An Apostolic Prefecture immediately subject to the Holy see, Gambella has a population of some 440,000 people of whom 5,000 are baptized Catholics. The Apostolic Prefect is (2010) Bishop Angelo Moreschi SDB. He is assisted by 7 diocesan and 8 religious priests.
The Salesians have a community in the Prefecture consisting of seven members, three of whom are directly involved in assisting the Prefecture. Fr Filippo Perin is in charge of a large village project (the village of Nyinenynang) with 8,000 people. They are building a church and planning to build a kindergarten, set up an agricultural project and an oratory. This work began in 2009.
The Gambella People's National Regional State (GPNRS), covering an area of approximately 34063 Km2 is situated in the extreme end of south-western part of the country, about 800 kilometres west of the capital (Addis Ababa). The geographic location of the region extends from 7o to 8o17' north latitude and from 33o to 35o2' east longitude. It is bordered in the east and north by Oromiya National Regional State, in the west and south by the Republic of Sudan and in the southeast by the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People's Regional State.
Gambella in the Ethiopian Church
Gambella is a first evangelization area where most of the local people are traditional believers. It is also one of the four emerging regional states in Ethiopia where the need for social and development intervention is unavoidable. The Holy See declared the launching of the Apostolic Prefecture of Gambella in November 2000. The installation of the new diocese and the first Apostolic Prefect Bishop Angelo Moreschi was held on February 25, 2001. On January 31, 2010, Bishop Angelo Moreschi was ordained first Bishop of the new Apostolic Vicariate of Gambella.
Soon after the installation of the prefecture, the first step taken was organizing the structures in the Church and adding more buildings in the compound. Then after accomplishing the first step, the prefecture started inviting volunteers, congregations and vocations to serve the Catholic Church in this marginalized area where the strong presence of the Church is much needed. The response from different people was so encouraging that in few months the number of religious personnel increased rapidly and hence a number of new parishes and outstations in different villages were able to be opened. Now there are 7 diocesan priests, 8 religious priests and 10 parishes and a number of outstations.
Within the last ten years, the Church has developed a number of potable water points, established schools, health center and kindergartens and has supported the people of Gambella in their worst time of natural disaster and tribal conflicts. These were all possible only through the generous support of private benefactors, friends and different collaborators. The Church is still committed to further continue its endeavour to reach out to the less privileged communities and render proper services for the community and is determined to engage in the fight against poverty.