The apostolic vicariate of Gambella lies in the extreme west of Ethiopia, on the border with South Sudan. It is one of the poorest and most underdeveloped regions in the country, and additionally constantly plagued by violence, unrest and conflict. Most of the people here still cling to pagan tribal religions and many have never even heard of Jesus Christ. However, they generally welcome the presence of the Catholic Church, and as soon as there is a Catholic presence in their area they are also eager for the ministry of a priest.
So it was, eight years ago, when a number of Catholic government employees found themselves posted to the town of Nyininyang, where there was no Catholic Church and no priest at the time. These Catholics began to meet in the open to pray together, and they also wrote to the bishop, asking him to send them a priest. He sent them an Italian missionary, who began his pastoral ministry in the town. Initially, he did not even have a permanent place to stay, but he set himself tirelessly to serve the people. So it was that the parish of the Holy Cross was born. But soon after, people in the surrounding villages also wanted to learn more about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so, despite the poor roads and the many other pastoral challenges, the priest also began to minister to the surrounding areas, often to people who had never heard anything about the Catholic faith before. More and more villages joined in and asked for instruction in the Catholic faith. This year, and not for the first time, there will be more than 200 baptisms!
One of these villages is called Tormorok. There are already many Catholics here and more and more people are seeking baptism. The faithful would love to have a church of their own, for at present it is a six-hour walk to the central parish church, which is too much for many, above all for children and the elderly. Up till now they met to pray in a straw-thatched hut, but now their new priest, Father Mesert Tadesse wants to help them finally build a chapel of their own.