Thursday, August 19, 2010

Banchi Wolde: A Special Tribute for a Special Daughter of Holy Church

Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Mission joined the Mission Society of St Gregorios of India in 2001.  After a couple of years, Fr. John Brian asked Mission Society founder and Indian bishop, Thomas Mar Makarios, if the Madison mission should reach out to the Oriental Orthodox in the area. Madison still has the only Oriental Orthodox priest between Lake Michigan and Minneapolis. 

So, Fr John Brian asked a few priests in diffferent parts of the country how to begin outreach. An Ethiopian priest and an Armenian priest both suggested send invitations to people driectly from the phonebook. And Fr John Brian, being a servant, sent an invitation card to each of the Ethiopian and Armenian names that he could find in the local phonebook, praying for God's angels to deliver them into the proper hands.
Banchi Wolde received one of those invitation cards, as she recalled, "I couldn't believe it - an invitation to a church of my own faith! So, I went and I have been blessed for coming ever since." 

"Banchi has been a blessing to our mission and to the whole community in the Madison area," said Fr. John Brian during the special tribute for her at the annual mission picnic on August 8, 2010.  "She has been an elder, a guide and a guardian for the Orthodox faith and for our mission," he said. And she will be missed.

"As you return to Ethiopia in your retirement, always remember that there are people who love you in Madison. May God bless you on your journey as He has already blessed us with you," Fr John Brian concluded the toast said at the picnic.  The non-alcoholic sparkling cider was both festive and refreshing.   Banchi received a blessing for retirement and a gift of an icon from the mission.

Special Tribute to Bachi Wolde - August 8, 2010 - Burrows Park Shelter, Madison, Wisconsin
Banchi Wolde retires to Ethiopia. She will always have a place in the heart of Holy Transfiguration Mission

Banchi was given a framed icon of the Holy Trinity as a reitrement gift from the mission.  Fr John Brian explained the Holy Trinity icon design of Andrei Rublev to Banchi and those present.  Banchi requested this be written down.  The icon represents the physical appearance of the Holy Trinity described in the Old Testament at the episode of Abraham's hospitality to three angels. In the icon, they are sitting at a table being fed with bread and wine.  One is blessing the offering in the manner a priest consecrates the gifts for Holy Communion. The tree of Mamre can be seen in the background along with Abraham's home.  Rublev's design has a quality that has endeared this icon to all Orthodox.  "As you stand before it, you can see cleary all three angels and the table in front of you.  But most importnantly, you can see there is always room for you at that table.  There is always room for you to be in God's presence," Fr John Brian said.

Banchi Wolde in service, in worship and enjoying the good
Banchi was a spiritual pillar for the women of our mission and encouraged all Ethiopian Orthodox to participate in Holy Transfiguration Mission services and events.

  • Holy Transfiguration Publications: books by Fr John Brian

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