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CARF
14 Nov, 22

Priests' testimonies

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"Before I formed you in the womb, I chose you", Temesgen (Ethiopia).

Temesgen is a priest from Ethiopia who is studying in Rome at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, thanks to a CARF scholarship. He is studying Biblical Theology because in his Vicariate there is no priest trained in this subject. He tells us his testimony.

Temesgen, an Ethiopian priest in Rome

 Temesgen Bekele Wecho is a priest of the Vicariate of Hosanna, Ethiopia. He was born in Hobchaka in 1987 and is at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, studying for a degree in Biblical Theology, thanks to a scholarship from the CARF Foundation - Centro Academico Romano Foundation.

 It is a great challenge, since he is currently the only student from his country at the University of the Holy Cross and, in addition, he is taking a very difficult course of studies, since the Bachelor's Degree in Biblical Theology requires, before the two canonical years, an "integrative" year to undertake and deepen the study of the two main biblical languages, which are Ancient Greek and Hebrew.

However, Father Temesgen has it clear and the Word of God, in the Bible, through the prophet Jeremiah, is engraved in his heart.

 "God's plan for me."

 Since I was a child -he tells us. God had a plan for me and made it possible for me to come to the altar of the Lord to serve as a priest.

It was not so easy, as I was born in the most remote area of Ethiopia, in the south of the country, a region called Durame (Hobichaka). I have six sisters and two brothers. My father, mother and all my brothers and sisters are alive and all are faithful Catholic Christians. Surprisingly, I am the first boy born after six girls.

My family does not have many resources, as they survive on subsistence farming. And it was there, the place where the story of my vocation begins. When I was a child the desire to be a priest grew in me, especially when priests celebrated mass.

"Before I formed you in the womb, I chose you."

As I grew older, the desire grew stronger and stronger and I always hoped that this dream would come true, following the words of the prophet Jeremiah who says: "Before I formed you in the womb I chose you; before you came forth from the mother's womb I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations" (Jeremiah 1:5).

I trusted in God and admired the great work and the great work that the Catholic Church in Ethiopia was doing and in my diocese, the Vicariate of Hosanna, and in the whole country, for example, contributing in education and building schools. She is also engaged in the health sector, helping the weak and the poor.

I also wanted to be part of that work that was growing before my eyes and thank God it was so, for, after training in my country to become a priest, I was ordained on March 15, 2016. Thus, Temesgen became a priest of Ethiopia.

Temesgen Bekele Wecho, Ethiopian priest.
Temesgen Bekele Wecho, pictured here with his parents, was born in one of the most remote areas of Ethiopia, in the south of the country, a region called Durame (Hobichaka). "I have six sisters and two brothers. My father, mother and all my brothers and sisters are alive and all are faithful Catholic Christians. Surprisingly, I am the first boy born after six girls," he recounts.

His family does not have many resources, as they survive on subsistence farming, the place where the story of my vocation began. "When I was a child, the desire to be a priest grew in me, especially when priests celebrated mass and when I saw the great work of the Catholic Church in my country," he says.

A very difficult task

 Since I was ordained, I knew that the work that awaited me in my diocese was not going to be so easy. I belong to the Catholic Church in Ethiopia, which is a dynamic reality.but it is a minority in the country, where the majority of Christians belong to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Moreover, the Catholic Church itself has, in my country, two specific rites: the Latin and the Ge'ez (Ethiopian rite). Those of us who follow the Latin rite depend directly on the Holy See.

"My vicariate follows the Latin rite".

The Apostolic Vicariate of Hosanna follows the Latin rite and is exempt from mission, that is, directly subject to the Holy See, through the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, not being part of any local ecclesiastical conference, and is located in the southern part of Ethiopia, 235 km from the capital, Addis Ababa.

It is the youngest vicariate, erected on January 20, 2010. The Catholic Christians are more than one hundred and twenty thousand and His Excellency Bishop Seyoum Fransua is Vicar Apostolic.

Forty priests 

As you can see, it is a particular and complex reality and nowadays it counts on with more than forty priests and one permanent deacon.. However, among all these priests, only four of them have degrees in different faculties, since my Vicariate is the youngest and the poorest. One of them is Temesgen priest from Ethiopia.

It needs, therefore, more support in different areas and tasks, above all, for priests to be able to exercise their task of caring for the people of God, they must be well trained in various fields of education, especially in ecclesiastical studies.

"I admired the great work that the Catholic Church was doing in Ethiopia for example, contributing in education, building schools and helping the poorest. I also wanted to be part of that work that was growing before my eyes and thank God it was so, since, after training in my country to become a priest, I was ordained on March 15, 2016."

Studies in Rome

And now I am here, in Rome, precisely because I am one of those priests who need formation to continue studying and exercising their work with the people of God.

Thanks to a scholarship from the CARF Foundation, Centro Academico Romano Foundation, I am studying Biblical Theology at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. and living in such a beautiful reality as the Tiberino Priestly Collegewhere I can share with other priests from all over the world the catholicity of the Church and life among brothers in faith and ministry.

The reason why I am studying Biblical Theology is that in my Vicariate there is no one with this type of training. I am also interested in contributing to the life and mission of the Church in my Vicariate once I finish my studies, helping to form other priests like me.

Sincere thanks to the benefactors

At first life here has not been easy, due to the shock with the language and culture, but I have studied hard and worked very hard, so I am getting more familiar, happier every day to be here and enjoy my studies.

I am very grateful to my benefactors at CARF, Centro Academico Romano Foundation, for giving me this opportunity. The Vicariate and my family are so poor that they have no financial capacity to pay for my studies. So I owe it to you, the fact that I am here, and the Church of Ethiopia also thanks you very much.

I don't even have adequate words to show my sincere appreciation. I just want to assure you that I pray for you. May God bless you and your families in all your endeavors.

Gerardo Ferrara
BA in History and Political Science, specializing in the Middle East.
Head of the student body at the University of the Holy Cross in Rome.

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