Ethiopia Visit: Breaking Routine

Brother Wesley Dessonville is a Dominican Brother studying at St. Dominic’s Priory in St. Louis. Br. Wesley is participating on a Global Fellows immersion trip to Ethiopia.

As a first year student brother in the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans) my daily routine consists of getting up for Morning Prayer, Mass, breakfast, class, study, class, study, Evening Prayer, recreation, study or down time, Night Prayer, then off to bed to do it all over again. This day, however, has been radically different than my typical daily routine. In fact most of this day has been spent in airports in route from St. Louis to, of all places, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

I am going to Ethiopia with Catholic Relief Services. CRS has a program called Global Fellows which takes participants to countries where CRS works to bring about the Kingdom of God and a better life for the poorest of the poor and marginalized. The Global Fellow is then immersed in this country, culture and CRS program for around ten days, receiving firsthand experience of the work CRS does, and in turn, the Global Fellow agrees to preach, promote and be an advocate on behalf of CRS. The Global Fellows in my trip consist of a variety of individuals, from fellow friars, to diocesan seminarians, and both religious and secular priests.

As I sit in the hectic Frankfort International Airport, just having gone through time zones like Mick Jagger goes through drummers, I am experiencing a wide range of emotions: Excited, since Ethiopia is an ancient culture referenced in both the Old and New Testaments. In Acts 9: 26-40, we see the disciple Phillip evangelize an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official to the Queen of Ethiopia; baptize him and send him on his way “rejoicing.” The experience of the Ethiopian people and their intense faith should prove formative in ways beyond my understanding. I am nervous as well; what if I fail to cooperate with the grace God gives me on this trip: failing to preach the experience worthy of CRS and people of Ethiopia, failing to really connect with people and both their plight and joy.

When I have these thoughts of failure I return to the image of the disciple Phillip with the Ethiopian in Acts, that like him I may be launched into the Holy Spirit and the Word with the Ethiopian people. This will leave me rejoicing with these beautiful people and preaching the Good News that the people will have, no doubt, preached to me by their lives. I will announce to all in my life the hope and change for the good they can do by giving of their prayer and treasure to CRS.

Yes my daily routine is changed as I travel to Ethiopia. May my life also change, through the intercession of St. Phillip, from the grace God gives through a connection with a people who are in need and yet have far more to give.

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