Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ethiopia: Out and About in Addis Ababa

A statue of a large dove, representing the Holy Spirit, at St. Joseph Church, Addis Ababa.
After a full week of conferences, seminars and presentations, we were able to get out and see a little of Addis Ababa before the Ugandan team had to leave on Monday. It was a special blessing to be able to attend the priestly ordination of a local Cistercian monk at St. Joseph's Parish.

Fr. Dereje Bekele (pastoral advisor for charismatics) and I 
in Ethiopian rite vestments just before the beginning of the rdination Mass.
It was a beautiful, elaborate ceremony celebrated almost entirely by chanting with twenty priests gathered around the altar. The church was full of people and joy.

The newly ordained Cistercian priest (just to the right of Bishop Lesanu)
together with the Cistercian Abbot General (to the left of the bishop) his family,
community members and concelebrating priests.
The celebration afterwards was almost as impressive. The Ethiopian Cistercian monks danced and sang to a particular tune that lasted for about a half an hour. It began very slowly and solemnly and gradually got faster and more jubilant, till it ended with everyone jumping, clapping and shouting. It was an amazing brotherly, communal, cultural expression of exuberant joy.

After the celebration we were able to visit a few other parishes and institutions of the Archdiocese of Addis Ababa, including the very beautiful church of St. Gabriel, built by the Consolata Missionaries, which has a beautiful and imposing statue of its patron saint with African features in the sanctuary, and a vivid mural of the seven days of creation over the main door.

An formidable statue of the Archangel Gabriel in St. Gabriel's Church (above),
and a mural of the days of creation over the main door of the same church (below).

No visit to Ethiopia would be complete without participating in the traditional coffee ceremony, which includes roasting, brewing and serving their delicious blend. Our charismatic friends made sure we didn't miss this, and also gave us the added gift of some Ethiopian coffee to take home.

Roasting beans during a traditional Ethiopia coffee ceremony.

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