ACN Canada

 

ACN Feature Story – Helplessness at the Venezuelan border

14.06.2018 in Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Johan Pacheco, Feature Story, Venezuela

Aid to the Church in Need recently visited the town of San Antonio de Tachira, in Colombia, in order to offer support and show solidarity with the dioceses on the frontier between Venezuela and Colombia in the present difficult situation and to study the possibility of providing support in the future for the planned migrant hostel, the Casa del Migrante.

 


 Venezuela

A picture of helplessness on the Venezuelan border

Since the recent controversial presidential elections in Venezuela (in which President Maduro was re-elected in a manner deemed fraudulent by his opponents), the flood of migrants seeking better prospects in other nations has continued to grow, creating an emergency in which thousands of Venezuelans are in need of help as they attempt to cross the frontier between Venezuela and Colombia.

 

On the Simón Bolívar International Bridge, which links the two cities of San Antonio del Táchira (Venezuela) and San José de Cúcuta (Colombia), the security checks are strict for everyone attempting to leave Venezuela, a country that is undergoing a grave political, economic and social crisis. Many people do not succeed in crossing over the border, and as a result, they are forced to wander the streets of this border-town in search of humanitarian aid.

 

A significant increase in Venezuelan migrants

That is what happened to Fernando and Marisela and their two children aged three and seven, Luis and Camila.  The family travelled from Caracas hoping to cross the border and aiming to travel as far as Ecuador, but because of difficulties with the children’s papers, they were unable to leave the country.

“Life is difficult in the capital; it’s better to emigrate,” says Fernando. But now, with dwindling funds, they have to spend the nights in the town square, along with other would-be migrants, and do casual work while trying to find a solution to their problems and continue their journey.

A report published by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) on 14 May this year indicates that the number of Venezuelan migrants in Latin America and the Caribbean grew from 89,000 in 2015 to 900,000 in 2017 – a growth rate of over 900%. That is without counting the Venezuelan citizens who cross the border illegally into Colombia or Brazil.

Hundreds of people cross this bridge every day on foot – as it has been closed to vehicular traffic since August 2015. Some people use this crossing in order to travel on to other countries of South America, while others head for the city of Cúcuta, hoping to buy food or medicines and then return. A few people decide to stay on at the frontier, seeking casual work of one kind or another.

Like young Andrés Vargas, for example. Aged 18, he travelled from Barquisimeto, hoping to get to Chile, but his money ran out, so he decided to stay at the border. “Here I manage to earn a little money taking other travelers to the ticket sales office, and that’s enough for me to eat and from time to time pay for accommodation,” he explains.

Some people, after a long journey, find themselves unable to cross over because they have arrived at the wrong time, since the crossing is completely closed from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. That is what happened to the Fonseca family – father, mother and their three young daughters – after travelling for 12 hours by bus from Valencia. When they arrived at San Antonio, the crossing was closed, so they had to spend the night in the street in the open air. “It was an adventure. That unpleasant night was like nothing we had experienced in the last few years,” Carlos Fonseca explains.

 

The Church in Venezuela – guided by the Holy Spirit

For Bishop Mario Moronta of the diocese of San Cristóbal in Venezuela, the situation on the frontier here is “a picture of the helplessness of so many Venezuelans who cannot obtain even the most basic necessities for daily life – food, medicines and other similar things.”

Faced with such a situation, the bishop assures us, “The Church, moved and guided by the Holy Spirit, is trying to address the situation with her charitable work, doing whatever lies within her power, humanly speaking, to help the migrants.”

Father Reinaldo Contreras, the rector of the Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua, which is just a few metres from the border, explains that the Church is responding to this situation through her social outreach – but “with great difficulty, given the shortages and the high prices of food and the lack of any infrastructure for providing adequate care for the migrants,” he adds.

Nevertheless, the parishes on this major border-crossing run regular daily feeding programs so as to provide the most vulnerable migrants with at least one square meal. Father Reinaldo also explained how they are investigating the possibility of doing up some kind of a centre as a migrant hostel, so that they can offer a more comprehensive form of aid.

Many of the migrants who succeed in crossing the frontier into Colombia also receive help from the “Casa de Paso Divina Misericordia”, the Divine Mercy overnight shelter belonging to the diocese of Cúcuta, which provides them with medical services, pastoral support and gives out over a thousand meals daily.

Bishop Victor Manuel Ochoa of Cúcuta, who has recently been in contact with the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), described the situation as “a drama of suffering” and asked for our prayers. “The Church is present here on the border. We wanted to be a helping hand to accompany our Venezuelan brothers and sisters in their suffering. I recall how Father Werenfried, the founder of ACN, provided food for the refugees in 1947.

We want to follow in his footsteps. I ask you all to pray for Venezuela and for Colombia, that we may be able to find a way of peace and reconciliation.”


 

ACN Project of the Week – Transportation project in Algeria

14.06.2018 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Africa, Algeria, Journey with ACN, TRANSPORTATION

Algeria

A vehicle for pastoral work in the birthplace of Saint Augustine

 

In the birthplace of Saint Augustine, there are only around 5,000 Catholics living today.

Algeria, located in the northwest Africa, is the largest country in Africa, with an area of almost 930,000 square miles (2.38 million km²) – approximately one quarter the size of the United States!  Almost all citizens – 97% of its 36.5 million inhabitants – are Muslim, and the few Christians who live in the country are scattered around the territory. As a minority, they tread very carefully for they run the risk of being accused of proselytizing among the people in the Muslim majority.

Father Paul-Elie Cheknoun is a young priest, newly ordained in 2016. He grew up in his native Algeria, though he trained for the priesthood in France. After his ordination, his French bishop sent him home to Algeria in response to a request from the Archbishop of Algiers, who needed a priest to serve the Catholic faithful.

Father Paul has to cover very long distances in order to reach the faithful. He has made an urgent appeal to ACN for help in purchasing a suitable vehicle. He writes: “By helping me you will be helping the Christians of Algeria, to whom I have dedicated my life.”

We have promised him $32,400 to help the good father reach the faithful in his parish.

Feeling inspired by this ACN success story?  Would you like to GIVE for a similar project helping with transportation or priests in Africa?

 

Please click to donate!


 

ACN Feature Story: Good Samaritans of the Valley of the Christians in Syria

08.06.2018 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN NEWS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Josué Villalón, Emergency Aid, Middle East, Syria, Valley of the Christians

Syria

Good Samaritans of the Valley of the Christians in Syria

Mzeina Hospital is situated in the small town of the same name, one of several that make up the Valley of the Christians (Wadi Al-Nasara in Arabic), a rural region of Syria, close to the frontier with Lebanon and roughly halfway between the city of Homs and the Mediterranean coast. “The hospital has been open for four years now and for the past two years the number of admitions, operations and basic treatments has been growing steadily” the hospital director, Dr Sam Abboud, assures us.

Sacred Heart next to a poster of Mzeina Hospital, in the Valley of Christians, Syria

The war which continues to tear this country apart seems a long way from this region, yet the doctors and their co-workers at the hospital assure us that the situation is still as bad as or worse than before. “People come to us asking for help and tell us that in other hospitals they couldn’t get treatment because they did not have enough money. We don’t simply tell them to go away; we try to help them in every way we can,” says Toni Tannous, the head of the physiotherapy team.

 

Part of the staff of Mzeina Hospital. Tannous, in the middle, is the Head of Staff.

The doctors themselves and the other employees at the hospital have themselves had personal experience of the consequences of the war. “I myself had to flee from Homs because of the war,” Toni continues, “and now I am working here. All of us feel a sense of responsibility in one way or another to help in whatever way we can.” This hospital, which treats thousands of people every month and has almost 500 inpatients, works in collaboration with the Saint Peter’s Aid Centre run by the Melkite Catholic Church in the nearby town of Marmarita.

 

“From the health centre run by the Melkite Church in Marmarita we attend to over a hundred urgent medical cases a month, in addition to other cases where we pay for medicines. We take the families to the hospital and have a working agreement with the Mzeina Hospital to treat them there,” explains Elías Jahloum, a volunteer and coordinator of the Saint Peter’s Aid Centre. “In the Valley of the Christians there are no public hospitals; the closest ones are in Homs or Tartus, an hour or more away by car on account of the Army security controls. That is why the healthcare service offered by the Church in this region is greatly appreciated by those displaced by the war, who have few financial means.”

 

Valley of the Christans from Marmarita

At the very core of suffering, praying for benefactors all over the world

Elías accompanied a delegation from the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), who visited some of the inpatients in the Mzeina Hospital. Their care is paid for by the Saint Peter’s aid centre with the financial support of ACN. “Thank you for coming to see us, Elias, and thanks also to your benefactors,” said Najwa Arabi, a middle-aged mother of a family who had just undergone surgery on her stomach. “We know that there are people in many countries around the world who are helping us. Every day we pray for them and give thanks to God,” she added.

 

Najwa Arabi in Mzeina Hospital with her family

On the next ward is Maryam Hourani, the mother of Janadios, a little boy barely more than a year old who is recovering from bronchiolitis. “He was very ill and could hardly breathe when we brought him to the hospital,” she explains.

“We contacted Elias and he assured us that the Saint Peter’s Centre would pay his costs. I can only say thank you.” Equally grateful is a young woman by the name of Shasha Khoury, who is recovering from surgery for a breast tumour. “I’m five months pregnant,” she says. “It is a boy and he’s going to be called Fayez, which means ‘winner,” she smiles.

 

Dr Abboud, who is an ear nose and throat specialist, explains that some of the operations they perform are free and that they have a special program for children and young people with hearing problems. “Many of these cases are caused by bombs and other explosions during the war,” he explains, adding that the biggest difficulties they face are the lack of infrastructure, obtaining new medical equipment with which they can operate better, and the constant power cuts. “Although in this last year we have managed to obtain medicines which until recently it was impossible to find in Syria,” he concedes.

 

Entrance of the Mzeina Hospital. From right to left: Dr. Sam Abboud, hospital’s director; Majd Jhaloum, from Saint Peter Center; Toni Tannous, Head of staff; Josef Moussarad, accountant of the Hospital and Elias Jahloum, head of the San Peter Center

As we leave the hospital, Elías and Toni say goodbye with a big hug. Both men are very heavy built and look almost like brothers. “Whenever a difficult case crops up in the hospital, with a patient who has very little money, we always try to help by giving a discount and extending the payment period. When such cases occur, we call the Saint Peter’s centre, knowing that Elias there or Father Walid, the parish priest of Saint Peter’s Church, will always respond to our requests,” Toni tells us. The presence of the Church and its work on behalf of the displaced by the war and the local poor is quite literally saving many lives.

 

The pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need sends around $75,000 each month to the Saint Peter’s Aid Centre in Marmarita, a large part of which is to cover the cost of essential medicines and the medical care of over 4,000 individuals. “We continue to need your aid. You are the hope of all these people, and a wonderful example for our society,” says Dr Abboud, as he bids us farewell.

 


 

ACN Project of the Week – Mass Offerings for priests in Quetta  

06.06.2018 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN

Pakistan

Mass Offerings for priests in Quetta

 

Since 1948, a conflict has been dragging on in the state of Balochistan between the Pakistani government and rebel groups who are fighting for the autonomy of this province situated in Pakistan’s southwest region.

 

Supported the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan, Baloch rebels are demanding an independent Balochistan causing ordinary people to live in a constant state of fear. In some areas, every building has a separate rear exit as a means of escaping violence.

 

As the largest province in Pakistan, with an area of around 136,000 square miles (347,188 km²), Balochistan is almost the size of Germany and covers almost half of Pakistan‘s entire territory. At the same time, Balochistan is the most sparsely populated province in the country, with just 8 million people. Some 30,000 are Catholics, half of them live in the provincial capital of Quetta, the rest are thinly scattered across the entire region.

 

Working in the midst of violence

In Quetta itself, there are numerous checkpoints. In many areas of the city, you can only travel with a special permit, which must be requested several days in advance. Even the bishop cannot travel freely and is subject to constant police checks. His cathedral, dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary, is in the same area as an army barracks. Which means that a special permit is required to enter.  That means that in many cases,  the Catholic faithful are not able to attend Holy Mass. Bishop Victor Gnanapragasam himself requires a special permit in order to gain access to his own cathedral and has to call the authorities in advance every time and request permission. He is stopped repeatedly and searched by security forces at the checkpoints.

For these priests, none of whom belong to the Baloch ethnic group, the situation is becoming increasingly difficult. At one time they could travel anywhere, but today the parameter area within which they can move freely is becoming ever smaller. Because of the fighting between rebels and government forces, many places are completely off-limits. “As soon as the fighting stops, we endeavour to visit our Catholic faithful,” says the bishop. “In doing so, however, we risk being killed by landmines and rocket propelled grenades. It saddens us greatly that we cannot visit the people more frequently.”

The Mass Offerings you give ACN are of huge help to the bishop and his five priests in Quetta. We were able to send them Masses to a total value of $15,150. These Masses will be celebrated for the intentions of our kind benefactors. Thee offerings you have made will help them carry out their ministry in these difficult and dangerous circumstances.

But part of the reason the priests cannot regularly visit many places is also due to the vast distances. Some Christian communities live as much as 800 or even 1000 km from Quetta, which of course means that every journey is very expensive too. The fact that many of the Catholic faithful live scattered across this vast area of the province in very small communities is a major difficulty for them.  In one town there may be perhaps three families, in another just one, in another perhaps four, making it extremely hard to establish any kind of regular Church life.

 

Thank you !

 

To make a donation for a similar project – please click to donate!

 

ACN Feature Story – Pakistan

01.06.2018 in Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Asia, By Tabassum Yousaf, Pakistan, Persecution of Christians

Pakistan

 A young Catholic girl asks why the West has abandoned its fellow Christians

 

Dolly Sarwar Bhatti is an 11-year-old Catholic girl. She is a fifth-grader in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, which is also her place of birth. In this interview given to the Pontifical Charity, Aid to the Church in Need, Dolly speaks of the everyday concerns of a young Christian girl from a poor family, living in a country where Christians are targeted by Islamic radicals, either with violence or through the country’s infamous blasphemy law.  Here is what she had to say.

 

“Last year I was very unhappy because my father fell ill; he suffered hepatitis, and because of that he lost his job. Therefore, we have no money to pay our school fees; our teacher has taken our school bags into her custody. This is the saddest moment I ever experienced, because I love to go school and study, but along with my younger sister and brother, I just can’t right now.

 

“Even though we passed our exams, we have to stay home. The teacher has told us we can’t even get our exam results and we might even miss the start of new classes next year; we also have no money to buy books. My maternal grandmother used to help us with food and also with our school fees, but she passed away. I pray to God that her soul may rest in peace. 

 

“However God always help us and gives us strength. Even in this time of darkness, I can see the light by going to the church and reading the Bible. I regularly read the Bible and I go to church every afternoon. Those are moments of joy and happiness, because I know that God does good things for us; and He helps us through His people. My mom and dad are always involved in this happiness. We pray regularly as a family. It is always my family that is my strength; I always feel that  God  is with me and He has never ever forsaken me or my family—even though we are passing through hard times. I always keep my Bible with me and read passages, which always gives me strength and happiness.

 

“The area where we are living is not safe at all, because the majority of the inhabitants of this area are Pathan people, and many of them are involved in both terrorism and drug trafficking. This country is not safe because of all the terrorism and bombings.

 

Danger is ever-present for Christians

“These days, Christians are not safe in Pakistan, particularly girls, who are often victims of rape and murder. For that reason, we never leave the house without our parents and we do not get to play outside at all.

Cathedral of Lahore: Young Catholic women at prayer during Sunday Mass.

“I don’t personally know anyone someone who has been accused of blasphemy but I was very touched by the news of that Christian couple who were burned alive by the mob; and I just heard a story about a Christian boy named Sajid who was tortured by Muslims. This is very bad news; more such news comes from our school friends and relatives. I am often afraid; I fear that someone might accuses my father, mother, or myself, because it is an easy way to target someone in this country.

“We can freely worship in our church in the area and we haven’t experienced any violence, but at the gate of our church there are always two youngsters checking that no one who enters the church creates violence.

Security check before Sunday Mass in front of the Cathderal of Lahore.

“Often, in the area where I live with my family, and also at school, I experience discrimination, even though it is a missionary school. Muslim boys and girls always treat Christian girls as ‘cheap,’ which means they don’t not want to drink water from the same tap from which Christian girls drink and they don’t want to sit anywhere near me or other Christian girls.

 

“At the previous school I attended, one run by the government, I felt very uncomfortable because of some of the textbooks; they referred to non-Muslims in ways that upset me. For example, there is the word kafir, which means non-believer, referring to someone, Muslims don’t want to sit close to or eat with. But, still I love my county because my family and my uncles and aunts live in here. I wish we could all move to another country, where we can be more respected and enjoy free education, where my family and I would be safe.

PAKISTAN / HYDERABAD ACN Project to co-finance  the construction of St. Luke’s Church, Grace Town/Hur Camp, St Francis Xavier Cathedral Parish, Hyderabad.

“I want to become a stewardess. I still have faith that my life will be a successful life, because I’m a good student and I’m a child of God. Yes, as a Christian I have hope that the world will become more peaceful and I so wish that for my country as well.

“Other countries and our own leaders show little interest in helping solve our problems. No one is helping solve the problem of poverty and lack of education. If they would help us in the field of education, there would no double standard. The level of education in government schools is very poor, compared to private schools whose fees are so high that only the wealthy can afford to go there. Even the fees for missionary schools are high.

 

“There are Christians in the West? I thought that only Muslims were living in the West; but if that is so, why do those Christians not come here to relieve our problems? If Christian children don’t get a good education they won’t be able to apply for respectable jobs and they will be obliged to do very humble jobs, like sweeping streets and cleaning gutters.

 

My favorite prayers in scary times are “Our Father in Heaven” and “Hail Mary.” These prayers always give me strength. If I would get a chance to talk to world leaders, I would only ask them create peace in the world. No one in the world should be killed by bombs or blasphemy accusations!”


Other ACN stories talking about the situation in Pakistan:

https://acn-canada.org/category/pakistan/

https://acn-canada.org/tag/pakistan/

 

 

 

ACN Project of the Week – Angola

30.05.2018 in ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN Intl, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Africa, CONSECRATED LIFE, Dominican Sisters

Angola

Subsistence aid for Dominican Sisters

 

Thirty-four Dominican Sisters in Benguela pray the canonical hours 7 hours a day. Their prayers rise up for the Church and for all of humanity. These contemplative nuns live secluded from the world and in poverty, but say, “We are aware of the greatness of our calling. In our enclosure, we offer up our lives to God to magnify His Kingdom and save souls.”

 

To make a modest living, the Sisters bake communion wafers and sew liturgical vestments. They tried their hand at a small pastry shop, but it was not a success. The raw materials were so expensive, the revenue did not even cover their costs and left them operating at a loss.  Misfortune has recently come knocking again – the vegetables they grow in their garden, the maize, tomatoes and onions, were all afflicted by disease. The Sisters were in a crisis. They did not know how they would be able to go on and prayed to God for help.

 

At times, God works through other people. Our benefactors donated $13,500 to help them and of course, they were overjoyed and filled with gratitude when they received it. They wrote to us, saying, “It was a great surprise and we are filled with joy at the amount that you have sent us! We are very, very grateful for the generosity of our benefactors. This is a sign of Divine Providence, which always watches over us. We hope that all of our benefactors are blessed with God’s bountiful grace and His mercy and assure you that all of our prayers, our affection and gratitude are yours.”

 

 * To make a donation which will go to support a similar project – please click to‘ donate’ .

 

 


 

ACN News: Nigerian Archbishop to visit Canada

29.05.2018 in ACN Canada, ACN PRESS, Africa, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, By Mario Bard, Faith, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Interreligious Dialogue, Nigeria, Nigeria, Translated by Amanda Griffin

ACN CANADA

A visit from Msgr. Ignatius Kaigama to Canada
A word of hope amidst violence and persecution

Montreal, Tuesday May 29, 2018 – Aid to the Church in Need Canada (ACN) will welcome Msgr. Ignatius Kaigama this coming June 8 through to June 14 to Canada.   The archbishop of Jos in Nigeria, capital of the Plateau State and city situated at the very heart of the area regularly suffering the effects of violence that is being described now, less as a struggle over territory and more as the desire to Islamicize regions that are mainly Christian.

What we are observing in certain regions of Nigeria is alarming,” says Marie-Claude Lalonde, National Director of ACN Canada, situated in Montreal.

“I am anxious to hear Msgr. Kaigama, a long time partner of ours, speak to us about the complex and difficult situation lived by the people in this region, the Christians in particular.”  This region – called the ‘Middle Belt’ because it is situated directly in the middle of the country – divides Nigeria in half: the southern half holding a Christian majority, and to the north, a Muslim majority.

“Some recent reports lead us to believe that there may be an attempt at Islamization of the majority Christian regions situated in this belt.  The coups, the massacres, the displacements and the theft of land leave thousands of people, many of who are Christians, without any resources.”

The city of Jos where Msgr. Kaigama has had a seat since 2000 was the theater of similar affronts in 2004.  Since, this man who currently presides over the country’s Catholic Bishops Conference has become an ardent defender of dialogue between Christians and Muslims.  If religious fundamentalism is one of the main reasons for violence, the Archbishop has no trouble speaking out regularly against a lack of means to fight efficiently against a mounting extremism. There is no educational system worthy of claiming an effective defense of minorities. Moreover, the welfare situation is endemic at over 14%.

Msgr. Kaigama in the Sanctuary of “Lourdes Grotto” Santiago, Chile 2016. Praying for peace in Nigeria

A first visit to Canada

Msgr. Kaigama has expressed that he is “very happy about this first visit to Canada.” And despite some very serious problems in his country, the archbishop also has a great desire to convey “a note of hope” to all the people who will be coming out to hear him speak.  “A Christian must always live in hope, while continuing all the while to live and struggle so that the world becomes a just and human place.”

This recipient of the Golden Dove in 2012 for his work in promoting peace and interreligious harmony will be visiting Vancouver on June 8 where he will have a public engagement at 7:30 at Karol Wojtyla Hall.  June 9, he will be in Toronto where he will preside at Mass held at 5:00pm at Saint Michael’s Cathedral.

The following day, June 12, he will be visiting Saint Clare’s parish at 11:00am, will preside over the Mass, and will be available to meet with people directly afterwards.  On June 11 and 12, he will be in the country’s capital and will celebrate Mass at Ottawa’s Notre-Dame Cathedral.  Once again, the following day, the public is invited to meet him at the Diocesan Centre in Gatineau.

Finally, on June 13 and 14, he will end his visit in Montreal where he will celebrate Mass at at Saint Patrick’s Basilica on June 13 at 5:15pm. The following day, he is inviting the public to come and meet him at the Atwater Library for a conference beginning at 7:30pm.

For more information and for the addresses of the meeting places and parishes, please visit ACN’s website acn-canada.org/kaigama/

Or call:  1-800-585-6333.

*Given by the Italian organization named Istituto di richerche internazionali Archivio disarm.


 

ACN News: Bishop of Makurdi speaks about the massacres of Christians in Nigeria

25.05.2018 in ACN Canada, ACN International, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Maria Lozano, Nigeria, Nigeria, Persecution of Christians

Nigeria

 

“There is a plan to Islamize the Christian areas.”

The Bishop of Makurdi speaks about the massacres of Christians in Nigeria: “There is a plan to Islamize the Christian areas.”

There is a clear agenda, a plan to Islamize all the areas that are currently predominantly Christian in the so-called Middle Belt of Nigeria.” This was the statement made by Bishop Wilfred Chikpa Anagbe of the diocese of Makurdi in Nigeria, who was speaking to the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). It is in his diocese that the parish of Saint Ignatius is situated, in Ukpor-Mbalom in Benue State which was the scene of the most recent attack last April 24.

“Two of my priests were murdered, Father Joseph Gor and Father Felix Tyolaha, together with at least 17 of the faithful. They were celebrating Holy Mass at 6 in the morning.” Among the victims were a lay catechist and the president of the parish council, “both of them mothers of families,” and also the head teacher of the only secondary school in the town. During the interview, Bishop Anagbe noted the total number of victims has not yet been ascertained since tragically, some family members of the Catholic faithful had disappeared.

This was no isolated incident. Since early this year, over 100 people have been killed in similar attacks. “Eleven parishes in the diocese have been attacked,” the bishop told ACN, “and there have been numerous other attacks throughout Benue State, where 99% of the population are Christians.” In January, the local government organized a mass burial for 72 victims for their families.

 

Islamizing the entire region: So who is funding them?

These attacks were carried out by nomadic cattle herders of the Fulani tribe with extremist views. “We are not speaking of Boko Haram this time, although some of the cattle herders have connections with that terrorist group in the past and both groups are united in the same intention to Islamize the entire region.” the bishop added.

In the face of so much violence one of the most worrying aspects for the bishop is a complete lack of action on the part of the government, especially the federal government. “When the attacks take place, there are never any police or soldiers present. Quite apart from the fact that the Fulani tribesman for the most part live in the forest and cannot afford the luxury of such sophisticated weapons. So who is funding them?”

Nigeria, March 2017
Impressions out of the car on the way from Kaduna to Jos

The violence has resulted in a large number of internal refugees, over 100,000 of them, now living in four separate refugee camps in the diocese of Makurdi. “The Church is helping the people, whereas the government is  not helping us at all in this case,” the bishop explained.

The area where the most recent attack took place is now completely abandoned and deserted. The parish of Mbalom was established only in 2015. “There was nothing at the time, no schools and no hospitals. We built these, above all thanks to the dedication of Father Joseph and Father Felix. They were priests who were truly active and devoted to their community,” the bishop observed.

In the face of so much pain and suffering, the Nigerian Christians are not losing hope – but they do need the support of the international community. The Catholic Church in Nigeria has organized a march for 22 May to protest against the continuing massacres of Christians by the Fulani cattle herders. “Please pray for us and make yourself spokesmen for the suffering our community is going through. We need people to raise their voices in our defense. Nigeria is part of the United Nations, and we cannot simply be abandoned and forgotten by the world.”

 

 


 

 

ACN Update: Nigeria’s Msgr. Ignatius Kaigama to do a cross-Canada tour

25.05.2018 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, Nigeria


Canada

A word of hope amidst violence and persecution

Msgr. Ignatius Kaigama is the archbishop of Jos in Nigeria and the president of the Episcopal Conference of the country.

He will be visiting Canada from June 7 to June 14 to speak about the circumstances in his country of Nigeria, the most populous in Africa.

The difficulties are many: poverty, corruption, lack of healthcare and problems with the education system. In addition, factors contributing to the difficulties like the presence of Islamic extremist terrorist groups in the north, such as the so-called Boko Haram as well as the situation of Christians living under the Sharia Law in at least nine of the northern states.

Archbishop Kaigama will address these issues.
However, he strongly believes that dialogue is the key to a peaceful country.

Dates and times:

Vancouver:
Friday June 8: Karol Wojtyla Hall, 4885 Saint John Paul II Way, 7:30 pm

TorontoSaturday June 9: Mass at the Cathedral St. Michael, 65 Bond Street, at 5pm, will be followed by a talk given by the Bishop Kaigama
Sunday June 10: after the noon Mass, at St Clare Parish, 1118, St.Clair Ave West

Ottawa-Gatineau
Tuesday, June 12: Diocesan Centre, 180 Mont-Bleu Blvd, 7:30 pm

Montreal
Thursday, June 14: Atwater Library
1200 Atwater Avenue – Atwater Metro, 7:30 pm

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us at 1-800-585-6333.

 


 

ACN Project of the Week – Bangladesh

23.05.2018 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Bangladesh, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN, Project of the Week

Bangladesh

A chapel built for a village

The population of Bangladesh is close to 90% Muslim.  The Catholics only constitute a tiny minority of 0.2%.  The faithful belong mainly to ethnic minorities, making them thus a sort of double-minority.  Last year, Pope Francis’ visit brought them a little extra encouragement.

Close to 80,000 Catholics live in the Mymesingh diocese, located in the northern part of the country.  The Catholic faith only arrived in the region a mere 125 years ago.  Most people who were baptized were practitioners of traditional religions.  These people worked to deeply ingrain the Good News of Christ into their lives and practice their faith very deeply and with great intensity. The Church has become their adopted home.

The village of Digolbagh has 200 Catholic families and is situated about 3.2 kilometers from the Bhalukapara missionary station.  Despite the somewhat short distance from people who live in the city, the village is quite isolated.  It has been Catholic since 1924, but has not yet erected a chapel.  Father  Peter Rema  has invested a great deal of effort into his parish’s spiritual well-being. So he has asked us to help him build a chapel so that Catholics can finally gather to pray.

Already, the faithful are making great sacrifices to make this project a reality, but they are too poor to collect the funds necessary for the construction.  That is why we would like to help them with an amount of 15,000 dollars.

To make a donation which will go to support a similar project – please click the ‘donate’ button.