Project of the Week in DR Congo

14.09.2017 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, CONSTRUCTION, Contemplative Sisters, Journey with ACN, RDC CONGO
 There is one elderly French Sister – the last one, the rest are Congolese. While asked by ACN delegation what was their charisma,she replied “we search for God in simplicity and love in every time.”

Democratic Republic of Congo

Thanks to you, they are living by the work of their hands!

In the middle of the violent area the contemplative monastery has been settled. The Sisters are threatened with danger, sometimes they can’t sleep at night because the soldiers or other military group comes in. One of them was killed couple of years ago, she got shot dead upon opening the door to the monastery. Despite the danger the sisters remain praying for peace for the region. They are an oasis of peace in the midst of violence. People also often come to them for the retreat in silence. 

The monks and nuns of the Trappist order live a strict, enclosed life of prayer and penance. They are particularly known for spending the majority of their time in silence, with ears for God alone. The order includes both a male and a female branch, though their lifestyle is to a large extent identical.

The female branch of the order has around 70 convents throughout the world, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There are 21 Sisters living in the east of the country in Murhesa, close to the frontier with Rwanda, in the region of South Kivu. This region has been the theatre of some of the bloodiest conflicts in recent African history, and for much of the population the presence of the Catholic Church is their sole source of hope. Priests and religious sisters alike are bearing faithful witness to Christ here, sometimes even to the shedding of their blood.

The Trappist convent here has been no exception and has been sorely tried by the warfare, insecurity, burglaries and natural disasters. Indeed, in December 2009 one of their Sisters was even murdered.


The Sister welcomed ACN Projects Director Regina Lynch and Africa Projects Director Christine de Coudray.

Despite all these difficulties and trials, their community, which has been here for about 60 years, continues to enjoy numerous vocations and there is a constant trickle of young women knocking on their door because they wish to follow Christ.

It is a general principle of the Rule of the Order that the Sisters should live by the work of their hands, and therefore they have tried various different ways of supporting themselves. They produce yogurt and ice cream, originally intended above all for sale to the UN troops stationed in the locality, and in addition they have endeavoured to raise chickens and rabbits and also keep bees. But their efforts have not been altogether  successful. The principal problem was that the convent did not have the necessary facilities and working premises. They did begin in 1994 to enlarge the convent and build a separate building for this purpose, but the war put an end to this enterprise.

Now, after more than 20 years, the Sisters have turned to ACN to help them build adequate buildings for their various lines of work. Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, we did not have to disappoint them and were able to give a total of $ 62,000 .

Now the Sisters are able to set up a bakery and a candle-making workshop as well as produce soap and honey to support their life and ministry as mandated by the Trappist order. They are sending you their heartfelt thanks. To all our benefactors, with a promise to pray for everyone who has helped them.


Project of the Week – Amazon Region

30.08.2017 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Brazil, Project of the Week, South America



Training of  seminarians urgently needed in the Amazon region


The diocese of Rio Branco covers a vast area of over 104,000 km² in the west of Brazil. Large areas of the diocese lie in the rainforest; it is an impenetrable region, with vast distances and many places accessible only by riverboat. Of the approximately 602,000 inhabitants of the region around 450,000 are Catholics.

There is a grave shortage of priests here, with just 26 diocesan priests and 28 priests from the religious orders to minister to so many people. Fundamentalists groups are spreading rapidly, even into the jungle regions, led by preachers with the little to no training and plentiful of financial resources, promising the people miracles.

Perhaps the best-known  Catholic figure in this region was until recently the Italian missionary Father Paolino Baldassarri, who worked for almost 70 years in Brazil, most of this time in the Amazon region. He died on 8 April 2016 at the age of 90, already acclaimed as a saint by the people he served. Even at the age of almost 90 he continued to travel long journeys deep into the rainforest in his simple boat, in order to minister to the people. He always wore a life jacket and motorcycle helmet on these journeys, because he could not even swim. Even at this advanced age, he continued to practise as a doctor, treating and helping innumerable people.

When he first arrived almost half a century ago, malaria almost took him in his very first week. Miraculously he survived and soon began visiting the riverside settlements in the rainforest in a simple wooden canoe. Owing to the shortage of priests, many families had more or less abandoned their Catholic faith, and Father Paolino brought them back to it. By the time he died, the people in his parish were 100% Catholics. In one of his letters he wrote that in these isolated jungle communities “the seed of the Kingdom of God is real, which in the towns is concealed by our notions of enlightenment and progress and our dominant and all-powerful television.”

His example shows just how vital is the presence of priests among the people and what good fruits their ministry can produce. Yet, it is becoming more and more difficult to find missionaries from abroad. For one thing, most religious communities in Western nations are gaining fewer vocations, but on the other hand, Dom Joaquín Pertíñez Fernández, the Bishop of Rio Branco is also very aware that what is needed is native Brazilian priests, who are accustomed to the challenging conditions of the rainforest regions.

Now, 16 young men from his diocese are training for the priesthood. The diocese is poor. Bishop Joaquín has turned to ACN for help. We have promised him $9,940.




ACN Project of the Week: Sri Lanka

23.08.2017 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, Catholic Religious Sisters, Sisters


Sri Lanka

Help for the reconstruction following a civil war

The Sisters of the Apostolic Carmel have been present in Sri Lanka since 1959. Their congregation, founded in India in 1868, principally to provide young girls with an education, but also with an intention of making Christ the very centre of their lives. The congregation is now widespread throughout India (130 convents) and in Sri Lanka (37 convents).

The convent in Karaveddy, in the northern part of Sri Lanka, has existed since 1959. At the time, the Sisters took over a house that built some decades earlier by European missionaries. Among other things, they established an orphanage here.

The Sisters suffered terribly alongside the population, bearing the scars of the constant flare-ups in violence between the Tamil rebels and Sri Lankan government forces during the almost three decades of bloody civil war in the country, from 1983 to 2009. Eventually, forced to flee their convent for some years. When finally they were able, in 2009, to return, they found that the original building was completely ruined by rain and leaking water.

What was left of the building had to be demolished.  The Sisters found a temporary home in a rented house where they are still living to this day. However, they resumed their apostolic activities immediately: giving catechetical instruction, leading prayer groups, preparing children for their first Holy Communion and above all working with the poorest of the children and those still suffering from the war. All this they manage in makeshift conditions in their present temporary housing. But space is very limited.

Little by little, the people who were driven out by the war are now returning to their hometowns and villages, the number of those in need is growing as a result. Always true to their mission, the Sisters would love to be able to help still more children, above all the girls who have suffered in the war, but given their cramped conditions they cannot do so.

There is urgent need to rebuild their convent. Clearly, they cannot expect financial help from the local people who themselves are desperately poor. They have turned in confidence to ACN, writing: “We hope and pray that the Lord may inspire still more people to help us to finish this urgently needed building.”  We certainly intend to help them and have promised $27,000 for this purpose.





ACN Project of the Week: Pastoral care in for families in Pakistan

28.07.2017 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN PROJECTS, Family Apostolate, Pakistan, Pakistan, Pastoral work


Supporting Pastoral care for families


The diocese of Hyderabad is located in the southern part of Pakistan and covers a vast territory of over 137,000 km². 

Here live an extraordinarily minority group made up of about 50,000 Catholics, many of whom belong to ethnic minorities, among a population of 28 million Muslims, many of who were formerly Hindus.

These groups find themselves at the very bottom rungs of society, often condemned to work as labourers in the fields of big landowners or as brick makers in the brick furnaces. Generally speaking, they find themselves entirely at the mercy of their wealthy masters. Some also perform menial tasks like street sweeping or toilet cleaning in the towns and are paid very irregularly.  Understandably, because of this financial instability, families often fall into debt. Should a family member fall ill or lose his job, or if his employer fails to pay his wages, the entire family will be forced to borrow money often at extortionate interest rates, resulting of courser in ever deeper debt and thrusting them into a vicious spiral of poverty and dependency. Many families have become trapped for generations in this cycle of debt slavery. It is a very heavy and crushing burden for many people.


Bishop Samson Shukardin writes: “Just to put something on the table each day is a daily battle and a daily reality for these families. The spiral of poverty, unemployment and indebtedness drives many into drug addiction and other forms of dependency and brings upon their families a veritable plague of conflict, arguments, discord and in many cases domestic violence.”


It is the bishop‘s deepest wish to help these families hold together in these difficult circumstances, and live their Christian faith in such a way that peace, harmony and love prevail within them. To fulfill this heartfelt wish, he has established a program to strengthen and support married couples and their families.



Under the direction of a Sister who has spent 25 years working with family apostolate, and with the help of trained and experienced married couples, courses and meetings are being offered in all 17 parishes of the diocese, for young soon to be engaged couples, for married couples in the process of establishing their family and for family groups in general. Topics included among others:  How to be good parents? How can family pray together? How do couples learn how to communicate and respect one another? How can we establish a Christian marriage and a Christian family life, based on the Sacraments?

“They have my full backing and support,” writes the bishop stated in a letter to us, “since the welfare of the family is decisive for the future of the world and of the Church.”

“Only if we nurture the Christian life of families and support them pastorally will the Church be faithful to her mission as a light to the nations.”


We have promised an amount of $18,488 to help in funding these courses for families and married couples in the 17 parishes of the diocese.

Thank you for supporting these Christians in Pakistan!




ACN Project of the Week – Argentina

19.07.2017 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Argentina, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Sisters, SUBSISTENCE



Support for Sisters in the poorest diocese of the country


For Father Werenfried van Straaten, the founder of the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), suffering and need were never an abstract problem. For him it was always about the individual, a person with a face and a name, a child of God.


It is very easy to dismiss any sense of personal involvement when it comes to a statistic, a mere number can mean very little to us. However, the fate of an individual person with a face and a name is not as easy to distance ourselves from, for it touches us inwardly; it is a direct appeal to us personally and to the heart.


On his many travels around the world, Father Werenfried encountered a great many people living in poverty and destitution, in whom he saw God himself as weeping. They had names – Anna, Pablo and John, Maria and Miguel. He had looked them in the eyes, and what he had seen was for him a cry for help. He asked himself – and all of us – the question: “How is it that we are so comfortably situated? These people live beneath the same sun and the same stars as we do. God also created them on the sixth day, to be kings of creation. Where then is their kingdom? This trampling of their human dignity is a mortal sin against nature, a crying injustice. In addition, we too will personally share in this injustice if we do not do everything in our power to banish it from the world – everything in our power!”



A human crisis

Very few people know there are regions in Argentina where people live in the direst poverty. One such region is a diocese with the long name of “San Roque de Presidencia Roque Sáenz Peña.”  It is one of the poorest dioceses in the country and this, on paper, seemingly dry statistic is in reality a human crisis for those involved. Some of these people live in dirty, damp, unhealthy hovels or even under plastic sheeting. There are sick people barely being cared for, emaciated children, living off little more than a little flour moistened in water, gaunt-looking mothers…


The diocese covers a vast area of over 27,000 square miles (70,000 km²) in the north of the country, characterized mainly by savannah and dry forestland. It is home to the descendants of various indigenous tribes who in the past used to live as nomads. Many still live as hunter-gatherers. Now the large Agro industries, which are encroaching ever further on their traditional territories, are increasingly restricting their traditional lifestyle, grubbing up the forest and establishing vast soybean plantations. At the same time, the goats and cattle of settlers and small farmers are eating the forest bare.

Bringing home the truth

The Catholic Church is the only organization supporting these people. However, the distances are huge and there are only very few priests. Therefore, the support of the religious Sisters is vital. At present, there are 38 religious from various different congregations working in the diocese. They are supporting the people in many ways and bringing home to them the truth that they are indeed children of God. They visit the families in the villages, care for the sick and elderly, pray with the people and, while bringing them urgent and vital help, while at the same time managing to introduce a little light and laughter into their poverty-stricken homes.


We regularly help these sisters and this year once again we plan to support them in their modest lifestyle, for all the work that they do is offered entirely free of charge. We have promised a total of $24,800 to support their life and ministry – just $653 per Sister for an entire year. Thank you to our benefactors!



Project of the Week – Famine Relief in South Sudan

21.06.2017 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN PROJECTS, Famine, South Sudan

Hunger Relief

One million children are suffering from malnutrition in South Sudan


Aid to the Church in Need is participating in a large fundraising campaign launched with the Catholic Bishops of Canada on June 7th .  This cry from the heart, which has sprung from the episcopacy, reflects the sense of urgency coming from a population who are becoming hungrier by the day.

Our organization accepted the call to act.  We will do so in direct partnership with our project partners situated in the North East of Nigeria and South Sudan.


This week, we are presenting to you the details of what we hope to accomplish thanks to you in South Sudan.


Like in Nigeria in 2015 (photo), we want to help IDP’s in South Sudan as they are fighting famine and are at great risk to die.

We need $140,000 for the distribution of bags of sorghum (a nutritionally dense grain common to the area).  Currently, over one million children are suffering malnutrition – 250,000 of who are in critical need!  From now to July, at the very peak of the hottest season of the year – up to 5.5 million people are under threat of the ensuing famine if we allow this scourge to spread.  Meaning, this famine could potentially hit upwards of 40% of the South Sudanese population.


The various conflicts raging gravely affect the inhabitants of the Upper Nile region.  Last January, a new wave of violence obliged 20,000 peoples to find refuge in Aburoch, in Saint Stephen’s parish in the village of Malakal.  These people no longer have any work, nor do they have lands to till.  They have lost practically all their belongings, and they are the very first to have been struck by this famine, and to suffer as a result.


We need your help now to send them at least a little bit of nourishment.  With transportation included, we estimate one bag of the staple grain, sorghum, costs about $70.


Your help can feed approximately 10 people for a brief period.


Thank you for supporting this pan-Canadian initiative! Please do not forget, the Canadian government will match your dollar and place it in their Famine Relief Fund.  


Project of the Week – Bicycles for Indian catechists!

10.05.2017 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, India, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, MOTORIZATION, Religious education

India Success Story

275 bicycles for cathechists!

In the diocese of Eluru, with its 1,150-plus Catholic villages, the lay catechists play a crucial role, as it is simply impossible for the priests to be everywhere at once.

It falls to the catechists, much of the time, to prepare people for the sacraments of Baptism, First Holy Communion, Confirmation and Matrimony. They also lead prayer services and liturgies of the Word, visit the faithful in their homes and pray with the families. However, there has been a notable increase in the influence of films and television on these families and with it a growth in their problems; the solid preparation for marriage and the counselling and accompaniment of families have become increasingly important. Once again, the catechists perform a precious service here.


The diocese is very poor, however, lying as it does in a region of the south-eastern coastal state of Andhra Pradesh, frequently at the mercy of natural disasters. Most people in this area are ordinary manual workers, dependent on the large landowners for their livelihood. Therefore, the amount they can give to the Church is also very little.

The catechists themselves receive only a minimal remuneration. But the diocese wanted at least to be able to equip 275 of these catechists with bicycles, so that they could more easily reach the villages where they serve. Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, we were able to contribute 19 938 dollars for this purpose.

By now the catechists have all received their bicycles, and Father Tatapudi Emmanuel, the diocesan bursar, has written to thank us. He writes: “I thank you with all my heart for your generous help for the diocese of Eluru. The catechists are very happy to have these bicycles for their pastoral service. Recently we held a two-day meeting for all the catechists, and at the end of the meeting all the catechists expressed their great joy at having these bicycles. Their pastoral work will certainly be improved as a result. Together with my fellow priests, I thank you for all the help you are giving to enable us to proclaim the Gospel message to the people, and I assure you of my prayers. May Mary, Joseph and the Child Jesus richly bless you!”

Are you interested in this project?  To donate to this, or a similar one – please click ‘donate’ and simply follow the instructions.





An “Olive Tree Ceremony” launches reconstruction efforts in Iraq

10.05.2017 in ACN BENEFACTORS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Uncategorized

Nineveh Plains (Iraq)

An Olive Tree Ceremony” launches reconstruction efforts in Iraq

On Monday morning, the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need consecrated three building sites in the villages of Bartella, Karemlash and Baghdeda (Qaraqosh) for the reconstruction of the first 105 houses belonging to internally displaced Christian families. The owners of the houses were each given a small olive tree to plant in their gardens, to grow in their gardens as a symbol of peace and reconciliation.

Erbil (Iraqi Kurdistan), May 9, 2017—As fragile as a young olive tree and as small as the mustard seed from the parable from the Gospels—here begins the reconstruction of the first 105 houses of Christian families in the villages of Bartella, Karemlash and Baghdeda (Qaraqosh) on the Nineveh Plains. Work on the first building site in Baghdeda will already be underway as of this Thursday (May 11).

The source of this newfound hope is the churches located in the villages—despite having been plundered and destroyed by the self-appointed Islamic State (IS). The attacks carried out by IS on the Nineveh Plains in August of 2014, forced close to 130,000 Christians to leave their homes and take refuge in Kurdistan. Y

Monday morning, Philipp Ozores, General Secretary of the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), presented olive trees to 35 Syrian Orthodox families in the small church of Mor Shmuni, in the community of Bartella. The rebuilding of these homes, scheduled to take place over the next few days, was arranged by the Nineveh Reconstruction Committee (NRC) made up of representatives of the Syriac Orthodox, Syriac Catholic and Chaldean churches as well as three consultants appointed by Aid to the Church in Need. They have had the task of planning the reconstruction of almost 13,000 Christian houses destroyed by IS on the Nineveh Plains.

In Bartella, 1,451 houses belonging to Syrian Orthodox families have to be rebuilt. Seventy-five of which were destroyed in their totality, 278 burned down and 1,098 partially damaged. Restoring water and electricity services was possible on a few days ago.

Returning: More difficult than fleeing

In his sermon during the Olive Tree Ceremony, Archbishop Timothaeus Mosa Alshamany of the Syriac Orthodox church of Antioch, who is also prior of the Monastery of St. Matthew, made no secret of the difficulties of this undertaking. “A few months ago, we were waiting for the liberation of our cities. Today, we are waiting for reconstruction. Returning to our cities is even more difficult than fleeing from them.”

Following the ceremony in Bartella, the little “convoy of hope” continued on to Karemlash. There, Philipp Ozores, Father Andrzej Halemba, head of the Middle East section of Aid to the Church in Need and interim chair of the NRC, as well as Father Salar Kajo, who is responsible for the rebuilding efforts in the Chaldean villages of Tel Skuf, Bakofa, Badnaya, Tel Keppe and Karemlash, presented olive trees to 20 additional families. The ceremony took place in the Chaldean church of Mar Addaii, which was also partially burned down by IS.


The suffering of leaving

After the ceremony, 76-year-old Habib Yuossif Mansuor recalled the suffering of having to leave his own village. “We looked the pain in the eye. We fled after midnight, leaving our houses and all of our possessions. I had a two-storey house here in Karemlash that was bombed to the ground. We all speak the same language, and so we would like to return to our cities on the Nineveh Plains as brothers, as though we have only one heart. We want to live and work together, as though we are just one body. We thank the Lord and Aid to the Church in Need.” In Karemlash, 754 houses need repairs. Of these, 89 are completely destroyed, 241 were burned down, and 424 partially damaged. The water supply has been up and running again since Monday: a small, but important sign of hope.

The last of the olive tree ceremonies took place in Baghdeda. Here, 6,327 houses belonging to Syrian Catholic Christians need repairs. Of these, 108 houses are completely destroyed, in addition to the 400 houses belonging to Syrian Orthodox Christians (7 houses were completely destroyed). However, there is no lack of enthusiasm or skills: 40 engineers have “signed on” to rebuild the city and about 2,000 workers are ready to begin work. Electricity is slowly coming on across the entire city.


Unity: The only means of achieving a shared goal

Althajra Cathedral, which is consecrated to the Immaculate Conception, was set on fire by IS to confuse American military aircraft with its smoke. There, Philipp Ozores and the Syriac Catholic Archbishop of Mosul, Kirkuk and Kurdistan Yohanna Petros Mouche presented olive trees to 50 families. The archbishop had to wait for the applause to end several times before he could continue with his sermon pointing out that unity was the only means of achieving their shared goal. “We do not want to pay attention to the voices of those who would discourage us because they want to prevent the reconstruction. We stand by our decision to return, despite all the challenges that await us. Christ is our tower of strength that gives us hope. We must persevere, because this is our soil and our heritage. I am very happy that we have an organization like Aid to the Church in Need at our side.”

Azhaar Naissan Saqat also thanked Aid to the Church in Need. Originally from Baghdeda, the 46-year-old assistant physician lived in Erbil for three years as an internally displaced person, where he manages two outpatient clinics for the displaced. “We had almost lost all hope, but after such a long wait, we were able to return to our city thanks to the support of Aid to the Church in Need and other organizations that helped us to rebuild our houses—first and foremost Aid to the Church in Need. This foundation made it possible for us to hope once more that we would be able to return to our homes and our churches and lead normal lives again.”

ACN’s General Secretary Philipp Ozores and Father Halemba pictured here, giving the gift of an Olive Tree


Philipp Ozores, General Secretary of Aid to the Church in Need, said, “Today, we would like to hold on to this small sign that we are once more at the point of departure—just as in the parable of the mustard seed from the Gospels. But, with God’s help and that of our benefactors, we hope that the Nineveh Plains will be able to welcome back the Christians who were forced to flee. We hope that this region may soon become a place of life and peace for all once more.”

Also to be held next weekend, the Olive Tree Ceremony will travel to Tel Skuf, a Chaldean village with 1,268 houses in need of rebuilding, but where the majority (1,123) have sustained only slight damages, meaning that the hope for a speedy resettlement of the village is more foreseeable. In fact, 500 Christian families have already returned to Tel Skuf.

By Daniele Piccini, Aid to the Church in Need International,

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Aid to the Church in Need Canada


ACN Project of the Week in Peru : Expansion of pastoral activities in the Rain Forest

19.04.2017 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, Pastoral care, Pastoral work, Peru, Project of the Week


Expansion of the pastoral outreach program in the Amazon rainforest

Forty-five years ago Sister Maria Luisa Maduell left everything to follow Christ by joining the congregation of the Sisters of Jesus. A vocation that took her from Spain, deep into the Amazon region of eastern Peru into the apostolic vicariate of Yurimaguas, a region largely covered by Rainforest. She believes that it was Providence that sent her to the indigenous peoples of the Rainforest.


The living conditions of the indigenous peoples are very simple and they are very poor. Their huts have roofs made of palm leaves and most of the small riverside settlements are only accessible by boat. There are no roads, the only medical and educational help they receive comes from the local missionaries. The women cook their meals on open wood fires and grow a few basic vegetables in little garden plots. Their basic diet consists of yucca, plantain bananas and occasionally a little fish. “As a religious, I often sit with the women and cook alongside them. It is important to be close to the people, simply to be with them,” explains Sister Maria Luisa.


The apostolic vicariate of Yurimaguas covers a vast area of some 70,000 km². The Catholic faithful are thinly scattered across this area and there are far too few priests. Sister Maria Luisa works in the parish of Saint Thomas, or Santo Tomàs del Rio Paranapura, providing all the pastoral care, since at the present time there is no priest here. She has two other sisters and a few lay helpers to support her. The lay helpers in this work of evangelization are themselves very simple people, and Sister Maria Luisa speaks of them with enormous admiration: “They have only a minimal formal education, and yet in their own way they are theologians, mystics, people of great faith and above all of unbelievable generosity,” she says. Every month, each of them visits the people in the area assigned to him and prays with them, helping them to understand the Gospel message and grow in faith and in love for Jesus Christ. In this way they manage to visit three quarters of their vast parish area each month.

Bishop José Luis Astigarraga, who sadly died in January 2017, was delighted at their commitment and spoke of a “truly missionary undertaking.” He had been bishop of Yurimaguas since 1991 and was for many years a friend of ACN. Thanks to the continuing and faithful support of our benefactors, we were able to help him regularly and generously. Only shortly before his death he again thanked us and all our benefactors for the help they have given for his apostolic vicariate over the years. It was his cherished wish that the activities in the parish of Saint Thomas on the Rio Paranapura not only be continued but indeed intensified, and he wrote to us saying, “I not only approve this project but want to see it go further.” And he urged us to support Sister Maria Luisa and her helpers by providing catechetical material, training up more lay helpers and giving further in-service training to those already involved in this work, and also so that they could take part in retreat days.

We are delighted to report that we have been able to fulfill one of the last wishes of the late bishop and are planning to support the project with $21,750.



ACN Project of the Week – Water in Kinshasa


Democratic Republic of the Congo

A spring welling up in glorious Kinshasa

Following a chronic shortage of water that threatened their survival,  a contemplative community of religious Sisters in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)  are looking forward to a new future ensured by a new well.

“We didn’t know how we were going to survive after the collapse of our old well a year ago,” Sister Mahele Mwamini, the Prioress of the Discalced Carmelites at the Glorious Saint Joseph Convent, Kinshasa, told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.

ACN responded to the Sisters’ urgent request by providing a grant to enable the deepening of the well to reach a new water source. During the 2017 dry season, the well will be extended by another 100 feet (30 metres) to a new depth of more than 160 feet (50 metres) to ensure enough water is reached to provide for the convent’s needs.

Sister Mwamini said: “We are committed to praying for the Church, but especially for those who need our prayers the most – the priests and the Christians persecuted because of their faith.” In a desperate plea to Aid to the Church in Need she described the crisis they were facing: “Our well that provided water has collapsed. We haven’t had a single drop since February 2016. Our convent is suffering from this situation.”

“Previously we did sell a few vegetables, this was to help the community be more self-sufficient and support unemployed mothers and their children including with their school fees.” she writes, “but now with this water shortage, we have no more vegetables and we are forced to buy them for the community.”

The lack of the water from the well made it difficult for the Sisters to bake Eucharistic bread and to maintain their small farm. “It was difficult [without water]… to prepare the unleavened bread for Communion and tend our small barn with pigs, our chicken coop, our rabbit hatch, our small vegetable garden and ourselves – it was disaster,” said Sister Mwamini and adding, “We didn’t know how we would survive. Since the well’s collapse we have used a small old hand pump which has already undergone several repairs.”

The water shortage meant the convent had to stop the spiritual retreats they ran: “There were people who came to us for a time for healing or retreats, but due to the lack of drinking water we were obliged to tell them that it would be impossible for them to come and spend time in prayer with us.”

 “We are touched by your care that you have shown to our suffering and by your willingness to do all that you have done to help us. May God bless you.”

But Sister Mwamini spoke with optimism: “the new well will ensure drinking water, our resource-generating activities and retreats as well as our needs for cleaning, domestic and hygiene needs.” Also benefitting will be “mothers without work who buy vegetables, chickens and pigs for re-sale to enable them to support the needs of their families.”

Father Saverio Cannistrà, General Superior of the Discalced Carmelites, said: “We are thankful that this project ensures that these contemplative nuns can live in peace, that they not further disturbed by the lack of drinking water and so that they can continue to support the Church with their prayers.”

Thanking Aid to the Church in Need benefactors for their support Sister Mwamini said: “May the Lord bless you and fill you with abundant grace… this kind assistance that you give us enables us to achieve a drilled well.” Speaking on behalf of the 12 Sisters, whose ages vary between 32 and 81 years old, she added:  “We are touched by your care that you have shown to our suffering and by your willingness to do all that you have done to help us. May God bless you.”

Simply click to donate to support a similar project!


By Murcadha O Flaherty
Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin