Praying ...for all those who suffer



Father Werenfried van Straaten with famous collection hat

Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, is a Pontifical charity whose mission is to provide assistance to Catholics wherever the Church suffers from poverty or persecution.


Over the last 70 years, the international charity has grown to include offices in 23 countries worldwide, including one in Canada. Together, we collect funds from benefactors allowing us to support on average 6,000 projects in more than 140 countries. Our mission is to provide aid to the Church in need through the three-fold action of: praying, informing and giving.



Aid to the Church in Need was founded in 1947 as “Ostpriesterhilfe” in Tongerlo Abbey, Belgium, when its founder Father Werenfried van Straaten launched an aid initiative to help the 14 million people expelled from East Germany, while appealing for reconciliation with the “enemies of yesterday.”

The Mission Flourishes

In no time, the movement shifted its scope to encompass the oppressed Church behind the Iron Curtain. It also diversified its activities to come to the aid of seminarians, to create Chapels on Wheels, to rebuild churches and build shelters for the needy. The foundation of a national office in Königstein, Germany in 1956, was soon followed by an additional national office in Austria.

From this point onward the charity began to flourish and to assist refugees from Asia, to South America as well as the Eastern-rite Catholic Church of Ukraine. In 1964, the charity was taken over by the Holy See and its international head office moved to Rome. In 1969, the current name, Aid to the Church in Need, was adopted. And in 1975, while remaining under direct Papal authority, the head office or International Secretariat settled in Königstein, Germany.

Growth continued with the creation of national offices in many Western countries. In 1984, the charity was established as a Universal Public Association under Papal Jurisdiction. In early 2012, the charity was elevated to the status of Pontifical Foundation. It now consists of 20 national offices in as many countries, including Canada.

With the downfall of communist systems in Eastern and Central Europe, support was directed to the Eastern-rite Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches that had long survived underground. In 1992, a wide-range new aid program was launched for the re-evangelization of Eastern Europe and the countries of the new Russian Federation.

Over 600,000 Benefactors Worldwide

Today, ACN is a global community of over 600,000 friends and benefactors who support approximately 5,000 projects each year in over 145 countries worldwide. In 2010, the volume of donations rose to more than $110 million Canadian dollars for local churches in need – bringing its total figure to over 3 billion Canadian dollars. ACN benefactors are accompanied by 17 national offices in Europe, North and South America, as well as Australia. Its founder, who left us in 2003, contributed to the work as much as his delicate health would permit, until the very end. He gave thanks to God on a daily basis for this phenomenal success. He once said: “Humanly speaking, this Work is a mystery!”

For a more detailed history, please consult the ACN International website.

The ACN Team

The team is composed of seven people including the National Director who is chosen by the Board of Directors.

This position is currently held by Marie-Claude Lalonde, a lawyer and member of the Québec Bar.

Prior to her arrival at ACN in 2000, she practiced law from a private law firm.

In alphabetical order, our team:

  • Amanda Griffin, Head of Social Media and Support  to Communications, English sector
  • Annie Desrosiers, Head of Fundraising and Development
  • Marie-Claude Lalonde, National Director
  • Maria Schiavone, Accounting and Marketing
  • Mario Bard, Head of Communications
  • Adelmira Figueiredo Blanchet, Data Entry & Clerk
  • Felipe Bezerra, Coordinator, Ontario Sub- Office

Board of Directors

Introducing, in alphabetical order, our Board members:

  • Sylvie Soulard, President
  • Rick Jones, Vice-President
  • Stephen Dugal, Administrator
  • Brian Cordeiro, Administrator
  • Dominique Garrel, Administrator
  • Hans VanLeeuwen (President Emeritus)
  • Louis Champagne, Administrator

Photo-Marie-ClaudeDear Benefactors,

As the mandate to support the work of informing you about the situation of Churches throughout the world constitutes an important part or our mission, it became important that we revamp our site which had become somewhat outdated.

Methods of communication are evolving quickly! We hope that our now more modern site will be a tool which you find to be at once useful, user-friendly and interesting at the service of our most important mission: Helping the Church everywhere she is in need of us.

We believe that the richness of this site’s content will reveal the great purpose of our work, and of our competence in managing your donations. We also hope you will share this site with others so as to surround us with a strength that together we will dispense to our poor and persecuted Christian brothers and sisters everywhere they are in need of us.

Have a good visit. We hope you will return often. Most of all, please write to us!

Marie-Claude Lalonde, National Director

I was so greatly supported by Aid to the Church in the Need (ACN) during Father Werenfried’s time, that today I do what I can for the works you support. I received help over 12 years for evangelization projects in Nicaragua. Twenty-three churches were built, nine of them with ACN’s help.
Fr Benoit Laplante


I would like to give you all of my thanks for the interest you have given to my request for aid to obtain a means of transportation for the Parish of Simbandi Balante. […] the motorcycle arrived at the port in Dakar about two weeks ago […] we are three priests in this parish and it will be our main means of doing pastoral work.
Fr Laurent Adioye

I am very grateful to ACN who allowed me to follow a formation making me a stronger person to serve my people in Haiti.
Sr Leslie Régis of the Congregation of the Sisters of Mary

I am a long-standing project partner of ACN’s with whom I maintain constant contact for various projects. ACN is a major partner in Congo and I am very grateful to them.
Msgr Nicolas Djomo, President of the Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of Congo

Thank you for the presbytery that your support allowed us to build last year. We have proceeded with the inauguration which included a personal appearance by the bishop of the Diocese of Chosica.
Fr Jean Braconin Kasiama, Missionaries of the Holy Apostles in Peru

In 2005, an idea was born in Caracas to invite one million children the world over to unite in prayer for Unity and for Peace under the protection of the Virgin Mary.

Click here to download One Million Children Pray the Rosary PDF – if you or children you know would like to join in their prayer, Children Praying the Rosary is an excellent guide to learning about the Mysteries of Joy, Light, Sorrow and Glory.