ACN BENEFACTORS

 

ACN Interview – An interview with Archbishop Peter Loy Chong of Suva, Fiji

05.10.2018 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN International, ACN Interview, By Maria Lozano, Fiji

Fiji

“God has heard the cry of my people”


An interview with Archbishop Peter Loy Chong of Suva

The Fiji Archipelago in the South Pacific is a renowned destination for tourists from Australia, New Zealand and the United States in general. Its capital city, Suva, is also the commercial and political center of Fiji. However, what few people realize is that parts of this seeming earthly paradise are in danger of extinction. Maria Lozano spoke to Archbishop Peter Loy Chong of Suva, on the Fiji Islands, during his visit to the central headquarters of the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) about the consequences of climate change for his country and the sufferings of the Fijian people.

 

Irene Eschmann (project officer fro ASIA at ACN) with Archbishop Peter Loy Chong (Archbishop of Suva diocese in Fiji)during his visit at the during his visit at the ACN headquarters.

You took part in a conference in Rome related to the third anniversary of the encyclical Laudato Si’ which, among other things, deals with the problem of climate change. Why were you invited to take part in this meeting, and is Suva affected by this phenomenon?

Absolutely. The ocean levels are increasing each year, so the island is disappearing. It is about our homes; many of them will be under water in 50 years’ time. It’s not just a matter of statistics; we can see it with our own eyes. Before, on our island, everyone tried to build their homes near the water. It was seen as a sign of development. The people living close to the sea considered themselves more civilized than the people from the mountains. My grandfather himself built his house just 50 meters away from the sea. The air was good, and it was easy to fish. But now, many houses have to be rebuilt closer to the hills, because the sea is approaching dangerously.

But are these changes simply sporadic? Do they only affect a few people, or are the impacts of climate change affecting all the islands of Fiji?

It’s not just a random event. On the contrary, in the coming years people living in 34 coastal villages in Fiji face upheavals that will force them to relocate their homes, due to the rise in sea level. Fiji’s government has identified these villages as susceptible to the effects of the changes in the next 5 to 10 years. One village in the province of Bua has already been relocated to Yadua and there are plans to move the village of Tavea soon.

Fiji, 20th of May 2018 – Eucharistic Celebration of the Synod Year Launch at the National Stadium in Suva. The Catholic Church Synod is themed “Connecting in Jesus.”

Many people don’t believe that the situation is that serious, including many within the Catholic Church, despite all the commitment of the Holy Father on this subject. What would you say to them?

A little while ago I was editing a statement put together by the Pacific Catholic Bishops Conference. The first draft stated that the ‘Pacific was a sea of opportunities’. I corrected this statement stating instead of opportunities that the sea is life for island peoples. The sea provides food, no just opportunities.The first draft also mentioned that we are learning to live with the negative effects of climate change. This is a weak statement. For Pacific Islanders are suffering from the impacts of climate change. Climate change is a matter of survival.  How am I going to tell my people that they have to “learn to live with this”?

“Our faith teaches us to transform our suffering and anguish into prayer, into pleas that God may hear the cry of my people. For this reason, it is not simply a matter of something external, of economy or politics. It is a question of respect for God and his creation and of alleviating the pain of those who suffer.”

At any rate, some people still find it difficult to understand what is the role of the Church in this sphere. Is it not rather an economic and political problem?

I believe that there are two respects in which the Church plays an important role. The first is that it is a problem that affects the nucleus of our life and our faith – creation, which is a gift, but at the same time a responsibility that God has given us to take care of. And we have to ask ourselves if we are doing this well or not. Secondly, and this affects me much more directly as a pastor, how am I to console, to accompany the suffering that I see in my people? Their cries, their pain makes me think of the psalms of the Old Testament and of how they call on God to hear the cry of his people. For example in Psalm 12 (13), where we pray, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” Our faith teaches us to transform our suffering and anguish into prayer, into pleas that God may hear the cry of my people. For this reason, it is not simply a matter of something external, of economy or politics. It is a question of respect for God and his creation and of alleviating the pain of those who suffer.

Pope Francis has spoken of an “ecological conversion”. How would you apply this term? In might sound a little abstract

Fiji, 20th of May 2018 Eucharistic Celebration of the Synod Year Launch at the ANZ National Stadium in Suva. The Catholic Church Synod is themed “Connecting in Jesus.”

The Holy Father speaks of conversion, and I believe that this affects all of us, both at the international level and also at the national level. Our islands are being devastated, our rivers polluted, our trees cut down. The result is that the fish are disappearing from our shores. Now the fish are moving several kilometers away and this in its turn is having repercussions on the modus vivendi of the ordinary people, because now they need boats in order to go out and fish, and this costs money. All this means that the women, for example, can no longer go fishing as they did before. Previously, they stood on the shore and fished for themselves, but now there are no fish in these areas. In other words, the conversion of which we are speaking has to happen at the local level. But in addition there needs to be a conversion of hearts. Ecological conversion doesn’t happen in isolation, the conversion also has to be something internal in the heart of each individual. There has to be a drawing closer to God, respect for his creation, a spirit of solidarity and generosity towards all those who, even if they are far away geographically, are still our brothers and are suffering terribly. My people are weeping; who will dry their tears?

 

What for you personally was the most moving moment of your meeting in Rome?
One of the most moving moments for me was when a young woman, a poetess, read out a poem about how to tell her children about what is happening on her island, about what we are going to say to those who come afterwards. What is this mother going to say to her son in 50 years time? It moved me because, as she was reading the poem, she was so affected by it that just as she was starting to say a verse with the words “my faith…”, she was unable to continue and instead repeated several times over, “my faith”, “my faith” in an attempt to continue with the poem… But she was unable to do so. And I thought this was quite providential – it meant that we ourselves have to finish this poem, we have to complete the phrase: “my faith…” What is the response that my faith gives me in the face of this anguish, of this suffering?

 Support to maintain Nazareth Prayer Centre for Christian meditation in Fiji: Group photo

Oceania, to which the Fiji Islands belong, comprises more than 7,500 sparsely populated or unpopulated islands spread covering an area of about 70 million square kilometers. The Church considers the region with its unusual variety of indigenous peoples as unique. The proclamation of faith among small, young, secluded, culturally and linguistically diverse communities is a challenging yet also enriching task.  The Pontifical Charity Aid to the Church in Need has contributed more than 7.5 million dollars towards projects in Oceania over the last ten years.

 

A special project in Cameroon – Conversion in Prison

04.10.2018 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Feature, ACN Interview, ACN PROJECTS, Africa, Africa, Cameroon, CONSTRUCTION, Sisters

CAMEROON – CONVERSION IN PRISON

ACN renovates the chapel in Bafoussam prison

Sister Orencya, a Pallottine Sister, gives her service for the Church in Cameroon. She has been a missionary in the prison environment. For nearly a decade, she has been visiting prisoners twice a week at Bafoussam Central Prison. This prison is composed of a women’s ward, an adult men’s ward and a youth ward. Altogether, there are about 1,000 prisoners.

The Christian community, under the patronage of Marcel Callo, (deported by the German gestapo to the concentration camps because he was Christian)  has held a presence in the prison for 20 years now. A chaplain facilitates and is supported by volunteers from the Justice and Peace Association, novices from Xavierins Fathers, Sister Orencya and catechist detainees. In addition to attentive listening to the prisoners and providing material help (medicines, clothing, food), times of prayer, catechesis and mass are all organized for the imprisoned.

Sister Anna Kot from the Pallontine Sisters in Cameroon sent the photos together with the following lines: “Hello, A few days ago, we sent you the letters of thanks and request for grant 2018. Now we send some pictures of our apostolate in Cameroon. I do it as secretary in the name of the superior delegate, Sr. Véronique Sakowska. With the best regards and expressions of respect.”

 

ACN financed the rehabilitation of the chapel in 2017. Several inmates wrote letters of thanks. Here are some excerpts:

 

You have turned our chapel into paradise”

“Many of the faithful have converted and many who did not come to church are now the first to arrive in the chapel on the Lord’s Day. You have, through your actions, attracted souls who have made a firm resolve to change and to be baptized.”

“As God never abandons His children when they cry for help, He has sent an angel among us: Sister Orencya, to listen to our cries and transmit them to you. Thank you for everything you do for us inmates. Many prisoners have converted because of our improved life in the prison environment. Many follow catechesis classes and are part of prayer groups in our Marcel Callo community. By receiving much support from you, we have understood that we are not abandoned despite our faults and that the Lord is always with us. Thanks to God and thanks to you, I consider myself happy to live my detention in the peace, joy and love of Christ.”

“God allowed me to enter this prison to know him. Outside, I lived in debauchery. In this prison, I am a path of conversion and radical change of my mentalities. All this thanks to God and through you through the manifestation of His goodness in my life”.

In his letter of thanks, the chaplain explains the choice of the patron saint: Marcel Callo.

“Marcel Callo was deported by the German gestapo to the concentration camps in Germany. His motive: his detractors said that he was a Christian. He will die there at the age of 23.  During his detention, he devoted his time to serving his brothers. Today, following Christ, through daily prayers, Eucharistic celebrations by the priests of the Sacred Heart and catechesis, the Marcel Callo community continues the work of evangelization within the prison. This environment makes everyone happy. »

 

ACN has promised to continue supporting the prison ministry in Cameroon and has just approved a $13,590 project for pastoral care of prisoners in the main prisons of Kumbo and Nkambe in the Anglophone area of the country.

ACN Project of the Week – Help for seminarians in Congo

03.10.2018 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Africa, Africa, By ACN Project Services

Republic of Congo (Brazzaville)

Help for the training of 83 seminarians

The statistics reflecting the numbers of the Catholic Church in Africa represent something of a record holder. For one in every nine priests, one in every four seminarians and one in every six lay Catholics in the world hail from this continent!

 

Seminarians in training – Brazzaville, Congo

Many of the seminaries are bursting at the seams, and—in contrast with other parts of the world—the number of priests is actually growing year after year. However, in the Republic of the Congo—also known as Congo Brazzaville—the Catholic faith is only now experiencing a somewhat slow revival owing to the fact that from 1969 to 1991, the country was under a communist regime and the Church suffered widespread repression and reprisals as a result.

 

Today, approximately one third of the country’s 5 million inhabitants are Catholic. However, despite decades of oppression and the fact that the priests in this country must often live and work in conditions of extreme poverty—in many cases minister to vast territories—vocations are still plentiful. In the country’s only major seminary, situated in the capital Brazzaville, 83 young men are currently training for the priesthood. Last year six new priests were ordained and 11 seminarians were ordained to the diaconate.

 

 

In order to ensure these future priests receive a sound and solid formation, ACN is supporting the Brazzaville Seminary as it has done in previous years. This time though, we are proposing to give $22,650 so these 83 young men can continue serenely on their path to the priesthood.

Are you in inspired by this projects supporting seminarians? If you would like to help create more projects such as this, simply click above – to donate.

Project of the Week in Russia – Beekeeping for to help with the rehabilitation of addicts

26.09.2018 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Russia

Russia

Beekeeping, a harbinger of hope for the rehabilitation of addicts

 

Before his ordination as a priest, Father Sergij was a police commissioner with the homicide squad, for many years, witnessing daily to the evils that enslave people and make them capable of such terrible deeds. His experience taught him that every crime starts with smaller things. “Before someone commits criminal acts and breaks the law, he invariably begins by breaking the moral laws,” he explains.

 

While at the height of his career, he felt himself drawn to the priesthood. “Serving as a policeman and the vocation to the priesthood might seem to be two very different things. But, in reality, both of them are different ways of confronting evil. I was determined to help people, and eventually it came to me that a more effective way of doing so than simply fighting crime was to offer them spiritual support and to help them to overcome sin, with God‘s help and through the Sacraments, the Scriptures and prayer. But ultimately, we must also remember that a vocation does not spring from our own human will, but that it is God who calls us to the service of the priesthood.“

 

Drugs are often the beginning of an ever-deeper entanglement in evil and crime. Consequently, as a police officer he was already familiar with the problem of drug addiction. But after he was ordained in 1992, and continued hearing the confessions of drug addicts, he felt a call to devote himself completely to these people. And so, in 1996, in Sapjob border, he set up a rehabilitation centre for drug addicts which aims to address the whole person, including in his spiritual dimension. For it was clear to him now, as a priest, that addiction is much less a matter of a medical or a sociological problem than a spiritual sickness, which demands a spiritual and pastoral response.

 

Each one a Prodigal Son

 

The centre takes in young men aged between 18 and 35, who have already been through a physical detox program in a clinic. The centre is organized like a family. Father Sergij and his wife Ljudmila welcome each young man who comes in, like the prodigal son in the Gospel. “We make no distinction between our own children and the young men who come here. The most important thing is to see the child in them, as we do in our own children,” says Ljudmila. The young men are like brothers to one another, with the more senior ones helping the newer ones to grow into this new life. And, of course, there are many other helpers who also belong to this big family. In this kind of environment, something soon changes in the hearts and souls of these young men.

 

One who has already turned his life around, is 22-year-old Mikhail. In his own words, he had become a “walking zombie“ when he finally decided to change. It was clear to him that he would not live much longer if he continued with drugs as he was doing.

 

He had lost all contact with his family, hardly slept or ate, and simply lived for his next fix. He also inevitably clashed with the law. In fact, it seemed to him that his life was already over. He went and asked for help at the Alexander Nevsky monastery in Saint Petersburg, and they advised him to turn to Father Sergij. Even before being accepted into the centre, Mikhail began to regularly attend church. He wanted to find out all about the Christian Faith, which was something entirely new to him. As soon as he arrived in Sapjornoe, he was bowled over by the beauty of the place and by the love with which he was welcomed. He rapidly adjusted to the way of life and recalls: “I felt so incredibly happy getting up in the morning to the sound of the bells, hurrying to prayer, then eating breakfast and afterwards going on to work for the glory of God. In Sapjornoe I began to read books again, something I hadn’t done for five or six years. I loved the beautiful liturgies in the church and how lovingly and delicately the meals were prepared! It was never like that at home. “ He stayed at the centre for a year. “During this time, I re-evaluated the whole of my past life and began to look forward to the future with a deep faith in God. The year in Sapjornoe gave me the impetus to begin a new life. I‘m not sure if I would still be alive if I hadn’t gone to Sapjornoe. Glory be to God for all of this!”

 

Each of the young men is given a specific task right from the start. They may work with the livestock, or in the vegetable garden, or they may learn a trade as a bricklayer, carpenter, joiner or roofer. A number of them work in the candle-making and host-baking workshops. Right now there are 60 young men who have been accepted into the centre. In order to provide an occupation for them all, Father Sergij would now like to start up an apiary with 50 beehives. We are proposing to help with a sum of $45,000.

 

Are you in inspired by this project? If you would like to help support more projects such as this, simply click to donate and select ‘Project of the Week’.  Thank you!

New edition of One Million Children – A Powerful Prayer

24.09.2018 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN International, ACN PRESS, Children, Children, Prayer

New edition of One Million Children

A Powerful Prayer

 

Again, this year, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) invites people in charge of doing  pastoral work with children, whether in parishes or elsewhere, to contact the organization in order to participate in the great international prayer movement – One Million Children Pray the Rosary.

 

“For the last few years, on October 18th, we have invited children of the world to pray for peace,” explains Marie-Claude Lalonde, Director of the international organization’s Canadian office. “We are very happy to have taken over the initiative launched in Venezuela. Some children who desired world peace spontaneously got together to pray the Rosary, but they quickly wanted for other kids to participate. And here we are, 12 years later.”

 

Children in the Philippines praying the Rosary together in 2017.

Many of the ACN’s national offices offer original material designed to facilitate the organization of this activity. She says, “By contacting us, the people in charge will be able to receive the necessary information and material to organize the event. I know that, this year, October 18 falls on a weekday and that it can be more difficult to gather children together on that day. Thus, you can organize this time of prayer on the days preceding or following that date.” In the Catholic Church, the month of October is specifically dedicated to praying the Rosary.

 

For more information about the organization of this event in your parish or pastoral youth group or Sunday School group, please contact Annie Desrosiers at 514-932-0552, ext. 224. You will also find information and a downloadable link at the following address: bit.ly/1MchildrenEN.

 

In addition, we invite you to share this activity on your social media! bit.ly/1MChildren.

This activity is specifically geared towards children ages 5 to 12, but all are welcome to participate.

 


 

Project of the Week: Help for the consecrated people in Siberia

22.08.2018 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Eva-Maria Kolmann, Religious men, Russia, Sisters

 
Russia /Siberia

Support for the life and ministry of 63 religious sisters in the diocese of Saint Joseph

 

The diocese of Saint Joseph in Irkutsk, in eastern Siberia, is geographically speaking the largest diocese in the world. With an area of almost 10 million km² it is actually larger than the United States! Scattered thinly across this vast region are 50,000 Catholics, ministered to by around 40 Catholic priests. In addition, there are 63 religious sisters of various different congregations.

 

Their work in the parishes is absolutely indispensable, and they are also involved in all kinds of charitable and social work that is a veritable blessing, above all for so many children from broken homes and for the lonely, the elderly, the sick and the homeless, including many street children.

We would like to share with you two examples of their work with the people in their diocese. In the city of Irkutsk for example, in the parish of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, two sisters of the congregation of the Servants of the Holy Spirit work with children from difficult family backgrounds, including children living in poverty, from large families, or with parents who are alcoholics. They have opened a house they call The House of Hope. The children come here every day to do their schoolwork, to eat and to play.

The sisters organize a range of different activities.  They help them with their schooling and strive to create a real family atmosphere so the children can experience something they have never known in their own families. The same two sisters also regularly visit the children at the tuberculosis clinic organizing a range of activities as well as for the children in hospital, suffering from cancer.

In Abakan, the sisters have made space in their convent for homeless women with children and currently have two mothers and three children staying with them. They also visit the sick and elderly.

We are helping all 63 religious sisters from the various different congregations in their work in the diocese of Irkutsk with a small contribution for their financial support. Overall, our help rings up to a total of $47,565 – or $755 per sister for an entire year. Would you be willing to help us?

 

Are you in inspired by this projects supporting seminarians? If you would like to help create more projects such as this, simply click to donate.

ACN Project of the Week – A library for a Catholic centre in Egypt

16.08.2018 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Eva-Maria Kolmann, egypt, Project of the Week

Egypt

Equipping the library in the Diakonia Development Center 

Sheraton-Heliopolis is the name of one of the newer suburbs of Cairo that did not even exist a few decades ago. Named after the original Sheraton hotel, close to the international airport, which was at first the only existing building there at the time, it is now a busy suburb of over 400,000 people.

 

The Catholic Church has established a pastoral centre here, named the Diakonia Development Center, to serve the various pastoral and social needs of the Catholic parish community. It is here that the children and young people of the Good Samaritan group also meet.

The plan is to establish a small library in the centre for the 150 or so children and young people who regularly come here, mainly to help them become more familiar with the Holy Scriptures. For it is especially important for them, as a religious minority, to have a sound knowledge of the Bible, since they are often asked questions and need to be able to respond in a coherent and clear way.

Sometimes the questions are put to them in a deliberately provocative or manipulative way, making it very important for these Christian children to deepen and extend their knowledge of the Scriptures from an early age, and especially to cultivate a good understanding of those passages in the Bible that are often used or abused by non-Christians to attack their faith.

 

Finally, it is very important for these young people and for their own personal development to be able to understand how God leads them and guides them by his Providence. In this way, they come to know Jesus Christ better and believe more deeply in his love. For as Saint Jerome wrote, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”

 

ACN has promised $5,285 to furnish this library!

 

https://secure.acn-canada.org/donate/donation/#utm_source=MAIN_WEBSITE&utm_medium=DONATE_BUTTON&utm_campaign=REDIRECTS

Are you in inspired by this projects supporting seminarians? If you would like to help create more projects such as this, simply click to donate.

 

ACN Project of the Week – Success Story… in India!

08.08.2018 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Asia, CONSTRUCTION, India

Success Story… in India!

Consecration of the village chapel, in West Vipparu

May 5 2018 was a day of great celebration for the Catholic faithful in West Vipparu, for it was on this day that their beautiful new chapel was finally consecrated after 16 long years of waiting. Up to then, all they had was a very small chapel with an asbestos roof, which threatened to collapse at any moment, and was also far too small for the steadily growing number of faithful.  The people had long dreamt of building a new church, but in their poverty, and despite the many great sacrifices they made, they simply could not raise the necessary funds. 

 

West Vipparu is one of many villages belonging to the parish of Tadepalligudem. In 11 of these villages, almost all the inhabitants have been baptized, while in others there are still many people awaiting baptism. As a result, the priest is kept very busy visiting the people in the villages. In West Vipparu the new chapel has truly become the heart of the community, and not only during times of Mass and catechetical teaching. As their parish priest tells us, “The faithful are quite certain that God is here, and so they also go to the chapel even when the priest cannot get there, and bring their cares to Jesus.”

 

The chapel is dedicated to the Infant Jesus of Prague who is greatly venerated by the Catholic faithful all over India. It is seen in the many large shrines honouring the Infant Jesus; in fact, they are some of the greatest shrines in the world where the Infant Jesus of Prague is venerated, this devotion can be seen even in the most remote corners of the country as increasingly churches and chapels are dedicated to him.

 

Our generous benefactors did not disappoint!

ACN was able to give $15,100 for the construction of a new chapel. All the building work was carried out by the Catholic faithful themselves, under the supervision of an expert builder, while the essential building materials were obtained thanks to the generosity of our benefactors.

 

“The dedication ceremony was an unforgettable day,” writes the parish priest, Father Dharma Raju Matta. The local Bishop Jaya Rao Polimera had also come especially from Eluru to consecrate the new chapel and remaining for a long time, close to his people and listening to their cares and concerns after the ceremony.

“We want to express our profound and sincere gratitude for the wonderful help you have given to our mission,” writes Father Raju Matta, and also giving us assurances that his faithful are praying the Rosary regularly for everyone who helped!

If you are inspired by this project and would like to support a similar one – please click to donate!

Project of the Week in Peru – Help for training in the Amazon region

02.08.2018 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, FORMATION, Peru, SEMINARIANS

Success story in Peru

Help for the training of 19 seminarians in the Amazon region

PERU / YURIMAGUAS 17/00189
Training of 23 seminarians in the diocesan seminary Cristo Salvador, 2017. Photo: Begining course in philosophy and theology with Mgr. José Luis Astigarraga (Bishop emeritus of Yurimaguas – died on 20.01.2017).

 

 

The apostolic vicariate of Yurimaguas in the east of Peru is situated for the most part in the Amazon rainforest, in an area that is home to various different indigenous groups.

The 224,000 or so Catholics in this region live scattered over an area greater than many of the smaller European countries. There are just 25 priests to care for them, all of whom face long, difficult and dangerous journeys as part and parcel of their mission.

Consequently, one of the greatest needs of the vicariate is for more priests to help in the task of ministering to the Catholic faithful, bringing them the sacraments and caring for them pastorally.

And so the vicariate has established a vocations apostolate, which is already bearing fruit. There, 19 young men are currently preparing for ordination. Seven of them are still in their two preparatory years at the propaedeutic seminary of Yurimaguas, while the remaining 12 are already studying at the seminary in the diocese of Callao, near the capital, Lima.

PERU / YURIMAGUAS 
Training of 23 seminarians in the diocesan seminary Cristo Salvador, 2017. Photo: Admission ad ordines with Mgr. José Luis del Palacio.

In years gone by, missionaries braved all the adversities of the region and proclaimed the Good News of the Gospel here. But today, their numbers have dwindled and the new, home-grown vocations are coming from the Peruvian people in the parishes they once founded. Being born and brought up in the region, and along with being  ideally suited to working in these climatic conditions as it is their home, they are also linguistically and culturally more apt to working among their own indigenous peoples of the rainforest for they are more likely to be aware of their needs and how best to support them .

We are only too happy to support these 19 young men on their path to the priesthood and have promised $8,530 towards the cost of their training.

ACN News: Over 4.5 million dollars approved for 40 projects is Syria

23.07.2018 in ACN BENEFACTORS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Maria Lozano, Syria

Aid to the Church in Need

Over 4.5 million dollars approved for 40 projects is Syria

 

The international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has approved a new package of aid measures involving over 40 pastoral and emergency aid projects for Syrian Christians of the various different rites and denominations. The charity hopes thereby in some way to ease the grave situation in which the people of the country continue to suffer, above all now due to the various economic sanctions such as the petroleum embargo. As Maronite Bishop Joseph Tobji of Aleppo pointed out on June 27 this year in an address to the European Parliament in Brussels, these sanctions “are killing the Syrian people in the same way that the weapons are.”

 

Maronite Archbishop of Aleppo, Msgr Joseph Tobji, in his bombed-out cathedral, situated at the very heart of the old city.

“Why do the children and sick people have to die for lack of medicines? Why do the unemployed, who have lost their jobs, have to die of hunger because of the embargo?” the bishop asked the assembled European deputies.

 “The aid has to help people rebuild and get back to living a decent life.”

 

Responding to this and other similar desperate appeals for support from the local Catholic and Orthodox communities in Syria, ACN will be allocating over 3 million dollars for the basic support and medical welfare of needy and displaced families in various different parts of the country, and especially in Aleppo and Homs.

 

Another of the grave problems affecting the country is immigration, which, according to Bishop Tobji, is “a dangerous wound, which continues to bleed.” Moreover, an obvious part of this wave of involuntary emigration was the Christian Syrians, of course, already a minority before but now were going to be “wiped out if the situation created by the war does not end soon,” he added. Already “only a third” were left of those who were there before. In the face of this great diaspora, the Maronite Bishop wondered who would be left to rebuild the country, given that Syria was now a country “with no productivity, no labour force, a society without life.” The Christians, he said had always been a “cultural bridge” between East and West and had played a primordial role as an element of peace within Syrian society. “If the Christians disappear, there will be many problems, both for their own country and for Europe, which is not so many miles away,” he predicted.

Helping the children rediscover their capacity for play!

For this reason, among others, another of the main objectives of ACN is the help for children and young people – the future of the country and the reason why so many Christian families are emigrating. That is why a quarter of all the new projects approved by ACN aim to help the young. On one hand, ACN has launched a number of different educational aid programs and scholarships, given that many families have lost their work in their homes and have no means of funding their children’s basic education or university studies. It is this lack of financial means that has forced many to seek a future outside the country.

One of the projects supported by ACN – ‘Let me live my childhood! Children born into a world of bombs are able to get a little break thanks to donations to ACN and the word done by the local Church.

 

Now, in the coming months some 1,215 school pupils and 437 university students in Homs and 105 university students in Damascus will benefit from this program. In addition, ACN has undertaken to support the schooling of the children of some 300 especially needy families in Damascus and also of many sick and orphaned children.

 

“A number of projects are aimed at helping children and young people traumatized by seven years of conflict and war.”

At the same time, a number of projects are aimed at helping children and young people traumatized by seven years of conflict and war. Prominent among these is the initiative “Let me Live My Childhood” in the city of Aleppo. Father Antoine Tahan, parish priest of the Armenian Catholic Church of the Holy Cross, who is in charge of this initiative, explains: “Thank to the support of ACN the child will come out, having been stripped of ‘adult clothes’ and take back some of the gifts of childhood, which are irreplaceable.” In addition to this ACN will be supporting a number of summer courses for young people, organised both by the Maronite Catholic Church and the Syrian Orthodox Church in Aleppo, the city that has probably suffered most during the war.

 

Faithful to its pastoral character ACN approved almost a million dollars for the repair or restoration of a number of churches and monasteries, including the Maronite cathedral and the Syro-Catholic cathedral, both of which are in Aleppo, as well the training of seminarians and the support of priests. For as Bishop Tobji emphasizes, “the Church is the first port of call for the people” and yet the Church would be unable to provide is help without the support of “benefactors, organizations and ecclesiastical foundations like ACN.” Our aid “has to be able to help people rebuild, find work and resume a life in dignity”. Hence, his desperate appeal to the West: “Do the right thing; help us to find peace.”

 

An aid mission supported by Aid to the Church in Need – thank you for continuing to support this little girl’s future!