Monday, June 18, 2012

Ethiopian Pentecost Youth Encounter

Some of the more than 200 youth who attended the Pentecost encounter.
We had a number of different activities planned for our just over one week stay in Ethiopia. We attended prayer meetings, met with Church and lay leaders, visited several significant sites in the greater Addis Ababa area, and even attended a presentation about an early Spainsh/Portuguese Jesuit missionary, Pedro Páez.

Jamie accompanying the joint choir in "Lord, I Lift Your Name on High."
 The main event that was planned in conjunction with our visit, though, was a Pentecost Day encounter for the Catholic youth of the Archdiocese of Addis Ababa. Because the Catholic Church in Ethiopia follows the liturgical calendar of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Pentecost was celebrated one week later there, enabling Jamie and I to celebrate that great solemnity twice this year. The Brothers of St. John coordinate the office of youth ministry for the archdiocese, and organized the event with several of the larger Catholic communities in the capital. It took place in the Capuchin church of Holy Savior in the center of town. We had the pleasure of having lunch with those friars earlier that week.

Eritrean youth performing a skit.

The day was composed of a number of different activities, including songs sung by several different parish youth choirs. Jamie helped accompany the combined choir in an English-Amharic version of Lord, I Life Your Name on High. The Eritrean refugee youth group did an amazing job of performing a skit that depicted  our creation, separation from God and our return to Him through Jesus. In a multi-lingual setting (the Eritreans speak Tigrigna). A few days later we got together with those same refugee youth to show them the Jesus film in Tigrigna.

Fr. Herald speaking about the Holy Spirit (photo of Uganda Martyrs in the background).
I was asked to give the main talk on the day's theme: "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and then you will by My witnesses (Acts 1:8)." I tried to answer the question "what kind of power?" by using four symbols of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament: Fire from Heaven- the power of love, Living Water - the power of new life; the Breath of God - the power of the truth, and Holy Anointing - the power of freedom. Since that day, June 3, was also the feast of the Uganda Martyrs, it was a great opportunity to present them as an amazing example of the Holy Spirit working powerfully in the lives of Africans.

The day concluded with a prolonged time of Eucharistic Adoration followed by Benediction. At the back of the sanctuary in the crypt chapel of Holy Savior (where the event took place) is a map of the entire world, flanked by two images of St. Francis of Assisi. It was a great backdrop against which to meditate and pray. This kind of extended silent adoration is something new for the Ethiopian Rite Catholics, as were many of the other elements of the day. But all was extremely well received by the youth and others who attended, and was a small but significant step for Catholic youth ministry in the country.

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