Consolata Sisters celebrate 100 Years of consoling in Ethiopia

Photos: Nyangiya Edgar

How best to thank the Lord for His goodness to us? The Consolata Sisters gathered on Sunday June 16, for the celebration of the Feast of Our Lady Consolata in Addis Ababa, to give thanks to the Lord for the 100 years of their presence in Ethiopia.

By Nyangiya Edgar *

The congregation of the Consolata Missionary Sisters was founded on the 29th January 1910 by blessed Joseph Allamano (soon to be declared Saint), after he realized that the communities in the missions were growing and priests and brothers alone couldn’t cater for the needs of women and children. As he met with Pope Pius X in one of his visit to the Vatican, he asked for his guidance, and the pope gave him the blessing to found the Consolata missionary Sisters.

The fact that this centenary anniversary takes place in Ethiopia, it doubles up as an extra blessing. In fact when Blessed Joseph Allamano founded the Consolata Missionaries, he had in mind the evangelization of the then called “Galla” people of Ethiopia (a derogative term not used anymore). After reading the accounts of Abuna Massaia, Card. Guglielmo Massaia,  and of his 35 years working in Ethiopia, he was impressed by the response of the “Galla” people to the Catholic faith. The Consolata Missionary Sisters and the Consolata Missionary Institute are up today actively keeping alive the evangelization process of the peoples of Ethiopia as the Blessed Joseph Allamano desired.

In preparation for the centenary celebration, the Consolata Sisters animated those missions where they have been active in the past, and a well planned novena to Our Lady Consolata was organized. Our Lady who willingly and freely gave her “YES” to the will of the father, and who never waivered even when she was faced with many sorrows and hurdles. As she encourages us to do whatever “He” is asking of us, she is a model for us to do the will of the Father. And by doing so she is an integral part of the plan of salvation.

His Eminence Cardinal Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, the metropolitan Archbishop of Addis Abeba presided the celebration together with the Apostolic Nuntio and other two bishops, and several priests. In his introduction of the celebration, he congratulated the Consolata Sisters for their 100 years of service in Ethiopia and dedication to the Church. The Cardinal also congratulated all the Consolata Missionaries for the successful process that soon will lead to the canonization of the Blessed Joseph Allamano, who will be proclaimed a Saint. Abba Tesfaye, from Meki Vicariate, in his homily insisted on giving thanks to the Lord for the 100 years of presence of the Consolata Sisters in Ethiopia, as it is the work of God.

In the message sent by Sr. Lucia Bartolomasi, the Mother General of the Consolata Sisters, she recognized the great effort made by the first Consolata Sisters (Sr. Virginia, Sr. Victoria, Sr. Bierilla, Sr. Carmela, Sr. Tetra and Sr. Junita) to arrive in Ethiopia. These sisters whole heartedly committed themselves to learn the language and the culture of the people. They had in mind the mission as taught by Blessed Joseph Allamano. In simplicity they offered the love of God and compassion for every person.

Sr. Lucia expressed the joy of the Consolata Missionary Sisters, and the gratitude to God for his faithfulness and blessings on the mission in Ethiopia. She further expressed her gratitude to all the people who, along these 100 years, have sustained and helped the Consolata Missionary Sisters in their missionary effort. She also invited the people of God to join in rejoicing for the canonization of the Founder Bl. Joseph Allamano, who really loved Ethiopia in a special way. Finally, she encouraged all the Consolata Sisters who work in Ethiopia to remain strong as they serve the people of God in this great mission, sending her blessing for the centenary celebration.

In the last 100 years in Ethiopia, the Consolata Missionary Sisters were engaged in the work of consolation in several missions: Ghimbi, Billo, Anderacha, Umbi, Magi, Komto, Melka Oda, Guder, Cianna, Gimma, Bonga, Gambo, Shambu, Addis Ababa. All for the love of God and bringing God’s consoling touch. Currently, the Consolata Missionary Sisters are actively involved in the pastoral activities of the Archdiocese of Addis Ababa.

The colorful celebration ended with the Marian procession, followed by a shared meal as one big Consolata family.

* Fr. Nyangiya Edgar, IMC, Ethiopia Region

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