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Africa

 

ACN PROJECT OF THE WEEK – A NEW CHURCH IN KENYA

17.08.2016 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Africa, CONSTRUCTION, Kenya, Project of the Week

Kenya

A new church in a missionary parish

 

The missionary parish of St. Charles Lwanga lies within the apostolic vicariate of Isiolo, in north-east Kenya. The area is majority Muslim and Catholics make up a minority of only 5% or so of the population.

 

The parish was established here in 2005 – the same year that the then apostolic vicar, Bishop Luigi Locati was murdered during a period of local inter-tribal unrest. There are constant tensions in the region between farmers and herders. And at the same time, there is also a certain degree of hostility and rejection coming from certain Muslims towards the Christians.

 

Despite the tension, the parish of St. Charles Lwanga is a very lively one. Every Sunday there are over 700 Catholic faithful attending Holy Mass, most are children or young people. The number of people seeking baptism is growing year after year. The parish priests have come up with a number of creative ways to convey the faith so that it might take root it in the hearts of the people.

Mgr Anthony Ireri Mukobi blessing the new chruch, built thanks to the benefactors.

Mgr Anthony Ireri Mukobi blessing the new chruch, built thanks to the benefactors.

 

For example, every Sunday there is a competition for the best retelling of a Bible story. Every day, from Friday to Sunday, there are catechetical sessions as well as workshops which are organized to address some of the cultural customs, traditions and preconceptions that are harmful to the people‘s development, and in contrast with the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.

 

During the week, the priests also pay visits to the families, wherever they happen to be along with their herds of livestock. It is important for these Catholics to know their faith well and to stand firm in it since as a religious minority they are faced with considerable resistance and hostility. Moreover, some of the Muslims have attempted to draw Christians away from their faith by offering various kinds of material incentives. For example, they promise to give a camel to anyone who will renounce the Christian faith.

 

The parish has four outstations, and one of them, that of St Peter in Chechelesi, is developing so dynamically that it has been decided it should be established as an independent parish. In this township in which many former nomadic peoples have settled, it has been a great dream to be able to build their own church here.

 

They have organized Harambees – big fundraising gatherings in effect – but have not managed to raise a great deal given that 90% of the people in this drought affected region are extremely poor and live on less than a dollar a day, it is hardly surprising.

 

But thanks to the generosity of ACN‘s benefactors, it has been possible to make their dream a reality! The new church has been consecrated by the bishop, and the event was marked with great joy and with a great celebration.

 

 

Initially, Aid to the Church in Need benefactors helped with a donation of 43,500 CAD, and followed this up with a further 29,000 CAD to complete the work. Needless to say, the people of the new parish of Saint Peter in Chechelesi are overjoyed to have a church of their own, where they can now worship God.

To donate to a similar project – please visit our secure donation page on line – or call us!
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Parishioners are partying around a new place of worship.

Parishioners are partying around their new place of worship.

 

 

 

ACN Project of the week : pastorals bicycles and mopeds!

08.06.2016 in ACN Canada, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Africa, DRC Congo, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN, MOTORIZATION, Pastoral work, TRANSPORTATION

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Gratitude for two mopeds and eight bicycles for the pastoral team in Poko

 

All across Canada, bicycles have become popular instruments for leisure activities and many people even use them to get to work. 

Elsewhere in the world, this method of transportation becomes a veritable treasure that you, ACN Benefactors, contribute to giving as you have in DRC Congo.

 

In the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the parish of St Augustine, Poko, two priests are delighted to have each received a moped! The catechists are equally pleased to have eight bicycles between them. Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, who have given $13,920, they now no longer have to spend hours walking to reach their destination.

 

Also rejoicing is the rest of the Catholic faithful who stand to benefit most from these gifts. For now, the priests and the catechists can much more easily access the remoter villages. Now, the people can receive the sacraments more frequently, as well as instructions in their faith, and participate more fully in the life of the Church.2 motorcycles and 8 bikes for the parish St Augustin de Poko

 

Needless to say, this parish is situated in a predominantly rural area. The people here struggle to support themselves on what they are able to grow in the fields. Sadly, the armed conflict in the region has only made their poverty worse and has devastated the local infrastructure – roads, bridges, medical centres, parish centres – everything has been destroyed or damaged.

 

But what the people here need more than anything is spiritual help and support. Therefore these simple items, modes of transportation, funded by our benefactors, have brought untold spiritual blessings to the Catholic faithful of the area. Their heartfelt thanks to you all!

2 motorcycles and 8 bikes for the parish St Augustin de Poko

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ACN Interview – Meeting between the Pope and Grand Imam

07.06.2016 in ACN Interview, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Africa, By Oliver Maksan, By Oliver Maksan, egypt, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Interreligious Dialogue, Journey with ACN, Pope, Pope Francis

Egypt

The ice has been broken

The meeting between Pope and Grand Imam received very positively in Egypt

 

Following the meeting between Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of the Sunni al-Azhar University, Ahmed al-Tayeb, on May 23 at the Vatican, hope soared in Egypt that the meeting would bring Christians and Muslims closer together.

 

“It was the first time that the Grand Imam of al-Azhar University visited the pope. It was clearly a very cordial meeting. You could see that from the body language and the familiarity between the Pope and the Grand Imam.

“We believe that this has broken the ice in the relations between the Vatican and al-Azhar University,” Father Rafic Greiche, the chief spokesman for the Catholic Church in Egypt, said Wednesday, June 1, in an interview with the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). “The resumption of official dialogue, which was suspended by al-Azhar University in 2011, may not have been explicitly announced yet, but that is just a formality. I am firmly convinced that talks will resume.”

Father (Antoine) Rafic Greiche, a Greek Catholic priest and the press spokesman for the Greek Melkite Catholic Church in Egypt. The departure of President Morsi has been seen as ''God's miracle''.

Father (Antoine) Rafic Greiche, a Greek Catholic priest and the press spokesman for the Greek Melkite Catholic Church in Egypt. The departure of President Morsi has been seen by Christians as ” a God’s miracle”.

 

The most important Islamic institution of Egypt, which is highly respected throughout the Sunni world, had unilaterally suspended bilateral talks with the Holy See in 2011. The reason given for this was Pope Benedict XVI’s public admonition to better protect religious freedom in Egypt. Al-Azhar University considered this to be an inadmissible interference in the internal matters of Egypt. The former Pope made the statement in response to the bloody attack on a Coptic church in Alexandria on New Year’s Day in 2011 where 21 were left dead and more than 70 were wounded.

 

It concerns all Christians 

 

Father Rafic talked about the positive response to the meeting on the part of Egyptian media. “The meeting was headline news both on television as well as in the newspapers. In general, the comments were very positive.” Father Rafic then said that the encounter not only has an interreligious dimension, but also an ecumenical one. “The head of the Coptic Orthodox church, Pope Tawadros, had encouraged the Grand Imam to begin a dialogue with the Catholic Church on numerous occasions. A meeting like this and the resumption of talks naturally not only has an effect on the relationship between Muslims and Catholics, but also all Christians.”

 

The situation is really improving for Christians! 

 

Father Rafic emphasized that under the leadership of Grand Imam al-Tayeb, al-Azhar University is making an effort to reform the schoolbooks and textbooks used at the schools and institutions of higher education it oversees. “They are trying to use a new language with respect to us Christians. But there is still a lot left to be done. This is a process that will take years. However, it would be more critical to change the mindset of the imams than to change the books,” Father Rafic said.

 

Project trip of Agnieszka Dzieduszycka and Ilona BudzbonFather Rafic emphasized that the situation of the Christians in Egypt has vastly improved since Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was ousted in July of 2013. “There is no comparison between the situation today and that during the government of the Muslim Brotherhood. Today, we have very good relations between church leaders and government agencies. However, there are still many problems, of course. But it is my impression that Muslims are growing more aware of our situation,” the Greek Catholic priest said. “Of course, the most pressing matter for us is the question of church building projects. This has been subject to massive restrictions up until this point. Five churches have now submitted draft legislation to parliament. President Sisi asked us to prepare a draft law. We hope that this parliamentary session will still deliberate upon and pass the draft legislation by October.

 

After all, we have never had as many Christian members of parliament and so many Muslims on our side. It will of course be opposed by the Salafist members. But there are not many of them. And so I am confident.”

 

Aid to the Church in Need has been supporting the Catholic Church in Egypt for many years. In addition to numerous pastoral projects, it also promotes the building of churches.

 

Project trip of Agnieszka Dzieduszycka and Ilona Budzbon

 

By Oliver Maksan, Aid to the Church in Need International
Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Canadian office

 

 

 

 


 

 

ACN Feature: Malawi – Catholic Church observes growing Islamization with concern

27.05.2016 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, ACN Feature, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Africa, AFRIQUE, By Eva-Maria Kolmann, Malawi, Uncategorized

Malawi

Catholic Church observes growing Islamization with concern

 ACN-20160212-36399Bishop Monfort Stima spoke about the growing trend toward Islamization in the Mangochi diocese of southern Malawi while visiting the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

He did say, however, that traditional Islam is rather moderate in Malawi and has always coexisted peacefully. Furthermore, in the Mangochi diocese, which has a predominantly Muslim population, communication between the religious leaders is good. The bishop talked about the establishment of a Christian-Muslim committee that meets when there are problems and searches for solutions. However, the bishop then regretfully said that a growing radicalization has recently become apparent in the Muslim population. According to the bishop, Muslim preachers are coming into the country more frequently from Sudan. What is being  preached,is a more radical form of Islam, one which is more difficult to control. He said  these preachers were “dissatisfied” with traditional Islam and wanted to bring “true Islam” to Malawi.

Over the last few years, this new trend has already led to attacks, mostly occurring after Friday prayers. Bishop Monfort said he had asked Islamic religious leaders why this was happening. They answered that the imams were inciting the people to violence. “They said to me, ‘You have to pray for the imams because they are poorly trained.’” The bishop emphasized that even the religious leaders themselves were finding it difficult to control the imams because “anyone who has the necessary funds may build a mosque. And the person who built the mosque is also the one who controls the imam. Some villages have four mosques: a traditional one that has always been there as well as other, newly built ones.”

ACN-20151022-30810

 

According to the bishop, the situation is exacerbated by the fact that a growing number of young people are receiving scholarships to study in Sudan or Saudi Arabia and returning home radicalized.  “Furthermore,” he continued, “many Muslims have several wives, which increases the number of their children and thus the proportion of Muslims in the population. These families often cannot provide that many children with regular schooling and can only send them to the Koranic schools, the madrasahs.”

In his experience, polygamy is also a factor for the followers of traditional African religions who want to join one of the large religious communities. While the Catholic church does not accept polygamy, the people may keep this family form when converting to Islam. The bishop believes that this makes them “easier to convert”. He also said that Muslim men were being called upon to marry Christian girls because even should the wife not convert to Islam, the children would automatically be Muslim.”

ACN-20160525-41190According to Bishop Monfort, the duty of the church is to deepen the faith. “We encourage priests to be close to the people and, as Pope Francis says, to leave the sacristy. For many faithful converting to Islam is very tempting – especially when the only school in the area is a Muslim institution. They need help and encouragement.”

While, at approximately 80 percent, Malawi itself is majority Christian with Muslims making up only 13 per cent of the population, the Mangochi diocese is between 50 and 90 per cent Muslim, depending on the region. On average, Muslims make up approximately 75 per cent of the total population.

 

By Eva-Maria Kolmann, ACN International

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Canadian Office

 

 

 

 

 


ACN Project of the week: The forming of 40 young Carmelite Brothers

23.03.2016 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Africa, Carmelites, Journey with ACN, Madagascar, Religious men

Madagascar

 

The forming of 40 young Carmelite Brothers

 

The Carmelite Sisters can be found in more than 20 African countries, with over 400 Sisters in 36 convents. Sixty-five male Carmelite houses also exist with over 400 Brothers taking up residence. Additionally, there are numerous young vocations, still in training.

 

Not only was Madagascar the first country where a female branch of the Carmelite order was established; but it was also the third African country where the male branch of the Carmelites established a monastery.

 

The brothers have been here since 1969 and today include 56 priests, 48 of whom are native Madagascans, or Malagasy. They also have numerous vocations, 40 young men are now in formation. In fact, there are many more young men who would gladly join the Carmelites, but since the order cannot afford to support them and provide for their formation, much to their dismay, they simply cannot accept all men desiring to dedicate their lives to God in this way. Consequently, and with a heavy heart, they have been forced to restrict the number of new entrants to 40.

 

In the diocese of Morondava in 2015, the carmeliites Sisters cannot wait to get in their new home!

2015: In the diocese of Morondava the carmelites Sisters cannot wait to get in their new home!

A beginning fraught with hazardous adventures!

 

This Carmelite order which is so greatly sought after has a rather dramatic story which began with a series of hazardous adventures. Just a few months before the death of their great foundress, Saint Teresa of Avila, five Carmelite priests set out to sea from Lisbon to travel to the coast of what is today Angola, then under the rule of the Portuguese king.

 

A storm put an end to the enterprise. Their ship sank. The brave friars drowned in the ocean. A second attempt was made not much later, but their ship was boarded by pirates. The friars were set down to the shores of one of the Cape Verde Islands. One of them died, but the others eventually managed to find their way to Seville. It was not until two years later that three Carmelite brothers finally succeeded in reaching what is now Angola. Even so, their mission only lasted until 1612.

 

From that point it was another 300 years before the order founded by Saint Teresa of Avila in Spain, was finally able to put down roots in Africa. Initially, it was the discalced Carmelite nuns who set up a convent. In 1921, a group of Carmelite Sisters from Belgium arrived in Betafo, Madagascar. The first foundation established by their male confreres in Africa was not until 1956, in what was then Zaire (today the Democratic Republic of the Congo).

 

May God reward you all!

Last year, thanks to the generous support of our benefactors, we were able to contribute $13,775 (Canadian dollars) towards the cost of training 40 young aspiring Carmelite brothers. Speaking on their behalf, their Father Superior wishes to thank everyone who has helped them.


 

Feature Story: 50 years of renewal

15.03.2016 in ACN Canada, ACN SPECIAL SERIES, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Africa, By Robert Lalonde, DRC Congo, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN, Pastoral work, RDC CONGO

Democratic Republic of Congo

50 years of renewal

The rhythmic clapping of their hands, accompanied harmoniously by the deep sound of percussion, gently introduced the welcome song which was dedicated to me.  I felt a great joy fill me immediately, and a desire to follow in their footsteps.  This first contact with the Sisters of the Resurrection had convinced me of their power to renew life!

By Robert Lalonde, Artisan of Peace, with special collaboration from ACN Canada*

Adapted and translated by Amanda Bridget Griffin

The birth of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Resurrection is the result of Mother Hadewych’s (as she is called in her circle) long meditation. Mother Hadewych is the Sister from Belgium who inspired its founding.

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Mother Hadewych, co-founder of the Daughters of the Resurrection in the DRC.

 

 

 

At that time, misery had surrounded the Saint Sepulcher convent in Walungu – Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – following tragic events on the heels of independence and the Muléliste rebellion (1960-1964).  These events had created an extreme situation of poverty and a famine which extended out the length of the Walungu territory provoking a pressing desire in the heart of a religious Sister to respond to a passage in the Gospel:  “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)

Mother Hadewych suffered as she witnessed the scenes of great poverty – malnutrition in children within almost every family; women delivering babies in extreme and deplorable conditions; as well as illiteracy within the population.  From this Gospel verse flows  part of this prioress’ charism; “At the service of the poor,” and , “to serve and not to be served.”

The congregation was founded in Walungu in the Archdiocese of Bukavu, in 1966, thanks to material assistance provided by Father Werenfried, founder of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

 

The Golden Jubilee

Last November during my visit, the Mother Prioress, Sister Pétronelle Nkaza, recalled how the founders of her congregation believed that even without a diploma the workers recruited could, with their simplicity, give themselves to be of service to the Lord.  “They had deep faith that love for the other is not achieved solely through studies, but in a life given to the Lord, through the poverty of his children,”  she said on November 5th during the announcement of the Golden Jubilee of the Mirhi congregation, the Mother House, in the Archdiocese of Bukavu.

 

The Sisters of the Resurrection - 50 years of renewal!

The Sisters of the Resurrection – 50 years of renewal!

Mother Hadewych always said:  “help with development is needed for consecrated women in the incessant search of the wailing of their people.”  In her vision, these women “did not need a long formation, but good common-sense, solid arms, love and rootedness at the heart of their people, as well as a pragmatic knowledge-base.”  She imagined them in small teams, serving at posts faraway from parishes and becoming indispensable support to priests.

Long-term support

The work of Mother Hadewych was quickly appreciated as there are today 279 members, 50 of whom are from the Priory in Rwanda, and 229 from the Priory in Mirhi and divided as such:  199 professed 13 novices, and 17 postulants.  The Sisters of the Priory in Rwanda are autonomous.

”In Brazil,” explains Sister Pétronelle, to us, “the presence of our Sisters is quite efficient and also appreciated by the population and by the bishop.  They take care of children in particular, the elderly who have been abandoned, but they also kept watch of the promotion of women by teaching them knitting, sewing, and cooking so that they might better contribute to the family.”

Of course, the fifty year of existence were also marked by tough challenges.  It suffices to recall the martyring of 6 Sisters in Busasamana, Rwanda, in the night of the 8th of January, 1988 and that of 3 more in Kasiska in DRC on August 24th of the same year.

Lake Kivu: a pure marvel in a region where the people suffer a multitude of conflicts and abuses created by the dishonest exploitation of natural resources. The Daughters of the Resurrection are ready to serve the population. (Photo: Robert Lalonde)

Lake Kivu: a pure marvel in a region where the people suffer a multitude of conflicts and abuses created by the dishonest exploitation of natural resources. The Daughters of the Resurrection are ready to serve the population. (Photo: Robert Lalonde)

Sister Petronella concluded all the same on a positive note by specifying that in those 50 years, “the Hand of God had endured.  The Priory of the Resurrection is growing through her members and her works.  It will begin its second fiftieth, certain that God’s Graces will continue to inspire works in favour of the smallest to whom the Resurrected Christ sends His Daughters and His Sons.”

 In conclusion, she wishes to sincerely thank all the benefactors and asking them to “hold the Priory of the Resurrection of Mirhi in their prayers during this Jubilee year so that they are showered all the more with Christ’s benedictions.

 

Since of the birth of this Priory, thanks to the generous donations of our benefactors, ACN is supporting various projects for these Religious Sisters dedicated to the poorest of the poor.  Last year, ACN gave $19,150 for the formation of 13 novices and 19 postulants, $156,000 for subsistence aid in favour of 211 Religious Sisters in DRC and $10,000 in support of their chaplain in various travels.

The majestic Nyiragongo volcano seen from Lake Kivu. (Robert Lalonde)

The majestic Nyiragongo volcano seen from Lake Kivu. (Robert Lalonde)