Abba François Markos was born in Gurage in 1910 into a Catholic family. His father was Ato Markos Kersana and his mother Woizero Niguatte Kurissa. Yerga is his name and Markos his baptismal name. The people of Gurage belong to one of the Semitic tribes of Ethiopia. Markos was born in “sebat bet Gurage,” 200 kilometers from the capital city of Addis Ababa, specifically in Chaha, Nadene, five kilometers from Endeber St. Antonio’s Catholic Church.
When Markos was around six years old he came to Addis to live with his father. When he was living with his father he used to go to church every morning. At that time a French priest invited him to join the boarding school in the Cathedral. He also studied at the French community school Alliance Française.
In 1923 this French priest sent Markos to a seminary in Harar called the Abune Endrias School where he studied philolosophy, theology and also mathematics and Latin.
In 1934 after his eight years of study he was ordained by André Jarosseou, a bishop of the Harar vicariate together with two friends. After working for only one year in the Harar vicariate Abba François asked the bishop’s permission to return to the Addis Ababa vicariate.
In his first mission in Gurage, he was parish priest of the Endeber St. Antonio’s Church. He was a true monk before his people. The people of Gurage, even nowadays, have a great respect for priests, because of the life witness of Abba François Markos.
The life of Abba François was not only limited to pastoral activities. He also served the people of Gurage through social work. He built many schools. Most of the time he himself used to go into the classrooms and give lessons especially in mathematics. The people of Gurage call him “The Father of Modern Education.” Often, Abba François gave his time to build roads to connect each Kebele worada (district). When he was in “sebat bet Gurage” he built more than ten churches in his own birthplace. One church was St. Mark’s in memory of his father. He also built the Atat hospital and the Maganase leprosarium.
Ato Ewketu Mela Sikora
This story, summarized by Ato Assegid Negash from the Amharic booklet Abba François Markos by Ato Eupetu Milasikora, copyright © 1990, Addis Ababa, and received in 2001, was written under the supervision of Abba Daniel Assefa, OMFCap, DACB Liaison Coordinator at the Capuchin Franciscan Institute of Philosophy and Theology, Addis Ababa.