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ACN BENEFACTORS

 

ACN Project of the Week – Seminarians need help in Romania

15.05.2019 in ACN, ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN PROJECTS, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN, Romania, SEMINARIANS

ACN Project of the Week in Romania

Seminarians are in need of us

The Greek-Catholic diocese of Oradea continues to rejoice at the high number of new priestly vocations. One of the most important contributing factors is the intensive family apostolate in the diocese. It has often been observed that families who play an active part in Church life, who truly live their faith, can provide very fertile soil for future priestly and religious vocations.

 

In 2017, the seminary in Oradea celebrated its 225th anniversary. In the 20th century, however, this long history was brutally interrupted by the communist persecution of the Church. And, it was not until after political changes were made, that young men were again able enter the seminary. A new beginning was far from easy – above all from an economic point of view.

ACN has been helping the reconstituted seminary in Oradea since 1993. And it still urgently needs our help because the immense poverty in this diocese.

Father Anton Cioba, the rector of the seminary, wrote to us. “Without help from abroad, we could not fulfill our mission. We continue to depend on your support and we thank you with all our hearts for the help you have already given us in the past. In doing so you are helping us to experience the universality of the Catholic Church. May God bless you and all our kind benefactors.”

 


We are helping the seminary once again with the training of its 54 seminarians with total of $48,600.

ACN News: Aid to the Church in Need to receive the 2019 Path to Peace Award

13.05.2019 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, By Joop Koopman

New York

Aid to the Church in Need to receive the 2019 Path to Peace Award

NEW YORK/KÖNIGSTEIN/Montreal —Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and president of the Path to Peace Foundation, has announced that Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) will be the 2019 recipient of the Path to Peace Award.

by Joop Koopman, for ACN International
Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin for Canada
Published on the web – May 13, 2019
 

 

Dr. Thomas Heine-Geldern, executive president of ACN International will be accepting the Award at the annual Path to Peace Gala Dinner May 22, 2019 in New York. “To receive this outstanding Award is a great honor for Aid to the Church in Need,” said he. He added: “It is an eminent recognition of the worldwide bridge of love built by the generosity of our benefactors and the suffering and persecuted Church.” The Holy See Mission said it has chosen to honour the international pontifical charity in recognition of its humanitarian and pastoral support of persecuted Christians.

 

 

Recognition during a particularly dark year

“I am, of course, very happy our organization is receiving such an exceptional award for its work,” says Marie-Claude Lalonde, national director of Aid to the Church in Need Canada.  This prize has arrived at a good time for since early 2019, we seem to be in the midst of one of the worst years where the persecution of Christians in concerned.”

In a recent article—which can be found on the ACN Canada website)—Mr. Heine-Geldern recalled the four major attacks against Christians already taken place this year such as the recent attack in Sri Lanka killing 268 people, mainly people attending Easter Mass, and injuring another 500.  “Aid to the Church in Need fights day after day to support these local churches and, to share information about them as well,” states Mrs. Lalonde.  “Religious freedom, which a great number of them do not enjoy, is a fundamental freedom inscribed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations.  This tribute we are being awarded invites us at ACN to continue working with the greatest diligence.

The Path to Peace Foundation supports various aspects of the work of the Holy See Mission to the UN. The Foundation also funds humanitarian projects in developing countries.

Previous recipients of the Path to Peace Award include: Cardinal Mario Zenari, papal nuncio to Syria; Supreme Knight Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus; and Queen Sofia of Spain.

Founded in 1947 by a young Dutch Norbertine Priest, Father Werenfried van Straaten (1903 -2003), to help meet the needs of refugees and displaced people in post-World War II Germany, ACN supports more than 5,000 projects each year in more than 140 countries.  These projects include the construction of churches and chapels; support for the training of seminarians, men and women religious as well as lay catechists; emergency aid; and transportation for clergy and religious.

 

Last year, ACN benefactors gave over 150 million in aid. Since 2011, ACN has provided more than 105 million to support Syrian and Iraqi Christians threatened by ISIS and other Islamist groups, ensuring the survival of Christianity in the region.

The Path to Peace Gala Dinner will be held from 6PM-10PM on May 22, 2019 in Manhattan.

ACN Feature Story: Pakistani government-run schools – harsh environment for Christians

10.05.2019 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN International, Pakistan

Pakistan

Government-run schools are a harsh environment for Christians

NOMAN is a young Catholic living in Karachi, Pakistan. In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, he talks about the discrimination and mistreatment he experienced at school because of his Christian faith. Here is Noman’s story:

by Tabassum Yousaf,  for ACN International

“I am a first-year student of business. My hobbies include cricket and soccer. I am a Christian.

No one in my family has been kidnapped or victimized by violence, but I have faced discrimination from classmates and teachers because of my religion.

“When I reported a Muslim classmate for cheating, the teacher said: ‘He doesn’t cheat. You did it.’ The classmate called me ‘bhangie’, which means ‘street sweeper’ or ‘gutter cleaner’; he made fun of me and used words that were disrespectful of my faith. But I could not respond in kind. If I had done so, I could’ve been charged with blasphemy, and my family would have suffered. So I stayed silent.

 

“Both my teacher and my principal were well-aware of the situation. My mother was called in to speak with my teacher, but they were not ready to listen to my version of what happened. They even refused to give me a form that the school required for exams—so one year of my studies was wasted.

“But I am thankful to God, who has not abandoned my family. He was there when a friend of my mother offered to pay for my education, which my parents could not afford at the time. The happiest moment of my life was when I completed High School; I was the first person to do so in my family.

“I now study business at a government college. I attend classes for half the year; I spend the other half working as a salesman at the mall, because it is hard for my father to cover all the family’s living expenses. Even in hardship, God has never forsaken me. He has always helped and loved me. God and my family, especially my mother, are the reasons for my happiness.

 

“Despite what I’ve experienced, I believe that I will be successful. And when I worry, I recite Psalm 23; I always carry a rosary with me as well.

“Western countries should support poor Pakistani Christian students with housing and academic opportunities, so that they can at least lead better, more stable lives. Otherwise, I have no hope for Pakistan’s minorities remaining in the country. If I could gather all of the world’s leaders in one room, I would say that I only want free education for our children.”

ACN Project of the Week: Support for Catholic radio in Lithuania

24.04.2019 in ACN, ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Lithuania, MEDIA, Radio

Lithuania

Support for the Catholic radio station: Mazoji Studija

Since 1993, ACN has been supporting the Mazoji Studija Catholic radio station in Vilnius. The name means “Little Studio.” But though little, it is an important and precious instrument of evangelization in the country and a very dear one to the Lithuanian bishops‘ hearts. Its work is of great importance to the Church in Lithuania.

Lithuania is in fact the only country of the former Soviet Union that is overwhelmingly Catholic (80% of the population). Hence this Catholic radio station is widely welcomed and listened to, as the abundant positive feedback from its listeners testifies. Indeed, its programs are enjoyed and appreciated even by people who have never had any contact with the Church before and such Christian radio broadcasts are an excellent means of introducing such people to the faith and encouraging them to reflect on it. It allows them to ask questions and find answers and so take a growing interest, even without ever setting foot inside a church or speaking to a priest. But for Catholic believers alike, the radio broadcasts from Mazoji Studija are a welcome source of information, allowing them to learn more about their faith and enter more deeply into the life of the Church. Furthermore, for the sick, the elderly and housebound these radio broadcasts are a special comfort and consolation.

ACN regularly supports the work of Radio Mazoji Studija. Again this year, thanks to our donors, we will with a contribute 22,500 dollars to support this worthy project.

ACN Project of the Week – Help for refugees in Marawi

17.04.2019 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN, Philippines

Philippines

Success Story: help for refugees and people who have suffered trauma, in Marawi

Roughly 80% of the population of the Philippines are Catholic. However, in the southern Mindanao island group there is a relatively large number of Muslims. For years now, Islamist terror groups have been trying to establish an “Islamic State of Mindanao.”

In May 2017 several hundred Islamist fighters besieged, occupied and almost destroyed the city of Marawi, which was in fact already a centre of the Muslim faith. They killed many people, took many hostages and extensively damaged the Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady. Most of the hostages they took were Christians, and it seems likely that the terrorists even wanted to capture the Bishop of Marawi, Edwin de la Peña, who as it happened was not in the city at the time. So instead they abducted the vicar general, Teresito Suganob, and other Catholic faithful. But the Islamists also took a number of Muslims hostage whom they accused of collaborating with the Christians.

For five months the jihadists held Marawi in their power, but eventually the city was liberated by the government army, but leaving still more devastation behind. Thousands of inhabitants were forced to flee the city, most of whom still live in tents or crowded in with relatives.

Healing trauma

 

ACN provided emergency aid for the refugees during the conflict. But now, the most imperative need is to help those traumatized by the conflict. ACN is supporting a project run by the diocese helping some 200 men, women and children who were held prisoner for months and subjected to physical, psychological and spiritual torment. Among them, many women and even young girls, who were raped by their captors. Help is given to Christians and Muslims alike. Thanks to the kindness our benefactors, we were able to give $22,500 towards this project.

Another initiative organized by the local diocese is the “Youth for Peace“ project, bringing 184 Christian and Muslim students to visit refugee camps, where tens of thousands of people who fled the city are still living. The students help the refugees, regardless of their religion, and strive to witness to peaceful coexistence, even after the terrible events of 2017.

For the local Bishop, Edwin de la Peña, dialogue and the rebuilding of peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims are an absolute priority. ACN has given $90,000 to help fund this project.

ACN Success Story – Mass Offerings for priests in Brazil

03.04.2019 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN PROJECTS, Brazil, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Pastoral aid, Pastoral care, SUBSISTENCE

 Mass Offerings for 19 priests of the Shalom Community

The Catholic Shalom Community was founded in 1982 in Brazil. Its members include young people, families, married couples and priests, who live in so-called “life communities“ and are dedicated to the work of evangelization and Christian instruction, mainly for young people. Central to the life of the community and its 3,000 or so members in 20 different countries is the daily celebration of Holy Mass, along with personal prayer, meditation on the Sacred Scriptures and a radical decision to follow Jesus Christ.

Last year ACN gave Mass Offerings for a total value of 13,800 for the 19 priests in the community living in Brazil. The Mass Offerings are given on an individual basis by our benefactors, in the form of money or other small gifts, in return for which the priest agrees to celebrate Holy Mass for the benefactor’s intentions. There is no suggestion here of “paying” for the Holy Mass, but rather of a fraternal Christian gesture of gratitude and support for our priests, who do not shrink from difficulties or sacrifice in proclaiming Christ and offering Him in the Eucharist for our sakes.

One of these priests is 46-year-old Father Jairo Barbosa Leite. He has been a member of the Shalom community for 25 years. However, in October 2015, while inspecting the renovation work being done on his parish church, he fell nearly 20 feet and has been paralyzed ever since. Yet he refuses to speak of the accident as a “disaster” or a “act of fate“, but instead chooses to declare ‘”Naturally it was a shock, when I realized that I would be permanently paralyzed from now on. Then I understood that this was no burden, but rather a grace. Many people think that you can only be happy if everything is going well. But I am happy, and I feel I have been given a special grace – precisely because I now find myself totally dependent on others. And I can even reach out to people who are far from faith, for they inevitably ask themselves how it is that I can still be happy. But I see it as God‘s Providence. Even while sitting paralyzed in a wheelchair, I can recognize what value my service still has, through my life of prayer, the night vigils, the celebration of the Eucharist, hearing Confessions and the educational courses I am still able to offer. I am happy to know that God can use my priesthood in this way. How good it is, despite my weaknesses, to be able to entrust my sins to God and witness to his intervention!”

shalom-Fr-Jairo
On behalf of all his fellow priests, Father Jairo thanks us for the Mass Offerings from our benefactors. “I want to thank all the benefactors of your charity and to assure them that their donations are helping to save souls, through the Church and the men of the Church whose ministry continues throughout the world.”

Are you inspired by this project? To give and make another similar project a success – click above and select: Project of the Week.

ACN’s Project of the Week – Support for the Catholic the families in Togo

07.03.2019 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Africa, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, By Eva-Maria Kolmann, Family Apostolate, FORMATION, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN, Togo

The Fédération Africaine d’Action Familiale (FAAF, or African Family Life Federation) is an initiative for the support of healthy families and the protection of life. It involves doctors of various disciplines, theologians, priests, religious and lay pastoral workers. Its aim is to support families and help them to tackle their problems, offering Africa-friendly, family-friendly and pro-life solutions, as opposed to the alien Western-style solutions which many Africans have by now seen through as a “culture of death.” Instead, they seek to promote a “culture of life” of the kind so frequently referred to by the late Pope Saint John Paul II.

In Togo – West Africa –, the programs of the FAAF have been established since 2005. In the diocese of Aneho in the southeast of the country there are five people who have been involved up to now, for example in giving introductory talks and sessions in the parishes, so as to encourage more people to become aware of issues surrounding marriage and the family and train them to be able to accompany families and married couples.

 

The meetings address such questions as, “What is God‘s plan for marriage?” and “What does it mean to be a mother or a father?” Couples are encouraged to talk together and grow in mutual love and respect. Another important aspect is natural family planning, which observes and respects the natural fertility cycle of the woman. Husbands also learn in this way to respect their wives and respect their bodies. The goal is an education in love, which emphasizes the beauty and value of human sexuality and the human body and the importance of fidelity and responsibility and openness to life. It is the best way to counter such evils as abortion and the spread of AIDS. At the same time, the program aims to help and accompany families and married couples in conflict and crisis.

 

There is a great demand for these talks and for personal counselling, and they are hoping to be able to train up 10 more female counsellors. Printed information materials are also needed.
Aid to the Church in Need has promised 17,500 dollars in support of this laudable initiative.

 

Make your donation now to support family education training in Togo. Thank you very much for your generosity.

Are you inspired by this project? To give and make another similar project a success – click above and select: Project of the Week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

ACN Info – Nicaragua, Cardinal Brenes: “The tears of the people are the tears of God”

14.12.2018 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, ACN Intl

Nicaragua

November 2018
Cardinal Leopoldo José Brenes Solórzano, diocese of Managua in Nicaragua

Cardinal Brenes: “The tears of the people are the tears of God”

“Dialogue is the only solution”

A few days before the national feast day of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Cardinal Leopoldo José Brenes, Archbishop of Managua, called on people to “pray for Nicaragua; for peace and unity among the people and in the families,” in a video message sent to the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN International). The Cardinal goes on to insist, “The tears of the people are the tears of God, and so they are also the tears of Mary, who is our Mother. She would weep seeing our situation.”

Speaking to the media about the significance of this great feast day for the Nicaraguan people, Cardinal Brenes gave thanks to God for the fact that conflicts in the country “are diminishing” and expressed the hope that little by little, “we will be able to regain peace.” And he invited people to “continue working during this Advent of hope” and at the same time to reflect on the broad pastoral message for Advent published by the Nicaraguan Bishops’ Conference, which has not been well received in every sector of society.

In their Advent message – issued at a critical moment for the country, still in the throes of a social and political crisis caused by the killings and repression which first prompted the protests against President Daniel Ortega – the Nicaraguan Bishops remind people that they must act as though they are “co-workers of God” in the face of “injustice and oppression.” They must not allow themselves “to be seduced by quick-fix solutions.” Instead, “the new Nicaragua needs non-violent leaders who, with the help of God, will achieve goals of freedom and justice.” The bishops call for dialogue, for words and gestures of solidarity, love and forgiveness in order to confront the violence. They remind people that in the face of the conflicts and the crisis the country is going through, “no one can remain detached with arms folded,” at the sight of “the suffering of our adversaries, who have not ceased to be our brothers.” The bishops insist that everyone must break with their own “personal egoisms” in order to become more and more like “the Lord.”

 

A family in the village of Inotaga, Inotega diocese

Cardinal Leopoldo José Brenes insists on dialogue, which he describes as “the spirit of the Church, be it in the family, vis-a-vis our neighbours or in politics.” The same sentiment is contained in the Advent message of the bishops, in which they emphasize that “a good politician is one who has in mind the interests of all parties and seizes the opportunity to engage in dialogue with an open spirit.” At the same time, they also recognize the difficulty in solving every issue through dialogue between the state and society, and add that they themselves are “willing to accompany any proposals that best live up to human dignity and the common good.”

“With dialogue there is hope for the future; without it every effort will end in failure. This is the only peaceful way out of this social and political crisis,” they conclude.

 

The crisis in Nicaragua

Trip to Nicaragua, November 2018
Bishop Jorge Solórzano Pérez (Bishop of Granada, Nicaragua) – World Day of the Poor

Nicaragua is currently going through a political and social crisis which has its root cause in the growing authoritarianism and lack of respect for the rule of law that started emerging in the last decade, following the electoral victory of President Daniel Ortega in 2006. An attempted reform of the social security system by the government in April 2018 prompted mass protests, which were violently repressed by groups close to the government. The result was hundreds killed, hundreds of young people still lingering in the prisons of Nicaragua and thousands of young people who simply left the country. Nicaragua is now a divided and desperate country. The Church in Nicaragua, which has taken a critical stance in response to the political authoritarianism it has witnessed, has likewise been subjected to a campaign of vilification on the part of the government and has received a constant string of threats from groups close to President Ortega.

Several bishops have been attacked, among them auxiliary Bishop Silvio Báez of Managua, Bishop Juan Mata of Estelí and Bishop Rolando Alvarez of Matagalpa. Not to mention the violent incident in the Basilica of San Sebastian in the city of Diriamba, when Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes and the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Waldemar Sommertag were both assaulted.

 

ACN International has just concluded a visit to Nicaragua to investigate the situation at first hand and assess what practical help can be given to the local Church to help reinforce its pastoral outreach in these difficult and delicate moments for the country.

 

 

 

 

 

ACN Project of the Week – Cameroon

06.12.2018 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Africa, Cameroon

ACN Project of the Week: Cameroon

Help for the training of seminarians threatened by Boko Haram terrorists

Nigeria is not the only country suffering from the terror of Boko Haram. Its neighbour, Cameroon also suffers from the violence of Islamist terror groups in the northern part of the country.

 

It is true that the organized armed attacks by Boko Haram have now decreased in the face of a united military offensive by several African countries. On the other hand, suicide bombings have continued, as have murders and abductions in the affected areas—leaving many people to live in fear.

 

The Catholic diocese of Maroua-Mokolo, found in the far north region of Cameroon, faces many difficult challenges. Not only located in a significantly poor part of the country, but the diocese also has to take in large numbers of Nigerian and Cameroonian refugees. A positive side to this difficult remains, however, for the people’s faith is unbroken. And despite the fear of attack, people continue to flock to the churches. The number of vocations is also growing. Right now, 32 seminarians are training for the priesthood in the diocesan seminary, plus another 18 youths at the minor seminary; four more are in their so-called propaedeutic year (a form of educational foundation year in preparation for entering the seminary proper).  This number is astonishingly high given that there are only around 84,000 Catholics in the diocese.

 

 

These vocations naturally delight Bishop Bruno Ateba Edo, but he desperately needs financial help so as to give these young men a solid and thorough formation. He has asked ACN for help and we are planning to give him $40,500 dollars.

Are you inspired by this project? To give to this project, or another similar project a success – click above and select: Project of the Week.

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.