Ethiopia’s Gambella Vicar Apostolic First Bishop Known to Die of COVID-19

The late Bishop Angelo Moreschi of Ethiopia's Gambella Vicariate. He died of COVID-19 on March 25, 2020 in Brescia, Italy
Credit: Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat

The Vicar Apostolic of Ethiopia’s Gambella Vicariate, Bishop Angelo Moreschi has succumbed to COVID-19, the first known Catholic Prelate to die of the pandemic.

Bishop Moreschi, 67, died Wednesday, March 25 in the Italian city of Brescia located in the northern region of Lombardy, the European epicenter of COVID-19.

At least 7,500 people have died from COVID-19 in Italy as the number of confirmed cases increased to 74,386 by Wednesday, March 25, according to a report.

A member of the religious institution of the Salesians of Don Bosco, the Italian-born Prelate has been a missionary in Ethiopia since 1991. He was appointed Vicar Apostolic of Gambella in December 2009 and ordained Bishop in January 2010.

“The Salesian community mourns the death of the Apostolic Vicar of Gambella (Ethiopia), namely Msgr. Angelo Moreschi, SDB, who died today, March 25, in Brescia (Italy) due to the coronavirus,” the Italy-based Salesian of Don Bosco News Service, Agenzia Info Salesiana has reported.

In Ethiopia, the Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference (CBCE) announced the death of the Bishop, conveying “deep condolences to the Clergy, religious, bereaved family and the lay faithful in the Apostolic Vicariate of Gambella.”

The Secretary General, Fr. Teshome Fikre also assured the people of God in Ethiopia’s Gambella Vicariate “closeness and prayers” of CBCE President, “members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ethiopia and the entire Catholic Church in Ethiopia.”

“May his soul rest in peace,” Fr. Fikre concluded in his letter written on behalf of CBCE President, Berhaneyesus Cardinal Souraphiel, the Archbishop of Addis Ababa.

Bishop Moreschi dedicated his pastoral ministry to the service of the poor and young people of Ethiopia, earning him the title of Abba, meaning Father in the local dialect according to June 2012 media report

“In his mission as prefect and then as apostolic vicar, he continued to embody the Salesian focus in helping children, accompanying them by his practical spirit and his strong apostolic zeal,” the Salesians of Don Bosco have reported and added, “In his visits to the villages, they still remember when the Salesian arrived with a battered SUV - or by motorboat in the villages along the Baro river when the roads were flooded - and he immediately began to distribute multi-vitamin biscuits to malnourished children.”

Bishop Moreschi has died “after serving the young, the poor and his flock of souls as a Salesian for 46 years, as a priest for 38, and as a bishop for over 10.”

COVID-19 has claimed the lives of several at least 60 Catholic priests. Bishops who have been tested positive for the virus are reported be recovering.

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