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ACN Editorial: A Summit for Pope Francis and Kim Jong-Un?

19.10.2018 in ACN PRESS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, by Johannes Klausa, South Korea

Korea

Italy, Rome 29.09.2017 Johannes Klausa (Director of ACN South Korea)at St. Peter Square in Rome

A Summit for Pope Francis and Kim Jong-Un?

Editorial by Johannes Klausa, National Director of ACN Korea

Last year in October, US President Donald Trump tweeted out to the world: “being nice to Rocket Man hasn’t worked in 25 years, why would it now?” Just months before he had called North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un “little rocket man” and threatened him with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

One year later, the tone on the Korean peninsula changed completely. The two Korean leaders have met three times after a peace- and charm offensive before and during the Olympic Winter Games paving the way for summits, family reunions, as well as a considerable amount of political and cultural exchange. Donald Trump also held a summit with Kim, now publicly praising his personality, calling him “very talented,” “a smart cookie,” and said he wants to see him again after the elections.

A rare glimpse of North Korea by a foreign delegation

The latest development in this almost theatrical performance: Kim Jong-Un reportedly would “enthusiastically” welcome the Holy Father, if he would be willing to visit Pyeongyang. South Korean President Moon Jae-in is en route to the Vatican next week, carrying in his briefcase an invitation for the Pontiff.

All this is a good reason to get excited, but not for everyone in Korea to applaud enthusiastically.
Although a majority of Koreans, especially the younger generation, seems euphoric about this prospect, there are voices heard, which would not welcome the Holy Father’s visit to the North. Many question the true motives and willingness of the “Young Marshal” to break with the politics of his father and grandfather. They doubt he would give up his nuclear arsenal and lead his country towards peace and reconciliation.

North Korea

For them, a Papal visit to Pyeongyang would look as if the Catholic Church would forgive crimes against humanity as well as the persecution of Christians even before the perpetrators have been brought to justice. Crimes have undoubtedly been committed by the brutal Kim dictatorship in the past. The Catholic Church, in the eyes of the critics, should be the advocate of the regime’s victims and denounce its crimes, rather than helping Kim to polish his negative image and offering a stepping-stone onto the world-stage and into the presidential palaces of the international community.
However, until now, nothing substantial has happened. The Vatican has not accepted the invitation. Neither is it the first time that Pyongyang called for a Papal visit. During the period of political rapprochement and the so-called “sunshine-policy” of former president Kim Dae-jung at the beginning of the new Millennium, Pope John Paul II was also invited to visit the DPRK. But the Holy Father did not accept.

Pope Francis at the Wednesday audience on St. Peter’s Place in Vatican City (Rome, Italy) during the ACN pilgrimage to Rome in Octobre 2013.

If Pope Francis should take the decision to travel to Pyeongyang, he would not do so naively. He could demand concessions, such as the acceptance of a permanent presence of priests in North Korea. Or, he could promise to come after “verifiable and irreversible” progress in other fields.
Should he accept the invitation, this would certainly not happen without a previous series of unofficial contacts and negotiations. The president of the Korean Bishop’s Conference and other religious leaders were also part of the delegation that personally met Kim Jong-un last month. Archbishop Hyginus Kim Hee-jong has already been to Pyeongyang with a delegation of South Korean bishops and priests a few years ago and was appointed presidential “special envoy to the Vatican” by South Korean president Moon Jae-in, who is himself a devout Catholic. Therefore, all critics can rest assured the Holy Father will take an elaborate and well-informed decision.

The Archbishop of Seoul and president of ACN Korea, Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, who is also Apostolic Administrator of Pyeongyang, recently said he was “waiting for the day” when he could send missionaries, priests as well as monks and nuns to North Korea, so that he could celebrate the sacraments together with them. He continued: “I knew that Pope Francis has a lot of concern for peace on the Korea Peninsula and that he prayed several times for us. So, I want all these efforts to work like a trigger for a ‘self-priming pump’ for peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

“When the groundwork is done, the Pope can go”, Bishop Lazarus You Heung-sik, another Korean bishop close to the Holy Father is quoted. The Holy Father’s visit would be a “gigantic step, a qualitative step for the Korean peninsula, for its pacification,” he said.

Catholics, regardless of their political views, should always trust that Our Lord will also watch carefully over these developments. Let us pray that – should Pope Francis make a historic journey to Pyongyang – will hold not only bilateral talks with Kim Jong-un but a trilateral summit led by the Holy Spirit. And that the Holy Spirit will guide the way to peace and stability in Korea and beyond.

ACN Project of the Week: Help for training young religious women in India

17.10.2018 in ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, Asia, Catholic Religious Sisters, India

India

Help for training young religious women

In Northeast India, the Catholic Church is still, relatively, young. In 2016, she celebrated 120 years of ministry in the country. However, in many parts of this region Catholic missionaries were only able to enter the region during the second half of the 20th century.

An isolated and underdeveloped region, marked by political unrest and conflicts, deep poverty and many other problems. However, the Church here is very much alive and vital. By now, there are almost 2 million Catholics inhabiting the region and the number of vocations to the priesthood and religious life is growing.

Junior Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod of North-East Delegation, Guwahati (2015 – 2017 )

 

The Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod have been working in Northeast India for 37 years and recently established a new regional province for the congregation in the city of Guwahati, in the state of Assam. The congregation has 18 convents housing 96 professed Sisters who care in particular for physically and mentally disabled children and for the sick. They also help young girls from poor family backgrounds who are unable to stay in school, teaching them useful practical skills such as needlework, sewing and darning, or making handmade decorations, that may help them later on to support themselves financially.

Nursing Student Sisters. Borgaon, district in Assam.

 

They help families and women, giving encouragement, counselling – striving to convey the love of God for all through their lives. Because the Church in this region is still relatively young, there is a great deal still to be done.

At present, there are 28 religious Sisters still in formation. Like most of the Catholics in this region, they also come from poor families and from the ethnic minorities. This congregation needs financial help in order to be able to provide them with a solid spiritual and vocational formation. Some will even pursue university studies to help them better confront the many challenges they face.

ACN is proposing a contribution of $25,368 to help them plant the seeds of faith that they become deeply rooted in people’s hearts and souls.

Are you in inspired by this projects supporting religious Sisters? If you would like to help create more projects such as this, simply click to donate and select ‘Project of the Week’.

 

ACN Feature Story from Syria – The new “Nazarenes” of the Valley of the Christians

12.10.2018 in ACN Feature, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Josué Villalón

Syria

The new “Nazarenes” of the Valley of the Christians

 

Emergency support in the Valley of Christians, Marmarita, Governorate of Homs. Medication prescriptions and renting houses.December 2015 – May 2016

Working through the Saint Peter’s Aid Centre in Marmarita, the international Catholic pastoral and pontifical charity, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), is helping thousands of displaced Syrians each month.

 

Nasra is one of the 20 or more villages belonging to the region known as the Valley of the Christians (Wadi Al-Nasara, in Arabic). The word Nasra literally means “Nazarene”, the word used throughout the Arab and Muslim world to refer to Christians. For several years now around a hundred refugee families have been living in this little village, having fled here from other parts of Syria to escape the war. The Mussa family is just one of these families, the new “Nazarenes” of the Valley of the Christians.

 

Marwan Mussa is the father of the family. “We were forced to flee from Homs, where we were living, because the bombing was getting closer and closer to our quarter of the city. The noise of the bombing and the shelling was shattering. We did not know whether from one day to the next we would die in these attacks, as had already happened to some of our neighbours,” he explains. And so, they decided to leave for the Valley of the Christians which was just an hour’s drive away and where things were safer. They managed to find a small apartment where they could live for the time being until the fighting ended.

 

Nahila, Gabi and Marwan Mussa

However, the war continued and the Mussa family have now been living in Nasra for over five years. “I used to work as a bricklayer, but now I am helping in a bakery, although I do not earn enough to support us all,” Marwan adds. His family is one of the more than 350 receiving support from the Saint Peter’s Aid Centre in the Melkite Catholic parish of Saint Peter’s in the nearby village of Marmarita. “The Church has literally saved our lives, if it were not for the Church we wouldn’t be here.”

 

One day, nine months earlier, Marwan was working in an orchard near his house when he suddenly collapsed, unconscious. His son Gabi managed to pick him up and take him to the health centre in the village. From there they took him to the hospital in Tartus, on the coast, more than an hour away by car. “I felt an intense pain in my chest,” Marwan explains to a visiting group from ACN. The diagnosis was a serious one: he had had a severe heart attack. However, they were unable to treat him in the hospital in Tartus, so they sent him to a hospital in Homs, another two hours round trip.

 

“The doctors told me it was a miracle I had survived the operation, since my arteries were 90% obstructed. They inserted stents, and now I feel quite well, although I have to be careful not to over exert myself.”Marwan is continuing his treatment and regularly goes for checkups to Mzeina Hospital, also located in the Valley of the Christians.

 

“My wife, Nahila, is also undergoing treatment there for cancer,” says Marwan. All the medication and the medical care she receives are being supplied by ACN, via the Saint Peter’s Aid Centre in Marmarita. “We are extremely grateful for this help. We knew that many people from different countries were sending help for the centre here. We also want to thank the team of volunteers at Saint Peter’s for accompanying and helping us in our most urgent need,” he adds.

 

Syria, Marmarita, January 2016 In the pharmacy collecting the medicine and stamping the prescriptions of those in need.

Nahila Murad, his wife and the mother of their family, has a gaze of crystalline clarity. She nods in agreement with every word spoken by her husband. “I have bowel cancer. They are helping us to pay for my treatment. When the doctors discovered my tumor they didn’t hold out much hope for me. But I am a woman of strong faith and so I told them to go ahead and operate on me, and now I am feeling better.” They both assured us that they do not know how to thank ACN for the 130 dollars they receive each month to pay for their medication and consultations.

The faith of these true “Nazarenes” is apparent. Nahila tells us how the worst moment they experienced was when they told her that her other son Dani was missing. “We had to get through two years without hearing anything about him. We thought he must have been killed on the front. But then a month ago he came to see us and it was like a fresh miracle of God here in our house.” Dani told them that he had always kept a small Bible close by, from which he read a passage every day. “He never departed from the Word of God, and now we know that the Lord did not abandon him either,” she explains.

 

Through the intermediary of the Saint Peter’s Aid Centre in Marmarita, the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) provides monthly help to hundreds of displaced Christian families throughout the region of the Valley of the Christians in western Syria, close to the Lebanese border. The monthly aid of 50,000 dollars provided by the charity helps to cover the cost of surgical operations, medication and other forms of medical treatment and aid, including examinations, wheelchairs and spectacles.

 

Emergency Financial Support in the Valley of Christians: Health Care – July/December 2018 286.800 € ($433,068 CAN)

 

 

ACN Project of the Week – Bible for children in Tzeltal language

10.10.2018 in ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, ACN Publications, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Mexico

Success Story in Mexico!

 30,000 Child‘s Bibles in the indigenous Tzeltal language

For close to 30 years, this little red book has spread the Good News to every far-off corner of the world. The ACN Child‘s Bible, God Speaks to His Children has been published in nearly 190 different world languages making close to 51 million copies of the book in print.

ACN founder Father Werenfried van Straaten, understood well that “Children need something like a Child‘s Bible so that the image of Christ may become a living one in their hearts. And, they will be gripped by the Old Testament stories of Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses and David. Yet for so many children in the Third World the Bible is something they can only dream of, for they are so poor that they cannot afford a book.” And so he decided to make a gift of a Child‘s Bible to children throughout the world.

Even in today’s world, the ACN Child‘s Bible is still the one and only book in print available for some of the less widely spoken languages.

Fr. Josè Avilés Arriola, SJ, visiting a community in his parish of Bachajon, where the Jesuit fathers established a mission in 1958.

Now, the Jesuit Fathers working in the diocese of San Cristobal de las Casas in southern Mexico have translated this little book into the local indigenous Tzeltal, a language spoken by half a million or so people in this region. For most of these people, Spanish is their first foreign language; some speak only their native tongue.

Thanks to our generous benefactors, we have been able to give $27,000 for the printing of 30,000 Child‘s Bibles in the Tzeltal language. Thanks to your help, the children in this region can become acquainted with the Word of God in their own mother tongue – an incalculable treasure for them. Many, many thanks to all who have helped!

Are you in inspired by this projects supporting the Child’s Bible? If you would like to help create more projects such as this, simply click to donate.

ACN News – Pakistan: Acquittal could be close for Asia Bibi, says family

09.10.2018 in ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN NEWS, ACN PRESS, ACN United Kingdom, By John Newton, By John Pontifex and John Newton, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Pakistan, Persecution of Christians

Pakistan

Asia Bibi: acquittal could be close, says family

 

The family of a Christian woman fighting a death sentence in Pakistan believe the country’s Supreme Court may be on the verge of announcing her acquittal.

 

The court yesterday (Monday, 8th October) referred judgement in the final hearing in the case of Asia Bibi, whose conviction for blasphemy is on appeal.

Speaking on behalf of Asia Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih and daughter, Eisham Ashiq, Father Emmanuel Yousaf said the Supreme Court’s decision could be announced within a few days.

Father Yousaf, who is with Eisham and Ashiq Masih in the UK for events organized by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, said: “Although the judges didn’t give a judgement, this has happened in many cases of this kind in the past – and they still ended positively.”We will have to wait a few days but we are confident that things will go well.”

Asia Bibi, a Catholic mother of five, in 2010 became the first woman in Pakistan to be sentenced to death for blasphemy. During yesterday’s final hearing of the case in the Supreme Court, there was a protest outside, calling for the death sentence to be upheld but proceedings ended with a verdict still pending.

Fr. Yousaf said: “There is no decision – we are hanging in the air – but God willing it will soon be over an

d [Asia Bibi] will be back home with the family.”

Throughout proceedings, Asia Bibi has insisted that she did not insult the Muslim Prophet Mohammad, which carries the death sentence under Section 295 C of Pakistan’s Penal Code.

Renewing calls for prayers for Asia Bibi’s release, Fr Yousaf said: “We have prayed 10 years now for our sister, Asia, and I am confident that our prayers will be heard, and the judgement will go in favour of Asia, her family and the entire Pakistani Christian community.”

He added: “[The judgement] may come tomorrow. It may come after two or three days but I am sure it will be favourable.”

“Everyone who believes that the Blasphemy Law has been misused time and time again should pray for Asia Bibi’s release, regardless of their faith.”

 

ACN Project of the Week – Help for seminarians in Congo

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

Republic of Congo (Brazzaville)

Help for the training of 83 seminarians

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

 

Seminarians in training – Brazzaville, Congo

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

ACN News – Missionary kidnapped in Niger last September 17, still missing

28.09.2018 in Abducted Clergy and Religious, ACN International, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Marta Petrosillo

 

Niger, diocese of Maradi in 2016
Emergency help for the refugees and displaced people because of Boko Haram in the region of Diffa by the Caritas Development Maradi/Niger: The plastic sheeting is covering the huts of the displaced and refugees 

Niger

Missionary kidnapped last September 17, still missing.

His confrere, Father Armanino told ACN: “If they reach Mali, the fear is that the abduction could be as long as that of Sister Gloria.”

“It was a swift and coordinated attack. The abductors were familiar with the movements of Father Pierluigi and had chosen him as their victim.” This was the account given by Father Mauro Armanino of the Society of the African Missions (SMA) in Niger to the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) about his confrere, Italian Father Pierluigi Maccalli who was abducted last Monday, from the mission where he worked, some 125 km from the capital of Niger, Niamey.

It was a well-planned attack that took place in a matter of minutes, according to his Indian confrere, Father John, who lives and works in the same mission together with Father Maccalli. “Monday evening, Father John arrived here at our regional headquarters in Niamey, visibly traumatized,” Father Armanino told ACN. “He himself lives in another small room, just a few metres away from that of Father Pierluigi, and he told us how the abductors had simply knocked on the door, seized the priest and then left again firing shots into the air. From the way they went about it, it was clear that their target was the European priest, since otherwise they would not have left his Indian confrere behind,” he added. As a matter of fact, Father Pierluigi had only just returned from a rest period in Italy. “I myself went to meet him at the airport last Saturday. The kidnappers must have known this, which is why they acted when they did. Certainly it does not help that the government, although well aware of the presence of these armed gangs in the area, has done nothing about it.”

“The fact that they have now attacked a Catholic priest for the first time, shows that there are no longer any limits to their violence,” he suggested

According to Father Armanino, one possible motive for the abduction, apart from the likelihood of a ransom demand – which has not yet become known – and the attempt to gain international media attention, is the desire to frighten the Christian community in one of the very small areas of Niger in which Christianity is the majority faith. “The fact that they have now attacked a Catholic priest for the first time, shows that there are no longer any limits to their violence,” he suggested.

 

Three of the four cars, all burnt with petrol and fire by the terrorists.
cars of the sisters of the Assumption near Niamey

Corroboration of the thesis of an anti-Christian attack has come with the fact that another small group of criminals shortly afterwards attacked the convent of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary. Fortunately, the sisters were able to elude them, some by escaping and others by hiding inside the house. “In fact it was they who were able to provide us with important information about the attackers, who were speaking in the language of the Peul ethnic group while they were ransacking the convent,” Father Armanino explained. Peul is the French name used to describe the Fulani tribesmen in Niger. Consequently, it is likely that Father Pierluigi is in the hands of the same Islamist herdsmen who have murdered thousands of people in nearby Nigeria, where they have launched numerous attacks against Christian villages and even murdered two priests in April this year.

St Joseph Parish after the violence. Emergency help for the diocese of Niamey following the violence of 16 and 17 January 2015

Padre Armanino went on to explain that for the moment it is believed that the kidnappers have not yet succeeded in moving their hostage to Burkina Faso, given that the nearby frontier is very strictly patrolled. Hence it is thought that Father Pierluigi is still in Niger, but the fear is that his abductors may be able to reach Mali, where they have more support. “The group that abducted Pierluigi was a small group. But if they were to succeed in getting to Mali, the situation would be much worse for our confrere,” Father Armanino explained. For there are many other members of the Fulani community there, who would give support to his abductors. “It was in Mali of course that the Colombian religious Sister Gloria Cecilia Narvaez Argoti was abducted in February 2017, and she is still being held prisoner today. And so we are fearful that the abduction of Padre Pierluigi could likewise drag on for a long time.”

 

 

 

ACN Interview: Uganda and the Hope for refugees from South Sudan

28.09.2018 in ACN International, ACN Interview, Africa, By Robert Lalonde, Uganda

 

Uganda, 2018
Christine du Coudray (project officer for Africa I at ACN) visiting the refugee camp in Bidibidi
(From left to the right:  Christine du Coudray, Mgr Tombe Trille (Bishop of El Obeid in Sudan)

ACN Interview

Uganda and the Hope for refugees from South Sudan

Christine du Coudray, the person responsible for the Africa Department at the Pontifical Charity, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), returned from a journey to Uganda a few weeks ago. While there she visited the Bidibidi and Imvepi camps located in the north-west of the country. There are 1.2 million refugees, coming for the most part from South Sudan, dispersed throughout the camps in this region covering the dioceses of Arua, Nebbi and Gulu. Moreover, there are also refugees to be found in the Kampala area, the capital located at the centre of the country. In an interview, Robert Lalonde gathers some initial impressions of her trip.

 

 

What made you decide to visit this region?

I was invited by three bishops: Msgr Eduardo Kussala, Bishop of Tombura Yambio and President of the Episcopal Conference, Msgr Roko Taban, the Apostolic Administrator of the diocese of Malakal  – both from South Sudan -, and Msgr Tombe Trille, Bishop of El Obeid in Sudan. They had come to see for the first time the situation of their compatriots who had fled to Uganda to escape the violence in South Sudan. I was also invited by the American foundation Sudan Relief Fund with which ACN is linked since we co-fund a number of projects. Msgr Sabino Odoki, the Bishop of Arua in Uganda, took us to get an overview of the situation in these camps. It was a highly enriching week and it left a strong impression.

 

How would you describe the situation there?

Since we are dealing with refugee camps, you would think that the prevailing mood was one of distress. But it’s important to know that these camps have been in existence since 2013. The residents have food, drinking water and medical care. They even have a plot of land that they can cultivate. All things considered, the living conditions are definitely better than in many African villages which do not receive any external aid. Even so the situation is difficult, which is why the refugees expect support from us. That’s what we came to assess their needs on the spot.

Formation courses for the people of South Sudan (Formation courses via Emmaus Center Katikamu for refugees from South Sudan in Bidibidi and Palorinya refugee camps (Uganda)): Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala (diocese of Tombura-Yambio in South Sudan) with a group of young South Sudanese refugees

What moment on the trip made the greatest impression?

We were all impressed by the welcome given to us by Msgr Odoki and by the leadership he has shown. Among other things, he has assigned two diocesan priests to carry out pastoral work in the camps. We were also highly impressed when we learned that the pieces of land on which the 9 camps of the dioceses in the north-west region have been constructed originally belonged to ordinary Ugandans who generously offered them to the refugees. This welcoming attitude shown by the brothers and sisters in the faith is also in Uganda’s interest since Uganda hopes that its neighbouring country will one day live in peace. Does this not demonstrate a great spirit of hospitality and provide a lesson that should be remembered?

 

 

In what way is the Catholic Church involved in the camps?

The presence of the bishops was a good opportunity for the Church to demonstrate its concern for all these people, who are not there by choice but who have been forced there by life’s vicissitudes. Even so, this period of enforced exile can be used marvelously as a time for training with a view to building the society of tomorrow. When these individuals return home, the re-construction of their country will be in their hands. The Church is already involved and may possibly become further involved by giving other training sessions.

 

Last year ACN sent $51,000 to the Emmaus community based near Kampala. This community has considerable expertise in different fields such as catechesis, pastoral care, social doctrine, the family apostolate and in providing emotional and sexual education to young people, which is so important in a country decimated by AIDS. Sixty-five young people have been trained in the camps.

 

What is the situation of young people in the camps?

These young people have gone through major traumas. Some saw their parents killed before their very eyes, others suffered severe facial burns… they are now asking themselves how they shall ever be able to forgive. The Emmaus community has set up a program to accompany them in the process of forgiving and invites young people to come and kneel before the Holy Sacrament to pray. The accounts of healing have multiplied, as though the Lord has intervened to soothe hearts and spirits.

 

Will other means be applied in future to help the refugees?

On the one hand, the bishops have committed themselves to returning in September to celebrate Holy Mass in the camps and, on the other, to ask their priests who speak the various Ugandan dialects to come and conduct an apostolate.

 

What is more, Msgr Odoki, the bishop of Arua, told us that he was part of a delegation that recently met Pope Francis. The delegation informed him about the situation in the diocese and mentioned the urgent need for the presence of religious sisters among the refugees. The Pope assured them that he would make a special appeal to convents, urging them to respond to this need.

 

Formation courses via Emmaus Center Katikamu for refugees from South Sudan in Bidibidi and Palorinya refugee camps (Uganda) (SRF) – Formation courses for the people of South Sudan: Group work

 

And what kind of support can be given by Aid to the Church in Need in the spirit of these commitments?

To foster the presence of Church personnel we envisage building a house with a number of rooms to accommodate priests for a certain time. With the help of other organizations, we could do the same for the nuns. Such a house could provide half a floor per congregation with a chapel and a communal dining room.

 

With regard to the training courses, we intend to continue vigorously with our work in this domain. It is clear that the desire for such training, combined with the atmosphere of peace, which prevails in the camps, is a factor, which favours this kind of involvement. The bishops were delighted with such a proposal from ACN. They know that, once trained, the leaders we address (catechists, the young people who study the Church’s social doctrine and those who go more deeply into the family apostolate) will share their knowledge and experience with other refugees. In this way, they will build the future together. One of them, Santos, also described his experience to us as having been “more than wonderful”. The more we provide these training conditions, the more the country will rise again. Isn’t that a glorious prospect of hope and for a future?

 


 

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

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

Russia

Beekeeping, a harbinger of hope for the rehabilitation of addicts

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Each one a Prodigal Son

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Tanzania – a Success Story – Prayer books destined for Sisters

13.09.2018 in ACN Canada

Tanzania – a Success Story

Prayer books destined for Sisters


The congregation of the Bene-Mariya Sisters was established in Burundi in 1956. Their mission consists in helping families to live according to a Christian spirit and shape their lives after the example of the Holy Family of Nazareth. The Sisters work mainly with the mothers, since they are, so to speak, the heart of the family, and the ones who have the most influence in shaping the family spirit.

And, the Sisters‘ work also involves the training of catechists, and they themselves give catechetical instruction in the schools and parishes, lead parish groups and prepare couples for the sacrament of matrimony.

They are a missionary congregation, which means that the Sisters are ready to leave their own homeland and go wherever the Church calls them. By now the Bene-Mariya Sisters (their name means Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary‘) are active not only in Burundi but also in Tanzania, Chad, France and Italy.

A lack of prayer books

In order to be able to help others live according to a Christian spirit however, the Sisters themselves first have to cultivate a profound personal relationship with Jesus Christ requiring an intensive life of prayer, involving both their personal and their communal prayer life.

In Tanzania, the congregation is experiencing rapid growth, and currently there are 33 young women in the novitiate, plus many more who would like to join the community. Altogether, the congregation has 92 sisters in Tanzania now. One result of this success was that the community did not have enough prayer books for the many new Sisters who had joined them – and of course, these prayer books are vital to the life of the community. The congregation turned to ACN and, thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, we were able to give $1,650 to cover the cost of 60 additional prayer books.

Now the books have arrived, and there are enough to go around for all the new Sisters.  They are delighted and promised to pray for all those who have helped them!