Ethiopia – Gighessa Mission attacked and destroyed

gighessa

The Patron Saint of the Church of Gighessa is the blessed Virgin Consolata where we worked until the early 90s. Many of our missionaries worked there and the first pastoral center was built by Fr. Domenico Zordan. Gighessa is part of our history in Ethiopia and all of us have felt very much this attack on  the mission.
Fr. Oscar Clavijo
 
Message from Bishop Abraham Desta, Vicariate of Meki, Ethiopia

“Gracious is the Lord and just; yes, our God is merciful. The Lord protects the simple; I was helpless, but God saved me.” (Psalm 116: 5-6)

Dear your Eminence, Bishops, Priests, Religious, friends and well wishers,

Better to be late than Never.
With a mixed feelings of joy and sorrow I write this few lines. Feelings of Joy that the Lord took care of all human beings. No one is injured or harmed bodily. Humanly speaking all lives are safe. A feeling of sadness, the center which was the fruit of generous hearts is shattered into pieces left behind nothing.

Dear friends on 18th of February 2016 the unforgettable day for the Vicariate of Meki. It was on this day that one of the oldest and biggest parishes of the Vicariate of Meki namely Gighessa Parish the people for whom and with whom we work very closely turned against the church and its structures. To our surprise and astonishment suddenly without any reason or information the people of the village where the parish exists came in group (including young and old, women and children) and started throwing the stones and destroying the Churchproperties. As the parish is attached with pastoral centre of the diocese, where we are able to accommodate about 650 ( 50- people in self contained rooms and about 600 people in the dormitories)at a time and at that time we had about 55 people attending an Educational Programme for the Kindergarten directors, and teachers. The group was an international group belonging to Ethiopians, Indonations, Pilipino, Indians, Americans, Italians, Cameroonians, and Colombians, polish etc. And unfortunately we had to leave the place without completing the programme. The Lord was so good that He made all the arrangements to take the participants away from the place in short time safe and sound. But to our fate soon after the group left the miscrediants came back againand put fire to the Priests residence ( ground plus one building), the Toyota Pickup car and destroyed all the other buildings without having any exception. Moreover they carried away all that belong to the center. The furnitures, including more than 250 beds, mattresses, over 700 blankets, bed sheets, bed covers, four to five fridges and deep freezers, washing machines, Televisions, generators, copier machines, computers even the doors and windows of the house. Absolutely leaving nothing the place completely damaged and barren. Even in the Kitchen they have left nothing. In the kitchen store we had over 12-135 quintals of food stuff like, wheat, teef, maize, sugar, rice, pastas, in short whatever was purchased as per the budget for the whole year use for the various programmes which are to be conducted at the center and the stationary items which was collected for the various programmes were also looted by the people. They made sure that everything is taken away even the smallest spoon. The centre also had a small farm with cows and chicken for milk and meat and that too is in the hands of the people. And today there is a question in our hearts and minds. Why Lord Why like this? I hope that in due time the Lord will give us an answer.
And in the centre we have the priest house, Parish Church, Pastoral centre, Sisters residence, a fully equipped Clinic to look after the handicapped and disabled, and the school. And to our surprise only the school building they have not damaged. We are asking to ourselves and to others an another question, why did they not touch the school?
The Ursoline Sisters who run the clinic were left behind with the patients as they were not willing to leave the patients alone, but the people did not spare them too. They came and demanded that they wanted to take away everything and they began to destroy and to take away everything including the personal clothes in front of the sisters. But sad to say no one went to help the sisters, but by God’s Grace they managed to reach to Shashamane the nearest parish along with the patients and spend that night in the parish. And now the patients are at Shashamane under the care of the Catholic Church and I have requested the Priest at Shashamane to reach the sisters to the Vicariate at Meki. They came out from the house only with what they were putting on. They have lost everything except the precious gift of Life that is being given freely by God Almighty. And sad to say all this are done by the people of the locality whom they were serving to whom they know very well if not all at least a good number of them. No others from elsewhere have hand in it. Thanks and praise to Almighty God that He protected every human being and no one is harmed or injured.This is one of the greatest miracles I believe. Even when the sisters were left alone having no one to support they did not do any harm to them only took away everything and they were left like refugees. Even the sisters have lost all their personal documents.
The only building that they have not destroyed is the school building. That’s the only building existing, the rest all the buildings, Pastoral center, church, clinic, Sisters house, the various offices everything is shattered and destroyed leaving walls and roof here and there having no doors and windows. The lord had given and the people have taken away everything. Even the doors windows, furniture everything is taken away and, it is completely empty and it gives a deserted looks. That’s what I got the news. So far we have not gone to the place to make a study or investigate. The Blessed Sacrament was left behind as the Priests and the sisters were not able to go to the church. Sisters took the Blessed Sacrament from the Sisters chapel. But to our surprise two young catholic girls from Gighessa pretended to be one among them went on the next day and took the Blessed Sacrament and reached it to the Shashamane parish. Through all these incidents the Lord is reminding us that He is with us until the end of time.
Dear friends, this center was the fruit of many generous heart and it took many years to reach the state what it was. But in a moment everything shattered into pieces. And I am not in position to think and to plan out what to do and what not to do. Humanly speaking it is, beyond my imagination to rebuild it back into what it was. But still we are planning, thinking and discerning and praying about it. I am Sure and certain that the Good Lord who has permitted this to take place at Gighessa has a plan for all this and he will show what to do next.
Dear friends do continue to support us through prayers, that we may be able to draw strength and courage from Him at this junction. May God give Mercy to those who facilitated this evil doing.
Once again with kind regards and in union of prayers,
+Abba Abraham Desta
Apostolic Vicar of Meki
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8 thoughts on “Ethiopia – Gighessa Mission attacked and destroyed

  1. Courage and hope to our brothers and Sisters!
    The Merciful Lord has granted them the Precious Gift of Life!
    May He guide them as they heal from the shock encountered!

  2. Dear Fr. Oscar and Bishop Desta i am shoked by the happening,but we are with you all praying the good Lord and our Lady Consolata to assist you all and have mercy on all the evil dooers…..
    Courage and let’s help Christ to carry the Cross.
    Bro. Mario Bernardi imc.

  3. For us MIssionaries this is another lesson to learn. Some of us with similar experience, hiden in our souls, though not that big , this is normal. It needs time for the people to become aware that we are working for them. May be the school transmits direct fruits for them to see immediately, that is why they respected it! I may be wrong! It is painful, certainly, but this is our reality let us not give up but look for the better strategies of helping our people. God is Love.

  4. I feel Sorry. I didn’t know this place but my Supervisor sister told me about the place. It is a bad news. What is wrong with the Church. As long as the church is there there is development work, the ultimate beneficiaries from the church is the local people regardless of religion. I have heard as the church of the EOT were also burnt. What does it mean? is this expected from religious persons? Is there any elder who can protect this evil issues there?

    any way let us Pray God who will do what he wants at any time.

    May God help us.

  5. I am speechless, felt lost when I heard the news. I didn’t believe at the beginning because I was afraid of hearing the truth. I don’t understand why they destroyed it and what benefits they get. I spent most of my childhood and it was my home that change my life. I am the person who I am because of Gighess. They help the community and a lot of children’s with disability had surgery with help of Italian doctors so, those kid go back to the community and have noraml life. Is this how we treat the organization that help your community?.

  6. I just read this today and I am heart broken by what happened. I have been in Jigessa with father Silvio, father Paul and have many disabled friends from Jigessa who I went boarding school in Gambo. Father Luigi is buried there and father Bonzanino was buried there. The cheshire disabled children have been supported by Father Dominico, It is a shame and hope they know what they have done which many has been given to them and ask forgiveness.

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