6 February 2019
The Rev. Teshome Fikre Woldetensae helps serve the faithful of Holy Savior Church in Addis Ababa. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)
The current edition of ONE features a Letter from Ethiopia, written by the Rev. Teshome Fikre Woldetensae, a priest from the Eparchy of Emdibir in central Ethiopia. He describes with great poignancy what it is like to be a priest in that corner of the world:
I remember with great joy the visit I made when I was a parish priest to an old lady who was gravely ill, who used to live very far from the parish — a three-hour mule ride. It was a very rainy season and access to the village was very difficult. The village catechist and I covered most of the road on foot, since it was difficult to ride on mule. She was not expecting us, due to the weather. When we arrived, she could not believe it; she shouted with joy and felt relieved from her sickness for a time. The joy of that woman, in her final days of her earthly life, was exceptional for me and it touched me deeply.
I also think often about young Bedilu. He was 12 when I met him, living with his mother, Kelemua. Bedilu was born with a degenerative condition. He could not talk, and while he could stand and walk in his younger years, he eventually became bedridden. One day Kelemua came to me from her faraway village and asked me to go with her to visit her beloved son. I asked why, and she cried and cried.
Together, she and I went by car and entered the house where Bedilu was living. Seeing him and the place they lived — a small hut — broke my heart and I could not stop crying. I was very much impressed by the dedication and joy of Kelemua for serving her child.
I gave her what money I had, promising to support her and her son. I immediately wrote a letter to one of my friends in Italy explaining the situation, and before long I received funds to build a decent house for them. We bought a proper bed and other household goods — even a cow, for milk. Within a few months, the life situation of the family changed. Although doctors informed us that his condition could not be reversed, and only palliative care was possible, Bedilu and Kelemua had a greatly improved quality of life for years.
When he died, it was devastating for all of us who were involved in his life. His mother’s heart was broken, and we accompanied her in her grief. Kelemua’s strength and courage will remain with me forever.
Read more of his letter in the December 2018 edition of ONE.