In Loving Memory of Rev. Fr. Teum Tesfay
It was a great shock to everyone who knew Fr. 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.
Fr. Teum Tesfay was born in a town named Dawhan, near Alitiena, in the National State of Tigray, Eastern Ethiopia, on December 26, 1955. His parents, Mr. Tesfay Debsay and Mrs. Bahgu Welde, preceded him in death, but provided him with great Catholic moral and family values he ardently practiced his entire life.
Fr. Teum attended Nativity primary school from 1968-1973 in Alitiena after which he went to Asmara where he did his 7th grade with the Cistercians but this time in Mendida, near Addis Ababa. In 1978, according to Cistercian monastic rules, he did a year of novitiate service in Mendida. From 1979 to 1981, he attended grades 10 to 12 at the Cathedral High School in Addis Ababa.
After completion of High School, Fr. 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, along with his three classmates, he was ordained to the priesthood on 26 April 87 by His Excellency, the Most Rev. Kidanemariam Tekelehaimanot, bishop of Adigrat Eparchy. Fr. Teum was appointed pastor of St. Mary’s Alitiena in 1988 and served God’s flock there with unwavering commitment till 1997.
Fr. 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. Fr. 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. Fr. Teum also worked closely with the local Orthodox, Muslim and Catholic Unity Charity Association (OMCUCA), a charity organization formed to fight HIV and AIDS. In all areas of his priestly service, Fr. Teum always proved himself to be a team-player and labored tirelessly for the good of humanity.
In the end, it remains to be said that we all highly appreciate with enormous gratitude Fr. 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!
Denver, Colorado, USA
February 18, 2014