By Laura Ieraci • Catholic News Service • Posted March 21, 2017
CHICAGO (CNS) — Two weeks before arriving in Ohio on a nationwide pastoral visit, Bishop Fikremariam Hagos Tsalim of the Eparchy of Segheneity, Eritrea, got word that eight young people from his eparchy died trying to make their way to Europe in search of a better life.
It’s an all-too-common story, Bishop Tsalim told Horizons, newspaper of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma, Ohio, March 7.
About 190 Eritreans died trying to cross into Europe in February alone, he said. The poor migrants usually make their way to Libya, where traffickers demand steep fees to herd them onto a raft that will set sail to southern Italy. Too often the shabby rafts sink in the Mediterranean Sea and the migrants perish.
Bishop Tsalim, 46, was at St. John Chrysostom Parish in Columbus, Ohio, in early March visiting the Eritrean Catholic diaspora who have been worshipping with the Byzantine Catholic community since 2014. He is the first bishop of the Segheneity Eparchy, which was established in 2012.
The bishop’s U.S. visit was his second in five years to raise funds for pastoral projects, including the construction of a chancery and a bishop’s residence. Plans to build a high school are on hold as the eparchy awaits a government permit to break ground, he said.