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ACN Feature Story – Hope in the midst of hopelessness in Rwanda

17.05.2016 in ACN International, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Aleksandra Szymczak, Rwanda

Rwanda

A Tale of Mercy

It is 1994. Over the course of just 100 days , approximately 800,000 people are slaughtered in Rwanda.

This genocide counts as one of the greatest human tragedies in African history.

A Polish missionary living in Rwanda for over 30 years, Fr. Stanislaw Filipek SAChas, has devoted his service to spreading awareness of God’s Mercy –building a Divine Mercy Sanctuary in Kigali, and most recently coordinating the first continental Congress on God’s Mercy in Africa to be held in September 2016.

During his visit to the international charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN)

he spoke of his work in introducing Divine Mercy as experienced by Saint Sister Faustina Kowalska, the world-renowned apostle of Divine Mercy, in Rwanda today.

Hope in the midst of hopelessness

“Christ revealed Himself to Sister Faustina between the two World Wars” reflects Fr. Stanislaw. At a moment of deep hopelessness when people were afflicted with tragedy after an evil that was done, exactly in this very moment, out of the deepest hopelessness when everything was lost, ruined, God revealed Himself as merciful. God can fix it all. He can transform evil into good. We are being constantly invited to learn this, and this is the leitmotif of our pastoral work in Rwanda.”

 

 

 Reconstruction of persons in Rwanda (Groupe IBAKWE, 2012-2014): IBAKWE Activity


Reconstruction of persons in Rwanda (Groupe IBAKWE, 2012-2014): IBAKWE Activity

The purifying experience of the Cross

Fr. Stanislaw draws a parallel to the Rwandan experience through a story.A young woman, some 20 years ago when she was a young girl, gave false testimony against a man who lived in a house that somebody else wanted to take. This false testimony was enough to put the man in jail for eight years. He suffered from being in jail while innocent and from the growing need for revenge. While in jail he had a personal encounter with Jesus. He converted and began a process of inner forgiveness. Meanwhile the woman who accused him realized that when she prayed the name of this man kept ringing in her head. Her conscience awoke and she started sharing with a priest and soon they concluded that she needed to find this man and beg for his forgiveness. So began a long process of searching. She searched the prisons for years. One day she learned the man had been released and she finally found his house. Scared and not knowing how he would react she asked for his forgiveness. ‘I forgave you long ago’ was the reply. ‘I wanted to wreak a vengeance on you but I have converted and now I am aware that God led me through a Way of the Cross – a very difficult one – but one that released me. And so I forgive you.’ He hugged and kissed her. These people are now friends.”

Good out of experienced evil

The devotion to God’s Mercy in Rwanda “was sown into fertile ground,” says the missionary “because in this post-war context a great question arose: How to talk about forgiveness? In Rwanda I often hear this question: ‘who should forgive first’? There is no easy answer, but I keep repeating: he, who is wiser, he, who is closer to God, he should learn to forgive. One never loses forgiving. On the contrary, you can only win. I think that John Paul’s II words from Dives in Misericordiae are helpful here. He said that the art of God’s Mercy consists in bringing good out of experienced evil. This means that we should not focus on evil – one that we have caused or one that we have experienced – but on the good that we can do. I think that this is the most effective, and probably the only way to reconciliation.”

ACN-20150603-25578

Procession during a formation in Rwanda

The Sowing

“The idea of God’s Mercy spread all over Rwanda in a quite simple way”, explains the missionary. “The Pallottines1 in France published a small brochure on the Devotion to God’s Mercy including the Rosary of Mercy, Sunday of Mercy, the Hour of Mercy, etc. We translated it into Kinyarwanda, one of the official languages and it spread quickly. At some point the bishops started asking, ‘What is this all about, this God’s Mercy’. They didn’t know and they were afraid it was some kind of sect.” To answer the growing interest in the topic, the Pallottines in 2008 proposed to Rwanda’s Episcopal Conference to take responsibility for the movement and it has since grown rapidly with national chaplains, a national committee of Divine Mercy Groups and from September 9 to 15, 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda a first African Continental Congress on God’s Mercy will be held. Supported by Aid to the Church in Need, the theme of the meeting is ‘God’s Mercy as a source of hope for the New Evangelization of the African Continent’.

“After the tearing of a society apart by genocide, war and mourning the victims, we see clearly that God’s Mercy might be the answer, an antidote to all this evil, by which people are afflicted” rejoices Fr. Stanislaw.

 

  1. The full name is  the Pallottine Sisters of the Catholic Apostolate founded by Vincent Palloti in 1838.

By Aleksandra Szymczak, press@acn-intl.org

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada

 


 

 

 

 

Special edition of Journey with ACN – Ecuador

13.05.2016 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, Ecuador, Emergency Aid

Ecuador 2Earthquake in Ecuador

No hands and no means to rebuild

In the small Ecuadorian village of Canoa hardly any houses are left standing following the earthquake on 16 April. This quiet fishing village with its wonderful seascape, colourful houses and small population now looks like a battlefield. Three Franciscan Sisters from Canoa are the only representatives of the Church in the region. The earthquake destroyed their church. “We have no hands, no means to rebuild the country,” said Father Walter Coronel, “we ask for help so that we may stand tall again.” Aid to the Church in Need heard their distress and visited the places most severely affected by the earthquake in order to plan various aid projects.

 

The “Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians” live here and have been a pillar of strength for life in the village as the only Church representatives in a radius of several kilometres. The priest only comes to the village on Sundays to celebrate Mass, meaning the sisters must provide pastoral care for the people. They do it all from celebrating weddings and baptisms to the other sacraments.

The pontifical pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need visited Canoa to plan various aid reconstruction projects with them which follow-up the emergency aid provided a few days after the earthquake. “The help from Aid to the Church in Need is and will remain absolutely essential for the country,” emphasized Marco Mencaglia, ACN project manager for Ecuador, after his visit to the region’s most severely affected by the quake.

 

The scene met by the Franciscan Sisters

Both the church and the parish hall have been completely destroyed. Cracks of more than 10 centimeters wide line the walls. Some bricks on the verge of falling are held in by power lines. The churches’ windows and glass panes fell out within seconds like sheets of paper.  This was the scene met by the Franciscan Sisters and which led them in desperation to ask Aid to the Church in Need for help.

“The church is a reference point in Canoa. Its loss is highly significant, much more so than the loss of any other building. The Sisters’ work in Canoa is of great importance,” said Marco Mencaglia who had the opportunity to experience how the Sisters work on the spot. “If the Sisters leave – God will leave,” is what the villagers firmly believe.

Ecuador 3

 

The Canadian office of Aid to the Church in Need is welcoming donations to support reconstruction efforts.  Moreover, national director Marie-Claude Lalonde confirms the Sisters aims: “I visited Egypt and Cuba among other places a few years ago, and in both instances I was able to observe how the presence of members of the Consecrated Life of the Church was an essential presence to a small community.  Not only do they represent an important pastoral and spiritual presence among the people, but they very often are the only social service for people to turn to for help when the population experiences a problem related to poverty or a family,“ explains Mrs Lalonde.

 

The earth shook for 50 seconds leaving almost 700 dead

“The people have lost their day-to-day lives. There are no workplaces left. The children can’t go to school any more. The lucky ones will be able to resume their lessons in a few months,” explained Mencaglia. The school of the Oblate Sisters of St. Francis of Sales in Rocafuerte attended by 1,500 children has been severely affected. “It will be a long time before it returns to its former state.”

Ecuador 4

 

Even so, life carries on. The people have to reinvent themselves. Those who formerly had a food store now sell from a stand on the street. The shopping areas are among the most affected, but: “There’s no time to sit and think. We have to become active again and go to work,” they stress.

The dangerous areas around many places have been fenced in because of the danger of collapsing buildings. The buildings are being investigated one by one. The architects decide whether they have to be demolished or not. The owners have now been accommodated in provisional quarters. If they are lucky they get prior warning so that they can rescue personal items. “They left their homes empty-handed,” said Mencaglia.

The earthquake lasted 50 seconds and was 7.8 on the Richter scale. According to the latest report by Caritas Ecuador there were 660 fatalities, 31 missing persons, 30,223 people in emergency accommodation, 1,125 destroyed buildings and 560 damaged schools.

“We are overwhelmed by, and grateful for, the help given by the pontifical pastoral charity ACN. We have been able to buy water, food and clothing for the people now living on the street,” they said. They also expressed the wish that people should not forget them.

Father Walter Coronel mentioned that Gregory the Great is the patron saint of Portoviejo. In the cathedral there is a statue of him and it collapsed during the earthquake. The hands shattered. “And that’s how we are: We have no hands, no means to rebuild the country. We ask for help so that we may stand tall again.”

 

By M. Z. de la Morena, press@acn-intl.org

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada

ACN Project of the Week for Contemplative Carmelites in Bolivia

11.05.2016 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Aide à l’Église en détresse., Bolivia, CONSECRATED LIFE, CONSTRUCTION, Journey with ACN, Voyager avec l’AED

 

Bolivia

Success Story: renovation of the Carmelite convent in Reyes

The Carmelite convent in the small town of Reyes, in northwest Bolivia, was founded in 1979 by eight Spanish Carmelite Sisters. The bishop at the time would never have dared hope that one day a congregation of contemplative nuns would settle here, in this remove vicariate, neglected and often forgotten region of the Amazon jungle.

 

Sister Maria Teresa of the Child Jesus had always dreamt, even as a young novice, of founding a Carmelite convent in the mission field. Thirty years later, her dream became reality. The Spanish Sisters of the congregation wanted to be close to the missionaries in order to be able to support them with their prayers, and at the same time they also wanted to give an opportunity to the indigenous population to get to know and appreciate the riches of a contemplative life.

 

ACN-20160201- BOLIVIA

 

They succeeded and the community has continued to grow. In fact, in 1991 they were even able to send a group of Sisters to the Carmelite convent in Cochabamba, in the central Bolivian Andes, where the original group of Spanish Sisters has now grown old. Thanks to the influx of indigenous Latin American vocations, the Spanish Sisters who had originally founded the community were  able to return home to Spain in 1995, leaving their convent in good, Bolivian hands.

 

The Sisters in the convent in Reyes are young; most of them are aged between 30 and 40 in fact. They support themselves by painting and restoring holy pictures, by sewing and embroidering liturgical vestments and garments and by making and selling fruit preserves and yogurt. They also grow fruit and vegetables in their convent garden for their own needs. But all this activity only provides for their most basic daily needs.

 

In recent years the Carmelites have had to face the necessity of carrying out repair work on their convent, which was founded in 1980 and had never been renovated since. The heavy rains, hot sun and high humidity had taken their toll of the building, however, and so they had no choice but to have some essential repair work done.

 

In February last year Sister Susana Maria of the Most Holy Trinity wrote to express her great surprise and delight at receiving our letter promising help. Now the repair work has been completed, and Sister Susana has written again to say thank you to all our generous benefactors. “We are so grateful to God, and to all of you at ACN, and to all the benefactors! May God richly bless you all and grant you eternal life! May God, who is rich in mercy, reward you for the good that you are doing in this world. We thank you with all our hearts and will always remember you when our prayers before the Lord.”

Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, we were able to help their community with a contribution of $21,750 CAD.

 

donate

To donate to this or to a similar project – please do so on-line on our new secure donation page. If you would prefer to call us, or write to us – our contact information can be found here

 


 

ACN Press Release – Msgr Jeanbart from Aleppo speaks

11.05.2016 in ACN Canada, ACN Feature, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Mario Bard, Persecution of Christians, Prayer, Press Release, Syria

At the center, Msgr Jean-Clément Jeanbart, Greek Melkite Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo,
Mrs Sylvie Soulard, President of the ACN Canada Board of Directors
and Marie-Claude Lalonde, National Director of Aid to the Church in Need Canada

 

 

Aid to the Church in Need, Montreal

Msgr Jean-Clément Jeanbart brings his message to Canada

 

“The situation is very bad and people are suffering,” said Msgr Jean-Clément Jeanbart about the situation in Aleppo where the war has raged for more than 5 years, during his visit to the Canadian office of Aid to the Church in Need in Montreal on  April 26,  just before the rupture of a hopeful cease-fire agreement in Syria.

Speaking about the people of Aleppo who now “have nothing,” Archbishop Jeanbart said lamentably, “they do not have what they need to live, to feed their children; they feel that the entire world has forgotten them.”

In a ten minute long filmed interview now available on the international charity’s Canadian Youtube channel, the Archbishop of Melkite Greek Catholic Archeparchy Aleppo indicated in two separate interviews (English and French) that the inhabitants of the city – the ancient economic lung of Syria – are terrorized by “unexpected” bombings in the zones populated by civilians, “innocent victims” of this ongoing conflict.

“Now, everyone is on social assistance, in survival mode,” said the archbishop. “We try to offer them provisions, food baskets, and help with their basic expenses,” related to their household.

Since the beginning of the conflict in 2011, the Church in Syria has stood beside those who could not or would not leave and supports them as best as they can, thanks to organizations among others like Aid to the Church in Need.

 

 

The Church in Syria: a first in the story of Christianity

If the humanitarian aspect is essential and that the Church responds to the best of its ability, the historical aspect is equally as important.  After all, the Church in Syria is the first of the Christian Churches in the world! “The most important thing for me as pastor, as bishop, as successor to the apostles… is my faith.  The Church in Syria is the first of all the Churches.  The first Christians were the Christians from Syria,” explains the archbishop.

“Christian life began with the Jews who became Nazarenes. Later in Antioch they would be called ‘Christian’.  But here […] Christian life began in Aleppo, in Tyr, in Sidon, all the cities in Syria and in Lebanon.  It is also “the Church of Syria healed Paul of his blindness, it was the Church of Damascus which baptized him, confirmed him and sent him out to preach the Gospel.”  For Msgr Jeanbart, it is “very important to keep this extraordinary legacy.”

Finally, the Christian presence is also a carrier of Islamic-Christian conviviality, “which can help the Muslims to know the Christians and to help them to not consider them to be people from another planet.”

 

Donating for Syria

The international Catholic charity is still supporting numerous projects this year close to the Syrian Church:  food baskets, milk and diapers, support and lodging, access to medication. Since 2011, Aid to the Church in Need benefactors supported the Syrian population with an amount of 14 million dollars.

 

donate

To make a donation:  https://secure.acn-aed-ca.org

 

 

 

 

By Mario Bard and Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada

 


 

ACN Feature: Syria – A Franciscan priest reports from the embattled city of Aleppo

04.05.2016 in Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Oliver Maksan, Syria

Syria

“Things were never so bad in Aleppo before.”

 

Syrie 1In an urgent appeal to the outside world, Franciscan Father Ibrahim Alsabagh is calling on Christians throughout the world to pray for the Syrian city of Aleppo, currently caught up in the midst of heavy fighting. “Never, since the beginning of this terrible war were things as bad as they are now. I have no words to describe all the suffering I see on a daily basis,” Father Ibrahim reported on Tuesday to the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need.

 

Rockets and bombs are raining down on churches, mosques, schools and hospitals. Now 17 people have been killed in an attack on our hospital. And the casualties may yet be higher. So many houses have been partially or entirely destroyed, and so many people killed or severely injured. And when the bombs do stop falling, there is an eerie silence, like in a cemetery. The streets are as though everyone has died.” He goes on to tell us how the Orthodox Easter, on the previous Sunday, had been a very sad affair. “It was more like Good Friday than Easter Sunday. Although two liturgies were celebrated, they were very poorly attended. People were either burying their dead or else they stayed at home out of fear. It was depressing. When will the world community finally wake up and put an end to this new Sarajevo?”

 

“I am praying to our Lord to support us.”

Father Ibrahim has been working for almost two years now in this divided city of northern Syria, the scene of fierce fighting between the Syrian government and rebel groups. “Whoever can escape, does so. On Sunday the roads out of the city were packed with refugees. Those who remain behind are the poorest of all, the ones who cannot even afford to look for a place of safety. We are helping them, wherever and however we can. Some of the people are living in half ruined homes. We help them with repairs and support them, thanks to the help of ACN, with food, clothing, medicines, items of hygiene and other things. But now we really need any outside help we can get. We are in the greatest of need.”

 

Syria 3

 

Father Ibrahim has also noticed increasing signs of psychological stress in people. “The nervous breakdowns are increasing, and we now have so many psychological illnesses as a result of the war. There is so much misery. But at least I thank God that through his grace I am able to be a good Samaritan to all the suffering people. I try to console them with the word of God, but also with deeds of corporal mercy. I always have in my ears the words of Pope Francis, that we must show people the tenderness of God. We priests and religious have really become fathers, and still more mothers, to the people, trying to bind up their wounds tenderly, like a mother.

 

Father Ibrahim compared the state of the 50,000 or so Christians still remaining in Aleppo with the situation of Saint Paul in the Acts of the Apostles. “Saint Paul was in prison on account of his faith, together with Silas. But they were liberated through their prayers. They turned that terrible prison into a place of prayer. That is what we Christians in Aleppo are also called to do. No matter how frightful this place is, yet we must still give Christian witness. We must not think only of ourselves.”

 

He goes on to say that the cross that the Christians are carrying is very heavy. “But it also creates a communion with God and with one another such as I have never seen before. My faith and my priestly vocation have grown here in Aleppo. I pray a great deal before the Tabernacle, that the Lord will support us,” Father Ibrahim continues. And he expressly thanked the benefactors of ACN. “Without their generosity we could do almost nothing. Please be assured that every day prayers go up to God from the mouths of children, the poor and the elderly, that He may bless you for your help. Please continue to pray fervently for us, that we remain strong in faith and love. For this crisis is beyond our human strength.”
 

Aid to the Church in Need has been helping the Christians of Aleppo for many years now. Through the Church representatives who are our project partners on the spot, we fund programs which help the needy by providing them with food, clothing and medication among other necessities. There is also help for essential accommodation and study.  

ACN also helps those Christians from Syria and Iraq who have been forced to flee from war and terrorism and are now refugees, either in their own countries or in neighbouring countries abroad.

 

By Oliver Maksan, ACN International  

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada


 

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Project of the Week – 5,000 Child’s Bibles for Pakistan!

04.05.2016 in ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, AED Canada, Pakistan, Projets pastorale

20120109_010 PAKISTAN KARACHIPakistan

5,000 copies of Child’s Bibles in the Urdu language

 

Christians in Pakistan face all kinds of discrimination, harassment and oppression. Most of these Christians are from the poorest and lowliest sections of society and they must stand up to all sorts of difficulties standing in the way of their social advancement.

 

Usually  Christians perform the most menial tasks.  They are the road sweepers or domestic helpers. Most of them would like to see their children have better lives, but their hopes are often frustrated by the fact that Muslims generally receive more favourable treatment and have better opportunities than they, even with the same level of education. While for the poorer Christian families, even sending their children to school in the first place involves great deal of financial sacrifice. Often their mothers and older sisters have to go to work, in order to be able to cover the school fees.

 

Most families have many children, and these children are seen as a gift from God and a sign of hope for the future. The parents are proud to see their children get a good education, though most cannot read or write themselves, and so they can do little to help their children.

 

When Christian children are sent to a state school, they often find themselves pressured to renounce their faith. And so, in order to root them more deeply in their own faith, most attend school first in their own parishes, in one of the many Sunday schools where they can grow in their faith. They pray and sing together and come to better know the Good News of the Gospel.

 

With great enthusiasm, they re-enact some of the Bible stories as theater performances. In this way they not only enhance the beauty of the great feasts but also help their parents, who for the most part cannot read the Bible themselves, to better know and understand the Bible stories.

 

The Sisters of Saint Paul, a congregation very much involved in the media apostolate, have been active in Pakistan since 1965 and have produced a wide range of religious and catechetical literature. Now they would like to produce a little Bible for children that will contain not only Bible stories but also short prayers. The idea is to use this book in the Sunday schools and in the religious education classes of the Catholic schools.

 

“Once the children are well grounded in their faith, the parents are less afraid of sending them to the state schools,”the Sisters report. For then there is less danger that they will Child's Biblebe deflected from their faith.

ACN has promised a contribution of $9,425 CAN towards the cost of printing 5,000 copies of this book.


 

donate

To donate to this or to a similar project – please do so on-line on our new secure donation page. If you would prefer to call us, or write to us – our contact information can be found here

 


 

 

ACN Feature – The Pope’s visit to Lesbos

28.04.2016 in Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Oliver Maksan, Lesbos, Refugees

Pope Francis in Greece

“Pope has changed the way people think about Christians”

A Jordanian priest believes: The Pope’s visit to Lesbos sends a message to Arab states to do more for the refugees

 

ACN-20160425-39730 (1)

 

The Pope’s solidarity visit to Lesbos last Saturday sent a strong message to the Arab states to do more for refugees, specifically those from Syria and Iraq. Father Khalil Jaar, a priest of the Latin Patriarchate in Jordan, is convinced of this. Speaking to the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need, Father Khalil, who has cared for Christian refugees from the Middle East for years, said on Thursday: “With his visit to Lesbos Pope Francis has shown that he is concerned with every single individual. He is not indifferent to the people in need because God is not indifferent to them. Without words he thus sent a strong message to those Arab countries that have to date not taken in any, or hardly any, refugees.”  Father Khalil believes that by his example he has shown that a solution of the refugee crisis is possible if everyone pulls together. “Why should Europe alone bear the burden of the refugees? If all join together to help it will make things much easier. And the people in need will then be helped in the best and most efficient way.”

 

 

ACN-20160425-39728

Pope Francis had come to the Greek island last Saturday for a brief visit to meet refugees and declare his solidarity with them. Father Khalil had also taken part in the visit at the invitation of the Greek government and church bodies. “On Lesbos I was able to talk to Syrian refugees after the Pope had met them. They were all Muslims. They told me that the Pope’s caring example had changed the way they think about Christians.

 

Most of them were amazed in the face of such love and humility. They told me they hadn’t expected that,” Father Khali said.

 

“I was able to speak briefly to the Holy Father. He told me that I should continue my work for people in need.”

 

ACN-20160425-39729 (1)

 

 

 

Father Khali rejected the criticism expressed around the Pope’s gesture of taking only Muslim and not Christian refugees in his plane on the return flight in order to grant them refuge in Italy. “The Holy Father also wanted to take Christian refugees from Syria and Iraq. Unfortunately their papers were not ready. They will follow at a later date. And anyway, in the last analysis the crucial factor in a situation of need is not the question of faith. Whether Muslims or Christians: They are all people who are loved by God and need our help.”

 

 

ACN-20160425-39725Father Khalil expressed thanks for the encouragement shown by Pope Francis. “I was able to speak briefly to the Holy Father. He told me that I should continue my work for people in need. The Pope’s example inspired and encouraged me. I thank Aid to the Church in Need for helping me assist poor people who are fleeing.”

 

 

Aid to the Church in Need supports the work of Father Khalil in Marka, Jordan. There he provides accommodation and food for Iraqi Christians who have fled ISIS, as well as Christians from Syria. A total of 600 families are being helpe d in this way. Aid to the Church in Need supports numerous projects of church partners for Christian refugees in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan.

 


 

By Oliver Maksan, ACN International  

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canadadonate

 

Project of the Week: Self-sustaining poultry project in Tanzania

27.04.2016 in ACN Canada, ACN International, Project of the Week, Religieuses, TANZANIA

Tanzania

 A self-sustaining poultry raising project for Sisters in Kisa

 

Self sustainable poultry project for the Sisters of Our Lady Queen of the Apostles of Mbeya - Kisa Convent: Sister with eggs from the poultry project

Self -sustainable poultry project for the Sisters of Our Lady Queen of the Apostles of Mbeya – Kisa Convent: Sister with eggs from the poultry project

The parish of Kisa in the diocese of Mbeya was established in 1927. It has around 3,500 Catholic faithful, who are ministered to by two priests, five religious Sisters of the local congregation of Our Lady Queen of Apostles, and 25 catechists.

 

In 2009 the parish opened a primary school, which is run by the Sisters. The sisters also give catechetical instruction, help the elderly and sick, instruct those preparing for baptism and help out in other schools in the area. At the same time they serve as sacristans in the parish church.

 

The parish has an additional 12 outstations, lying anywhere from 15 to 50 km (10 to 30 miles) away from the centre of the parish, causing the Sisters often to travel considerable distances. The parish budget is minimal and the ordinary faithful live from hand to mouth, so that there is no way the parish can fund both the living costs and the travel expenses of the Sisters.  To support themselves, they have been growing fruits and vegetables in their garden for sale locally. But despite their effort, it does not produce enough income to live on.

 

The Sisters came up with a creative idea! They would set up a chicken rearing project, they would sell the eggs, and the hens for meat.

 

Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, we were able to help with a contribution of $4,785 – the set-up cost of a henhouse and 200 hens. The project has been successful and now the Sisters are able to support themselves and no longer depend on outside help. Sister Felista wrote to us saying:

 

“I really want to thank ACN and your generous benefactors. May Almighty God pour out his heavenly graces upon you all. Our community promises to always pray for you and all your benefactors and to have Holy Mass celebrated for your mission and your well-being.”

 


 

donateTo donate to this or to a similar project – please do so on-line on our new secure donation page. If you would prefer to call us, or write to us – our contact information can be found here

 


 

Project of the Week – Russia

19.04.2016 in ACN BENEFACTORS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Russia
RUSSIA / BELGOROD-ORT 15/00036 Education grant for 111 students at the seminary in Belgorod for the akad. year 2015/2016: Unction of Seminarian at the Orthodox Seminary Belgorod

Seminarian at the Orthodox Seminary Belgorod

 Russia

Help for the training of 111 Orthodox seminarians in Belgorod

 

The historic meeting between Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in Cuba was an occasion of great joy for ACN for our charity has been committed for almost 25 years now to promoting dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church.

 

It was Pope John Paul II’s most cherished wish following the collapse of communist rule in Russia, to help the Russian Orthodox Church and to promote dialogue with her. We should not forget that, after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian Orthodox Church literally had to start over and rebuild itself from scratch, a process which demanded unparalleled effort.

 

Pope John Paul II was happy to entrust Father Werenfried van Straaten, the founder of ACN, with the task of supporting the Orthodox in Russia with deeds of active charity and through seeking ways to dialogue with her.

 

RUSSIA / BELGOROD-ORT 15/00036 Education grant for 111 students at the seminary in Belgorod for the akad. year 2015/2016: Formation of seminarians at the Orthodox Seminary Belgorod, two seminarians and one of their formators

Building constructive, healthy relations

Peter Humeniuk, ACN’s Russia specialist commented recently: “We may be thankful for the fact that we have been able to help both Churches to work together at many different levels, in mutual trust. Again and again we have had confirmation, both from the Holy See and from our partners in Russia, that this path was the right one. On the 100th birthday – and 10th anniversary of the death – of our founder, Metropolitan Hilarion wrote to us to say: ‘The charity ACN was to all intents the first Catholic organization to take the step of building constructive, friendly relations with the Russian Church.’

 

A few years ago the present Patriarch Kirill said our charity had often been the only bond, even in difficult times, uniting our Churches. And from the Holy See there has been repeated confirmation of ACN’s work in this field. The last three pontiffs have all expressly supported this commitment, and Cardinal Bertone, during his time as Vatican Secretary of State, once described it as a “point of contact with the Orthodox Church.”

 

As for the meeting of our two Church leaders in Cuba, for us this is of course further confirmation and encouragement to continue along this path,” concluded Peter Humeniuk.

 

ACN is above all delighted that so many projects have borne such good fruits. It has never been merely about giving money, but about improving the climate and building trust and friendship between our two Churches, which were described as “sister Churches” by the Second Vatican Council.

 

A good example of this is the help provided by ACN for the training of Orthodox priests. There is now a new generation of priests, and even of young Orthodox bishops, whose training was supported by ACN and for whom it is quite normal to have good relations with the Catholic Church.

 

We should not forget that Catholics represent only a small minority in Russia. And as a result many Orthodox believers for many years – including many priests – never even had an opportunity to get to know and respect Catholic believers. Therefore, sound training for these priests and positive personal contact with Catholics are major to overcoming prejudices.

 

One Orthodox seminary that ACN has been supporting since it was first established in 1996, is the seminary in Belgorod, where 111 young men are presently training for ordination to the priesthood. A particular feature of the seminary is the fact that the priests who are trained here will go out into some of the most remote and most inhospitable areas of Russia – places where over the winter they will have to travel by sled and in summer by foot, through muddy tracks, to reach remote outlying villages where they will preach the Gospel.

 

Last year, ACN helped for the formation of these seminarians, with a contribution of $47,850 – or $435 per student, per year. The director and his seminarians are most grateful for this support and Metropolitan Loan of Belgorod and Starooskolsk has also expressed his gratitude to all our benefactors, along with the hope that this friendly collaboration will continue in the future.

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Press Release – Upcoming symposium in Montreal : “Are Christians in the world victims of genocide?”

19.04.2016 in ACN Canada, Adaptation Mario Bard, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, AED Canada, By Mario Bard, Persecution of Christians, Religious freedom, Uncategorized, Voyager avec l’AED

 

Canada                
Symposium on Christians victimized by genocide

With participation from Aid to the Church in Need Canada

Montreal, April 19 2016 – “ We estimate from our point of view that Christians in Syria and in Iraq are suffering a slow, but certain, genocide,” says Marie-Claude Lalonde the national director of the Canadian office of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) who will take part in a panel this weekend at the invitation of the organization ‘Solidarité International Trinitaire’. 

 

 

Also on the panel, Sami Aoun, a geopolitical specialist and Msgr Jean-Clément Jeanbart, Greek Catholic Melkite Archbishop of Syria and Aleppo. The panel will be led by journalist, Pierre Maisonneuve.  The theme tabled for discussion: “Are Christians in the world victims of genocide?”

The panel, which will take place Saturday April 23 at 9am, will officially open the Symposium of the same name which will be held from the 22 to the 24th at the Grand Séminaire de Montréal, 2065 Sherbrooke West.

“The question is a broad,” considers the director who has held the position for 15 years.  “When we speak of genocide, we must be extremely cautious as to the type of situation we wish to qualify.  If we are talking about what is happening in Iraq or in Syria, it is clear the Islamic State (IS) is doing everything to eliminate the presence of Christians and other religious minorities.”

Partie de l'affiche annonçant le Colloque.

From the poster made by (S.I.T.)

Canada: Still in waiting

“When speaking about genocide, we always refer back to the definition given by international law,” says the director.  “In other words: as acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.“ The Islamic State (IS) is guilty of genocide, according to the European Parliament and the American Secretary of State.

Now, the question remains: When will there be acknowledgement on the part of the Government of Canada?”

This past February, Mrs. Lalonde sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stéphane Dion, asking that the Canadian government recognize that what is happening in Syria and in Iraq is a genocide against Christians and other religious minorities.

Aid to the Church in Need, an international Catholic charity, has been working for over 60 years to bring awareness to the world of the fate of persecuted Christians and the situation of religious freedom throughout the world.  Every two years, a report called Persecuted and Forgotten? Addresses the situation of Christians throughout the world – whereas, also published every two years, the report on Religious Freedom in the world encompasses all religious traditions.

The Symposium: “Are Christians in the world victims of genocide?” will be held from Friday April 22 beginning at 4pm, through to Sunday April 24 at noon.  Simultaneous translations will be offered and voluntary contributions will be gratefully accepted.  The Grand Séminaire of Montreal is located at: 2065 Sherbrooke Street west, near Guy-Concordia Métro.

 

By Mario Bard, ACN Canada

Translated and adapted by, Amanda Bridget Griffin