Catholic Relief Services Employees Die in Plane Crash

Tags: Currents Bishop Gregory Mansour, Catholic Relief Services, Ethiopian Air

By Tim Harfmann

Catholic Relief Services, the international agency dedicated to helping poor and vulnerable people, is trying to cope with the loss of four colleagues. “It’s been a couple of days of just talking to each other, mourning,” said Megan Gilbert. She is a spokesperson for CRS.

The four were among 157 passengers and crew members killed on impact when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed Sunday. The plane was en route from Ethiopia to Kenya.

Sara Chalachew was part of the team responding to Ethiopia’s food crisis. She had been a senior official in charge of commodities.

Getnet Alemayehu was a senior project officer in helping procure food. He is survived by his wife and one daughter.

Sintayehu Aymeku did the same sort of work as senior procurement officer. He had a wife and three daughters.

Mulusew Alemu was the senior finance officer for the Ethiopian project.

“We were really worried at first when we heard about the crash because we know that’s a well-traveled route,” said Gilbert. The four were on their way for training to learn how to better serve the hungry. “There is a real food insecurity crisis in Ethiopia and the surrounding countries. So, what they were doing was helping people feed their families.”

The U.S. bishops sent their condolences. USCCB President Cardinal Daniel DiNardo wrote to Bishop Gregory Mansour, the CRS chairman, about his colleagues.

“Their service to the poor and their accompaniment of the marginalized stand as a great witness to Christ and His love for us all. Please know that I have asked our brother bishops here in the United States to pray for the repose of the souls of Sara, Getnet, Sintayehu, and Mulusew, and we will especially do so at the upcoming meeting of the USCCB administrative committee this week.”

Despite tragedy, CRS will honor the victims by continuing to help others. “I’m sure that’s what they would want. that’s what they did in their everyday lives, was to make sure that the people we served got what they needed.”