Following the construction of the priory and the Saint John Centre, the final stage of the Brothers of Addis-Abeba’s “Epifania” project is the building of the community chapel.
The work has been progressing in leaps and bounds since October. Following completion of the land work and foundations, the laying of the basement floor and load-bearing walls, the ground floor slab was poured at the end of April. Two teams of around twenty workers are on site to allow for efficient and optimal working schedules. The Brothers have also benefited from a crane lent to them by a neighbouring construction site, which has enabled them to speed things up and waste less energy in manually transporting wet concrete.
The team are also working on the interior and exterior design of the building. The chapel needs to be adapted to the daily prayer life of the Brothers, as well as the numerous activities organised by the Brothers for the young Ethiopians they accompany and the members of the Francophone parish. The objective is to design a building adapted to varied and multiple
occasions, and a building the appearance of which evokes the richness of Ethiopian architectural heritage.
Life of the community
The Brothers have welcomed three new volunteers: Gauthier and Constance de Mongrand and Charles Déchelotte, who join Yolande, currently assigned to the management of the site. We all have to adapt to the measures taken as a result of the pandemic: the Brothers no longer teach at the seminary, we have reduced the number of times we leave the priory and we have all been rigoursly applying the necessary health precautions within the priory. The Brothers have also provided construction workers with masks and soap.
This has not hindered them from continuing their apostolic mission to the Francophone parish and the youth. Over Easter they distributed foodstuffs (oil, flour, sugar, rice, etc.) to local families as well as all the workers on-site. Their mission also continues through the internet and via social media. The community therefore remains united in sharing teaching, prayer and adoration.
Testimony of volunteers
“We decided to give our first year of marriage to missionary work for Eastern Christians. We were supposed to leave for Jerusalem to work in a retreat house, but Covid-19 decided otherwise. Providence thus led us here to Addis, just at the moment at which France introduced confinement. Our principal work here is to give French and English classes to the two postulants of the Brothers of Saint John, but we are also helping with other projects, such as the new website. Little by little we are discovering the richness and diversity of Ethiopia through discussions with the brothers, sharing our daily life and habits, observing the colourful neighbourhood of Entoto Hill and watching the chapel take shape. We have been struck by the fervour and pride of the Ethiopians, the omnipresence of religion in the rhythms of everyday life and in their culture. We never imagined an entire country could live with such strong and visible faith. They take such responsibility for their faith and live it so fully, both physically and spiritually. It has made us ask questions about our own faith in France and the way in which we live it with respect for our diversity.”
– Gauthier and Constance de Montgrand