The Ethiopian Cathedral Is Us At Our BestPublished Posted on | By TZTA News
By – Samuel Getachew
Earlier this year – Toronto’s 64th Mayor, Rob Ford, proclaimed the month of March as an Ethiopian Heritage Month. In his proclamation, he spoke of an Ethiopian community that is “committed to preserving its rich heritage and has contributed greatly to Toronto’s diverse population”. He also hoped the month would “provide the opportunity to showcase and share the community’s vibrant culture and traditions and longstanding history with Toronto residents and visitors”.
This was a noted moment to Toronto’s newest emerging immigrant’s populations. The fact is that the population of Canadians who trace their roots to Ethiopia can vary and it’s unknown at best. What is known is that Toronto now has the second highest Ethiopian population next to only Washington DC.
Within the vibrant and multicultural city of Toronto, the contributions of Ethiopians are literally everywhere. For instant, Ethiopian cuisine is now being noticed by mainstream Canada and Ethiopian restaurants are now full of customers that best reflect a United Nations like Toronto population. These establishments have given a glimpse of the unique hospitality and cuisine of the wonder of Africa’s lone non colonized nation.
Like most North American cities, the Ethiopian churches have been a hub for their populations. They have served as a place to reflect and learn the teaching of the Christian wisdom. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church that is located on a small industrial street in the western part of Toronto is such a powerful example.
It began its journey in 1984 in a borrowed space to accommodate new arrivals of Ethiopian immigrants and refugees. Since then, it has traveled as powerful a journey as the people that it serves. According to one recent observer,Toronto’s Rocco Rossi, the congregation might not be as “large as the Hindu community, nor as affluent as the Ismail community has become,
this community has pursued its dream with vigor and devotion”.
In mere weeks, the church will move in to a $4.5million worth cathedral that is set to open on the Ethiopian New Year’s week. The community rallied for years to build this historical legacy as many donated and rallied the large population to meet the noble objective. As it opens, it also makes an Ethiopian Canadian history as it becomes the first Ethiopian Orthodox cathedral in Canada. The magnificent building was built in traditional way with copper dome and bell tower with inviting paintings inside the building by local Ethiopian Canadian artists.
As it lays a legacy for future generations,the church will continue to serve beyond its traditional ways and will provide discussions on family guidance and parenting inside its Yared Hall. The fact is that, as Bridge Williard, said it eloquently generations ago, that “Church isn’t where you meet. Church isn’t a building. Church is what you do. Church is who you are. Church is the human outworking of the person of Jesus Christ. Let’s not go to Church, let’s be the Church”.
Indeed – that is what the excellent legacy of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church is and will be for thousands of Canadians. Visionaries build institutions and the church is a testament of these words in action. Future leaders will note this milestone as a great contribution to the positive presence of a large influential Ethiopian Canadian population that is forever growing