TOUGH TIMES FOR CATHOLICS IN ERITREA
These are tough economic times for many in the United States, and elsewhere. However, if you are able to assist fellow Catholics who may be worse off than your family now, please consider the following.
Since 2000, the Angelicum Academy has been sending assistance to the Catholic Bishop of Asmara, the capitol of Eritrea. Eritirea is one of the poorest nations on earth.
ERITREA (darkened, to the upper right in the Horn of Africa)
Based on World Bank Development Indicators published in July 2006, here are the 7 poorest countries in the world. GNP per capita for each country is shown in US dollars.
Seven Poorest Countries
1. Burundi … $90
2. Ethiopia … $110
3. Democratic Republic of Congo … $110
4. Liberia … $110
5. Malawi … $160
6. Guinea-Bissau … $160
7. Eritrea … $190
Obviously the difference in income in these nations is insignificant -it ranges from 25 to 50 cents per day. In addition drought has devastated the Horn of Africa, including Eritrea. The famine is made a lot worse by lack of democracy, legitimate and responsible governance, and respect for human rights. The ruler of Eritrea is a Marxist dictator. Could it get much worse? Well, yes. Try being a part of the Catholic minority in Eritrea.
Although reliable statistics are not available, it is estimated that half of the population of Eritrea is Christian, mostly Orthodox. Approximately 3 percent of the population (about 150,000) is Roman Catholic. There are two Catholic rites in Eritrea: the Latin Rite and the Ethiopian Rite spoken in the ancient Ge’ez langauge. There are three Catholic dioceses (called Eparchies) in Eritrea.
The Catholic major seminary is in the capitol, Asmara. This seminary was almost closed prior to receiving financial assistance from Americans who responded to our first call for assistance years ago. It now has 44 seminarians. Following is a recent email from the seminary rector, Abba (Father) Kesete Ghebreyohannes (GabrielJohn), who refers to the Bishop Emeritus of Asmasa, Abune (Bishop) Zekarias Yohannes (Zachary John):
The Peace of Christ be with you,
First, let me introduce myself to you. This is Abba kesete Ghebreyohannes who is the spiritual son of Abune Zekarias Yohannes, in Asmara Eritrea. Yes, he is my beloved spiritual father. I became a priest thanks to his encouragements and prayers. I was ordained to the priesthood in 1992 by him. Then, Abune Zekarias sent to me to Rome and Washington DC for further education. He is very greatful. He had been receiving the previous letters. He thanks to you very much. He is doing very well. He told me to write for you on behalf of him. If you can, send to him some money to help the poor, but if you can’t, do not worry. Now, I am the formator and rector of the Major Seminary, in Asmara. We do have 44 Seminarians.
Once again, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! God bless you,
On behalf of Abune Zekarias Yohannes
Following is a recent letter from the present Catholic Bishop of Asmara, expressing his wish that we send this email appeal to help the Church in Eritrea:
Thank you for the prompt response. I hope and pray that your Christmas celebration was fine and full of blessings. I would certainly be glad if you did what you propose in your e-mail. The minor seminary, the year of the priests, the elderly priests and the parish houses are the four main projects which need special attention this year. May the Child Jesus help you in your efforts and bless you and all our benefactors. As you may know our Christmas will be on Jan 7th.
Happy New Year to all.
Abune Menghesteab Tesfamariam, MCCJ
Funds are needed to keep the minor seminary open, to fund some activities for the conclusion of the Year for Priests, for parish rectories (some priests are presently in what are little better than tumbledown shacks), for the major seminary, which has a very hopeful large group of 44 seminarians, and for the poor.
If you can help the Church in need, there are few places more in need, if any.
Donations may be sent directly to the
PO Box 47
Manitou Springs, CO 80829
(make out check to “Angelicum Academy” with memo: “Eritrea”)
Fr. Peter Ciuciulla
Comboni Mission Office
1318 Nagel Road
Cincinnati, OH 45255
(make out check to “Comboni Missions” with memo: “for Asmara, Eritrea Eparchy”)
It is inadvisable to send funds directly to Eritrea as they may be seized.
100% of all funds received will be delivered to the Catholic Bishop of Asmara. Thank you for your generosity. May God bless you abundantly in the New Year!
Patrick S.J. Carmack
The Angelicum Academy