Ethiopia: the Catholics of Pawi are delighted with their new church
After so many years, the Catholics of Pawi, in northwest Ethiopia, have a „proper“ church of their own. And it was thanks to the 50,000 Euros contributed by the benefactors of Aid to the Church in Need.
The people living here today have seen hard times in the past. Around the middle of the 1980s, under the brutal communist dictatorship of Haile Mariam Mengistu, they were deported here from the south of the country. Carried out under the guise of a humanitarian measure to alleviate the famine in that region – a famine that claimed hundreds of thousands of human lives – it was, in reality, brutal mass deportation and resettlement of around 1 ½ million human beings. For thousands of elderly people, sick people and children the suffering was unendurable and they died as a result.
At the time around 15,000 people were deported to Pawi, among them 3,000 Catholics. They found themselves in an inhospitable region, facing extreme heat and drought such as they had never experienced before in their lives. These harsh living conditions were still further exacerbated by the regime, which banned any form of religious expression.
So the people were deprived even of the consolation of the sacraments and the life of the Church. At most they could only practice their faith in secret and at the risk of severe punishment. Yet despite this, they remained faithful to their beliefs.
Following the collapse of the regime, which was ultimately responsible for the deaths of an estimated 2.5 million people, the Christian faithful were, at last, free to live their faith openly once again. They got together and built a small mud chapel with their own hands, but it collapsed again in the next rainy season. Again and again, they tried to build a permanent chapel, but they were never able to raise the money to do so. And of course, the mud chapels they were able to build were far too small for the ever-growing number of the Catholic faithful.
Now, they have at last been able to build a beautiful and solid church in which Holy Mass can be worthily celebrated and they can all gather together to pray.