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Catholic Aid Organization Facilitating Church Marriages for Couples in Ethiopia

The Borana people, members of one of the indigenous tribes in the South of Ethiopia, are embracing Catholic Sacraments with the help of a Pontifical charity organization which is at the centre of primary evangelization among the traditionally nomadic group.

According to the leadership of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International, a significant number of the Borana people are increasingly abandoning their nomadic life and settling down, a situation that is allowing them to embrace Christianity.

“Christianity is quite new to many people here, but a growing population are joyfully embracing the Good News of Christ,” ACN leadership says in a Monday, December 14 report obtained by ACI Africa.

The charity organization spoke with Nigerian-born Fr. Kenneth Iwunna who, for eight years, has been working as a missionary in the remote and underdeveloped region in the south of Ethiopia.

Of the 9,000 or so people living within the area of the Holy Cross Parish, based in the town of Dhadim and under the care of Fr. Iwunna, around 5,000 have already embraced the Catholic Faith.

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The member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans) notes that the number of those who are embracing the Catholic faith is growing, with many people now seeking baptism.

The Nigerian-born Cleric has been running a catechetical program for couples who have been baptized but not yet received the Sacrament of Matrimony to be able to receive Holy Communion.

“Many cannot afford a gold ring or the festive clothing and wedding feast that is expected of them,” Fr. Iwunna has reported to ACN.

To curb the challenge, Holy Cross Parish in Dhadim, South of Ethiopia organizes joint marriage ceremonies for several couples at a time and helps to provide everything they need, Fr. Iwunna says.

“It is an immense relief for these couples to be finally married in the sight of the Church and able to receive Holy Communion,” the Cleric says.

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The young people of the parish are particularly enthusiastic with around 250 youngsters actively involved in parish life, ACN has reported, adding, “Fr. Kenneth has organized a full spiritual program for them, with retreat days, Bible courses, choral singing and other activities.”

Additionally, around 100 of these young people take part in an annual three-day pastoral program in a neighboring Diocese, an initiative that Fr. Iwunna says helps the young people to experience the Church more actively.

Most of the youth in Holy Cross Parish in Dhadim, Fr. Iwunna says, “have never been anywhere except their own village, so that for them it is an important experience to meet together with young people from other ethnic groups and share their ideas and experiences.”

The Spiritan Cleric adds, “These young people are growing in their faith and gaining a new experience of the Church. These days are an advantage not only for themselves, but also benefit the whole community.”

ACN is helping the parish with the various evangelization initiatives in the Horn of Africa, both for the young people and for the couples.

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The Pontifical charity organization has proposed to contribute 5,000 Euros to support the work of evangelization at Holy Cross Parish in Dhadim, South of Ethiopia.