Father Surafiel Bdeho, OFM, Cap.
Ordained November 8, 2015
From Eritrea, Africa

Father Surafiel at Mary’s Homes of Hope

May 2, 2020

My baptismal name is Weldetensae (Pasquale), for I was born in Easter season; In addition, my family gave me a family name “Brother,” a prayer and hope that the time of conflict gets over and peace may reign. For I was born within the two decades, 1970s and 80s which were marked by burning of houses, massacres and assassinations by invaders.

 

I am the second born of the seven (7) children: five daughters and two sons. My parents are devoted Catholics, a heritage from both lines of grandparents. Daily mass and garden works are the culture in my family. My spiritual life is highly influenced by the spiritual culture we had in the family. Trusting in God’s providence and surrendering to God’s will are the words that dominate every issue and talk in the family. I started to take these words seriously when I left home at age of 17. They played a great role in my reflections on my decision. My parents were great support on the decision moments.  They would say, “What is good for you is good for us.” This gave me enough energy to listen to what the Holy Spirit was calling me and decide to the consecrated life.

 

In my heart, I wandered to all possibilities that I could be.  Nothing satisfied my heart, but Christ alone. However, it was not without challenge. After I finished my studies for priesthood, I asked permission to pause the proceedings for the ordination. The news I was hearing regarding abuses by priests were the main thing that was resonating in my mind, and I doubted myself; at the same time determined to be a priest; convincing myself not to be trapped by fears. So, I reflected that being ordained around the age of 50 could be safe for me. With that in mind, I stayed as a “friar,” for about two years. After a year and some months, it happened that I met my professor, Dr. Ruth Habte. She taught me many courses in my theology for priesthood, and I was following her passionately. We sat for chat in their house (family house). She expressed her shock that I paused my ordination process. Hoping that she would understand me and to promise her that it is only a matter of time, I shared my fears. She took no time; she said, “Do you want to give to God your dead body?”

She added, “When you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for testing” (Sirach 2: 1).

 

These two points broke the chains which held me trapped from being what God was calling me to be. The next morning, I visited my Provincial superior to request for ordination. He granted me his approval.

With my ordination, I felt the grace of salvation; my preparation meditation was dominated by “priesthood as a grace of service for others.” However, with my ordination, a transformation started to happen.  I felt its saving grace primarily to me, the receiver of the Sacrament of Holy Order.  I felt a new zeal for souls. 

 

Right after being ordained into the priesthood, I was asked to be sent as a missionary.  So, I received the grace to serve Our Lord by being among refugees in Sudan, a missionary outreach by the Capuchins in Eritrea. It is a missionary outreach for the refugees of war started in 1975. I served there from 2016 to 2018. From my experience with the refugees, I learned how to make a deep encounter with God, and I felt the need for further studies. And God responded to the desire of my heart by granting opportunities of study in the US.