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Students to Donate to 'Twinning' School in Ethiopia

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Montini Catholic sophomore and freshman theology students enjoyed a special visit by Brother Sheferaw Mekonen on Tuesday, February 8th.  Brother Mekonen spoke to the students about the Lasallian college preparatory high school's "twinning" school, St. Joseph School in Nazaret, in Ethiopia.

Brother Mekonen is currently pursuing his PhD at Lewis University.  He was the principal at St. Joseph School (in Nazaret) for seven years and a teacher there for four years prior to that.

Twinning is an initiative of the De La Salle Christian Brothers (Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools) that encourages Districts that are financially able to aid those most in need. In the Lasallian Region of North America (RELAN), middle and secondary schools in the United States and Toronto are twinned with 15 ministries in four countries in the Lwanga District of Africa: Kenya, Nigeria, Eritrea and Ethiopia. While the RELAN schools help support the Lwanga ministries financially, the students also build relationships as brothers and sisters in the Lasallian family to share challenges, accomplishments, stories and experiences. (Source:  https://lasallian.info/what-we-do/twinning/)

The program began in 1995 in response to a call from the Institute to financially assist economically poor Districts and new Districts that were forming. A goal was to help these Districts achieve financial self-sufficiency in the long term.

The high cost of education in Africa presents a major challenge for most students who are financially poor and even without families in some cases. Therefore, the ministries subsidize much of the cost. Ministries use twinning donations for tuition assistance, maintenance and expansion of school facilities, the purchase of books and class materials, improved sanitation and other essential school expenses.

Montini Catholic's twinning school is located in the poorest country in the world.  Brother Mekonen is proud to be an advocate for the 2,446 St. Joseph students.  "We have an average class size of 55 students per class, they are very crowded, but our students are strong and hard-working."  The school's current goal is to raise money which will allow them to offer scholarships to children as well as introduce valuable, skilled training in agriculture, health science, manufacturing, business, technology and construction.  Additionally, many students are in need of uniforms and shoes.

"As brothers we are called to serve the needy," said Brother Mekonen.  "When we do little things, such as donate a few dollars per week, it helps others across the world more than you can imagine."

Mr. Denis Block, Theology teacher and Lasallian Youth Moderator at Montini Catholic, was very honored to have Brother Mekonen as a guest, and is determined to get his Bronco students involved in helping out their twinning school.  "I plan on bringing back our Mission Collection Thursdays," he said.  "We want to educate our students about their sister school and offer them the opportunity to donate to help them achieve a better life.  Supporting the poor is a very important part of who we are at Montini, as a Lasallian school, and I think it is very important for our kids to have gratitude for their own blessings - while realizing that there are students throughout the world who are not as financially blessed."

St. Joseph Catholic School is located in Adama/Nazareth in central Ethiopia, about 100 kilometers (approximately 62 miles) southeast of the capital city of Addis Ababa. Bishop Urban Parson founded the school in 1958 and handed it over to the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady who ran it from 1961-1978. The Consolata Fathers administered the school from 1979-1983 until the Christian Brothers took leadership in 1984 and full ownership in 2014. St. Joseph has established this mission for the school: “Embedded in its vision, St. Joseph Primary and Secondary Catholic School, prepares students to be responsible, creative, competitive and capable citizens.” It operates with the core values of faith, service and community.

"Being a brother is just that - being a brother to everyone," said Brother Mokonen when asked the question on what inspired him to pursue his path as a brother.  "We are all called to heed the words of Christ (Matthew 25.45) - "I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ "

 

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