By Girmay Niguse
Tigrai Onlne - February 22, 2014
It was a great shock to everyone who knew Father Teum Tesfay to learn of his sudden and untimely death in a horrific car accident. To everyone he met, he always had a cheerful countenance and was such a generously giving soul that he will be greatly missed.
Father Teum Tesfay was born in a town named Dewhan, near Alitiena, in the Regional State of Tigray, Eastern Ethiopia, on December 26, 1955. His parents, Mr. Tesfay Debsay and Mrs. Bagu Welde, preceeded him in death, but provided him with great Catholic moral and family values he ardently practiced his entire life.
Father Teum attended Nativity primary school from 1968-1973 in Alitiena after which he went to Asmara where he did his 7th with the Cistercians. He continued grades 8 and 9 with the Cistercians but this time in Mendida, near Addis Ababa. In 1978, according to Cistercian monastic rules, he did a year of service in Mindida. From 1979 to 1981, he attended graded 10 to 12 at Cathedral high school in Addis Ababa.
After completion of High School, Father Teum started his studies for the priesthood and did two years of philosophical and a year of theological studies in Abune Selama Kesatie Berhan Catholic Major Seminary in Asmara from 1982-1984. He then left the Cistercians and did three more years of theological studies in the Diocesan Major Semianry of Adigrat and upon completion, together with his three classmates he was ordained to the priesthood on 26 April1987 by Rt. Reverend Kidanemarian Tekelehaimanot. Father Teum was appointed parish priest of St. Mary’s Alitiena in 1988 and served God’s flock there with unwavering commitment till 1997.
Father Teum was sent abroad for further studies in 1998 and obtained a master’s degree in Pastoral Theology from the Pontifical University of St. John Lateran in Rome in 2002. After completing his studies, he went back to Adigrat and was appointed a laity and youth leader of the diocese, a post he held from 2003-2008. He was then appointed Deputy Secretary General and Pastoral Coordinator of the Adigrat Diocesan Catholic Secretariat. Father Teum also actively interacted in inter-faith forums on national and regional levels. Besides ministering to prisoners, he chaired a group of elders from town committed to reconciling families of life sentenced inmates. Father Teum also worked closely with the local Orthodox Muslim Catholic Unity Charity Association (OMCUCA), a charity organization formed to fight HIV and AIDS. In all areas of his priestly service, Father Teum always proved himself to be a team worker and labored tirelessly for the good of humanity.
In the end, it remains to be said that we all highly appreciate with enormous gratitude Father Teum’s faithful witness to his priestly call and relentless apostolic work of promotion of Gospel values among all peoples of good will and thank God for having given us such a wonderful pastor. Let us try to imitate his example in fighting hatred of others that dispels unity and causes strife.
May he rest in peace.Girmay Niguse Denver Colorado