21 November 2011
Ethiopians attend early morning prayer led by monks of Meskaye Hizunan Medhane Alem Monastery in Addis Ababa. (photo: Peter Lemieux)
In the November 2010 issue of ONE, Peter Lemieux explored how Ethiopian Orthodox monasticism now functions in a more modern or urban setting:
Sunrise at the Meskaye Hizunan Medhane Alem Monastery in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital and largest city, feels anything but contemplative. A cacophony of roaring bus and car engines interrupts the early morning calm. A blur of red brake lights eclipses the rising sun’s soft rays. The compound, which includes a church and an elementary and high school, sits at the heart of the bustling Sidist Kilo neighborhood, home to Addis Ababa University’s main campus. The neighborhood’s urban energy is palpable, even when the city has barely awakened.
Inside the church, worshipers and monks have filled the pews to celebrate the day’s first liturgy. Chants drown out the noise of the street. Incense meanders through the candlelit nave.
As the service concludes, Abbot Melake Girmai leads the monks to the monastery’s refectory. A small army of kitchen staff serves a hearty breakfast — fluffy white injera (spongy bread made from teff), wat (a traditional vegetable and meat stew), fruit, coffee and tea.
Though hardly the lap of luxury, the monks at this urban religious house enjoy comforts unthinkable in the far more ascetic rural monasteries for which Ethiopian Orthodoxy has long been known.
For more from this story see, Relevant or Relic?.
7 November 2011
Tags: Ethiopia Africa Monastery
A mother and child in Ethiopia wait for food tickets. (photo: Christian Molidor)
Women throughout Ethiopia have struggled for equality for quite some time. Thanks to groups like the Good Shepherd Sisters, there have been some victories in this battle:
One of the sisters’ most successful programs, Delta trains women in community organizing and civic leadership. Hundreds of women have benefited, learning how to be active agents of change in their communities. “People were sitting on their tails,” explained Sister Myriam in a pronounced Irish brogue.
“We told them, ‘You have major problems here, but nothing that can’t be solved. God is here. But God can’t do everything. He’s waiting for you to get off your backside and do something about it.’ ”
For more from this story see, An Uphill Battle by Peter Lemieux.
Meanwhile, at least one young woman from Ethiopia is outrunning her country’s history — and making some history of her own. Firehiwot Dado won the New York City Marathon yesterday. Her finishing time was seconds from the course record set in 2003.
27 October 2011
Tags: Ethiopia Africa
Young girls celebrate one of Ethiopia’s holiest days, Mariam Zion or
Mary of Zion in Askum, Ethiopia. (photo: Sean Sprague)
Today, according to the Latin calendar, is the feast day for Saint Frumentius, who is considered one of the apostles of Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church venerates Saint Frumentius, however, on August 1.
St. Frumentius is the first Abune — a title given to the head of the Ethiopian Church— and credited with the founding of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
In the May 2010 issue of ONE we profiled the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and its origins:
The character of Aksum changed in the early fourth century when the emperor, Ezana, declared Christianity the official state religion. Influenced by his tutor, Frumentius, Ezana had embraced the Christian faith and later installed his former tutor as Aksum’s first bishop. Ordained to the episcopacy by Athanasius, the sainted patriarch of the Egyptian city of Alexandria, Frumentius established filial bonds with the Egyptian church that remained for centuries. Until the middle of the 20th century, a Coptic (derived from the Greek for “Egyptian”) metropolitan archbishop governed the Ethiopian church.
Ezana is also credited with obtaining the most important symbol of Ethiopian Christianity, the Ark of the Covenant. According to an ancient Ethiopian tradition, the Jews of Aksum guarded the Ark on an island refuge. It had been carried from Jerusalem to Aksum by Menelik, the son of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, a figure Ethiopians and Eritreans claim as their own.
To learn more about The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, read our profile in the May 2010 issue of our magazine.
19 October 2011
Tags: Africa Ethiopian Orthodox Church
Lunchtime at the Bethlehem Day Care Center, Addis Ababa. (photo: Sean Sprague)
In the March 2006 issue of ONE Sean Sprague reported on the impact of Catholic Schools in Ethiopia. With the support of organizations such as CNEWA, Catholic schools in Ethiopia provide a quality education to children throughout the nation:
For more than 40 years, CNEWA has provided tens of thousands of children with food, shelter, clothes and schooling. Until recently, this support was earmarked for each individual child, whether enrolled in a Catholic school or living in an orphanage administered by a religious community, said CNEWA’s Regional Director for Ethiopia, De La Salle Christian Brother Vincent Pelletier. Now, in addition to providing these essentials, the agency has begun to support the needs of the institutions as well.
“This includes salaries, administrative costs and the repair and improvement of school facilities,” said Brother Vincent. “We have also learned that the schools’ administrators and teachers were not sufficiently trained,” he added, “so we are developing teacher training workshops.” To that end, CNEWA has recruited Felleke Shibikom, a veteran administrator of Ethiopia’s Catholic schools with more than 35 years of experience.
“Over time,” Brother Vincent said, “we expect this program will raise the level of administration and teaching in the 38 schools supported by CNEWA.” This includes Merhawi Kahsay’s school in Adaga.
For more from this story, see Making the Grade in Ethiopia by Sean Sprague.
4 October 2011
Tags: Ethiopia Africa Catholic education Catholic Schools
Ethiopian Orthodox priests wear the Tabot, symbolizing the Ark of the Covenant, during the beginning of the celebration of the Ethiopian religious festivity of Timqat/Epiphany in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (photo: Cody Christopulos)
Timqat or Epiphany is 12 days after Orthodox Christmas. It celebrates the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan. Wikipedia describes the meaning of the beautiful headdresses worn by the priests in the photo above:
During the ceremonies of Timkat, the Tabot, a model of the Ark of the Covenant, which is present on every Ethiopian altar (somewhat like the Western altar stone), is reverently wrapped in rich cloth and born in procession on the head of the priest. The Tabot, which is otherwise rarely seen by the laity, represents the manifestation of Jesus as the Messiah when he came to the Jordan for baptism.
For more on Ethiopian priests check out the story, As it Was, So Shall It Remain? from the September 2009 edition of ONE.
29 September 2011
Tags: Ethiopia Africa Monastery Ethiopian Orthodox Church
An Ethiopian monk prays at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City.
(Photo: Peter Lemieux)
Ben Cramer reported on the dwindling number of pilgrims or visitors to the Holy Land in the March/April 2004 issue of the magazine. The violence in the region at the time kept pilgrims away and depressed Christians living in the region:
The crisis jeopardizes the region’s Christian communities in ways that go beyond economics. According to Christian leaders in the area, the absence of Christian pilgrims in the birthplace of their faith is having a troubling impact on local parishioners and even the hope for peace in the Middle East.
“Pilgrimage has almost totally stopped since 2000,” says Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah. “There are a few pilgrims coming here out of true conviction, but these are only small groups, primarily from Italy, France and Spain.”
Since this story ran in 2004, the number of pilgrimages to the Holy Land has increased. According to a January 2011 article from Independent Catholic News, “...the highest number of pilgrims went to Bethlehem for the Christmas celebrations since 2000. Up to 500 Christians from Gaza were also able to come to Bethlehem which was a considerable improvement...”
For more, check out Holy Land: increase in number of Christians returning home.
23 September 2011
Tags: Ethiopia Jerusalem Holy Land Africa
Roman’s Girls, a Catholic initiative in Addis Ababa, assists about 20 girls with school.
(photo: Peter Lemieux)
Today marks the autumnal equinox in the northern hemisphere — the first day of fall.
For a lot of children, the return of fall means returning to school. In the countries CNEWA serves, Catholic schools are often the only institutions providing an education in regions where quality education is a luxury. Meki Catholic School in central Ethiopia is one example. In An Uphill Battle, Peter Lemieux explored some of the challenges young women in Meki, Ethiopia face in their quest to achieve a higher education:
If growing up in Ethiopia these days were a race, these children would appear to be off to a good start. But a closer look reveals an unfair contest, one that favors the boys.
While Meki Catholic School makes every effort to maintain gender balance — an equal number of boys and girls make up its primary grades — the number of girls enrolled in the school’s secondary classes drops sharply. For the girls fortunate enough to remain in school, the harsh reality of Ethiopia’s tradition of gender disparity hits harder than a stiff headwind in a 50-yard dash.
Against a metal fence enclosing the school grounds, Messeret Yohannes, an 18-year-old senior, discusses the future with her girlfriends. All expect to go to college. And all hope to become professionals either in accounting, banking, education or medicine. Given the school’s outstanding achievements, high aspirations such as theirs are certainly realistic. From among the graduating class, 94 percent are expected to attend college, compared to 30 to 35 percent nationally.
For more, check out the May 2009 issue of ONE. Also, if you are interested in learning how you can help children in Ethiopia attend school, visit our website for more information.
18 August 2011
Tags: Ethiopia Africa Women (rights/issues) Catholic education Catholic Schools
The faithful at Ba’ta Mariam Church, on one of the Mariam feast days. (photo: Peter Lemieux)
In November 2010 writer Peter Lemieux brought us a story called “Relevant or Relic”, about Ethiopian life and culture. In one of Peter’s unpublished interviews, a source offered some insight on how women are treated in the country:
Women take a backseat to men in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and elders in general in society. “If a woman seeks counseling in the church, she’s sent to a man. In marriage counseling, they’re more concerned about you being submissive to [your] husband. You don’t talk about personal relationships or married life. You don’t disclose that. If you do, you’re likely to be discriminated against or viewed as different, not following the line,” says Halina Atlabachew.
That wasn’t the first time Peter Lemieux and ONE had looked at gender issues in Ethiopia. For more check out our May 2009 story, An Uphill Battle. In a multimedia feature, we also heard from two Sisters of the Good Shepherd, who have worked with women extensively in Ethiopia.
17 August 2011
Tags: Ethiopia Africa Ethiopian Orthodox Church
Local youth from Derbent in Russia, spend time at the shore of the Caspian Sea. Often identified with the legendary Gates of Alexander, Derbent claims to be the oldest city in the Russian Federation. (photo: Justyna Mielnikiewicz)
Check out the November 2009 edition of ONE magazine to find out more about the remarkable history of this place in the story “Where Europe meets Asia.”
Photographer Justyna Mielnikiewicz has traveled and documented the Caucasus region extensively. Learn more about her work in the multimedia feature, A Photographer’s Perspective.