Debre Bsrat St. Gabriel’s Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Dublin, Ireland
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC) in Ireland was officially founded in October 2010. The local church is managed and governed by one Priest, three Deacons and six members of the parish council in our Church. There are also more than 200 parishioners in the Republic of Ireland, and among them there are elderly people, young adults, children and students. Some of the parishioners travel from outside the Pale from counties such as Cork, Galway, Limerick and further afield to attend our services.
St. Gabriel’s Church is located in St. Mary’s church, Haddington Road, Dublin 4. The place where we gather for our services was granted by His Grace Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin; and our congregation is thankful for all His Grace Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has done for our community. Our Priest-in-charge was appointed by the late Patriarch of the EOTC, His Holiness Abuna Paulos I, to serve as the sole official representative of the EOTC in Ireland, in October 2010.
St. Gabriel’s Church, Dublin, is part of the EOTC, and as such is lead by the regulations laid down in the church’s canon law. It therefore works under the control of the Diocese Archbishop, who is a member of the Holy Synod in Addis Ababa (EOTC Regulations 36:2).
Our Mission here, in the city of Dublin, is primarily established for those who share the same faith and tradition as that of the EOTC. However, pastoral care is extended throughout the whole country. For example, a second smaller parish was established in the city of Cork by His Grace Abuna Enthons in 2014, and our parish Priest, Melake-Tsehay Archimandrite Abba Yohannes Kebede, celebrates the Divine Liturgy there on a monthly basis.
St. Gabriel’s Church wishes to maintain religious collaboration and ecumenical ties with other Churches in Ireland such as the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Roman Catholic Church, Anglican, Presbyterian and other Christian denominations. We particularly welcome our brothers and sisters who are adherents to Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church living in Ireland for whom we share a common faith and history. The Objective of Dublin’s St. Gabriel’s Church is to preach, promote and advance the Good News of Jesus Christ and to form good relationships with our fellow Christians. It is also the Church’s responsibility to spread the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all who wish to hear.
All our services listed are administered for free. Some of the services such as marriages and Baptism may, however, require small payments for issuing of church certificates. Our Church conducts different activities such as the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, administration of all the sacraments, vigils, pilgrimages, funerals, Sunday School lessons, spiritual counselling, visitation of the sick and imprisoned. Feast days are also an important aspect of our liturgical calendar.
The Divine Liturgy is celebrated every Sunday, preceded by Matins (8:30-9:30am), followed by Divine Liturgy from 9:30am to 12:45pm. At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy hymns are sung by the Sunday School Choir, and after the conclusion proper there is an Agape, that includes cultural food and gathering. During every liturgical service the clergy wear vestments, and almost all the congregation wear special white garments or prayer shawls unique to the EOTC.
According to the EOTC Tradition every child should be baptised by full immersion in baptismal water, males on the 40th day and females on 80th day after birth. This sacramental service is celebrated before the Divine Liturgy, and the Priest gives the baby a baptismal name. Immediately after this the sacrament of Conformation is celebrated, and then the newly baptized must receive Holy Communion.
With regard to the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, our Church provides pre-nuptial services, according to the EOTC’s Canon Law. Both spouses must be of the same faith, and they should study the nature of this sacrament for a few days, being advised by the Priest before the Holy Sacrament of their marriage ceremony.
In addition to memorial prayers, our Church provides funeral services for the departed and counselling for the bereaved. Not only do we offer up liturgical prayer, but we also gather with them in their homes, in order to comfort them. In addition, our Church offers up special rogation prayers when accidents or tragedies happen in the world.
The Church also has a Sunday School. The purpose of Sunday school is to provide advice and encouragement to children and youths, so that they would understand the faith and traditions of the EOTC for which they have been baptized into. It also teaches them to act in accordance with their religious discipline of the faith. This helps to improve their cultural, language and most of all their spiritual life. One of the most important services performed by the Sunday school students is the weekly/seasonal performance of hymns and liturgical dance and sacred music both ancient and modern. In the EOTC the members of the Sunday school are very active in supporting the progress of the Church in many ways. In addition to this everyone participates in a number of activities, according to their capacity.
One of the special activities of our Church is a parish Pilgrimage, in which all the parishioners visit our Christian brothers and sisters in other counties of Ireland. In those events we pray together, share advice, cultural foods and spiritual fellowship.
The priest has a duty to counsel the parishioners, according to their needs, such as spiritual visitation, Confession, prayer for the sick and other services.