Wednesday, November 16, 2022
It has been exactly two years (October 2020-October 2022) since the Catholic Parish of Gublak was closed down due to increased violence in the area. The Comboni Missionary fathers in charge of this Parish temporarily moved to their sister mission of Gilgel Beles. While in this hosting mission, they were following the progress and developments in and around Gublak. [In the picture, Fr. Isaiah Nyakundi, Comboni missionary]
Now, the consoling news is that, since mid-2022, the security situation has been greatly improving. The Comboni community of Gublak, after seriously evaluating the situation, decided to make a gradual return to the mission. This will be a source of hope and encouragement to the faithful already and gradually coming back to their homes. Once in Gublak, they felt a great and warm welcome from the faithful who have been scattered for more than two years.
The community arrived in Gublak on the 26th of September of 2022, the vigil of the feast of Holy Cross, according to the Ethiopian calendar. The faithful, gathered for mass and damera, the bonfire that marks the feast, welcomed fathers Christ Roi Tometyb and Isaiah Nyakundi with songs of joy.
Special World Mission Day Weekend in Gublak
World Mission Day is celebrated in every Catholic community around the world. It is a moment of grace to express solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ who are living in situations of poverty, violence and oppression like in Gublak. It is the one day in the year when the entire global Church comes together in support of mission.
World Mission Day this year fell on 23rd of October. It was an opportunity to express our support to the community that needs our help. After a long moment of absence from our mission, it became a moment of grace to express solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ who are living in situations of poverty, violence and oppression.
The theme the Holy Father chose this year was “You shall be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). In his message for the event Pope Francis wrote: “This is the heart of Jesus’ teaching to the disciples regarding their mission in the world. The disciples are to be witnesses of Jesus, in every place and situation, thanks to the grace of the Holy Spirit that they will receive… In a similar way, every Christian is called to be a missionary and witness to Christ. The Church’s only mission, as the community of Christ’s disciples, is to bring the Gospel to the entire world by bearing witness to Christ.”
World Mission Day is vital to the growth of the Church and the spread of the Gospel in predominately impoverished and remote areas.
Pray — Give — Go
One of the wonderful things about World Mission Day is that every parish around the world prays for and financially supports the global Church. On this particular Sunday, we were honored by the brave and selfless presence of Mr Argaw Fantu, the Regional Director for CNEWA (Catholic Near East Welfare Association)-Ethiopia. CNEWA-Ethiopia responded to our urgent appeal for the suffering and forgotten IDPs of Gublak area. Through their office, we have were able to provide food and non-food items to more than 450 families.
Mr Argaw, who braved and overcame all the prejudices still existing about visiting Metekel Zone in general and Gublak in particular, was accompanied by Fr Corado Masini, Provincial Treasurer of the Comboni Province of Ethiopia.
The day began with a Holy Mass celebrated in St Raphael’s chapel, in Daboh Kokel village, followed by the exercise of sharing of the relief items with the beneficiaries. The distribution took place in three places: Daboh Kokel and Jimteha chapels and Gublak parish center.
This act of solidarity provokes a deep sense of concern about the thousands more yet unreached and remains unaided. As pastors, we continue raising calls to more donors and individuals to pray passionately for lasting peace, give sacrificially to help many more and pray for more men and women dedicated to go out intentionally for the glory of Christ among all peoples.
The mission in Metekel zone — as many other places — has gone through turbulent times. Combonis and other missionaries opted to remain close to their people. These times urged us to think through creative ways of reaching out to our people like attending regular market days to either hear some news or send some medicine or food to some faithful or catechists. These missionaries remained and stayed behind with the people because they are God-called, Christ-centered, gospel-saturated, church-affirming, Spirit-led who responded to the call to go the nations.
The global mission: making disciples of all nations
For far too long, many followers of Christ have seen global mission as a compartmentalized program in the Church for a selected few called to this purpose. Yet when one looks from cover to cover through Scripture, one realizes that global mission is the purpose for which each one of us has been created. We have been created, called, and commissioned to play a part in making disciples of all nations. This call to mission most assuredly mean making disciples right where we live, among neighbors, co-workers, and acquaintances in our communities and cities. At the same time, we work on mission wherever we live with a continual openness to go on mission wherever God leads.
The work of the missionary involves proclaiming the Gospel, making disciples, gathering them into churches, and then raising up leaders who will shepherd those churches on mission in the world. The missionary task is not fully complete until new churches join in the mission. When we look at the world, then, we must not only view unreached people as a harvest field, but also as a potential harvest force. For when unreached people are reached, they become an entirely new force filled with the Spirit and focused on the spread of the Gospel to more unreached people.
Fr. Isaiah Nyakundi Sangwera, MCCJ