Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


African priest in Atlanta asks for prayers to ‘drive out’ Ebola

By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff Writer | Published October 16, 2014

ATLANTA—Increasingly, the prayers of the faithful in Masses celebrated throughout the Archdiocese of Atlanta are including petitions for patients suffering from the Ebola virus, and those providing care for them.

Since March, when an outbreak of Ebola occurred in Guinea, West Africa, the World Health Organization estimates 8,914 people have tested positive for the virus, primarily in that country and the neighboring countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia. WHO reported that 4,447 people have died in this most recent outbreak. Their figures were released Oct. 14.

The mortality rate has risen from 50 to 70 percent.

Liberians wait outside the John F. Kennedy Ebola treatment center in Monrovia, Liberia, Sept. 18. CNS photo/Ahmed Jallanzo, EPA

Liberians wait outside the John F. Kennedy Ebola treatment center in Monrovia, Liberia, Sept. 18. CNS photo/Ahmed Jallanzo, EPA

The World Health Organization estimates there will be more than 20,000 Ebola cases by Nov. 2.

Father Daniel Gbadji, chaplain of the Francophone community in the Atlanta Archdiocese, is a native of the West African nation of Togo.

Father Gbadji traveled to Togo in August. The country has had no reports of the Ebola virus.

The priest said prayers are needed to “drive out this disease.”

Travel-associated or local transmissions of the hemorrhagic fever have been reported in Europe, Nigeria, and in Dallas, Texas.

“We need to pray hard,” said Father Gbadji. “People are really scared.”

In Dallas, the Catholic community is praying for one its own—Nina Pham, a critical care nurse who provided care for a Liberian man, Thomas Eric Duncan, who died from the disease.

Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas issued a statement on Twitter regarding the Catholic health care worker who was diagnosed Oct. 11 with the virus.

“Please join me in praying for our sister in Christ, Nina Pham, as she continues her battle with Ebola in Dallas,” tweeted the bishop.

She was flown to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, on Oct. 16, where she was reported in fair condition the following day.

A second Dallas nurse, Amber Vinson, was diagnosed with Ebola on Oct. 14 and has been flown to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta for treatment in its isolation unit, where Americans with Ebola have been successfully treated already.

Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops’ overseas relief and development agency, has increased support in the affected African countries. The agency has allocated $1.5 million in private funds toward efforts such as training volunteers and religious leaders, providing hygiene kits and making household visits in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ghana.

Without a vaccine or cure, “prevention is the only way to end the outbreak, and this requires significant public education on a local level,” said Meredith Dyson, a CRS health program manager in Sierra Leone.

According to a CRS Alert from Oct. 14, the disruption of regular medical services is causing an increase in deaths from other diseases such as yellow fever and malaria.

CRS is working with church agencies, including Caritas, in these countries to educate parishioners and students at Catholic schools about the spread of Ebola.

The work to fight Ebola can be further expanded with tax-deductible donations to the CRS West Africa Emergency Fund.

Visit and click on the box labeled “Emergencies” to learn more or donate directly.