News / The Diaspora

Ethiopian priest of Archdiocese of Washington marks his 40th anniversary

By  STAFF WRITER    JUNE 3, 2015


Cardinal Wuerl at center poses with four priests of the Archdiocese of Washington marking their 40th anniversaries this year. At left are Msgr. Michael Wilson and Father Tesfamariam Baraki. From the right are Father Raymond O’Brien and Father Michael Kelley. 

Jaclyn Lippelmann / Catholic Standard




mong the five priests of the Archdiocese of Washington marking the 40th anniversaries of their ordinations this year include Father Tesfamariam Baraki, a native of Tigray, Ethiopia.

Father Baraki has served as a Catholic chaplain at Howard University Hospital since 2001. He was ordained as a Cistercian priest in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1975. While studying at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, he assisted at parishes in the Archdiocese of Newark.

Later, the president of the Ethiopian bishops’ conference, Archbishop Paulos Tzadua of Addis Ababa, invited Father Baraki to serve as a missionary priest to Ethiopian Catholic immigrants and refugees living in the United States. The Ethiopian archbishop presented the priest to the Archdiocese of Washington, where then-Archbishop James Hickey appointed Father Baraki to serve as pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Kidane-Mehret) Ge’ez Rite Parish. Father Baraki served in that role from 1984 to 2000 at the parish, which brought together Ethiopian and Eritrean immigrants living in the Washington area – two nationalities that had traditionally been divided. In 1985, he was appointed by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops’ migration committee to serve as a liaison and help dioceses across the country coordinate pastoral care and ministries for Ethiopian and Eritrean Catholics.

A long-time activist on the issue of human life of the unborn here in the United States, Father Baraki has now focused his pro-life activism in his native country Ethiopia.


Father Tesfamariam Baraki 

“It’s my prayer and hope that Ethiopia and Ethiopians consider to stop the madness of legalized abortion scourge in the country that is spreading like a virus as an alternative means of birth control, in order to reduce overpopulation and reduce poverty and maternal death, while totally ignoring the value, dignity, sanctity, and the inalienable right to life of the unborn human beings created in the image and likeness of God the Creator and Sustainer of all lives,” said Father Baraki in a recent online statement. “Ethiopians need to learn from other countries such as the United States of America how to stand and defend life of the unborn and to change abortion laws in order to protect the sacredness of all human lives born and unborn with an equal value and dignity from the very fertilization/conception to the very natural death.”

Father Baraki, who was incardinated as a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington in 2005, earlier received the 1999 Washingtonian of the Year Award from Washingtonian magazine for his leadership and service in helping to unite the area’s Ethiopian and Eritrean communities into a parish where they worshipped together. In 2001, he received the Archbishop Silvano Tomasi Award from the Migration and Refugee Services Office for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees, for his service in the field of ethnic ministry. At Howard University Hospital, he has also received several awards for his service to the hospital’s Catholic patients and staff.

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