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ACN International

 

Journey with ACN – Venezuela

23.01.2015 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Journey with ACN, Venezuela

 

© Aid to the Church in Need

JOURNEY WITH ACN is  our weekly newsletter regularly posted to our blog and designed to acquaint you with the needs of the Catholic Church around the world – and various projects we have helped to bring into being together with ACN benefactors.

This week:   Venezuela

Child’s Bibles and Rosary booklets for children in Carúpano 

In Venezuela Christians make up 94.3% of the population, and Catholics 85.1%. However, relations between the Catholic Church and the Venezuelan government have not been easy in recent years. Under Hugo Chavez, there were many attacks on individual churchmen and on Church properties – including nationalization of the latter in some cases. Chávez – whose avowed role model was Fidel Castro – repeatedly accused the Church of manipulating the people and interfering in politics – a stance seen by Church observers as a reaction to the fact that  the Church was seen as sympathetic towards the opposition.

The so-called “Socialism of the 21st-century” proclaimed by Chávez initially functioned basically as a market economy, but soon became conspicuous for the dominant role of state owned companies. The successor to Chávez, Nicolas Maduro, is continuing with the same economic policy. Despite its massive oil wealth, Venezuela is still a poor country today, and the number of those in extreme poverty (i.e. earning less than $1.25 a day) actually increased last year by three quarters of a million people. One third of the economic output of the country comes from the state-run oil production, while in some coastal regions – such as the diocese of Carúpano – people also live in part by fishing and by tourism. This widespread poverty is likewise a challenge for the Catholic Church, which seeks to help the people, both materially and spiritually.

© Aid to the Church in Need

© Aid to the Church in Need

The Diocese of Carúpano, which was formally established only in the year 2000 by Pope John-Paul II, has a high percentage of children. Consequently, Bishop Jaime José Villarroel attaches particular importance to the education of children in the Faith, and he is delighted that this aspect has developed so strongly within his diocese. Here in Carúpano the Church has already worked with the publications of ACN, which have helped her to enrich her catechetical work by presenting the life of Jesus and Mary and the basic prayers and principles of the Catholic Faith in an accessible and child friendly manner. Now the bishop is asking for additional copies – 10,000 copies each of the ACN Child’s Bible ($13,000), the children’s Catechism ($17,600) and the Rosary booklet ($4,880), along with 200 poster sets – to be distributed in the 22 parishes and five vicariates of his diocese. These publications will also be used for the diocesan youth days. With your help it will soon be possible for every child in Carúpano to have a copy of the Child’s Bible.

To make a donation to ACN for refugees

To make a donation by please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333
or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.

 

 

Please contact us to make a donation in support of this project, or similar projects, that are making a difference for the people of the poor and persecuted Church around the world, like these children.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity – Day 5

23.01.2015 in ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN SPECIAL SERIES, Prayer

Day 5: Annunciation 

Prayer: God, spring of the Living water, help us to understand that the more we join together the pieces of our ropes, the more deeply our buckets reach into your divine waters! Awaken us to the truth that the gifts of the other are an expression of your unfathomable mystery. And make us sit at the well together to drink from your water which gathers us in unity and peace. We ask this in the name of your son Jesus Christ, who asked the Samaritan woman to give him water for his thirst. Amen.

 

© Aid to the Church in Need – Father Artur Karbowski – on the Rio Negro – Amazonas

Commentary (John 4:11): Jesus is thirsty and, as the Samaritan woman points out, he has no bucket to draw water. He needs her help: everybody needs help! Many Christians believe that they alone have all the answers and they need no help from anyone else. We need the help of our Christian brothers and sisters to reach the depths of the well of the divine. A common point in our faith, regardless of the church to which we belong, is that God is mystery beyond our comprehension. The more we grow in unity, the deeper we delve into the well of the divine.

 

ACN News – The Ebola Virus

22.01.2015 in ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN Interview, ACN PRESS, Liberia, Sierra Leone

© Aid to the Church in Need

“The virus has taken away many of our experienced workers”

Church has made considerable efforts in the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone and Liberia

By Reinhard Backes, ACN International

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada

ACN, Königstein/Montreal –  Thursday, January 22, 2015 – The Catholic diocese of Kenema in the eastern part of Sierra Leone is deeply involved in the fight against Ebola. The Bishop of Kenema, Patrick Daniel Koroma, has pointed this out in a letter to the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). “The diocese of Kenema works through its networks of parishes, small Christian communities, hospitals, clinics, schools, religious communities to reach out to many people in these key areas: sensitization, safe burial or appropriate burial techniques, psycho-social support, education and training, help the discharged, social mobilization, message of hope.”

© Aid to the Church in Need

© Aid to the Church in Need

Aid to the Church in Need has provided 140,000 CAN in support of the efforts of the Catholic church in the fight against Ebola in Kenema as well as other dioceses of the West African country. The money was and continues to be used to finance medical emergency and aid programs, food aid, the training and mobilization of employees and for pastoral work with patients, family members and aid workers. In the neighbouring country of Liberia, which is also affected by the Ebola epidemic, Aid to the Church in Need has provided almost 70,000 CAN in support to date, especially in the Archdiocese of Monrovia. Further projects are in the planning stage.

Risking their lives to prevent the spread of the virus

In his letter, the Bishop of Kenema in Sierra Leone confirmed that these efforts come with considerable risk for the workers. “The virus has taken away many of our experienced health care workers which is sad. Some of these nurses and lab technicians are parishioners. We continue to hold in esteem and pray for front-line workers who are risking their lives to prevent the spread of the virus.”

© Aid to the Church in Need

© Aid to the Church in Need

According to Bishop Koroma, this crisis is demanding a great deal from the Church. “The urge to respond to acute humanitarian needs has led the Church to utilize the little resources available. To pay staff is a big problem.” There are first indications that it may be possible to push back the Ebola virus, but the bishop is very concerned for the future. The tasks are immense. “Learning from the civil war in the past, the impact of the Ebola virus on our communities is hard. Market days have been put on hold, schools were closed in the country before the end of the school year and still remain so. The number of orphans is increasing by the day. So there is the need to look at the following: economic revitalization, education, agriculture, healing the wounded memories, care of orphans.”

 

© Aid to the Church in Need

© Aid to the Church in Need

 

Iraq  “Pope Francis is expected in Iraq”

22.01.2015 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, ACN International, Iraq, Pope Francis

The Papal Ambassador in Iraq hopes that the situation of the Christians in the country will improve in 2015

By Oliver Maksan, ACN International

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada

© Aid to the Church in Need

© Aid to the Church in Need

The Apostolic Nuncio for Iraq, Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, expressed the hope that the Christians driven out of northern Iraq by the terrorist militia “Islamic State”(IS) would be able to return to their homes this year. The Nuncio said this to the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) on Tuesday in Bethlehem (Palestine), where he was attending a conference.

“But if they do return it won’t be easy,” the Nuncio explained. “Alongside the reconstruction of destroyed houses and infrastructure such as schools, it will be necessary first and foremost to restore the trust in Muslim neighbours which had also been shattered. Many Christians feel their neighbours betrayed them because they looted their houses. So it will not only be necessary to repair houses, but also relationships.”

A campaign of national reconciliation

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Archbishop Lingua gave a positive assessment of the work done by the Iraqi central government. “My impression is that something has got moving and that the new government is working well. A fundamental factor is the greater involvement of all groups. It will never be possible to speak of an Iraq free of terrorism as long as not all ethnic and religious components are involved. If one group is excluded it must not be assumed that they will not rebel,” the Nuncio continued. The alienation of the Arab Sunni population from the Shiite-dominated central government is seen as one of the main reasons for the rise of the “Islamic State.”

What is crucial for the future of Christianity in Iraq, Lingua stressed, is how the crisis in Mosul and the Nineveh Plain would be handled, where the majority of Christian refugees lived and which is currently occupied by the IS. “If the government manages to regain control and implements a campaign of national reconciliation, then there will be a place for Christians in Iraq. If the clashes persist, however, the weakest will pay the price, and these are always the minorities. We therefore have to hope that peace will return. And this is where the international community comes in.”

Archbishop Lingua stressed the problem of basic humanitarian difficulties experienced by the refugees, such as inadequate medical care, are further aggravated by the cold winter. “At the present time the people mainly need heaters. There are reports that some of the children have perished in the cold.” On top of this there are growing psychological strains. “The people don’t know how long they still have to hold out as refugees,” Lingua said. “This hopeless situation is causing those people to consider emigration who don’t actually want to leave.”

About 7,000 Christians had already fled to Jordan, where many were awaiting to leave for western countries. Overall the Nuncio assumes that about ten per cent of the 120,000 Christians who fled in August have left Iraq.

 

© Aid to the Church in Need

© Aid to the Church in Need

A visit from Pope Francis?

The Nuncio also stressed that Pope Francis was deeply concerned by Iraq and the situation of the Christians there. The Holy Father demonstrated his concern on various occasions, according to Lingua. When asked about the possibility of a Papal visit to Iraq he said: “The Holy Father is expected in Iraq both by the Church and the political powers, and even by non-Christians such as the Shiite leadership. I am impressed how great the consensus is concerning the figure of the Pope.”

With a view to security concerns surrounding a visit by the Pope to Iraq, Lingua said: “I’m no expert in such matters. But everybody says that they would do everything to make the visit a success.” Archbishop Lingua continued that a possible visit would have to last longer than one day. “You can’t come to Iraq and not go to Ur, which Sunnis, Shiites and Christians all revere as the birthplace of Abraham. You cannot not go to Baghdad because it is the seat of government – and you cannot not go to Erbil, where the majority of Christian refugees live. I would therefore prefer a visit to be fixed for a later date and for it to be more extensive, rather than for it to be organized quickly, missing out on some opportunities.”

 

 

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity – Day 4

22.01.2015 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN SPECIAL SERIES, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Prayer

Day 4: Renunciation 

Prayer : Loving God, help us to learn from Jesus and the Samaritan that the encounter with the other opens for us new horizons of grace. Help us to break through our limits and embrace new challenges. Help us to go beyond fear in following the call of your Son. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

ACN-20141107-15922

 

Commentary (John 4:28): The encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman shows that dialogue with the different, the stranger, the unfamiliar, can be life-giving. They broke with conventional patterns of behaviour and they showed us that it is possible to build new relationships. The Samaritan woman leaves her water jar behind her, meaning that she could go further in her life; she was not confined to the role society imposed on her. “Breaking forth” is a necessity for those who desire to grow stronger and wiser in their faith. It is difficult for us to find value, to recognize as good, or even holy, that which is unknown to us and that which belongs to another. However, this is a necessary step towards the visible unity we seek.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity – Day 2

20.01.2015 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN SPECIAL SERIES, Prayer

Day 2: Denunciation I

 

© Aid to the Church in Need

© Aid to the Church in Need

PrayerGracious God, often your Church is led to choose the logic of competition. Forgive our sin of presumption. We are weary from this need to be first. Allow us to rest at the well. Refresh us with the water of unity drawn from our common prayer. May your Spirit who hovered over the waters of chaos bring unity from our diversity. Amen.

The Pharisees had begun to spread the word that Jesus baptized more disciples than John. When “tired of the journey, Jesus sat down facing the well” (John 4:6), he might also be tired of these rumours. As a Samaritan woman comes to fetch water, she and Jesus start a dialogue about the place of worship and Jesus states that “true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him” (John 4: 21- 24). It still happens that competition marks the relations within the Church. True worshipers do not allow the logic of competition infect faith. We need “wells” to rest and let go of disputes, competition and violence, a place where true worshipers join in a common search for unity.

Join us for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

19.01.2015 in ACN Canada, ACN International, Prayer

This week (between the feasts of St Peter and St Paul), marks the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Given this occasion, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the World Council of Churches have jointly provided some material which we have summarized and are happy to share with you, our benefactors every day – over the coming week.

Day 1: Proclamation

BANGLADESH 1Prayer: God of all peoples, teach us to go through Samaria, to meet our brothers and sisters from other confessions. Allow us to go there with an open heart, so we may learn from every confession and culture. We confess that you are the source of unity. Grant us the unity that Christ will for us. Amen.

 

The Gospel of John (John 4:4) recounts Jesus’ journey through Samaria, a territory that Jews tried to avoid for its negative reputation given its mix of races and religions. “Going through Samaria” means that it is necessary to meet the other, the different, the one who is often seen as a threat. In this passage John makes it clear that Jesus is reaching beyond his people, which shows that relating only to people like ourselves isolates and impoverishes us. It is the dialogue with those who are different that makes us grow.

Press Release – Nigeria

19.01.2015 in ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN Interview, Boko Haram, Nigeria

© Aid to the Church in Need

“The West should send military to defeat Boko Haram”

By John Pontifex, ACN International

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada

© Aid to the Church in Need

© Aid to the Church in Need

Montreal/London – Monday January 19, 2014 – A Bishop whose diocese in north-east Nigeria has suffered most at the hands of Boko Haram wants the West to send in military forces to defeat the militants.

Describing how a strategically superior Boko Haram was now recruiting from countries across north-Africa, Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme of Maiduguri said that Western military intervention was the only viable option in the fight against the militants, now allied to Islamic State.

In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the Catholic charity for persecuted and other suffering Christians, the bishop said Nigeria’s military was weakened by incompetence, corruption and Boko Haram infiltration within its ranks. He warned that drastic action was urgently needed as the attacks earlier this month in strategically significant Baga showed that Boko Haram was poised to become a threat well beyond Nigeria’s borders and was recruiting from Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Libya.

 

© Aid to the Church in Need

© Aid to the Church in Need

Killed for refusing to convert 

Bishop Dashe Doeme, whose diocese is the heartland of the Islamist terror group, said: “The West should bring in security – land forces to contain and beat back Boko Haram. A concerted military campaign is needed by the West to crush Boko Haram.” He said the situation had become so critical – with more devastating Boko Haram attacks last week south of Maiduguri – it demanded a repeat of the French campaign of early 2013 to force Islamists out of parts of Mali, also in west Africa. The bishop said the attack in Baga revealed the ineptitude of the Nigerian military, adding that incompetent senior officers should be sacked “as a lesson to the others. Among the soldiers,” he said, “there were sympathizers with Boko Haram – some of them were even Boko Haram members and many of them just ran away.”

The bishop also called for the arrest of clandestine foreign backers of the Islamist terror group, adding: “The [Nigerian] government knows who are sponsoring Boko Haram.” And describing how within five years, the Boko Haram threat has decimated his diocese with more than 50 churches and chapels destroyed and more than 200 churches abandoned. He said 1,000 of his faithful have been killed, many of them by Islamists.  “The [extremists], point a gun or a knife at them saying that if they do not convert they will be killed. Some of them have been killed for refusing to convert,” said Bishop Dashe Doeme. Describing how since 2009, nearly 70,000 of the 125,000 Catholics in Maiduguri had fled their homes, he appealed for help for faithful taking refuge in displacement camps.

 

© Aid to the Church in Need

© Aid to the Church in Need

Prayer to overcome the Boko Haram threat

“The threat we face presents a very bleak future for the Church. Many of our members are scattered and others have been killed. In some areas there are no Christians any more. But the Church belongs to Christ. The Church will remain strong and many of our people have returned after land has been taken back by the Nigerian soldiers.”

Bishop Doeme called for prayer to overcome the Boko Haram threat and asked for people to pray the Hail Mary. “The most important thing is to pray for our people; I know people are praying for us and I am very grateful. I want people to pray the Hail Mary – our mother Mary has been championing our cause. We have a lot of devotion to the Blessed Virgin.”

To make a donation to ACN for refugees

To make a donation by please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333
or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.

The bishop thanked ACN for providing $62,672 CAN in emergency aid for displaced people from his diocese.

The charity has also given $50,870 CAN in Mass Offerings for the priests of Maiduguri diocese, half of whom have taken refuge in the neighbouring diocese of Yola in eastern Nigeria.

 

Journey with ACN – Philippines

16.01.2015 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, CONSTRUCTION, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN, Philippines

ASIA – Philippines

Rebuilding after Typhoon Haiyan

“Haiyan” – or in the Philippines, “Yolanda” – are beautiful sounding names for what was in fact one of the greatest natural disasters of recent times.

 

Just over a year ago this Typhoon unleashed its full fury on the coast of the Philippines, sweeping over 6,000 people to their deaths in its wake and devastating everything in its path. Even the Filipinos, who are generally accustomed to such natural disasters, had never experienced a cyclone of this destructive force before. Almost nothing could withstand the Typhoon, which swept across the islands, initially generating wind speeds in excess of 200 miles an hour.

According to UN figures more than 11 million people were affected by the storm, and many of them were rendered homeless. Thousands have lost all they possessed – including even the tools they need to work their fields, the boats they depended on for fishing, the livestock by which they earned their living, the factories where they worked, their tractors, motor vehicles, bicycles, etc. Thousands more lost family members and friends – yet not their faith and their hope.

Since then the people have been struggling to get back on their feet and rebuild their ruined homes and churches. One of the many devastated buildings was the church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in the diocese of Borongang, on Guiuan, a small island in the Eastern Philippines — which was the first to be struck by Typhoon Haiyan.

© Aid to the Church in Need

© Aid to the Church in Need

Waves of 16 to 20 feet (5-6 m) were recorded here. Of the once wonderfully beautiful church that had stood there since the 1760s there is now nothing left but ruins. With one gust, the Typhoon tore off the roof and smashed in the walls of the church. At the same time the interior furnishings were destroyed. There is no possibility of rebuilding this beautiful church now, and so Bishop Lope C Robredillo has decided to build a new church in an architectural style similar to the original one.

To make a donation to ACN for refugees

To make a donation by please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333
or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.

ACN is offering to contribute $209,000 CAN towards the cost of building this new church in Guiuan. Not only will this be a sign of solidarity with the deeply religious people who have lost everything, but at the same time it will encourage them to remain in their home region and not move to Manila, as so many others have done – where for most of them only a life of misery and destitution awaits.

 

ACN Story: Iraq

12.01.2015 in ACN Canada, ACN International, Iraq, Sisters

© Aid to the Church in Need

“We dropped everything and fled”

The convent of Sister Sanaa and her fellow nuns was destroyed by ISIS – Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) helps nuns and priests make a fresh start

By Oliver Maksan, ACN International

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada

© Aid to the Church in Need

© Aid to the Church in Need

In 2014, more than 120,000 Christians, dozens of priests and religious among them, were forced to flee ISIS in Iraq. Many have found refuge in the autonomous Kurdish regions of Iraq after losing everything – like Sister Sanaa. The Sister is Mother Superior of a Sacred Heart Sisters community. “ISIS blew up our convent in Mosul on November 24th. First, they tried to blow up the four crosses on the roof. Then, they destroyed the entire building. We don’t know exactly why,” she reported. “This made us very sad. It was a critical moment for our community; after all, it had been our spiritual home for many years. I joined our community in 1985; we had an active pastoral care program in Mosul. Among other things, we maintained a home for the elderly.”

The sisters’ suffering began months before the explosion that destroyed the convent. At the time, Sister Sanaa was not in the city. Returning from a journey, she wanted to get back to her fellow sisters at all costs. However, all access routes had been blocked since early June. “Days before the city completely fell into the hands of ISIS, fierce battles raged between the army and the jihadists. Our convent lay right in between. There was constant heavy fire. The sisters were very scared and thus left the convent and went to another house in Mosul. They were able to flee just before ISIS took over the city. It was truly at the very last minute,” she reported. “Our sisters were just able to consume the Blessed Sacrament before they fled. They did not want it to fall into the hands of the jihadists. However, they unfortunately had to leave the tabernacle itself behind. There wasn’t enough room in the car.” The community of Sisters then fled to Tilkef, a partially Christian city near Mosul. The sisters ran a printing company for liturgical books there. But, once more, they would soon have to flee. ISIS had also conquered Tilkef.

Sister Sanaa somehow found courage three more times after the fall of Mosul to return to the city now in the hands of the holy warriors of Islam. “We had been forced to leave our entire archive behind. As mother superior of the convent, I considered it my duty to save it. After all, it contains important documents representing one hundred years of our community’s memory.” Volunteers joined her on this extremely dangerous journey. “I did not want to make anyone go with me. It was very dangerous, after all. Other Sisters have been kidnapped by ISIS.” She managed to pass through checkpoints guarded by bearded ISIS fighters, who were flanked by the black flag of the caliphate, three times. And, the archive was saved.

© Aid to the Church in Need

© Aid to the Church in Need

 

A fresh start

Today, Sister Sanaa lives in Ankawa, a Christian suburb of the Kurdish regional capital of Erbil. Aid to the Church in Need has provided financial support to the twenty Sisters concerned, so they can make a fresh start. In addition, a temporary school is being set up for the children of Christian refugees where the Sisters will teach and earn a salary from the state which will help them to secure their future.

A machine for the production of altar breads, also acquired with help from ACN, contributes to their livelihood. The Sisters also sew cassocks and liturgical vestments supplying members of the clergy who had to leave everything behind as they fled from ISIS – such as Father Janan.

The Syrian-Catholic monk currently lives with his fellow Brothers in a settlement near Erbil where the Church has rented numerous flats with ACN’s help. “We fled from Bakhdida on August 6th. We even left our identity cards behind because everything had to go so quickly. We thought that the Kurdish fighters would protect us. However, when they suddenly pulled out, we dropped everything and fled.” Liturgical instruments, books and robes were left behind: they were not able to take anything with them. “Our fellow monks have given us liturgical vestments and books so that we can celebrate the liturgy. We are trying to continue our monastic life here as best as we can,” he said and showed the temporary chapel that they have set up on the ground floor of the terraced house. “The Liturgy of the Hours morning, noon and night provides structure to our day. And of course we celebrate Holy Mass.” Mass is held in a tent that serves as a church for the refugees. Plastic chairs are set up under a white canvas adorned only by an icon of the Redeemer and the Mother of God, and where dozens of women gather to pray the rosary. “We celebrate Holy Mass here. We have also baptized children here already. It is important that this refugee settlement has a spiritual heart. We may have lost our homes, but God is with us everywhere.”

© Aid to the Church in Need

© Aid to the Church in Need

 

To make a donation to ACN for refugees

To make a donation by please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333
or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.

To help Sisters like Sister Sanaa and other religious who have lost everything fleeing persecution, please call us.