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CONSTRUCTION

 

ACN Project of the Week – Helping the poor build a church in Pakistan

02.05.2019 in CONSTRUCTION, Construction, Pakistan, Pakistan

Project of the Week in Pakistan

Help us to complete a church in Issanagri

Issanagri is a village in Pakistan lying within the parish of the Assumption, which itself is based in the village of Chak 7, in the diocese of Faisalabad. The parish as a whole has a total of 6,000 Catholic faithful, while Issanagri itself has around 300 Catholic families, or approximately 1,500 Catholics.

This village is around a 10 km distance from the centre of the parish making it a long walk to the parish church. Issanagri already has a small chapel of its own, but it is far too small for the number of the faithful who need access it.

Interestingly, the Catholic faithful have taken initiative and have begun building a larger church, making great sacrifices to do so.  They have been collecting money, though poor themselves, and work hard on the building site even though they already have to work very hard to support their families. But despite all their efforts and hard work, they have so far only managed to build part of the church. Holy Mass is still being celebrated in the open air, between the partly built walls, where there is no shelter from the scorching sun or torrential rain, or indeed the biting cold that can still be felt in winter, even in Pakistan.

The parish priest, Father Waseem Walter, has written to ACN for help so that they can finally complete their church. He writes, “It is urgently necessary to build this church.“ We have promised him our help, and his people were overjoyed to learn that we are willing to support them. Now we need YOUR HELP to raise the $16,500 we have promised.

Are you inspired by this project? To give and make another similar project a success – click above and select: Project of the Week.

To learn a little more about the overall situation for Catholics in Pakistan, where Christians make up a mere 2% of the population, please visit or Religious Freedom Report 2018 on line.

An ACN Interview – Archbishop Petros Mouche of Iraq

12.04.2019 in ACN International, ACN Interview, CONSTRUCTION, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Iraq, Persecution of Christians

Iraq longs for better times for its Church and its people

Archbishop Petros Mouche heads the Syriac-Catholic Archdiocese of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, which was captured by ISIS in the summer of 2014. Today, with ISIS ousted from Mosul and the Nineveh Plains, Christian communities are slowly coming back to life. Thousands of Iraqi faithful, having spent upwards of three years in exile in Kurdistan, have resettled in their former homes, villages and towns. In an interview with the pontifical charity, Aid to the Church in Need, Archbishop Mouche—who also oversees the Syriac-Catholic Church in Kirkuk and Kurdistan—takes stock of the situation:

by Ragheb Elias Karash, for ACN International

Positive change has occurred in our region—no one can deny it. Things may not yet be at the required level, but there are very clear and concrete signs of progress. But no credit goes to the state: credit belongs to the faith-based and humanitarian organizations that rushed in to support us.

However, we still lack the funds to complete the reconstruction of all the homes that were very badly damaged or completely destroyed; we are waiting and hoping that governments, like those of the United Kingdom and Hungary, will step in and help us on this front.

Problems will not end so long as greed prevails

As for the creation of jobs, there are very few initiatives; we have made many requests to several American, British, French and even Saudi Arabian companies to launch some major projects in the region, so that our people can survive and especially our young people can find work—but we are still waiting. The Iraqi government has made many promises, but few projects have been implemented. Our confidence in the state is low. We are convinced that, offered the right opportunities, many of our people would return to Qaraqosh—if they could live there in peace and stability.

The problems will not end as long as greed prevails; when only the strong prevail and the rights of the poor are crushed; as long as the state is still weak and the law is not applied. But our hope is in God and we pray that ISIS will never return. For their safety and overall well-being, Christians depend on the rule of law and the integrity of government—that is what can guarantee safety for us and the Church.

There is not one specific and well-known party with plans to attack Christians; however, whoever has ambitions to grab our land loses the sense of citizenship and does not respect the rights of others. Such parties don’t even feel comfortable with our survival and ongoing presence.

There are many goodwill visits by official delegations and many good words are spoken—but nothing happens. Good intentions are not enough. On the part of some, there is not sufficient respect for our rights; and Christians do not use violence to defend themselves, but appeal to mutual respect. But if that is not answered in kind, more and more Christians will emigrate. This hurts all of us, who love this land, our history, our civilization and our heritage.

The Church as a whole—its bishops, pastors and laity—is sparing no effort to claim the rights of its people and to secure an area where we can live in dignity and peace. Church leaders do their best to instill confidence and hope in our people, but without forcing anyone to return, stay or be displaced. That decision each family must make for itself, the decision that guarantees its dignity, its future, especially the future of the children.

Here is my message to the Christians who have left Qaraqosh, wherever they may be—still in Iraq, or whether they are already in foreign lands:

Qaraqosh is the mother who has fed you the love of God, the love of the Church and the love of the land; it will remain your mother despite her sadness at your absence; the city is your heart that is still attached to you and its eyes are watching all your steps. It is happy when you are happy, and it is worried about your destiny when you are not happy. Its doors remain open to you. At every moment Qaraqosh is ready to embrace you again—Qaraqosh asks that you remain faithful to the pure milk that it gave you!”

Mgr-Petros-Mouche

Since 2014, Aid to the Church in Need has been on the forefront of supporting Iraqi Christians with projects totaling more than 40 million dollars, including humanitarian aid for faithful who fled to Kurdistan to escape ISIS, the repair and rebuilding of Christian homes on the Nineveh Plains, and, currently, the reconstruction and repair of Church infrastructure in northern Iraq.

Syria – ACN’s support of reconstruction gives hopes for Christians

25.02.2019 in ACN, ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, By John Pontifex, CONSTRUCTION, Journey with ACN, Middle East, Syria

Syria

An action plan to enable thousands of Christians to return to their homes in the Syrian city of Homs was agreed in a house-repair program involving Church leaders and a leading Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

by John Pontifex, ACN-International

At the meeting in Homs, the leaders of five Church communities signed the Homs Reconstruction Committee agreement, in which Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need will repair 300 homes as part of the first stage of the plan.

In the second phase, a further 980 homes are due to be rebuilt – 80 from the Melkite Greek Catholic community, 600 Greek Orthodox and 300 belonging to Syriac Orthodox families. ACN will support part of the project.

Highlighting the significance of the agreement, ACN Middle East projects coordinator Father Andrzej Halemba said: “The agreement is one of the most critical steps forward in the recovery of the Christian community in Homs. The commitment to rebuild so many homes offers the light of hope for people desperate to return to the city that is one of the most important for Christians in the whole of Syria.”

Fr Andrzej Halemba and Archbishop Nicolas Sawaf, archbishop of Lattaquié, with ‘Jesus is my Rock’ stone tablets

They cannot come back without the program

Happy to be able to come back home.

 

Greek Orthodox Bishop Georges Abou Zakhem of Homs said: “The people need to come back to their houses but they can’t do so without the help of ACN.”

Melkite priest Father Bolos Manhal said: “I am very happy that people have this wonderful opportunity to return to their homes. They have suffered so much and for many coming home will be a dream come true.

“They have had to spend so much money renting a place to live so to have their homes rebuilt will take a huge pressure on family budgets. There are more job opportunities in the city than in the countryside so they will now be able to take advantage of them.”

ACN will be contributing to a maximum of US$3,500 towards each house being repaired.

With more than 12,500 homes destroyed in Homs and 37,500 badly damaged, many Christians have been living in displacement in the nearby Valley of the Christians for up to seven years.

At the height of the conflict in 2014, less than 100 Christians were remaining in Homs Old City and targeted attacks by Islamist extremists forced nearly 250,000 to leave.

Last year ACN piloted a program to repair 100 homes belonging to Melkite and Syriac Orthodox families, of which 85 are already reoccupied and the rest due to return at the start of the new academic year in the autumn.

The 2018 Homs renovation plan was part of a program which has already led to the repairs of nearly 500 homes across Syria, of which many are in Aleppo.

 


Since the crisis in Syria began in 2011, ACN has completed 750 projects involving 150 partners. (2019-02-25)

ACN Project of the Week – Renovation of the Carmelites Sisters Church – Haïfa

14.02.2019 in ACN Canada, ACN PROJECTS, AED Canada, By ACN Project Services, Carmelites, CONSTRUCTION, Contemplative Sisters, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Israel, Journey with ACN

Israel – Haïfa 

Success Story: Repairs to the convent chapel of the Carmelite Sisters in Haifa

 

Carmelite Sisters praying in their newly renovated church in Haïfa. Photo:  during Holy Mass.

The Carmelite Sisters in Haifa are very happy now. Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, ACN was able to give them 45 000 dollars so that they could finally repair their convent chapel. This church, which is dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, was first built in 1937 and has barely been maintained properly since then, owing to the shortage of money. Leaking rain and penetrating damp had resulted in extensive damage to the fabric of the building. In fact the situation had become so bad that it was becoming a growing health hazard for the sisters themselves, for the local community and also for the pilgrims coming to visit the place.

 

The 17 sisters now living in the convent come from 11 different countries. Their door is always open to anyone who wishes to visit. The local people often come to see the sisters with their prayers, and pilgrims from all over the world who come to visit the Holy Land also often come to the sisters, many with deep questions problems about their faith. The Carmelite convent where the sisters now live stands on the north slope of Mount Carmel, traditionally the birthplace of the Carmelite Order. It was in the year 1150 when the first group of hermits first settled here on Mount Carmel where, according to the Bible, the Prophet Elijah confronted the priests of Baal and proved to them that the God of Israel was the true God and their own ‘gods’ merely false idols (cf. 1 Kings 18:16-46).

 

The Carmelite Order soon spread to other countries, at the same time changing, however. But in the 16th century, in Spain, it was reformed by St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross and returned to something closer to its original spirit.

 

The sisters in Haifa bake hosts, or altar breads, and make small souvenirs for the visiting pilgrims as a means of supporting themselves and their apostolate. But without outside help they could never have found the money to repair their convent chapel. So it is thanks to the help of you, our generous benefactors, that they were finally able to re-consecrate this chapel on 15 October last year, the feast of St Teresa of Avila herself.

 

In the name of the Sisters, Mother Maira of the Infant Jesus, the prioress, thanks all those who have helped: “We hope that this is the beginning of a renewal of the life of prayer, both for our local church and for pilgrims who cross the Holy Land and who are praying the Lord in our chapel of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It is with joy that we express our gratitude and renew our prayers and sacrifices for the Church and the whole world.”

A true blessing send to pilgrims, parishioners of Haïfa and also to ACN Benefactors!

 

Are you inspired by this project? To give and make another similar project a success – click above and select: Project of the Week. 


 

A special project in Cameroon – Conversion in Prison

04.10.2018 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Feature, ACN Interview, ACN PROJECTS, Africa, Africa, Cameroon, CONSTRUCTION, Sisters

CAMEROON – CONVERSION IN PRISON

ACN renovates the chapel in Bafoussam prison

Sister Orencya, a Pallottine Sister, gives her service for the Church in Cameroon. She has been a missionary in the prison environment. For nearly a decade, she has been visiting prisoners twice a week at Bafoussam Central Prison. This prison is composed of a women’s ward, an adult men’s ward and a youth ward. Altogether, there are about 1,000 prisoners.

The Christian community, under the patronage of Marcel Callo, (deported by the German gestapo to the concentration camps because he was Christian)  has held a presence in the prison for 20 years now. A chaplain facilitates and is supported by volunteers from the Justice and Peace Association, novices from Xavierins Fathers, Sister Orencya and catechist detainees. In addition to attentive listening to the prisoners and providing material help (medicines, clothing, food), times of prayer, catechesis and mass are all organized for the imprisoned.

Sister Anna Kot from the Pallontine Sisters in Cameroon sent the photos together with the following lines: “Hello, A few days ago, we sent you the letters of thanks and request for grant 2018. Now we send some pictures of our apostolate in Cameroon. I do it as secretary in the name of the superior delegate, Sr. Véronique Sakowska. With the best regards and expressions of respect.”

 

ACN financed the rehabilitation of the chapel in 2017. Several inmates wrote letters of thanks. Here are some excerpts:

 

You have turned our chapel into paradise”

“Many of the faithful have converted and many who did not come to church are now the first to arrive in the chapel on the Lord’s Day. You have, through your actions, attracted souls who have made a firm resolve to change and to be baptized.”

“As God never abandons His children when they cry for help, He has sent an angel among us: Sister Orencya, to listen to our cries and transmit them to you. Thank you for everything you do for us inmates. Many prisoners have converted because of our improved life in the prison environment. Many follow catechesis classes and are part of prayer groups in our Marcel Callo community. By receiving much support from you, we have understood that we are not abandoned despite our faults and that the Lord is always with us. Thanks to God and thanks to you, I consider myself happy to live my detention in the peace, joy and love of Christ.”

“God allowed me to enter this prison to know him. Outside, I lived in debauchery. In this prison, I am a path of conversion and radical change of my mentalities. All this thanks to God and through you through the manifestation of His goodness in my life”.

In his letter of thanks, the chaplain explains the choice of the patron saint: Marcel Callo.

“Marcel Callo was deported by the German gestapo to the concentration camps in Germany. His motive: his detractors said that he was a Christian. He will die there at the age of 23.  During his detention, he devoted his time to serving his brothers. Today, following Christ, through daily prayers, Eucharistic celebrations by the priests of the Sacred Heart and catechesis, the Marcel Callo community continues the work of evangelization within the prison. This environment makes everyone happy. »

 

ACN has promised to continue supporting the prison ministry in Cameroon and has just approved a $13,590 project for pastoral care of prisoners in the main prisons of Kumbo and Nkambe in the Anglophone area of the country.

ACN Project of the Week – Success Story… in India!

08.08.2018 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Asia, CONSTRUCTION, India

Success Story… in India!

Consecration of the village chapel, in West Vipparu

May 5 2018 was a day of great celebration for the Catholic faithful in West Vipparu, for it was on this day that their beautiful new chapel was finally consecrated after 16 long years of waiting. Up to then, all they had was a very small chapel with an asbestos roof, which threatened to collapse at any moment, and was also far too small for the steadily growing number of faithful.  The people had long dreamt of building a new church, but in their poverty, and despite the many great sacrifices they made, they simply could not raise the necessary funds. 

 

West Vipparu is one of many villages belonging to the parish of Tadepalligudem. In 11 of these villages, almost all the inhabitants have been baptized, while in others there are still many people awaiting baptism. As a result, the priest is kept very busy visiting the people in the villages. In West Vipparu the new chapel has truly become the heart of the community, and not only during times of Mass and catechetical teaching. As their parish priest tells us, “The faithful are quite certain that God is here, and so they also go to the chapel even when the priest cannot get there, and bring their cares to Jesus.”

 

The chapel is dedicated to the Infant Jesus of Prague who is greatly venerated by the Catholic faithful all over India. It is seen in the many large shrines honouring the Infant Jesus; in fact, they are some of the greatest shrines in the world where the Infant Jesus of Prague is venerated, this devotion can be seen even in the most remote corners of the country as increasingly churches and chapels are dedicated to him.

 

Our generous benefactors did not disappoint!

ACN was able to give $15,100 for the construction of a new chapel. All the building work was carried out by the Catholic faithful themselves, under the supervision of an expert builder, while the essential building materials were obtained thanks to the generosity of our benefactors.

 

“The dedication ceremony was an unforgettable day,” writes the parish priest, Father Dharma Raju Matta. The local Bishop Jaya Rao Polimera had also come especially from Eluru to consecrate the new chapel and remaining for a long time, close to his people and listening to their cares and concerns after the ceremony.

“We want to express our profound and sincere gratitude for the wonderful help you have given to our mission,” writes Father Raju Matta, and also giving us assurances that his faithful are praying the Rosary regularly for everyone who helped!

If you are inspired by this project and would like to support a similar one – please click to donate!

ACN Project of the Week : Help to complete construction of a new church

03.07.2018 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, CONSTRUCTION, Slovakia

Slovakia

Success Story: Help to complete construction of a new church in Cizatrice

The parish of Kecerovce lies within the archdiocese of Kosice in the eastern part of Slovakia, not far from the Hungarian border. It also serves seven outlying villages, each with its own church. Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, we have already been able to help for the renovation of two of these churches, with $22,650  for the church in Herl’any and $15,100 for the church in Bolianov. The parish priest has assured us that your aid has given the parishioners a new sense of enthusiasm and motivation to work even harder at bringing new life to their parish.

 

The village of Cizatrice is also part of the parish territory, with around 100 practicing Catholics who have no church of their own. Right now they are able to use the Greek-Catholic (Byzantine-rite) church, but it is not a practicable solution over the long term.

 

The Latin-rite community needs its own church where Holy Mass can be celebrated and catechetical instruction given. The community has have made every effort, holding numerous collections in the parish and raising funds for a new church, which is now nearing completion, but they have now run out of funds. Doors and windows need to be fitted before they can complete the project.

 

Thanks again to our generous benefactors; we were able to provide $22,650. Archbishop Bernard Bober of Kosice has written to thank us with these words “Every day I include you in my prayers and remember all our benefactors in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. May God reward you!”

 

Would you like to support a similar project? Simply click on the red button below and choose the ‘Project of the Week’.

ACN Feature Story – Bulgaria

20.10.2017 in Bulgaria, CONSTRUCTION, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN, Priests

Bulgaria

Supporting Romani Children

“If we don’t do anything, the fate of the Romani children will be sealed,” Salesian Father Martin Jilek from Stara Zagora in Central Bulgaria, 230 kilometers to the east of the capital of Sofia, said. “They are married off by their clan when they are fourteen.

Then they have children early on and live off of the child benefit, which is about 40 leva per month and child.” That is equivalent to about 29 dollars – the only source of income of many Romani families.

Around 28,000 Roma live in Stara Zagora, most of these children and adolescents. They live in shacks, run-down houses or in the shells of unfinished buildings. In Bulgaria, around a million people are said to belong to the Romani people (sometimes better known by the name ‘Gypsies’ in North America). No exact numbers are known for they live in a parallel society. Clan structures are opaque to those on the outside. The Romani people, in this country, are despised, hated and banned from public life.

The resentment is so great that even Bulgarians who have a slightly darker skin tone have a hard time getting jobs. The Roma generally only achieve a rudimentary level of education, if any at all. For this reason, many Roma fall into unemployment and a life of petty crime. This in turn strengthens the clichés and creates even more obstacles. The only source of income that remains is the child benefit.

Bulgaria, Stara Zagora 2012 – Summer activities for youth in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria, an initiative taken by Salesians of Don Bosco: break dancing

Father Martin and his confrères are not content to leave things as they are. With the support of the international charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), they have established a building for education right in the middle of the Romani district and want to offer them better opportunities.

Bulgaria, Stara Zagora 2012 Summer activities for youth in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria, an initiative taken by Salesians of Don Bosco: Stations of the cross (cross way) – with Father Martin Jilek (center)

“For many it comes as a surprise when we address them by their names”

The Salesians have, for example, set up a kind of after school homework program – which offers so much more. The children come after school, eat together, play and learn. Unfortunately, many don’t get any attention at home from their parents. They roam the streets, are avoided by other pupils. “For many it already comes as a surprise when we address them by their names,” Father Martin said. “We take time for the children.”

Bulgaria, May 2017 – Salesian fathers at the building site in Stara Zagora (on the left: Father Martin Jilek)

In their monastery, Roma come and go at all hours. They come to attend Holy Mass, carry out small everyday tasks, seek advice or just pay a visit. The Salesians want to do a lot more. A food bank is also planned. “This will give us the opportunity to talk to the people.”

This is an example of the impact of one the projects supported by ACN: the construction of the church and the spiritual center of the Salesians in the Roma settlement in Stara Zagora.

 

*Leva or Lev, Bulgarian currency

 

By Florian Ripka, ACN-International
Adapted by: Amanda Griffin, ACN Canada

 

 


 

 

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

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

Rome /Iraq

“Facilitate their return and guarantee their protection”

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

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

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

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

A genocide, beyond any doubt

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 


 

 

 

 

Project of the Week in DR Congo

14.09.2017 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, CONSTRUCTION, Contemplative Sisters, Journey with ACN, RDC CONGO
 There is one elderly French Sister – the last one, the rest are Congolese. While asked by ACN delegation what was their charisma,she replied “we search for God in simplicity and love in every time.”

Democratic Republic of Congo

Thanks to you, they are living by the work of their hands!

In the middle of the violent area the contemplative monastery has been settled. The Sisters are threatened with danger, sometimes they can’t sleep at night because the soldiers or other military group comes in. One of them was killed couple of years ago, she got shot dead upon opening the door to the monastery. Despite the danger the sisters remain praying for peace for the region. They are an oasis of peace in the midst of violence. People also often come to them for the retreat in silence. 

The monks and nuns of the Trappist order live a strict, enclosed life of prayer and penance. They are particularly known for spending the majority of their time in silence, with ears for God alone. The order includes both a male and a female branch, though their lifestyle is to a large extent identical.

The female branch of the order has around 70 convents throughout the world, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There are 21 Sisters living in the east of the country in Murhesa, close to the frontier with Rwanda, in the region of South Kivu. This region has been the theatre of some of the bloodiest conflicts in recent African history, and for much of the population the presence of the Catholic Church is their sole source of hope. Priests and religious sisters alike are bearing faithful witness to Christ here, sometimes even to the shedding of their blood.

The Trappist convent here has been no exception and has been sorely tried by the warfare, insecurity, burglaries and natural disasters. Indeed, in December 2009 one of their Sisters was even murdered.

 

The Sister welcomed ACN Projects Director Regina Lynch and Africa Projects Director Christine de Coudray.

Despite all these difficulties and trials, their community, which has been here for about 60 years, continues to enjoy numerous vocations and there is a constant trickle of young women knocking on their door because they wish to follow Christ.

It is a general principle of the Rule of the Order that the Sisters should live by the work of their hands, and therefore they have tried various different ways of supporting themselves. They produce yogurt and ice cream, originally intended above all for sale to the UN troops stationed in the locality, and in addition they have endeavoured to raise chickens and rabbits and also keep bees. But their efforts have not been altogether  successful. The principal problem was that the convent did not have the necessary facilities and working premises. They did begin in 1994 to enlarge the convent and build a separate building for this purpose, but the war put an end to this enterprise.

Now, after more than 20 years, the Sisters have turned to ACN to help them build adequate buildings for their various lines of work. Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, we did not have to disappoint them and were able to give a total of $ 62,000 .

Now the Sisters are able to set up a bakery and a candle-making workshop as well as produce soap and honey to support their life and ministry as mandated by the Trappist order. They are sending you their heartfelt thanks. To all our benefactors, with a promise to pray for everyone who has helped them.