Sister Tsion Weldegiorgis, D.C.
1936 to 1978
Catholic Church (Daughters of Charity)
Eritrea / Ethiopia
Tsion was born in Hebo, a village 90 kilometers from Asmara,
in 1936 into a Catholic family. She took her primary education at the Italian
Sisters' School in Hebo from 1940 to 1955. From the outset, a woman of deep
faith, she was nurtured in Catholic traditions in an area that had been evangelized
by St. Justin de Jacobis. At the age of nineteen, she was sent to Naples, Italy,
for a year of religious formation and novitiate then moved on to Paris in 1956
for another year of training. In 1957 and 1958 she taught kindergarten in Addis
Ababa and then was transferred to Bonga, Kafa, to supervise boarding school
and parish visitations from 1959 to 1967. In 1968 she spent six months in London
taking courses in philosophy and theology then returned to Addis Ababa to work
at St. Mary's School. From 1970 to 1973 she was involved in Home Economics and
women's work at Dembidollo, Wollega. During 1974 she did her 12th grade then
went to Bonga where she served as director and teacher of Home Economics in
Bonga as well as at outstations of Shappa, Wush Wush, Mutti, Dekia and Gojeb.
Her years in Bonga endeared her to the poor as she traveled by mule to outstations
and always encouraged girls to study and learn. Among her colleagues and in
the Bonga hospital, she was beloved for her gracious hospitality. She often
served tea to guests on the shaded verandah of the Bonga Catholic mission and
would pick passion fruit directly from the vines to present to her guests as
a delicious drink.
In Bonga, when a group of Manjos settled in a nearby forest and wanted to attend
church, there was some difficulty in the minds of many (because of social and
ethnic stigma), so Sister Tsion built them a small prayer house and led them
gently into the faith. Able to speak six or seven languages, including Kafficho,
she befriended many groups and strata of society at a heart level.
Sister Tsion was beloved for her faithfulness by both the
poor as well as her colleagues at various Catholic missions
and institutions.  She exuded peace and gentleness to all
the poor whom she served so faithfully as well as to her colleagues
at various Catholic missions and institutions. During the
years of the Marxist revolution, she traveled through many
dangerous situations and sorrowed in saying farewell to the
expatriate missionaries who were expelled from the Kafa region
Her untimely death in 1978 in a tragic car accident near Nazareth was a great
sorrow to the entire Catholic and greater community in Ethiopia. The Sisters
House of Formation in Addis Ababa is named Tsion House in her memory.
Lila W. Balisky
1. In Ethiopia, one would say of Sister Tsion that her life was "like the fragrance of the coffee trees in blossom."
"Sister Tsion Weldegiorgis; 1936-1978. A Tribute" (produced by Sr. Mauve O'Brien, D.C.).
This biography was excerpted from the above tribute and written in 2011 by Mrs. Lila Balisky, formerly of SIM Ethiopia, who knew Sister Tsion personally in Bonga, Kafa.