattle.

At present, some 5,000 of the 9,000 people in the parish are Catholics, but a growing number of people are also seeking baptism. It is a very lively parish, with catechetical classes and Bible study circles, and the vocations apostolate is now starting to bear its first fruits as well. Two of the girls have expressed a desire to become religious Sisters, and five of the boys are showing an interest in the priesthood.

All in all, there is a great deal of youth activity, with close to 250 young people regularly involved in the parish. Thanks to the aid supplied by ACN, somewhere between 65 and 100 young people are able to take part each year in a three-day pastoral program in another diocese. Father Kenneth Iwunna, the parish priest and a missionary from Nigeria, reports: “Most of them have never been anywhere except their own village.”

“For these young people, it is an important new experience to meet together with young people from other ethnic groups and share their life experiences with them. They don‘t speak the same language, of course, but we make sure there is someone there to interpret.”

“The young people are able to grow in their faith and enjoy an important new experience of being Church. And it is not only they themselves who benefit from these days, but the whole community, for when the young people come back home, they talk about their experiences in church, and the older people are also very interested to hear about it.”

Thanks to the support of ACN, the parish has also been able to establish a program for married couples who have adopted the Christian faith. For some of these newly baptized adults, there is a problem in the fact that they were not married in church, which means that they are unable to receive Holy Communion. Many of them are unable to afford the rings, the festive attire and the entertaining that is expected of them. To resolve this problem, the parish organizes multiple wedding ceremonies for several couples at the same time, also providing everything they need for the celebration. “It is a great relief for these couples to be finally married in church and so able to receive Holy Communion,” Father Kenneth tells us.

The involvement of the Church has tangibly changed the lives of these people. In the past, there could be feuds between members of the various local tribes, but the reconciliation work done by the Church has made a major contribution to fostering calm. At the same time, the situation of the women has greatly improved. Traditionally, the women of the Borana had no voice and were not permitted to do anything outside the home. But things have changed now, thanks to the work of the Church, and today more and more girls are attending school, with some women becoming catechists as well.

Once again this year ACN is proposing to support the pastoral work in the parish with $5,500, as we did last year. This help will be used for the formation of catechists, for the youth meetings and wedding ceremonies described above for couples who, after baptism, wish to be married in the sight in the Church. It will be also used to fund retreats days and other pastoral activities within the parish.

Will you give to support ongoing pastoral outreach among the Borana people of Ethiopia?

Aid to the Church in Need commits to invest your funds where they will have the greatest impact for the Church that we serve. Funds donated to Aid to the Church in Need’s projects will be used towards the greatest need in our programs to help keep the Faith alive.

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