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bookmark_borderAFRICA/ETHIOPIA – Salesian missionaries arrested, committed to the education of children: appeal for release

Addis Ababa – In a climate of general chaos and uncertainty, the news, confirmed to Fides by local sources, of a raid carried out on November 5 by government military forces in a center in Gottera run by the Salesians of Don Bosco, involving 17 members among priests, religious brothers and employees in the Center, arrested for no reason and taken to an unknown place. The Salesians in Ethiopia, meanwhile, call on people to “pray for peace and the unity in the country”. In a situation marked by suffering, poverty, fear and absolute insecurity, all Christians in Ethiopia hope that the Pope’s appeal, the intervention of the African Union and that of the American envoy to the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, will help calm the situation.
“We are shocked by the news of the arrest of Ethiopian and Eritrean priests, deacons and lay people who lived and worked in the Salesian Provincial House”, comments Fr. Mussie Zerai, president of the “Habeisha” agency, to Fides. “We still do not understand what the reasons for such a serious act are: Why are priests arrested who exercise their educational mandate, especially in a center that has always been committed to doing good, which has been visited by many children for years and where street children are rehabilitated”.
“Provincial priests, deacons, kitchen staff have been arrested, we know of raids and searches in other religious houses. But it is clear to everyone that the churches, the houses of the religious, are not centers of politics. We hope that everything will be resolved as soon as possible and that everyone will be released very quickly and that this madness will not be an obstacle to the mission of the Church towards the poor and towards those who find themselves in difficulty. I visited the Center myself and saw how well it works because it is open to everyone, regardless of ethnicity, religion or social class”. The Salesians of Don Bosco began their work in Ethiopia in 1975. Since then they have established a significant presence in five regions of the country. One of them is in Tigray Province, the center of a conflict that has turned into one of the worst wars in the world in just a year, with countless refugees and almost the entire population in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. Kindergartens, primary schools, high schools and vocational training and orientation centers are sponsored by the Don Bosco Salesians. The province currently has 100 members who live in about 15 houses in the vast African country. Its activities are carried out through three mission centers, five church parishes, six technical schools, 13 youth centers, 13 primary and secondary schools and 2 centers for street children. As the information website “Africa ExPress” reports, police officers broke into the Orthodox Christian cathedral in Addis Ababa and forced priests and monks from the Tigray region to interrupt the religious services. The clergy were then loaded into security vans and taken to unidentified locations.

bookmark_borderAMERICA/ARGENTINA – The commitment of Salesian missionaries to help families impoverished by the pandemic

Buenos Aires – “How will families without work, without economic activity survive? This was the general concern of people when the Coronavirus pandemic began. This is what motivated us to act: to experience closeness and compassion as Jesus did. After a year and a half, our work not only continues but is also increasing. With the commitment of thousands of volunteers across the country, this project will allow immediate access to food and educational kits in 21 provinces of Argentina, giving relief to thousands of families in this dramatic situation”.
This is what Ariel Fresia, Salesian coadjutor and director of the Argentine Mission Office “Por los Jóvenes-Don Bosco” reports to Fides, speaking of the new solidarity campaign that the Salesian missionaries have promoted in favor of families affected by the consequences of the pandemic. “60% of our population lives in poverty – says Fresia – the reconstruction of job opportunities for families will be a long-term reality in Argentina. Covid-19 caused not only a health crisis but a profound social, economic and educational crisis”. At a time when part of the world is already experiencing the “post-pandemic” phase, Argentina is one of the five countries that has suffered the most from the scourge of the pandemic in Latin America, reaching over 5 million total cases and over 113 thousand total deaths. Hence the Salesian’s appeal to support the campaign “Emergency continues, Let’s give food and educate”, promoted in coordination with the Provinces of Northern and Southern Argentina, through the “GlobalGiving” platform. “Our goal – explains the Director – is to provide assistance to families throughout the country, continue to provide food assistance to more than 150,000 families and support the education of thousands of children and young people”. The campaign will last until September 30 and intends to involve “the whole Salesian reality and all people of good will”.

Link correlati :Watch the video interview on Agenzia Fides Youtube channel

bookmark_borderASIA/MYANMAR – Six new Salesian priests, “gift and hope for the nation”

Mandalay – “The ordination of six new Salesian priests is a great gift and hope for the nation. The mission of each of them is to announce and live the Gospel and to be a Good Shepherd in this time of crisis”, says Archbishop Marco Tin Win, Archbishop of Mandalay to Agenzia Fides, who presided over the solemn Holy Mass of ordination held yesterday, June 24 in Aniskan, Pyin Oo Lwin, in the Mandalay region.
The six newly ordained religious are of different ethnic groups and will carry out pastoral service in four different dioceses of Myanmar. Archbishop Tin Win underlined the important role of priests in the time of crisis and difficulty that the nation is experiencing: “They are men of God, they are generally respected, they are close to the people, they give consolation and hope. In this I fear that our churches are also subject to raids and searches by the army. The priests are courageous, but prudent. Often they help the poor, the vulnerable and the sick in hiding. For their humanitarian work of proximity to the needy they can be accused of supporting armed groups and being arrested”, he notes.
“They are men who show the merciful face of the Father towards every man and who, with prayer and the gift of the Sacraments, are the link between the community and the heavenly Father. Let us pray that Myanmar will always have priests, and holy priests”, he concludes.
Addressing the new priests, the Bishop said that the life of the priest is “like a bicycle race”, and one must be attentive to all obstacles and be prudent, but continue pedaling on the journey towards the Kingdom of God”.
The priests go to enrich the Salesian Family in Myanmar which, present in the nation in 1939, currently has communities in Mandalay, Myitkyina, Anisakan, Pyin Oo Lwin, Thibaw and Kalay Myo. The vice-province of Mary Help of Christians has about 60 religious, 2 Bishops while the Salesian Sisters Daughters of Mary Help of Christians are about 50 and there are hundreds of cooperators and lay volunteers. The Salesians respond to the needs of children, young people and their families in times of crisis, engaging above all in educational and pastoral activities.

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