Support for ongoing pastoral outreach to the Borana people
By ACN Projects Department and ACN Canada
Published on the web February 19, 2020
Holy Cross Parish is based in the village of Dhadim, in a remote and underdeveloped region of southern Ethiopia. Its people are members of the Borana tribe who were until very recently, nomadic. Today more and more of them are becoming settled, although some continue their traditional pattern of migration with their herds of cattle.
At present around 5,000 of the 9,000 people in the area are Catholics, however a growing number of people are also seeking baptism. The parish itself is alive with catechetical classes and Bible study circles and in addition, the vocations apostolate is now starting to bear fruits. Two girls have expressed a desire to become religious Sisters, and five of the boys are showing an interest in the priesthood.
The youth are very active with around 250 young people regularly involved in the parish. Thanks to assistance supplied by ACN somewhere between 65 and 100 young people are able to take part each year in a three-day pastoral program in another diocese.
Father Kenneth Iwunna, the parish priest and a missionary from Nigeria, reports: “Most of them have never been anywhere except their own village. So for them it is an important new experience to meet together with young people from other ethnic backgrounds and share their life experiences with them. They don’t speak the same language, but we make sure there is someone there to interpret. The young people are able to grow in their faith and enjoy an important new experience of being Church. And it is not only they themselves who benefit from these days, but the whole community, for when the young people come back home, they talk about their experiences in church. And the older people are also very interested to hear about it.”
Overall, the involvement of the Church has tangibly changed the lives of these people. In the past there were intermittent feuds between members of the various local tribes, but the reconciliation work done by the Church has made a major contribution to the calming of the situation. At the same time, the situation of women has greatly improved in the society. Traditionally, the women of the Borana had no voice and were not permitted to do anything outside the home. But things have changed now, thanks to the work of the Church, and today more and more girls are attending school. And now women can even work as catechists.
As we did last year, ACN is proposing to support the pastoral work in the parish with $7,500. These funds will be used for the training of catechists, for the youth meetings and wedding ceremonies for couples wishing to marry in the Church following their Baptisms. The money will be also used to fund retreat days and other pastoral activities in the parish.