Pope Francis elevated 15 new members to the College of Cardinals Sunday, Jan. 4, one of them a Vincentian archbishop who was honored by Niagara University in November 2013.
The Most Rev. Abune Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, C.M., archbishop of Ethiopia, will be formally installed as a cardinal during a ceremony at St. Peter's Basilica Feb. 14. He will become only the second Ethiopian bishop to be named a cardinal.
Nine of the new cardinals are from the emerging world, and the group represents 14 countries in total: five are from Europe, three each from Asia and Latin America, and two each from Africa and Oceania.
As the second group of cardinals appointed by Pope Francis, the latest choices reflect his continuing efforts to rebalance a College of Cardinals toward the developing world, and illustrate the pope's support for prelates with pastoral experience in areas coping with violence, migration and poverty. Cardinal-designate Souraphiel, for example, has written and presented extensively on the topic of human trafficking.
"I join the community of Niagara University in congratulating Archbishop Souraphiel on being raised to the dignity of the cardinalate," said the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of NU. "This appointment by Pope Francis is in recognition of Cardinal-designate Souraphiel's servant leadership to the Catholic Church of Ethiopia through his commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are incredibly proud of this faithful son of St. Vincent de Paul."
After earning a bachelor's of divinity degree in London, Souraphiel was ordained as a Vincentian priest July 4, 1976. He continued his studies at Gregorian University in Rome, and earned a master's degree in socioeconomic development in 1984. In 1997, his Holiness John Paul II appointed him as auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Addis Abeba. In 1998, he was consecrated bishop and, just one year later, Pope John Paul II appointed him to archbishop.
With a population of 90 million people, Ethiopia is the second most populous country on the continent of Africa and, under the leadership of Souraphiel, the Catholic Church has played a major role in its education and humanitarian relief efforts. The Catholic Church manages nearly 80 health institute centers and more than 350 educational institutes.
Because of the church's impact on the country, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia asked the Catholic Church to further its ministry and outreach through the establishment of an International Catholic University. In 2005, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Ethiopia, under the leadership of Souraphiel, signed a formal agreement to establish the International Catholic University, open to students and teachers of all backgrounds and faiths. In 2006, the university was officially named the Ethiopian Catholic University of St. Thomas Aquinas.
The university, which is temporarily housed in the archdiocesan cathedral, opened its academic programs in 2008. The university currently offers courses in social work, information technology and medical technology. Souraphiel, who also serves as the university's chancellor, said he wants to expand the academic programs to include natural sciences, agriculture and ethics.
Construction continues for new academic buildings on a 60-acre plot of land provided by the Ethiopian government. Souraphiel continues to travel the globe to raise support for the university and the Diocese of Ethiopia.
On Nov. 12, 2013, Souraphiel presided at Mass at Niagara University before being presented with the institution's highest honor, its President's Medal, and offering remarks on the state of the Catholic Church in Ethiopia.
During his time on Monteagle Ridge, Souraphiel met with Maher as well as several other individuals from the university community, including administrators, faculty and students.
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