Project of the Week – Ethiopia: A Village Chapel in the Apostolic Vicariate of Soddo

 The apostolic vicariate of Soddo lies in southern Ethiopia around 385 km south of the capital Addis Ababa. The territory of the vicariate is approximately 47,000 km² in area and has almost 192,000 Catholics today. The number of parishes is growing and there are now 34 of them, together with numerous out-stations, which are increasing more and more in number. But most of these parishes are still in their infancy and many of them lack practically all the usual parish structures.

The faithful are willing and enthusiastic and often build their own small wooden grass roofed chapels—after the manner of the typical local “Tukuls”—with their own hands. Needless to say, these do not last long and rapidly become too small for the growing communities.  

A typical example is the parish of Saint Francis in Kanafa. It has a total of 21 out stations organized in five different pastoral zones. Only one of these has a permanent chapel, built of durable materials such as concrete blocks. Now we have received a request from the parish priest, Capuchin Father (Abba) Abraham Waza, for help to build a durable chapel in another of these out-stations, Dakaya. The village is around 15 km from the central parish and can only be reached via rough, hilly tracks. Consequently, it is impossible for the 500 Catholic faithful in Dakaya to get to the central parish for Sunday Mass, and their own chapel of the Archangel Gabriel is by now increasingly dilapidated and in any case far too small. Most of the Catholic faithful must stand outside during Holy Mass, in the full glare of the tropical sun. “My fear is that more and more of my parishioners may desert us for the sects,” says Abba Abraham sadly. 

Once the new church has been built, it is intended that Dakaya will become an independent parish. But “on account of the poverty, the backward agricultural methods and the slow progress of civilization, and the resulting constant poverty and hunger in the region, the people of the parish are in no position to fully fund the project themselves—though they are ready and willing to provide wood, straw, water and their own manual labour to see the construction of the new chapel through to completion“ Abba Abraham assures us.  

We would be only too happy to help with the 22,350 dollars needed to ensure that the new chapel can indeed be completed. Would you be willing to help us? 

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