The Apostolic Vicariate of Meki, in Ethiopia, has inaugurated the newly built Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, this week on Wednesday, during the feast day of Kidanemihret (Our Lady of Perpetual Help) according to the Ethiopian Liturgical Calendar. The Cathedral was blessed by His Eminence Cardinal Berhaneyesus the Metropolitan Archbishop of Addis Ababa and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ethiopia. This was during Holy Mass concelebrated by Archbishop Luigi Bianco, the Apostolic Nuncio to Ethiopia; Catholic Bishops of Ethiopia and priests.
The completion of the Cathedral that can hold more than 1500 congregants coincides with the Silver Jubilee of the Apostolic Vicariate of Meki since it was elevated from the status of a Prefecture. The foundation for the construction of a bigger Cathedral was laid six years ago with the hope that Meki town, which is centrally located among cities of the southern part of Ethiopia would become a pilgrimage centre particularly for those who seek the intercession of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
On the occasion of the inauguration, Bishop Abraham Desta, Apostolic Vicar of Meki said that the completion of the Cathedral is a witness that God is always with those who trust in Him throughout their most challenging times. He said this recalling the very stressful situation the Vicariate went through last year with the loss of many of its properties including the burning of a parish.
“We have just closed the Extraordinary Year of Mercy during which time our Vicariate underwent a lot of challenging and difficult situations. Meki Vicariate was tested as gold is tested in a fire in order to testify whether it is pure. I must say we were tested deeply to check our confidence in God. But today with a grateful heart I can proudly say that these moments of challenges have brought us closer spiritually, mentally and physically to God Our Loving Father,” said Bishop Abraham.
The Apostolic Vicar also recalled that when the construction of a bigger Cathedral was planned the Vicariate did not have a budget set aside for it but just started with the encouragement of all the clergy, the religious men and women and all the faithful and friends of the Apostolic Vicariate of Meki. He thanked God for providing all the blessings through friends and family of the Vicariate both in the country and outside of Ethiopia.
“This Cathedral which has been consecrated today is the fruit of those who journey with us in faith and hope. As the saying goes, ‘a house is made of bricks but the home is made of hearts,’ and that is what we have experienced today when we look at and admire this place of worship. I am speechless before God and you for the blessings we have received from God Almighty,” exclaimed the Bishop of Meki.
The Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and the inauguration of the Cathedral was attended by clergy, religious men and women, representatives of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and many of the faithful from different parts of Ethiopia.
The Apostolic Vicariate of Meki was entrusted to the Consolata Fathers in 1970. It was apportioned from the Apostolic Vicariate of Harar, and it was erected as an Apostolic Prefecture on 6 March 1980 with Fr. John Bonzanimo appointed the Apostolic Administrator. On 8 December 1981, Bishop Yohannes Woldeghiorghis was appointed Prefect Apostolic of Meki.
Meki was later elevated to the status of an Apostolic Vicariate on 25 January 1992 with Bishop Yohannes as the first Apostolic Vicar of Meki. Currently, there are 14 parishes, and 82 outstations in the Vicariate and the number of Catholics has tripled since Meki was elevated as an Apostolic Vicariate.
(Makeda Yohannes, Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat)