For eight years now Nigerian-born Father Kenneth Iwuna has been working as a missionary in a remote and underdeveloped region in the south of Ethiopia. This is a region inhabited by the Borana people, a traditionally nomadic ethnic group. Nowadays, many of the families are becoming settled, but others continue the nomadic tradition, ranging across the land with their herds.
Christianity is quite new to many people here, but a growing are joyfully embracing the Good News of Christ. Of the 9000 or so people living within the area of the Holy Cross Parish, based in the town of Dhadim and under the care of Father Kenneth, around 5000 have already embraced the Catholic Faith – and the number is growing. Many people are now seeking baptism.
The young people of the parish are particularly enthusiastic, with around 250 youngsters actively involved in parish life. Father Kenneth has organised a full spiritual programme for them, with retreat days, Bible courses, choral singing and other activities. Additionally, around 100 of these young people take part in an annual three-day pastoral programme in a neighbouring diocese. Father Kenneth reports: „Most of them have never been anywhere except their own village, so that for them it is an important experience to meet together with young people from other ethnic groups and share their ideas and experiences. These young people are growing in their faith and gaining a new experience of the Church. These days are an advantage not only for themselves, but also benefit the whole community. For when the young people come back they relate their experiences in the church. And even the older people are very interested to hear about them.“ In this way the young people also help to evangelise the older generation.
Another initiative organised by Father Kenneth is a catechetical programme for couples who have been baptised but not yet married in the Church and whose unions need to be regularised before they can receive Holy Communion. But many cannot afford a gold ring or the festive clothing and wedding feast that is expected of them. And so the parish organises joint marriage ceremonies for several couples at a time and helps to provide everything they need. „It is an immense relief for these couples to be finally married in the sight of the Church and able to receive Holy Communion“, Father Kenneth reports.
ACN is helping the parish with all these different activities, both for the young people and for the couples, and so that they can also continue in the coming year 2021, we are once again proposing to send a contribution of 5000 Euros.