OUR HISTORY AS COMBONI MISSIONARIES
in Eritrea and Ethiopia
1. Beginnings in Eritrea
Having escaped from the Sudan, ravaged by the Mahdi revolution, some of the missionaries of St. Daniel Comboni came to work in Eritrea.
The first was Fr. Luigi Bonomi, a companion of Comboni at Delen, and a prisoner of the Mahdi for three years who arrived in Eritrea in 1888 and worked there until his death in Asmara 1927. After him, Fr. Leo Henriotarrived in 1894 and died in Asmara the same year.
The Comboni Sisters arrived to Eritrea in 1914 at Fr. Bonomi's request.
2. Apostolic Prefecture of Gondar
From 1937 to the end of 1941 the Comboni missionaries were at work in the Prefecture of Gondar with Mgr. Villa as the Prefect Apostolic. During that period nine missions and a minor seminary were established in the Prefecture.
With the Italian defeat in 1941 the Comboni Missionaries had to abandon their work in Gondar. Some repatriated, some were held prisoners by the British and others were allowed to stay in Asmara, where Mons. Gasparini started the Comboni College.
3. Beginnings in Southern Ethiopia
On December18, 1964, Fr. Bruno Maccani and Fr. Bruno Lonfernini, both former missionaries in the Sudan reached the Sidama region, in the southern part of Ethiopia and settled their missionary work in Hawassa.
Before the coming of the Comboni missionaries the area had been evangelized for a few years by the Capuchins and later by the PIME missionaries, who had to leave their mission in 1941.
The first support to the work of MCCJ among the Sidama was given by the then Apostolic Nuncio Mgr. Joseph Moioli, who strongly supported the Sidama mission and allowed the Comboni missionaries to settle on the premises of the Nunciature’s property in Hawassa. At that time the Sidama province was part of the Apostolic Prefecture of Negheli Borana, under the administration of Mgr. Urban Person, Apostolic Vicar of Harar.
On August 8, 1967, Fr. Ceccarini was appointed Vicar Delegate of the Prefecture.
4. Main Developments
- From 1951 till 1966 the Comboni missionaries were entrusted with the running of the minor seminary of the Asmara Eparchy.
- In 1963 Fr. Emilio Ceccarini opened a minor seminary in Dekamere for candidates to the Comboni Institute.
- The parish of the Cathedral of Hawassa, dedicated to Kidane Meheret is opened in 1965. It was handed over to the Vicariate in 1999 and entrusted to the local clergy.
- From 196 6until 1980 the Comboni missionaries staffed the mission of Gondar in the Archdiocese of Addis Ababa.
- The parish of Tullo dedicated to St. Joseph is opened in 1966, handed over to the Vicariate of Hawassa in 2004 and entrusted to the local clergy.
- In 1969 some seminarians from Dekamere moved to the premises of the Comboni College of Asmara to continue their senior secondary school.
- In 1970 the community of the Comboni Missionaries of Addis Abeba is established. It will move to the premises of the Provincial House in 1974.
- The parish of Dongora dedicated to St. Justino de Yacobis is opened in 1970.
- The Vicariate Pastoral Center in Dongora was opened in 1975 and handed over to the Vicariate of Hawassa in 2010.
- The parish of Shafina dedicated to Holy Savior is opened in 1970, handed over to the Vicariate of Hawassa and entrusted to the local clergy in 1995.
- In 1971 the first 7 novices entered the Novitiate in Hawassa.
- The parish of Dilla, dedicated to the Holy Cross is opened in 1971, handed over to the Vicariate of Hawassa and entrusted to the Salesians of Don Bosco in 1982.
- The parish of Arramo, dedicated to the Assumption of Our Lady is opened in 1973, handed over to the Vicariate of Hawassa and entrusted to the Apostles of Jesus in 1992
- The parish of Teticha dedicated to the Holy Cross is opened in 1973
- In 1973 a place for the newly professed and later on for postulants was opened in the premises of BietMekha (VillaggioGenio) on the outskirts of Asmara. Its facilities were completely renovated with new buildings in 1984-89.
- In 1973 A. Gasparini was appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Apostolic Prefecture of Hawassa, and on May 26, 1979, was consecrated Bishop of the newly erected Apostolic Vicariate of Hawassa.
- The parish of Miqe, dedicated to Our Lady Help of Christians is opened in 1981, handed over to the Vicariate of Hawassa in 1993 and entrusted to the local clergy.
- The parish of Qillenso dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows was opened in 1981.
- July 7, 1982 the ComboniCollege was nationalized and most of the members of its community left the Country.
- SoduAbala being an outstation of Qillenso was erected as a parish dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows in 1984 and entrusted to the FideiDonum Priests from Bari. The pastoral care of the parish was given to the Comboni Community of Qillenso from 1997 until 2008, when it was handed over to the Vicariate of Hawassa.
- Being an outstation of Qillenso, Gosa was erected as a parish in 1985 entrusted to the Jesuits. At the beginning of 1993 it was entrusted to the Comboni Missionaries working in Qillenso. From 1997-2005 was under the care of the FideiDonum and eventually it passed to the care of the Comboni Missionaries as a chapel of the parish of Qillenso.
- September of 1985 the Postulancy moved to Addis Ababa on the premises of the Provincial House.
- The parish of Galcha dedicated to St. Paul is opened in 1986, handed over to the Vicariate of Hawassa in 1994 and entrusted to the Apostles of Jesus.
- September 30, 1989, the Novitiate reopened in Hawassa after being closed for six years.
- Jan. 8, 1994, Mgr. Lorenzo Ceresoli was appointed Vicar Apostolic of Hawassa.
- In 1995 the community of BietMekha (VillagioGenio) moved to the former Comboni College residence.
- The Parish of Haro-Wato, dedicated to the Assumption of Our Lady is opened in 1995.
- In 1998 a new Postulancy for Eritrea was opened in Asmara on the ComboniCollege premises.
- 2001: The Novitiate of Hawassa was suppressed as of June 22.
- 2001: The new Postulancy opened at Asko on September 27, feast of the Holy Cross.
- The parish of GilgelBeles dedicated to Mary Mother of the Church, in the pastoral territory of Bahr-Dar in the Archdiocese of Addis Abeba to serve the Gumuz people was established in 2003.
- The parish of Arosa dedicated to the Nativity of Our Lady is opened in 2004 and, handed-over to the Vicariate of Hawassa in 2008 and entrusted to the local clergy.
- 2009: The responsibility over the Major Seminary of Hawassa is handed-over to the Vicariate.
- May 30, 2009, Mgr. Giovanni Migliorati is consecrated Bishop of Hawassa at KidaneMeheret Cathedral.
- The community and parish of Gublak, in the pastoral territory of Bahr-Dar in the Archdiocese of Addis Abeba to serve the Gumuz people and dedicated to Blessed DaudiOkelo and JildoIrwa Martyrs of Paimol, was established in 2011.
JURIDICAL STATUS OF THE ETHIOPIAN PROVINCE
FROM ITS BEGINNING
1941 - Joined to the region of Khartoum.
1952 - Delegation depending on the General Superior.
1962 - Joined to the region of Egypt.
1969 - Erected as Region, September 25.
1979 - Erected as Province.
2002 - Eritrea erected as Delegation, January 1.