I would like to acknowledge and thank the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church that has nurtured and taught me the Mysteries, the faith and our history, without which I would have remained like so many, lost and confused in the lies and darkness of this world.
I would like to thank Debre Bisrat St. Gabriel Church in Munich, Germany and most especially, my first holy father and teacher Qesis Mesfin Feleke. Although when I showed up unexpectedly without appointment, he was surprised at my testimony, because it was so typical of ancient Ethiopian accounts, he opened his heart and his home to me, when I was first called at the age of thirty and myself still amazed and daunted by what I had begun to experience and learn from the Holy Spirit. Qesis Mesfin taught me all of the basics of the faith and introduced me to spiritual battle with a patience and dedication that after eighteen years continues to amaze and inspire me. I watched him serve the Orthodox community in Europe like St. Paul, traveling almost every weekend to a different European country or city to perform mass and serve the Eucharist, so that our brothers and sisters in Europe were not left without the comfort and healing of Our Church.
In all of my years in the Church, I have not met a more learned priest who was more filled with dedication and love than this father that God blessed me with to be my first guide. He began his priesthood as a deacon in Altar of Purity, Sovereigns of the World Holy Trinity Cathedral Seminary during the lifetime of Atsie Haile S’lasse. Due to his academic excellence in history, theology and Gi’iz as well as his spiritual maturity, he was chosen for a scholarship to study in the seminary in Cairo. In Cairo God would bless him yet again to distinguish himself in his continued studies of the history of the faith, the Church and theology. As a result, he was chosen to continue his studies and service at the ancient monastery in Jerusalem.
I would like to give my special thanks and love to my dear father Qesis Mesfin Feleke who has taught and saved so many. May he receive his crowns in Heaven.
When I was called by so many wonders through the mercy of God, Qesis Mesfin judged that I should be examined by Abuna Yohannes who as in Germany from London for the year celebration of the blessings and service of the Archangel St. Gabriel which was about to take place at the time of my calling. Abuna Yohannes who had first been called to Europe before the Red Terror by the Jamaican community in London was at that time in the 70s, known as Abba Aragawi. The Jamaican community in London had founded the first Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Europe, Debre Tsion St. Mary Church and was in dire need of a priest. After the Red Terror as Ethiopians fled from Ethiopia to Europe, the Jamaican community graciously shared the Church with their Ethiopian brothers and sisters. As the number of Ethiopians continued to increase in Europe, Abba Aragawi, who was particularly distinguished in his purity and immense knowledge, was made through the grace of the Holy Spirit, the beloved Abuna Yohannes.
I would like to thank and acknowledge Debre Tsion St. Mary Church in London and my baptismal father and guide the late Abuna Yohannes who opened not just the Church and its knowledge to me, but the Kingdom of Heaven itself. I am confident that he will receive his crowns in Heaven. May his loving soul rest in peace.
After I was called and led to sell all that I owned and to seek out the monasteries of Ethiopia, I was welcomed with love and kindness by the late Patriarch Abuna Paulos, Abuna Gerima and the Holy Synod in Ethiopia. I remain enormously humbled by and grateful for the nurturing love and kindness that I received from our Holy Synod in Ethiopia, who opened not just their hearts, but also the Betegnet Library to me for study and edification. I also remain in deep gratitude to the late Patriarch Abuna Paulos and Abuna Gerima for allowing me to be purified and housed at the Intoto Kidan Nehemeret Monastery in Intoto. I would also like to thank and acknowledge the monks, nuns and bahtawi in Intoto Kidan Nehemeret Monastery for teaching and guiding me with love and kindness. My heartfelt love and gratitude to my much loved brother and sister, Tinsae Beriso and Kidist Abebe who became closer to me than my birth siblings and taught me what it means to have true Christian siblings with their gentle and attentive care and teachings. I will never forget our evenings of laughter and learning and discussions of the histories and teachings of the saints and our journeys together to so many holy places.
I humbly thank the Kifle family for accepting me and comforting me with their love and concern from the first time that we met in the Kidan Nehemeret monastery. I extend my thanks especially to Yemeserach Feleke, Gash Yohannes Kifle, Gash Isaac Kifle and all of the family who gave me love and care in Ethiopia and to Gash Isaac Kifle for encouraging me to continue my writing. I will always remember how so many priests and abuns came to pay their respects at the passing of that great mother of the Church that you were blessed to have as your own, for her funeral at the family home near St. Giorgis Church in Addis. The service of your family to the Church has been and continues to be an example and inspiration to me.
I must give a special thanks to my late confessional father Abba Gebre Mikael (May he receive his crown in Heaven) and my living spiritual father in Ethiopia, the very learned and patient Abba Ts’gie who was first called as a child who obediently and lovingly served the bahtawi at Mittaq Emmanual Monastery and the surrounding forest. I have been told that he has been requested many times to become an abun in our Holy Synod, but as is typical of the exemplary humility that he taught me, I am certain that he prefers the simplicity and solitude of monastic life in the Monastery. My love and deepest gratitude that I was able to have such a learned and blessed father yet again. May God keep him for many years, so that many many more may benefit from his blessed guidance. My loving thanks also to Abba Gebre Amlak and Abba Bahtawi who gave me gifts that continue to guide and protect me. Let me also greet Abba Gabriel whose words, so many years ago, reminding me of the blessed role and position of St. Magdalawit Mariam, who was the first evangelist and a powerful teacher, continue to encourage and inspire me.
My loving thanks to Qesis Dejene who at the time, eighteen years ago, was Diakon Dejene, for coming to my gojo when he heard of my history and giving me my very first book that Ababas (Abuna) Shenouda wrote on the life of faith and further encouraging me with love and acceptance.
My loving thanks and humble gratitude with loving tears and longing goes to the deacons, monks, nuns and bahtawi at Itissa Tekla Haimanot Monastery and St. Mary Monastery in Itissa who welcomed me with love and kindness and took me to the sacred places with a kindness and love that continues to warm my heart after so many years. I would like to especially thank Abba Taklu who welcomed me and my eldest son Haile Mikael into his gojo. To the monks, nuns and deacons in Bete Mariam in Lalibela and in Nakuto Le Ab who welcomed me into their homes and hearts and who baptized me and gave me love and the Eucharist, my most profound gratitude and thanks. To the fathers at Qidus Zarabruck in Gojam my heartfelt thanks and longing. I have not forgotten you, your love or the children of the Qine School who sang songs for me and my promise to the school. May God bless our intentions and bring me back to you soon. To the fathers who are struggling in the surrounding area (which is the childhood home of my enormously loved and holy Abuna Qidus Gebre Wemenfes Qidus) and who welcomed me with love and kindness, I have not forgotten you and hope to see you again soon. To the monks at Zequala Monastery for housing me and allowing me to go to the holy places and the most holy and mysterious forest and home to our beloved and holy bahtawi.
When God saw fit to guide me to the United States and I began my life here, I was blessed to receive the loving and kind acceptance of Debre Hail Qidus Gabriel Church in Washington D.C. When I conceived my son, Joshua I was moved to dedicate him to St. Mary at Debre Selam Kidist Mariam Church. However, I did not yet have transportation and did not know many people. When it came time to baptize him my elder son Haile Mikael introduced me to his friend’s father, the late and honorable Gash Mequanint who was on the board at St. Gabriel Church in Washington D.C. I must thank Abuna Samuel from Weldeba Monastery for accepting me with love and openness without question. He kindly arranged the baptism of my son during fasting time. Unexpectedly, Patriarch Abuna Mercurios joined the baptism and named my youngest son, B’tre S’lasse. I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to Debre Haile Qidus Gabriel Church and the abuns there. I would also like to give a special thanks to the enormously learned and gifted honorable Mergeta Tesfay who always encouraged me to continue my writing and to teach and also encouraged me and supported me in continuing my studies of God’s holy language, Gi’iz.
I would also like to thank Debre Mehret Saint Michael Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church for welcoming my eldest son Haile Mikael, who adores the Archangel and will go to no other church. My son said that he always found love and guidance from the holy fathers there.
Although I do not fully understand some of the positions and teachings of NibureId Erymias, I remain grateful and humbled by his loving decision to grace me and my son with the laying on of his hands. My heart is in awe of his decision to anoint me and my son B’tre S’lasse, with the authority vested in him, with the full rights and blessings of a citizen and child of the Kingdom of Ethiopia. May all of the children of God in all the world soon be blessed with the kingship that is to come based on the power and grace of Our God+++ .
In humility, love and unending gratitude, I would like to thank Debre Salam Kidist Mariam Church in Washington, D.C. for encouraging me to begin teaching and allowing me to teach in the Sunday School program. It was an enormous honor that I did not expect to receive. I have taken a sabbatical from teaching to focus on writing and working to raise funds to finance my service of our Holy Church. I would like to also give a special thanks to my confessional father Liqemamran Amara who has encouraged me and nurtured me here in the United States and who blessed me with the most unexpected and honorable title of Memhert. I would also like to thank Liqessiyuman Getahun Garede for encouraging me to continue my teaching and writing and supporting me as much as he was able. I would like to thank my brothers who study Gi’iz with me for welcoming me into their diakona class and honoring me with their brotherhood and love. My gratitude is extended to Diakon Belay for sitting and teaching me to pray Dersane Mikael in Gi’iz and to Diakon Abay for teaching me the five basic rules for reading Gi’iz. Sisterly love and thanks to Diakon Bruik for being the first to welcome me with love and kindness into the family of Debre Selam Kidist Mariam Church when I was still hiding myself in prayer. My humble thanks and gratitude to Qesis Hailu, Liqelekaunt all of the deacons and priests for praying for me, protecting me and fortifying me for spiritual battle.
Last, but most certainly not least, my most heartfelt and loving thanks to Nana Yemeserach Demesse who was the very first mother of Ethiopia Tewahido Bete Christian and citizen of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia to welcome me into her home and heart in Ethiopia. Although she too was amazed at my calling and love for the Church, she always supported me and encouraged me with a loving home and family, lovely meals and lots of laughter and wisdom, even before she knew me well. She was the very first person to demand that I share the knowledge that I was blessed to receive from our holy fathers and mothers. I will always remember one day when she confronted me in her kitchen, asking me what I believed that Christianity was about and what value there was in calling myself a Christian, if I did not share the knowledge and blessing that I had be graciously given with those who are lost and in darkness now, even as I once was. May God continue to bless my dear sweet mother who taught me what true Christian motherhood is, as she has for so many that I have been blessed to meet in Ethiopia and the United States. Her home is truly a haven and comfort for so many.
My loving thanks to my eldest son Haile Mikael (Tristan), for his love, patience, support and encouragement in launching this website and for his suggestion that I teach and discuss current issues and challenges facing the youth via Podcast and audio recordings to better reach the young people of his generation and younger, who are so overwhelmed with the temptations and confusion of these last days. I also am grateful to my youngest son B’tre S’lasse (Joshua) who always encourages me to pray and teach and is himself, at his tender age, determined to serve the Church.
Greetings and eternal thanks to you mysterious, holy and beloved monk who walked from Gishen Mariam Monastery to greet me on my arrival to Ethiopia. I have never forgotten what you said. I will always remember that the children of God need no appointment to meet. I look forward to then day when we will meet again.
As always, and at every moment my loving thanks and gratitude to my celestial family, to the Holy Trinity – Our Triune God, Our Blessed Mother, the Archangels St. Gabriel and St. Michael, Qidus Urael and all of the Heavenly Host to the blessed bahtawi Abuna St. Tekla Haimanot and Abuna St. Gebre Wemenfes Qidus, Qidist Magdalawit Mariam, Qidus Mose and Qidist Saba Makeda and all of the saints, including the prophets who pray with me and for me, thank you in love and humility.
Without the support and love of my holy family in Christ, I am nothing and have no meaning.