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ACN’s Project of the Week ! – Sierra Leone: teaching materials

07.02.2018 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN PROJECTS, Africa, FORMATION, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN, Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone

Teaching materials for the minor seminary in the diocese of Makeni

 

Sierra Leone is still struggling to emerge from its state of near-permanent crisis. The consequences of the terrible civil war, from 1991 to 2002, are still all too painfully evident to this day. During this civil war, approximately half the population was forced to flee their homes and thousands of people were killed. One still sees people today with a missing arm or foot, hacked off by the rebels of the so-called “Revolutionary United Front”. So many women were raped, and many children born of rape were left to wander the streets, helpless. The economy is ravaged by poverty, unemployment and corruption and today this country of West Africa is still one of the poorest in the world – a poverty only exacerbated by a series of natural disasters, including above all the devastating Ebola epidemic of 2014.

 

While around 70% of the population are Muslims, the Catholic Church is nonetheless widely respected, above all for its many schools and the selfless help it has provided to so many people, regardless of race or religion. At the same time, however, the Church is very careful not to neglect the spiritual and religious dimension, and is accordingly stepping up its efforts to promote vocations and provide a solid formation for its future priests.

Discerning in the prayer: one of the crucial step when priesthood seems to call. 

 

The diocese of Makeni covers a vast area of over 36,000 square kilometres, though it has only 25 parishes. It also has a „minor seminary“ – that is, a form of school that precedes the seminary itself. Here, young boys who feel a calling to the priesthood attend school and are given a normal academic formation. But, in addition to their ordinary schooling, they are also introduced to the religious life. This includes daily Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours, regular personal prayer and spiritual accompaniment. Each month there is a retreat day and at the end of each semester the youngsters take part in a longer spiritual retreat. “The spiritual formation is at the heart of their education,” says the rector of the seminary, Father Peter S. Kanu. Attention is also paid to psychological and social-cultural aspects of their formation, since the training for the priesthood has to address the whole person. “Our future priests are being trained not only for the local Church but also for the universal Church,” the rector explains.

 

Many of the 40 priests currently working in the diocese also attended the minor seminary themselves and, happily, every year there are one, two, or even several priestly ordinations in Makeni. This is the fruit of an intensified vocations apostolate. “We spend some time in the parishes and schools, talking about vocations. We believe that this apostolate inspires the desire in the hearts of these boys to devote their lives to God,” Father Peter adds.

 

But now world economic factors are also impacting on the life of the seminary in this desperately poor country. Prices are rising almost daily, and it is a struggle for the seminary to make ends meet. Above all they need school textbooks and Bibles. We are proposing to help the seminary with a contribution of 3,975 dollars, so that they can purchase the necessary materials.

 


“If it weren‘t for the Church, we‘d be dead by now.”

02.02.2018 in ACN International, Africa, Bishops, by Tobias Lehner, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN, Julie Bourbeau, Julie Bourdeau, Nigeria, Syria

A Syrian and a Nigerian archbishop talk about the situation of Christians in their countries

If it weren‘t for the Church, we‘d be dead by now.

 

At a press conference held in Cologne, Germany last weekend by the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), two archbishops from Nigeria and Syria spoke about the difficult and dramatic situation facing Christians in their respective countries. Archbishop Matthew Man-Oso Ndagoso of the diocese of Kaduna, in northern Nigeria and Maronite Archbishop Joseph Tobji of Aleppo, in Syria, warned about the continuing perils and threats of violence, the many uprooted people and refugees, and even the danger of the extinction of Christianity in their respective regions.

 

In the case of Syria, even though the so-called “Islamic State” appears almost finished, there are many other like-minded groups still active, Archbishop Tobji warned. While emphasizing that in Syria, and in Aleppo, life was indeed slowly beginning to return to normal and people were beginning to recover new hope, the consequences of the war were still being very strongly felt, he said.

 

“It is the entire Syrian people who have lost,” the Archbishop observed. “Everywhere, there is poverty, unemployment, unimaginable devastation of people’s homes and of the social and moral fabric of society, together with a sense of hopelessness and mistrust with regard to the future.” In this situation, the support of the Church is particularly important, he insisted, adding his particular thanks for the commitment and generosity of ACN. “Many people in Syria openly acknowledge that if it weren’t for the Church, we’d be dead by now,” he confessed.

Syria :  Sr. Marie-Claire Zacar and Sr. Pascale, in Alep. ACN helped them to renovate the nursery. (Sisters of Notre-Dame du Perpétuel Secours).

Archbishop Tobji also criticized the role of the international community. “It is absolutely clear to everyone,” he insisted, “that the reasons for such a disastrous war as we have endured for seven years now have nothing to do with the demand for democracy or freedom. They have much more to do with a dirty game of world economics.” He maintained that the principal factors were, above all, the arms trade, natural resources such as oil and gas, the importance of the geographical and economic position of the country and opposing world political attitudes. For the world powers, Syria was like a cake to be divided up, with each party wanting the biggest slice, he said.

 

The dire consequences of emigration

 

It is above all the younger and better-educated people who have left Syria on account of the war and the lack of future prospects, the Archbishop pointed out, adding that the consequences of this emigration are very dire. The number of Christians in Syria had now fallen to one third, he said, and while the internal refugees were now slowly returning

home, those who have moved abroad were staying put.

 

Similarly, in northern Nigeria, thousands of people have now fled the violence, intimidation and oppression. The Christians here are exposed not only to the attacks by the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram, but also to a systematic discrimination by the regional state, according to Archbishop Matthew Mano-Oso Ndagoso of Kaduna.

 

Nigeria is the only country in the world in which the population is more or less evenly divided between Christians and Muslims, with Christians the majority in the south and Muslims the majority in the north, Archbishop Matthew explained, adding that his own diocesan city of Kaduna is a particularly important centre of Islam in Nigeria.

Nigeria, March 2017
Stations of the cross at St. Murumba Parish

 

Nigeria – where Christian religious education is banned in some places

 

In some of the federal states of northern Nigeria, moreover, Islamic sharia law has now been introduced, and in some of the northern Nigerian provinces, Christian religious education is no longer allowed in the schools, whereas Islamic religious education is supported and Islamic teachers of religion officially employed by the state are paid out of public funds. Even mosques are being funded with public monies, whereas Christians are being refused plots of land on which to build churches, the Archbishop complained.

 

Archbishop Ndagoso is therefore calling for the Christian minority in the north to be given “fair treatment, based on justice and an honest approach towards one another, regardless of religious confession, tribal identity, political affiliation and social status. The Christians of Nigeria are calling for their fundamental human rights and freedoms to be honoured and respected throughout the country,” he added.

 

Archbishop Ndagoso also praised the support and solidarity offered by the international Catholic pastoral charity ACN, which “has always been there for our people in times of need.” Owing to the insecurity of the situation, even some of the bishops had not dared to venture into the north of Nigeria, he said. ACN was a “voice,” he added, that was giving audible expression on the international stage to the fears, anxieties and needs of the persecuted Christian minority in Nigeria.

 

This is why it is urgently necessary to show our solidarity with persecuted Christians around the world, said Berthold Pelster, ACN’s human rights expert, summarizing the situation at the press conference which was organized by the German branch of ACN. “In the past 30 or 40 years or so, we have seen the advance of intolerant religious ideologies, above all in parts of the Islamic world,” he said. “Following the upheavals in the Arab world since 2011, we have seen the growth of extreme forms, and meanwhile radical Islamist ideas have also been spreading increasingly on the African continent,” he added.

 

It is therefore crucial, he believes, to draw the attention of world public opinion again and again to the abuses against the basic right to religious freedom. For the persecuted and oppressed Christians, it is a source of a special strength in their faith to know they have not been abandoned in their need by the universal Church.

 

For many years now, ACN has been documenting the persecution of Christians worldwide and monitoring the situation of religious freedom in 196 countries around the world. The charity and pontifical foundation publishes its findings in a global report every other year, the only NGO to regularly do so (religious-freedom-report.org). The next global report on religious freedom will be published in the autumn of this year. In 2017, a Report dedicated to the situation of the persecuted Christians was released. Persecuted and Forgotten highlights the challenges endure by Christians in 13 countries.


 

Central African Republic – The Church fears a massacre in Bangassou

25.01.2018 in ACN Chile, Africa, Aid to refugees, by Loreto Prado, Central Africa, Central African Republic, Central African Republic (CAR), International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN, Prayer

Central African Republic –
The Church fears a massacre in Bangassou

 

From his place in hiding, together with other priests, Father Yovane Cox, a Chilean missionary in the Central African Republic, has contacted the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) with an urgent plea for our prayers. “The cathedral in Bangassou is being attacked”, he told us last Friday 19 January. “The situation is quite critical, because this attack had already been foretold, and yet the UN forces in charge of security here paid no attention to what people told them. It seems almost as though they want to see a massacre here in the cathedral, and in the area where the Muslims are being sheltered”, he told us.

 

Already in May 2017 some 2000 Muslims took refuge in the grounds of the diocesan minor seminary of the Catholic Church (around 200 metres from the cathedral), seeking protection. Today a little under 1000 are still sheltering there. “All around this place there are armed men on the prowl, hoping that one of the Muslims will emerge, so that they can kill him”, Father Yovane explained, at the same time speaking of the inhuman conditions in which they are living. “Some of the Muslims try to leave the site to go and look for firewood, while others do so in order to scavenge in the houses that have been abandoned around the area (in search of food they need to survive on)”, he explained. Yesterday, one of these Muslims was caught by the anti-balakas, (the anti-Muslim rebel gang) and murdered him on the spot. This caused great alarm among the Muslims who are still sheltering in the grounds of the Catholic Church. According to Father Yovane, if it had not been for the contingent of Cameroonian soldiers, who intervened, the situation would have been still more critical.

Central African Republic
Muslim refugees next to the Cathedral in Bangassou.

 

The priests in the Catholic mission are watching helplessly, expecting that at any moment the anti-balakas may invade the camp, intending to kill the Muslims who have taken refuge there. And with no one intervening to prevent them. “By the silence of the state authorities and the inaction of the UN forces in not wanting to move the few Muslims still left on this site, they are simply inviting a confrontation between the two groups and a resulting bloodbath. What we are sounding the alarm about and what we are asking them to do is to please relocate them from this site, because it is the only way of saving those still remaining here, who are for the most part women and children”, the Chilean priest told ACN.

 

United Nations: accused of inaction

 

Nine months have now passed since the truce between the antibalakas and the Muslims broke down. This country, already marked by a history of violence and warfare, is today living through one of its most difficult chapters. “We are in a situation in which nobody is in control – neither the government, nor the United Nations nor the local authorities, and still less we ourselves in the Catholic Church” Father Yovane explained, adding that the Church is the only organisation that has remained here to help. “There are no other organisations, most of them have left. The last to do so wasDoctors Without Borders.”

 

When we asked him about the situation of the Christians in the diocese, he explained that “the Christians are for the most part living in hiding in their villages or in the suburbs. They are too frightened to gather in the churches or in the cathedral. When we celebrate Holy Mass on Sundays those who attend number no more than 15 or so. We priests are limited in what we can do and our pastoral work is at a standstill. Some of the clergy are living in the capital and the rest are limited in our activities.” This is due to the deep gulf between the positions of the radical Muslims, who see the Catholic Church as complicit (with the anti-balakas), and the anti-balakas themselves, who see the Church as a traitor for protecting the Muslims and giving them shelter. “There is a mutual incomprehension, a very deep antagonism, and the Church finds herself caught in the middle between them, a perfect target for anybody who has lost control of the situation”, Father Yovane tells us unhappily.

Central African Republic
Father Yovane Cox, a Chilean missionary, before the start of the conflict.

 

Request for prayers

 

At the present time only two of the eight parishes in the diocese are still open and most of the priests are living at the cathedral in Bangassou for their own security. The violence in the region has forced them to close down all the schools of the diocese. “We cannot gather the children in the schools, knowing that it would be immensely difficult to assure their safety in the classrooms”, the Chilean priest explains. For him this has meant postponing his dream of opening a new school in his own parish of Bema, and educating 400 children.

Central African Republic
Father Yovane Cox, a Chilean missionary in the Central African Republic – now in Bangassou.

 

Above all he is calling on us to pray. “We know that our only security is that which comes to us from God and it is in Him that we place our entire lives and our trust”, he tells us. “We are conscious that the Church in the diocese of Bangassou is in the midst of a fight between men, trying to bring a little peace, though her voice is scarcely being heard.” Nevertheless, he still thanks ACN “for being the voice of those whom nobody listens to, the voice of those who have been forgotten…”

 

From 2014 to 2016 the pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need supported the Catholic church
in the Central African Republic with 3,9 million dollars. 

Text: Loreto Prado, ACN-Chile
Adaptation: ACN-Canada.

ACN Project of the Week : Mass Offerings in Madagascar

24.01.2018 in ACN PROJECTS, Africa, Catholic priests, Madagascar, Mass Offerings

Madagascar

Mass Offerings for the 70 priests in the diocese of Morondava

 

Having a Holy Mass celebrated for a particular intention is a long and venerable tradition. The offering, or “stipend”, given to the priest by the person concerned is in no sense a payment, but rather a gesture of love and gratitude as well as a form of financial support for the individual priest who in the words of Consecration in Holy Mass makes present the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the altar. For many priests in the poorest countries of the world, these Mass Offerings are in fact a crucial means of survival.

 

This is certainly the case in Madagascar, one of the poorest countries in the world. One of its dioceses situated in Morondava is materially poor, but rich in priests. In fact, over the last 10 years the number of priests in the diocese has more than tripled, from 20 to 70 resulting in the diocese being able to send some of its priests to another recently founded diocese in the country as well as to the island of Reunion, where the bishops were in need priests. Moreover, there are another 50 young men from the diocese of Morondava who are currently training for the priesthood.

 

This rapid growth in priests in the diocese is partly due to the fact that a number of religious congregations have been established there, but Bishop Marie Fabien Raharilamboniaina is also convinced that this boom in new vocations is also the fruit of prayer. He himself has written a special prayer for numerous and holy priestly vocations, the Catholic faithful and especially for the children who are also praying regularly for their priests.

Bishop Marie tells us, “We are convinced that prayer leads to new vocations. A vocation is the fruit of prayer, and therefore we are insisting in all our schools not only on speaking about God but also on the need to give the children themselves the opportunity to speak with God in prayer.”

Children in Madagascar.
The bishop wrote to ACN: “Thanks to the gift of Mass offerings, we were able to help priests working in the outback (see photo).”

 

The bishop is deeply committed to his priests in other ways too and in supporting them in living out their vocation. “I invite my priests to embrace the promise that Jesus himself has made and rely upon divine providence. As Saint Teresa of Avila once said, ‘Take care of God‘s work, and God will take care of yours.’ And I also tell my priests that the People of God will care for them.”

 

Each year he invites all the priests in his diocese to take part in spiritual exercises, ongoing formation sessions and a diocesan pilgrimage, and also regularly visits the parishes lending his support in every possible way.

 

The local Christians also help their priests as well as they are able.   But they also struggle with poverty and the priests need additional support in order to be able to continue their own spiritual formation and take part in retreat days and the like. And while the faithful themselves have little, the priests often do not even have the most basic means of subsistence; they don‘t have enough to eat, they need support for accommodation, they often have to travel on foot leaving  them often having  to turn to their bishop for help.

 

Fortunately, and thanks to the Mass Offerings given by the generous benefactors of ACN, Bishop Marie Raharilamboniaina is able to provide some material support for his priests.

 

“We thank God for the priests who bear witness to His love in our diocese of Morondava and we thank all our generous benefactors for their love for our priests,” the bishop writes. “Our priests see you as a sign of divine providence.”

 

We are supporting the 70 priests of the diocese of Morondava with Mass Offerings for a total of $30,000 – or in other words with roughly $427.50 per priest per year.

 

If you want to have a Mass celebrate to your intentions, click on the button below: 

DRC – Attacks on the Catholic Church

19.01.2018 in ACN Canada, ACN International, Africa, By Murcadha O'Flaherty and John Pontifex, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Julie Bourdeau

DRC :

security forces accused of killings in more than 130 Church attacks

 

Army and police in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) stand accused of killing at least four people and injuring several others in attacks on more than 130 churches around the country. In the latest incident on Friday (January 12th), two people were injured when security forces reportedly fired tear gas at Kinshasa Cathedral after a mass for lay people killed by the military and the police.

 

Father Apollinaire Cikongo, Executive Secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Kananga Province, which covers eight dioceses in central DRC, said: “There was a mass at Kinshasa Cathedral remembering at least four people killed on December 31st.”

In his statement given to the Catholic charity “Aid to the Church in Need,” he continued: “After this mass, the army and police again fired tear gas and two people were injured.”

Church leaders have blamed DRC’s security forces for attacks over the New Year which took place at 134 churches and chapels in the capital, and a number of provinces in the country.

This lady was shot in the head with a live bullet. They thought at the time that she was dead but she had survived. Soldiers and police are accused of firing live ammunition as the faithful were coming out of Mass at St Dominic’s Church, Limete. 

Soldiers and police are accused of firing live ammunition as the faithful were coming out from mass at St. Dominic’s Church, Limete.

Accusing the DRC’s police and army of an unprovoked attack in the grounds of the church, St. Dominic’s parochial vicar, Father Jean Nkongolo, said that when he asked them to stop shooting the parishioners, he was shot in the face by a rubber bullet and injured.

As well as rubber bullets, security forces fired ‘stun’ projectiles and tear gas at the religious procession in the grounds of the church, reportedly almost killing a woman.

Four other parishioners were injured by rubber bullets during the attack.

Father Nkongolo’s account was relayed through Father Cikongo, who said: “Every Sunday after mass, the parishioners go to the Grotto of Our Lady within the church grounds to pray the Salve Regina prayer and get a blessing. Father Nkongolo said that it was at this moment that the parishioners were attacked and shot with tear gas and rubber bullets by the security forces.”

 

Describing how Fr Nkongolo received his facial injury, Father Cikongo said: “Father Nkongolo went over to the police to tell them to stop because the people were innocent and had done nothing wrong. Father Nkongolo told me that it was at this moment that a policeman shot at him directly towards his eyes with a rubber bullet, but thanks be to God, Fr Nkongolo reacted quickly and moved his head away from the attack. Otherwise he would have been hit in the eyes, but he was shot on the side of his face

Father Cikongo said that after the attack, Father Nkongolo noticed the woman shot in the head, picked her up off the ground and carried her into the church.

Father Cikongo said: “This one lady was shot in the head with a live bullet. Fr Nkongolo said: ‘we thought at the time that she was dead, but she had survived.’”

 

The woman was taken to hospital, where the latest reports describe her condition as stable.

Father Cikongo said that after the mass, the parish had decided against taking part in a peaceful march organized by lay faithful after the DRC’s President Joseph Kabila reneged on a deal to stand down and not serve a third term.

But now, after the attack at Kinshasa Cathedral, Father Cikongo said the lay faithful – the Lay Coordination Committee – has called for a peaceful demonstration on Sunday (January 21st).

Blood stained Tiles on the church compound – St Dominic’s Church.

Pray for the People of DRC and pray for the Catholic Church and Her pacific work. 

ACN Project of the Week – DRC

11.01.2018 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, Africa, Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Dominican Fathers, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN, MOTORIZATION, Project of the Week, TRANSPORTATION

Success Story: Democratic Republic of the Congo

 

A minibus for the Dominican Fathers in Kinshasa

 

The Dominican Fathers in Kinshasa are delighted to have received their new minibus. Their old vehicle finally gave up the ghost, irrevocably, while travelling on the road, some 210 km (130 miles) away from their home monastery. From that time onward, they were forced to cope somehow or other without a vehicle. But thanks to the generosity of our benefactors who have given $33,000, they have at last been able to purchase a new minibus.

 

The Dominican Order, which celebrated its 800 years of existence in 2016, has been in existence since 1912 in what is today the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Long ago, at that time, it was Belgian priests who arrived as missionaries, but now it is the home-grown Congolese religious who are following in their footsteps. The order is represented in four dioceses of the country and has six houses, with a total of 42 priests. The Dominican Fathers are involved in chaplaincy work with the military and the police, and they also care for former child soldiers, for orphans, the crippled and disabled and for victims of sexual violence. They are also involved in the running of five local parishes.

 

A minibus translates into more study time

Blessing of the minibus offered by the benfactors of Aid to the Church in Need, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.

There are many new vocations. Currently there are 17 students, six novices and eight pre-novices who are preparing to commit themselves one day fully to the order through their solemn vows. Two young men have already been ordained to the diaconate in fact, and are now looking forward to their ordination as priests.

The new minibus is very important to the Dominicans for the effective realization of their many different activities. However, its most important use is for the young men who are pursuing their studies. For one of the two universities where these students are training is around 10 miles (15 km) away from the Dominican monastery, and public transport in the 13 million-strong (new statistics show 17 million!) city of Kinshasa is inadequate and unreliable.

As a result, the students found it almost impossible to arrive punctually and reliably for their studies, and on top of this they were in a constant state of near exhaustion, having been forced to waste a great deal of time that they should have been able to devote to their studies and to their monastic life.

Father Albert Akora Kanika writes, “Thanks to the new vehicle, our students are exposed to fewer dangers on the roads; they are healthier and happier and can pursue their studies better and more regularly – and above all take part in the life of the monastery while looking to achieve better grades in their studies.”

If you are inspired by this project and wish to contribute to a similar one, please click the donate button!

 

 

 

 


 

ACN Project of the Week: The Church remains in CAR

23.11.2017 in ACN Canada, ACN International, Africa, Central African Republic, Central African Republic (CAR), Journey with ACN

Central African Republic

The Church remains and provides support

 

Sadly, the Central African Republic has never truly known peace. In the 57 years since it gained independence, this country – one of the poorest in the world – has suffered one military coup after another. It is hard to keep track of all the different armed groups in the country today. Their names may differ but the crimes they commit are the same everywhere they go:  looting, burning, raping, abducting, murdering.

 

Since 2013, the country has effectively been in a state of civil war. Although the situation in Bangui, the capital, is largely stable, the rest of the country is still in the hands of various rebel groups who have since split still further. The government – which even in “normal” times was unable to provide the people with even a minimum of schooling, health care, security, law and order – is now almost totally absent. The civil authorities and the police were often the first to save their own skins in the face of the advancing rebel forces. Only the Church remains.

 

Many Catholic priests and religious have risked their lives trying to protect the defenseless civilian population. Many of them were themselves threatened with guns, a number, abducted, and some of them even murdered. However, to this day they continue to open the doors of their churches and mission stations, providing shelter, regardless of religion or ethnicity, to civilians whose villages and towns have been attacked, costing them everything but the clothes on their backs. The Catholic Church has always been, and continues to be, a constant voice for peace and reconciliation.

Photo Bishop Cyr-Nestor Yapaupa in his diocese

Relying on God – looking to the Church

In May and June 2017, the diocese of Alindao in the south of the country was the scene of heavy fighting between warring armed groups. In the town of Alindao itself around 150 people were killed. These people, who even before the conflict were already desperately poor and living from hand to mouth, have now, lost everything. They cannot return to their homes for the time being, for the threat from the rebels is still too serious and the killings and acts of violence persist.

 

The people can only put their trust in God, and they look to the Church for everything, since they can expect practically no help from any other source. “The Church has to provide for everything, since the State has failed,” says Bishop Cyr-Nestor Yapaupa sadly. People know that they can count only on God and on the Church. One man commented, “We are hoping the fighting will end soon, so that we can finally return home. Everywhere else, people are being helped, but here no one seems interested in our difficult situation. God is our only protection; that is why we go to Mass every day to ask God to hear us and help us in our situation. Fortunately, the Catholic Church is also there for us. The bishop is on the front line of the efforts to resolve this crisis.”

 

For now though, the bishop needs help to care for these refugees, among whom there are many children. He is counting on the generosity of our benefactors to fill his empty hands, so that he can provide the barest necessities for the 3,000 refugees under his care. We know we are not going to disappoint him, because we are confident of receiving your support and have already given emergency aid of $43,800.

If you would like to contribute to supporting a similar
project funded by ACN, please click to donate!

 

 

 


 

ACN Feature Story – “Without a roof over your head – there is no such thing as community.”

10.11.2017 in ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

“Without a roof over your head – there is no such thing as community.”

The position of the Church in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is difficult, especially in the eastern part of the country, where war has been raging for decades over the coveted raw materials mines. The deeply damaging effects of these never-ending conflicts can also be felt in the north-western diocese of Basankusu.

 

Co-financing of the rehabilitation of the cathedral St Peter and Paul (phase 3)

For some time now, a structure has risen out of the surrounding countryside there and become a symbol of hope: a cathedral. Impressive, it stands tall and in its shadow a beautiful green countryside. Aid to the Church in Need has been supporting this project as it slowly has taken shape.

 

However, symbols of hope continue to rise in the middle of this state of affairs. With it, more than just a building has become visible and tangible to the local people. A Congolese saying goes, “Without a roof over your head – there is no such thing as community.” As the cathedral begins to rise up out of the field, “this literally establishes the community of believers for the local people,” explains the bishop, Msgr Joseph Mokobe Niodoku. After all, this is where they can gather in prayer or for educational programs, for trade fairs and celebrations, on sunny and rainy days. “For them, the cathedral is a perpetual source of motivation carved in stone to do something for the common good.” It symbolises being a part of the large family of believers that stretches beyond national borders.”

 

Bishop Joseph Mokobe Ndjoku at Mass  celebration of the Sisters’ vows

And it is also a link to the benefactors of Aid to the Church in Need from all over the world who have contributed to the funding of this cathedral. The new church represents the challenge “for Catholics in the Congo to become active in the Christian spirit for peace,” explains Joseph Mokobe Ndjoku. Which is why he describes the cathedral as the key. The inauguration of the church is planned for this spring.

 

Corruption, insecurity and terrible infrastructures

 

National elections are planned for late 2017. The ailing economy, marked by corruption and inefficiency. However, Bishop Mokobe reports that the preparations for these are stagnating; the round tables at which the church had repeatedly championed peace talks and the reformation of the bitterly divided camps that make up Congolese society have ceased to take place.

 

The exploitation of natural resources and its devastating impact on the people remains unresolved. One of the main demands of the church has therefore become “to hold the upcoming elections”.

 

DEM.REP. CONGO, diocese of Basankusu, March 2017
Diocesan pastoral council

An example of a difficult situation in the country:  the infrastructure. It is in a very bad state of repair in many places if not hardly existent. This means that when Bishop Joseph Mokobe Ndjoku and his collaborators cannot go out to visit the parishes in his diocese of 77,000 square kilometres. Often they can only travel by canoe on the rivers because the streets are impassable. It takes him more than two days to travel about 300 kilometers!

 

Story by ACN International
Adapted by, Amanda Bridget Griffin, Canada

ACN Project of the Week – Training of seminarians in Zambia

01.11.2017 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, Journey with ACN, SEMINARIANS, Zambia

Zambia

Training eight seminarians in the diocese of Mongu

 

Zambia – a landlocked country in southern Africa – is fortunate to enjoy a certain degree of stability, contrary to many other African countries. The country still faces numerous challenges, however, including poverty, poor infrastructure and a 12% alarmingly high rate of HIV/AIDS, resulting in numerous orphaned children.

 

One third of the population are Catholic and a little over half belong to various Protestant denominations or ecclesial communities. Almost 15% follow pagan animist religions. Until recently, Muslims have made up only a considerably small minority; but in recent years there has been increased activity and an increased spread of Islam.

 

One of the major problems now lies in the spread of fundamentalist sects, which tend to spring up with simplistic and populist messages. For example people – who are for the most part very poor – are often enticed with promises such as: “If you join us, you will be rewarded even in this world, and the more you pray the richer you will become.” Often even the Catholic faithful are lured away, and so the Church in Zambia is very much aware of the need to intensify its pastoral work, to keep the Catholic faithful from easily falling prey to false promises. Crucial to this strategy, is the presence of more Catholic priests.

 

In great need of priests

When, in the past, the Church in Zambia consisted mainly of foreign missionaries, they were able to call on material support from their home countries.  But, today the Church has become more of a home-grown local church, led by native African priests. The young men who respond to the call of God and who are now training for the priesthood certainly do not look forward to a comfortable life here; instead, many of them will be serving in remote rural areas where there is no electricity or running water and where they are often long way away from their brother priests.

 

Currently, eight young men from the diocese of Mongu are training for the priesthood in a diocese west of the country covering a vast territory of around almost 90,000 km². It has 13 parishes, each as large in area as a diocese would be in other parts of the world. More priests are urgently needed because wherever the faithful are deprived of the regular support of a priest, the sects tend to have an easy time of it. Needless to say, the local Church is poor, and a solid and thorough priestly formation takes many years, and costs money.

 

ACN is happy to support the formation of these eight young seminarians and has promised a contribution on $11,600 for this academic year. 

If you would like to contribute to supporting seminarians in a similar project funded by ACN, please click to donate!

 

 

A short video on our Youtube Channel from a similar diocese in Zambia – thanks to  CRTN.

 


 

ACN Project in Madagascar – A home for the Oblates of Toamasina

04.10.2017 in ACN Canada, ACN International, Africa, Madagascar

Successful ACN Project in Madagascar

A home for the Oblates of Toamasina

 

On the island of Madagascar, the Oblate Missionaries are delighted with their new mission house built thanks to the generosity of our benefactors.  Now they have a roof, a safe space and a gathering place for parishioners making this another success story for ACN.

 

Since 1988, the Oblates of the Immaculate Virgin Mary have been charged with the parish of Our Lady of Lourdes, here in Madagascar‘s second-largest city, Toamasina. The original church and parish house were built long ago in 1924, and both buildings have long since suffered the ravages of time and of the tropical weather. The missionaries have already renovated the parish church using their own resources, conscious that the rapidly growing community needed a more dignified place to worship God and celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

However, the mission house was also urgently in need of a long-term solution. The priests’ dwelling already almost had the roof torn off by a cyclone and water leaking in, causing the wood to rot. At the same time, the building was not suited for its purpose since it was completely unsafe and vulnerable to break-ins – representing a real danger to its inhabitants given the high number of assaults and robberies committed against priests and religious in recent years in Madagascar at an unfortunately elevated rate when compared with elsewhere. In addition, very little space was available for parish meetings and other gatherings.

 

The Oblates decided to build a new mission house, a place that was better able to cope with the needs of the parish and offered a greater degree of security.

This house, now completed, thanks to the $43,800 you have contributed. This new mission house has already benefited the entire parish. Both the missionaries and the Catholic faithful of the parish now want to express their heartfelt thanks to everyone who has helped for this.

 

To do more good – click to donate!