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ACN Canada

 

ACN News – Facilitating the return of Christians to the Nineveh Plains

30.09.2017 in Abducted Clergy and Religious, ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, ACN SPECIAL SERIES, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Aid to refugees, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, Aide à l’Église en détresse., By Maria Lozano, Chaldean Catholic, CONSTRUCTION, Iraq

Rome /Iraq

“Facilitate their return and guarantee their protection”

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin calls for the respect of the rights of Christians in Iraq.

The Cardinal was speaking at a conference organized by the Pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) on Thursday 28 September in Rome to support the return of the Iraqi Christians to their former homes in the Nineveh plains. This is a major concern for the Holy See which, as Cardinal Parolin emphasized, “has missed no opportunity to speak out on behalf of these Christians, reiterating on numerous occasions the necessity of facilitating their return and ensuring adequate measures of protection and respect for their rights.”

The Secretary of State expressed his gratitude for “the support provided by ACN in the three years since the ISIS invasion, which has enabled the many uprooted Christian families to endure this situation with dignity and in security.” At the same time, however, he emphasized that although “much has been done, yet much remains to be done” and called for support for the ACN sponsored reconstruction program “Return to the Roots”, showing the charity that “this so-called ‘Marshall Plan’ for the Plains of Nineveh, is yet another sign of the concern you have shown, with a sense of urgency and with remarkable efficiency and organization.”

Rome, Italy 27.09.2017
Dinner before the Conference “Return to the roots: Christians in the Nineveh Plains” hosted by Aid to this Church in Need starts the next morning – His Beatitude Louis Raphaël I Sako (Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon and the Head of the Chaldean Catholic Church from Iraq)

A genocide, beyond any doubt

Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, another of the keynote speakers at the conference, also denounced the “genocide” of the Christians in Iraq, whose numbers have declined in recent years from 1.5 million people to less than 500,000:  “The real reason behind this kind of discrimination is the hatred of the radical Muslim persecutors towards the Christians, which has driven them to wipe away our heritage, destroy our homes and even to remove us from the memory of Iraqi history,” he said, adding, “This is genocide by all possible means.” Answering the question as to how the international community can prevent this terrible tragedy from continuing, Patriarch Sako said: “We urge those in charge to be seriously open-minded. The United States of America especially bears a moral responsibility to ‘diagnose’ the reality of what is happening in Iraq and the region,” he added. The Chaldean Patriarch highlighted five points for immediate action – educational support, political support, security and stabilization of the liberated areas, humanitarian assistance and defeating fundamentalism and terrorism.

For his part the Apostolic Nuncio in Jordan and Iraq, Archbishop Alberto Ortega Martin (pictured above) , outlined the “complex situation of the region,” and mentioned, as an example,  “the referendum being pursued by President Masoud Barzani of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, which took place on Monday 25 September”. The archbishop recalled the importance of the Christians in the region and called on all people to “commit themselves for the protection of the religious minorities and at the same terms sponsor aid for development and the promotion of peace.” This would help “get to the root of the situation and help to prevent the crisis of emigration,” he said.

 

The conference, which took place 27 – 28 September in Rome, was “a call to the international community – politicians, entrepreneurs, ambassadors and other organisations – at a crucial moment in time in order to make possible the return of the Christians to their ancestral homes,” according to Philipp Ozores, (photo above) the Secretary General of ACN. “Now is the time to help,” he said. “We are working with benefactors around the world to support our Iraqi brothers and sisters and keep their hope alive. But action of governments is indispensable in order to bring the reconstruction to a larger scale and guarantee the rights of the Christians. We are conscious that Iraq is still in a difficult moment. But we are certain that if we do not help the Christians in Iraq today, there will be no need to even talk of this topic tomorrow.”

The Canadian office of the international charity will be launching a fundraising and awareness raising campaign for its benefactors and the public at large in November to facilitate the reconstruction of the Nineveh Plain, essential to the survival or Iraqi Christians.

 

Text by Maria Lozano, ACN International
Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada

 


 

 

 

 

ACN News – Myanmar Cardinal’s statement on healing the country

30.09.2017 in Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, Journey with ACN, Myanmar, Religious freedom

Myanmar

Healing the country, moving forward in peace, justice and reconciliation

 

The Myanmar military is accused of violence against minority populations, including the Rohingyas and Rakhine.  Close to 500,000 people found refuge in Bangladesh.  This is a major crisis where the government has been accused of allowing a genocide.  The archbishop of Rangoun, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, updates us on the situation.

 

A Statement By Cardinal Charles Maung Bo., DD, SDB

 

Dear Fellow Citizens and International Community,

Greetings.

The recent sad tragic events in our country affecting thousands of  Muslims, Rakhines and Hindus and others have brought the concerned attention of the world.  The trigger to violence and the aggressive response are lamentable  We feel with great compassion at  the flight of thousands of Muslims, Hindu, Rakhine, Mro and many others were also scattered  especially children, This is a tragedy that should not have happened.

 

As Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has expressed her concern over all forms  violence in her recent speech, we strongly advocate that aggressive responses without any embedded long term peaceful policies would be counterproductive.

 

Much has been said by the western media on the role of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.  Many feel that the sentiments and principles she expressed so strongly in  her latest  address should have come earlier.    But to lay all blame on her, stigmatizing her response is a very counterproductive measure.   The circumstances under which her government took over, the multiple humanitarian challenges her government had to face during the short time, the continued role of military constitutionally imposed lack of  leverage in security issues and scores of other challenges make her role a daunting one.

 

Her assurance in her speech about rights in Rakhine state, the return of refugees and development of the state is to be welcomed.  Those who  have  lived in this country for a long time, need justice and the Kofi Annan Commission took the right direction in suggesting constructive measures. She has formed a working committee to implement recommendations of the Kofi Annan Commission.These are positive initiatives that need the appreciation and collaboration of all stakeholders and the international community.
All of us need to move from a wounded past towards a healing future. Let the lessons of the past enlighten our future.

 

Peace based on justice  is possible, peace is the only way.

Sincerely yours,

 

+Charles Cardinal Maung Bo
Archbishop of  Yangon


 

Project of the Week: Marian devotion in Ethiopia

20.09.2017 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, ACN PROJECTS, Africa, Ethiopia, Journey with ACN, Religious publications

A touching scene of a child burying himself in Mary’s robe as if asking for protection at the Salesian Youth Centre, Mekanisa, Addis Abeba.

Project of the Week in Ethiopia

Printing a book on the devotion to Mary

Ethiopia is an ancient Christian country. “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”

 

This is what the Ethiopian man said to Philip in the Acts of the Apostles (8:36). This spontaneous decision, just a few years after the death of Jesus, marks the beginning of Christianity in Africa, and Ethiopia is the first country in sub-Saharan Africa in which Christianity put down permanent roots.

 

Almost 45 percent of Ethiopians belong to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. The Catholic Church only became established in the country in the 19th century, and today Catholics still form only a tiny, albeit a very lively, minority.

 

Our Lady is greatly revered in Ethiopia, both by Orthodox and by Catholic Christians. In fact there are 33 Marian feasts in the Ethiopian Church year! Traditionally, great importance is attached to the “Covenant of Mercy,” also known as the “Covenant of the Lady Mary.”  This relates to a beautiful story about a covenant  believed to have been made between Mary and Jesus whereby Mary asks of her Son that every individual who in his lifetime has performed at least one good deed in her name may be spared from hell – for example someone who for her sake has given a thirsty person a sip of water.

 

This motif of the “Covenant of Mercy” is a common theme of Ethiopian icons, in which Mary and Jesus are portrayed side by side, holding hands. In fact pictures of the Virgin Mary of all kinds are extremely common, above all the image of Our Lady with the Child Jesus, but also depicting other scenes from her life, such as the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity and the Flight into Egypt. Meanwhile,  among Catholic Christians in Ethiopia numerous other Western images and statues of Mary have become popular and also widely revered.  Because the Blessed Mother is so important to the people, their is also great interest in learning more about international Marian shrines such as at Lourdes, Fatima and many others.

A better understanding Marian devotion

Ethiopian Capuchin Father Antonios Alberto has written a number of books on a variety of academic themes. Now he has written a book on devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, outlining the great importance of the Mother of God for the Church. In his book he describes the history of Marian devotion, explains the Marian dogmas of the Catholic Church and describes in detail the history of the major Marian shrines around the world. The book is 200 pages long and written in two languages – Amharic, the principal language spoken in Ethiopia, and English. A book of this nature has not been available before now to the Church in Ethiopia.

 

This book is intended to help deepen and strengthen knowledge of, and devotion to, the Mother of God among priests, religious, catechists and the Catholic faithful generally. It also holds the potential to become an important contribution to the work of ecumenism, since this book will also be valuable and interesting to Orthodox Christians, who, like Catholics, have a profound devotion to Our Lady.

 

Aid to the Church in Need is supporting the publication and printing of this book with a contribution of $9,490.

Click to donate!


 

ACN Press Release : ACN Pilgrimage to Fatima

15.09.2017 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN International, ACN Portugal, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Paolo Aido, Press Release

 

ACN Pilgrimage to Fatima

Praying together for peace in the world

The risk of “new powers and devastating wars” was underlined yesterday afternoon, September 13, by Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, the Major Penitentiary of the Holy See, during a press conference at the Cova da Iria, held to mark the beginning of the international pilgrimage to Fátima of the international Catholic pastoral and pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

 

The pilgrimage also made in honour of the 70th anniversary of the birth of ACN and 50 years since the charity’s consecration to Our Lady of Fatima. Cardinal Piacenza, who is also the International President of ACN, made a point of expressing just how much “Fátima and ACN have in common.”

 

 

The Cardinal noted how “Fatima is a light of supernatural charity that supports us whenever we fall,” while ACN was a “light of fraternal charity for those most in need.”

Among those who most need ACN’s help, it was important to place particular attention on the persecuted Christians, especially those living in the “biblical lands” and highlighting the need to preserve a Christian presence in the Middle East especially in Iraq and Syria, as a top priority for the charity at this time.

 

The close ties binding the charity to the Fatima message

 

Cardinal Piacenza described some aspects of the work already undertaken in the form of direct support for these Christian communities, and notably in the “reconstruction of homes and churches” which, he also emphasized, was an “ecumenical effort.”

 

Also present at the press conference were Philipp Ozores, the international general secretary of ACN, and Catarina Martins, the director of the Portuguese national office of ACN. Philipp Ozores underlined that the charity currently supports projects in an unprecedented 150 countries, also referring to the close ties binding the international charity and the message given by Our Lady to the shepherd children 100 years ago.  “Fatima is key to understanding our existence,” he stated. Catarina Martins also spoke of the “importance” of this pilgrimage and of the “inspiration Our Lady has been for us throughout all these years.”

 

 

The Portuguese national director of ACN concluded by remembering “Bishop Antonio of Porto, who departed from us so suddenly this Monday.” The bishop, who “was a generous friend of ACN,” she added, “will always be remembered for his kindness, generosity and sympathy, especially for the poorest, neediest and the loneliest.” She concluded her remarks by promising that ACN would “continue every day to pray for peace in the world, just as Our Lady asked us to do in this place.”

 

 

Press Conference by Paolo Aido, ACN International
Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada

 

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.


 

ACN Press: The Church in Camagüey Cuba takes a direct hit from Irma

12.09.2017 in ACN Intl, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Maria Lozano, Cuba, Press Release, press@acn-intl.org, Urgent need
PHOTOS : CUBA – Archdiocese of Camagüey – 11.09.2017 
After the Hurrican Irma
 sent by S.E.R. Mons. Wilfredo Pino Estevez 

 

The Church in Camagüey Cuba takes a direct hit from Irma

Like the sound of an explosion

In Cuba, Archbishop Wilfredo Pino Estevez of Camagüey tells of his visit to the most badly damaged areas of his diocese where homes and buildings sustained damage and one recently renovated church.  Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) was able to reach him to find out more.

According to the local municipal emergency services, Hurricane Irma lashed the town of Esmeralda in the eastern province of Camaguey for a full nine hours, with winds in excess of 250 km an hour. Over 7000 people had to be evacuated.

On Sunday, the day after the passage of Hurricane Irma, the Archbishop of Camaguey visited the town, where he saw “great destruction, not only in Esmeralda itself, but also in the area around the sugar refinery in Jaronú in the nearby town of Brazil, where the recently restored church was damaged.” Likewise, in the small town of Jiquí, the chapel had collapsed. “Apparently, it exploded,” the Archbishop was told. “When we arrived in Esmeralda, we celebrated Mass there with the handful of people who were able to attend. There too we saw many damaged homes, partially or totally demolished, roofless, etc. Some of the people were still visibly scared. ‘What a long night that was!” was the most common thing I heard from the people I talked to.”

Archbishop Wilfredo went on to tell ACN that on arriving in Jiquí “it was painful to see our church totally razed to the ground, with the benches smashed and the holy pictures ruined”. While he was there, despite the continuing rain, he met with Ismaela and Alberto a local married couple and was deeply impressed by the first words Ismaela said to him: “Archbishop, the chapel may have collapsed, but not the Church.”

In his message, Archbishop Wilfredo spoke about the work underway by the Church in the various different towns and parishes affected. When he asked his priests and religious if they were all okay, the response of most of them was unanimous: “We are well, but we were going out with some food and a few other things, practical items, in order to help anyone who may be in need.”

 

Cuba/Santiago – celebration of the 400 years of the finding of Our Lady of the Charity of Cobre

Archbishop Wilfredo concluded his message by recalling that on 8 September, Our Lady’s birthday and the feast of the Patroness of Cuba, “We were unable to hold the usual processions of Our Lady of Charity, but now, as on other occasions, Our Good Lord is inviting us to make “processions of love” like the ones I’ve just been telling you about. I’m sure that tomorrow, Monday, when the priests come to the Bishop’s House, they will be telling me about new “processions” of this kind…”

Ulrich Kny, ACN’s section head with responsibility for projects in Cuba, thinks that the priorities for aid will be the rebuilding of the ruined churches in Jaronú and Jiquí. ACN is also considering sending emergency aid, “so that the Church can act as an instrument of God’s mercy and help remedy some of the damage caused by the hurricane, which also did not spare other dioceses, such as Ciego de Ávila, Santa Clara, Matanzas and Havana, where 10 deaths have already been reported.”

 

 

 Text by Maria Lozano, ACN International Press
Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada



 

ACN Press – Aid to the Church in Need Canada : A busy fall program!

08.09.2017 in ACN Canada, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Mario Bard, Nigeria, Persecution of Christians, Religious freedom

Aid to the Church in Need Canada

A busy fall program!

“This is by far one of the busiest and fall seasons in our history!” declares Marie-Claude Lalonde, National Director of Aid to the Church in Need Canada (ACN) with regard to the upcoming fall program for the organization which will be marked by four major events.

They are:  the arrival of Msgr. Ignatius Kaigama, Archbishop of the diocese of Jos in Nigeria and the president of his Episcopal Conference; a campaign to support reconstruction for Christians on Iraq’s Nineveh Plains; a Mass for persecuted

Christians in the Archdiocese of Montreal; the launch of the biennial 2015-2017 Persecuted and Forgotten? Report on persecution of Christians around the world.

 

“Keeping people informed is part of our mission,” Mrs. Lalonde emphasizes. “To remain faithful to it, nothing could be better than a witness who agrees to meet with us.  The archbishop of Jos and president of the Episcopal Conference of Nigeria, Monsignor Ignatius Kaigama, will be in Canada from October 31 to November 4.  We can confirm that there will be events in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal and possibly in Ottawa.  Nigeria is especially touched by the violent terrorism of the Boko Haram extremist group, and Msgr. Kaigama will be able to help us grasp the point to which – and that despite some progress – the situation remains a worrying one for the population.”

 

Monsignor Kaigama will participate in celebrating Mass for persecuted Christians, presided over for a fourth consecutive time by the archbishop of Montreal, Msgr. Christian Lépine and celebrated on Friday, November 3rd at the Mary Queen of the World Cathedral (in Montreal).  “It will be a unique opportunity to gather for these millions of Christians, who, every day, live with discrimination and persecution as a result of their faith,” recalls Mrs. Lalonde.  Robert Lebel, a popular Québec French language singer of religious songs – a priest himself and a good friend of ACN – as well as the choir from the Centre étudiant Benoit-Lacroix, will assure a wonderful quality musical presence for the liturgy.

 

A campaign and liturgy

Among the four elements to watch for, there will be the launch of a report and of a fundraising and information campaign highlighting the situation of Christians of the Nineveh Plains in Iraq.  “Little by little, Christians who fled the Islamic State in summer 2014 are starting to return,” explains Mrs. Lalonde.  “Aid to the Church in Need is supporting this process.  We have begun the construction and repairs of a hundred or so houses in Christian neighbourhoods in this region.  But this is only a beginning. Our campaign aims not only to raise money, but it is also a part of our mission to inform the public about the importance of rebuilding to maintain a Christian presence in Iraq.”  Since the second war in Iraq in 2003, their very presence has been threatened by terrorist groups, such as the ‘so-called’ Islamic State.  “ We have denounced this genocide they are guilty of perpetrating. Now, and despite the continued fighting in some sectors, we wish to ensure that Iraqi Christians, whose presence has been held by this land for two millenniums, get to go home.”  She insists, “This position is not an ideological one. We are talking about their ancestral land.  It is where they were born, and their parents and their grandparents were born! Leaving is the last solution and Aid to the Church in Need will do everything it can to help them return to their lands and live there again,” she explains.  Videos, calls on social media, and a micro-website dedicated to the task will be the tools used to support the information aspect of the fundraising campaign.

Photo: Persecuted and forgotten: Christians under attacks just because of their faith…

Finally, the Persecuted and Forgotten? 2017 Report is due to be published in early October.  Every two years, Aid to the Church in Need takes an inventory and alerts us to the situation of Christians in countries where persecution against them is most pronounced.  The report provides information on the lack of religious freedom lived by an impressive number of Christians.  “A sad reality that this international report highlights more than every today,” she underlines and finally adding, “The people of the Laurentians will also we gathering for a second vigil on November 8 organized in this region by the Groupe L’Étincelle.  This year, Christians in Africa will be honored.

Follow updates from ACN Canada on social networks – Facebook, Twitter, and Google +. Regular updates are also posted to the ACN Canada website: www.acn-aed-ca.org.

 

 


 

ACN Project of the Week – Mexico

07.09.2017 in Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Journey with ACN, Mexico, Priests

Mexico

Mass Offerings for 18 Jesuit priests

 

Mexico is a land of deep contrasts. Some of its areas are popular holiday destinations, and yet others are in the throes of bloody drug warfare and plagued by abductions, extortion, robberies and murders on an alarming scale.  In fact, in 2016 Mexico topped the charts with the second highest murder rate in the world with 23,000 murders reported that year. The Catholic Church has also suffered the shock of this crime wave.  In no other country in the world have so many priests been murdered, year after year, as they have in Mexico.

This same contrast is true economically speaking in Mexico. On one hand it is an emerging economic power, while on the other, almost half the population lives in deep poverty. The Jesuits are active in the country with 18 Jesuits working within the indigenous population in some of the areas of most touched by extreme poverty. While proclaiming the Gospel message to the poorest of the poor, they themselves live in poverty. The faithful share their simple food with them, but that alone is not enough to cover their overall living costs. So they are most grateful for the Mass Offerings ACN has been able to send them, to a total value of $21,155, thanks to the generosity of our committed Aid to the Church in Need benefactors.

 

“With the blessing of your help,” writes Father José Francisco Magaña Aviña, the Provincial of the Jesuits in Mexico, “we can continue to proclaim the Gospel and better serve this People of God, who though lacking in material prosperity nonetheless possess an astonishing spiritual strength, which nourishes the whole Church.”

 

Project of the Week – Amazon Region

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

 

Brazil

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.