Spiritan News

Ethiopia Bishop Varghese Thottankara Visits Houston

HOUSTON, TX – August 10,2015

After meeting with Auxiliary Bishop, Most Rev. George Sheltz, of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, His Excellency George Varghese Thottamkara, CM, of the Apostolic Vacariate of Nek’emte in western Ethiopia, paid a recent courtesy visit to Fr. Michael Begley, CSSp, Director of the Spiritan Office for Mission Advancement of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit-US Province in Houston.

Fr. Begley was accompanied by Mr. Nick Quin, who with Vinnny McConnell and other benefactors, helped to co-fund St. Mary’s Catholic Church at Aria Jawi while Bishop Thottamkara was accompanied by his cousin and Fr. Takele Tesfaye Desissa, a Diocesan priest from the Apostolic Vicariate of Nekemte. He previously served as Deputy Secretary General for the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat between 2002 and 2006.

The meeting focused on the pastoral and developmental priorities of the Vicariate of Nekemte, including the current status of the construction of St.Mary’s Church at Aria Jawi.

Located in the Western Oromia Region of Ethiopia, the Apostolic Vicariate of Nekemte is one of twelve catholic Dioceses and Vicariates and covers a geographical area of 38,144 square miles with a Catholic population (in 2014) of 49,900 parishioners. It’s 93 churches, chapels, schools and clinics are served by 30 Diocesan priests, 14 male religious, 42 female religious sisters and 6 permanent deacons. The principal ethnic groups are the Oromo, Amara and Gumuz peoples. Over 7,650 students attend the eleven schools and 23 kindergartens run by the Vicariate while 16 clinics and health outposts serve approximately 300,000 people annually. Finally, the water program has completed over 200 water schemes (spring protection, hand dug wells and gravity schemes) providing clean water to 170,000 citizens.
Photo includes from left to right: Fr. Tesfaye Takele, Bishop Varghese Thottamkara, Fr. Michael Begley, C.S.Sp,, and Mr. Nick Quinn.