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Pastoral care

 

ACN Project of the Week—Support for the youth pastoral centre in Sarajevo, Bosnia

29.11.2019 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN International, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Eastern Europe, Pastoral aid, Pastoral care, Pastoral work, Religious formation

Project of the Week—Bosnia

Support for the youth pastoral centre in Sarajevo

By ACN International, Adapted by ACN Canada
Published online – November 29, 2019

Catholics are a minority in Bosnia and Herzegovina—now at a bare 14% of the population, and falling. This decline began during the Bosnian War (1992 to 1995) when half the Catholic population was expelled or forced to emigrate from the country. And with every new year, many continue their exodus as the future looks dim, owing to the discrimination they face when seeking employment, in attending schools and in regular social life. Catholic bishops have been complaining for years that Catholic Croat families who would otherwise be willing to return are not receiving the support they are entitled to. At the same time, a growing Islamization of the society is very noticeable, with the building of numerous new mosques.

 

The Catholic Church continues to work hard for a better future, through its reconciliation work, its schools and its charitable work, all of which are open to people of all ethnic groups. At the same time, the Church strives to offer steady employment opportunities that will provide families with some prospect for the future. One beautiful example of reconciliation work is the John Paul II Youth Centre in Sarajevo, offering a range of initiatives for promoting interfaith and interdenominational dialogue.

Spiritual Retreats, Pilgrimages and Interfaith Dialogue

Each year thousands of young people benefit from a broad range of programs offered by the centre. Their enthusiasm remains as they return with great energy to their own parishes to work with a renewed faith for a better future. The centre also offers employment, with 10 full-time positions and 10 part-time positions, providing these men and women with a steady income and a future for their families. An additional 300 volunteers help out as needed. Training in leadership is available along with courses in spiritual exercises for confirmation candidates, volunteers, altar servers and other types of youth groups. An ecumenical program is in place for young people of different faiths to learn about shared responsibility and how to create a better future in the society in which they live. Those attending come not only from the archdiocese of Sarajevo (Vrhbosna) itself, but from all over the country.

Other big events are have been organized, such as a large youth pilgrimage in May to the Shrine of Our Lady in Kondzilo,  which was attended again this year by well over 3,000 young people. A music festival, with modern Christian music, and a young people’s Way of the Cross procession giving hundreds of youth from individual parishes the opportunity to gather together in shared faith.

 

ACN recognizes the valuable work done by this youth centre named for the great Pope, Saint John Paul II. The Saint who held such great affection for young people, established the very first World Youth Days during his pontificate. This year we are helping once again, with a promised contribution of $37,500.

 

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

ACN Project of the Week – Training of future catechists in Pakistan

11.09.2019 in ACN BENEFACTORS, Catechist, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN, Pakistan, Pastoral care

Pakistan—Success Story: Help for the formation of 42 catechists

The work of catechists is of immense importance for the life of the Church in Pakistan. The parishes here are often vast and with numerous outlying settlements, and consequently the catechists are an indispensable support for the priests playing a major role in passing on the Catholic faith. In many cases the life of the parishes would virtually come to a halt without them.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Khushpur’s national catechists’ training centre, in the diocese of Faisalabad, which has existed since 1965, has now become the “beating heart” of the Church’s pastoral outreach in Pakistan. In this country where men dominate the social stage, these lay people from all over the country come here to train in order to bring this vital ministry back to their own home dioceses.

 

Those candidates who are already married and have families are provided with accommodation for the duration of their training. At the same time their wives also attend a range of courses, including healthcare, needlework, and a foundational knowledge or basic Scripture. It is the norm in Pakistan for the worlds of men and women to be segregated. Consequently, the catechists’ wives will also have a vital role to play in ministering to the women in their own communities. Meanwhile, any children they have will at the same time attend kindergarten or school for the duration of the course.

Great emphasis is placed on practical activities. So the catechists in training will also visit the local parishioners to talk and pray with them. They will also accompany the fully trained catechists in their work for a week or so as to acquire a feeling for their own future apostolate.

Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has long supported the training of these catechists. Last year 42 trainees were able to put $12,600 provided by ACN benefactors, toward the cost of their training.

To all our generous benefactors who provided this help, we pass on their grateful thanks!

ACN Project of the week: Ukraine – Novices in training

24.07.2019 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN International, Pastoral care, Sisters, Ukraine

ACN Project of the week in Ukraine

Support for the training of 13 novices

 The Ukraine congregation of the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara, has been blessed with many vocations. Currently there are no fewer than 13 young novices undergoing formation in the diocese of Ivano-Frankivsk with the desire of consecrating their lives, forever, to the service of God and their human being. Most of them are young, no more than around 20 years old.

The Sisters of the congregation accompany young people, organize retreat days and provide catechetical training.  They also care for orphans, as well as for the sick and the elderly in Ukraine who often live in great need.

Religious who receive and nourish the faith

Among other things, the young novices help during the summer holiday season to organize camps for children and young people, giving them an opportunity to take a break and enjoy themselves, and at the same time to deepen their understanding and faith in God.

For these young Sisters it is also a good exercise in the work of catechesis. Last year some of them travelled with a group of 50 or so young people to attend a youth meeting in Italy. Although the bus journey was long and tiring, they were all enthusiastic and inspired. Sister Maria Christiana, the novice mistress, recalls: “I have never seen young people so filled with enthusiasm at the truth and the experience of community.”

The Sisters also organize walking pilgrimages to the shrine of Krylos in the diocese of Ivano-Frankivsk itself. During the pilgrimage, a walk of around 25 km, they pray and sing, and the are also available for personal counselling sessions, at which the young people can unburden themselves freely and put all their many questions about the Christian faith or their own personal problems. Last year some 400 young people took part.

ACN regularly supports the congregation for the formation of these young religious, and this year we are proposing to do so again, with a contribution of $11,700.


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

ACN Success Story – Mass Offerings for priests in Brazil

03.04.2019 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN PROJECTS, Brazil, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Pastoral aid, Pastoral care, SUBSISTENCE

 Mass Offerings for 19 priests of the Shalom Community

The Catholic Shalom Community was founded in 1982 in Brazil. Its members include young people, families, married couples and priests, who live in so-called “life communities“ and are dedicated to the work of evangelization and Christian instruction, mainly for young people. Central to the life of the community and its 3,000 or so members in 20 different countries is the daily celebration of Holy Mass, along with personal prayer, meditation on the Sacred Scriptures and a radical decision to follow Jesus Christ.

Last year ACN gave Mass Offerings for a total value of 13,800 for the 19 priests in the community living in Brazil. The Mass Offerings are given on an individual basis by our benefactors, in the form of money or other small gifts, in return for which the priest agrees to celebrate Holy Mass for the benefactor’s intentions. There is no suggestion here of “paying” for the Holy Mass, but rather of a fraternal Christian gesture of gratitude and support for our priests, who do not shrink from difficulties or sacrifice in proclaiming Christ and offering Him in the Eucharist for our sakes.

One of these priests is 46-year-old Father Jairo Barbosa Leite. He has been a member of the Shalom community for 25 years. However, in October 2015, while inspecting the renovation work being done on his parish church, he fell nearly 20 feet and has been paralyzed ever since. Yet he refuses to speak of the accident as a “disaster” or a “act of fate“, but instead chooses to declare ‘”Naturally it was a shock, when I realized that I would be permanently paralyzed from now on. Then I understood that this was no burden, but rather a grace. Many people think that you can only be happy if everything is going well. But I am happy, and I feel I have been given a special grace – precisely because I now find myself totally dependent on others. And I can even reach out to people who are far from faith, for they inevitably ask themselves how it is that I can still be happy. But I see it as God‘s Providence. Even while sitting paralyzed in a wheelchair, I can recognize what value my service still has, through my life of prayer, the night vigils, the celebration of the Eucharist, hearing Confessions and the educational courses I am still able to offer. I am happy to know that God can use my priesthood in this way. How good it is, despite my weaknesses, to be able to entrust my sins to God and witness to his intervention!”

shalom-Fr-Jairo
On behalf of all his fellow priests, Father Jairo thanks us for the Mass Offerings from our benefactors. “I want to thank all the benefactors of your charity and to assure them that their donations are helping to save souls, through the Church and the men of the Church whose ministry continues throughout the world.”

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

ACN Project of the Week: A little warmth for Lebanese Sisters

21.12.2017 in ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Lebanon, Middle East, Pastoral care, Poverty, Project of the Week, Sisters, Urgent need

Lebanon

A heating system for a convent housing sick and elderly sisters

 

A convent in Jeita is home for some 20 or so elderly religious Sisters, some of whom are frail and or ill. It has been designated, by the congregation of the Salvatorian Sisters of Saint Basil of Our Lady of the Annunciation, as a sheltered accommodation for nuns who require special assistance.

 

Lying as it does in a quiet valley, the convent is also ideal as a guesthouse for groups and individuals wishing to spend a few days in a quiet retreat in their personal search for God. “We do not want to make a financial profit in any way, but simply to offer a service to Our Lord and to the Church by taking in these faithful,” explains Sister Mona Wazen the general superior of this Melkite Greek Catholic congregation.

 

The convent was established in 1992, following an attack on the motherhouse of the congregation during the Civil War (1975 to 1990) which at that time, the Sisters were forced to flee. Before the Civil War, in fact, they had no fewer than 17 convents in Lebanon. But the war cost them dearly and now today they have only three convents and a total of around 70 Sisters. Between them, five schools and a number of other educational centers are managed.

 

As already mentioned, there are 20 elderly and infirm Sisters living in the convent in Jeita today. However, there is no heating in the house and in winter it can get extremely cold. This is not only hard to endure for these already frail sisters but also scarcely inviting for any guests who may wish to stay. The congregation has decided to install a central heating system. However, the cost is too high for them alone and so they have turned to ACN for help.

 

We are planning to contribute $35,040, so that these frail and elderly Sisters and their guests will not have to suffer the additional burden of facing the freezing cold in their very home.

 

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


 

ACN Project of the Week in Peru : Expansion of pastoral activities in the Rain Forest

19.04.2017 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, Pastoral care, Pastoral work, Peru, Project of the Week

Peru

Expansion of the pastoral outreach program in the Amazon rainforest

Forty-five years ago Sister Maria Luisa Maduell left everything to follow Christ by joining the congregation of the Sisters of Jesus. A vocation that took her from Spain, deep into the Amazon region of eastern Peru into the apostolic vicariate of Yurimaguas, a region largely covered by Rainforest. She believes that it was Providence that sent her to the indigenous peoples of the Rainforest.

 

The living conditions of the indigenous peoples are very simple and they are very poor. Their huts have roofs made of palm leaves and most of the small riverside settlements are only accessible by boat. There are no roads, the only medical and educational help they receive comes from the local missionaries. The women cook their meals on open wood fires and grow a few basic vegetables in little garden plots. Their basic diet consists of yucca, plantain bananas and occasionally a little fish. “As a religious, I often sit with the women and cook alongside them. It is important to be close to the people, simply to be with them,” explains Sister Maria Luisa.

 

The apostolic vicariate of Yurimaguas covers a vast area of some 70,000 km². The Catholic faithful are thinly scattered across this area and there are far too few priests. Sister Maria Luisa works in the parish of Saint Thomas, or Santo Tomàs del Rio Paranapura, providing all the pastoral care, since at the present time there is no priest here. She has two other sisters and a few lay helpers to support her. The lay helpers in this work of evangelization are themselves very simple people, and Sister Maria Luisa speaks of them with enormous admiration: “They have only a minimal formal education, and yet in their own way they are theologians, mystics, people of great faith and above all of unbelievable generosity,” she says. Every month, each of them visits the people in the area assigned to him and prays with them, helping them to understand the Gospel message and grow in faith and in love for Jesus Christ. In this way they manage to visit three quarters of their vast parish area each month.

Bishop José Luis Astigarraga, who sadly died in January 2017, was delighted at their commitment and spoke of a “truly missionary undertaking.” He had been bishop of Yurimaguas since 1991 and was for many years a friend of ACN. Thanks to the continuing and faithful support of our benefactors, we were able to help him regularly and generously. Only shortly before his death he again thanked us and all our benefactors for the help they have given for his apostolic vicariate over the years. It was his cherished wish that the activities in the parish of Saint Thomas on the Rio Paranapura not only be continued but indeed intensified, and he wrote to us saying, “I not only approve this project but want to see it go further.” And he urged us to support Sister Maria Luisa and her helpers by providing catechetical material, training up more lay helpers and giving further in-service training to those already involved in this work, and also so that they could take part in retreat days.

We are delighted to report that we have been able to fulfill one of the last wishes of the late bishop and are planning to support the project with $21,750.

 


 

ACN PROJECT OF THE WEEK – INDIA

22.06.2016 in ACN International, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, India, Pastoral care, Pastoral work, Projets pastorale

India

A pastoral program to mark the Holy Year of Mercy

Inde, mars 2004 Diocèse de Calcutta, Soeur Nirmala et Mgr Salvatore Lobo

India, March 2004 in the Diocese of Calcutta: Sister Nirmala and Msgr Salvatore Lobo

While still a young seminarian, Bishop Salvadore Lobo of Baruipur gained deep sympathy for the poor and disabled after meeting Mother Teresa.

This meeting would then prompt him to volunteer in her Kaligat House of the Dying in Calcutta, where he tended to the dying. It was an experience which would remain with him throughout his life.

 

In Bishop Lobo‘s deeply impoverished diocese, the Holy Year of Mercy, proclaimed by Pope Francis, is being commemorated with exceptional solemnity. This is why the bishop has consecrated a church dedicated to the Divine Mercy. It took him three hours by car and then another hour by boat just to get here – for this church stands on an island in the river. But then, he is rather accustomed to travelling long distances for many places in his diocese are hard to get to.

 

India 3

In the town of Baruipur

The concern nearest to his heart, is ensuring that people here truly take to heart the message of God‘s Mercy. He would like to put in place a pastoral program that will not only run the length of this Year of Mercy, but for three years and so help support the people’s development in a spirit of love, peace and mutual forgiveness. A range of different courses, workshops, retreats and days of reflection will be offered to the various different target groups. A main focus will be on work with children for in this part of India, the Church only has a few Catholic schools resulting in insufficient religious support and accompaniment for the children.

 

Too many children spend their time in front of the television or playing computer games, and fewer and fewer go to church. As a result, the Bishop wants to intensify the work with children and young people in order to root them more profoundly in their faith. Imperative, will be the special programs being developed for women since they often receive very little support and count for little in society –  even in their own eyes.

 

Pastorale jeunesse

Youth pastoral program

There is also the fact that the Catholics frequently belong to the ethnic minorities who are at the bottom ranks of Indian society. It is precisely for people like these, who suffer exceptional disadvantages, whom the bishop wants to work at reaching with the understanding of God‘s love and mercy for them.

 

 

 

ACN is supporting this project and has promised $43,500 CAD to the implementation of these pastoral programs of the diocese of Baruipur!  Would you like to help support a similar project?

 

donate

 

 


 

ACN PROJECT OF THE WEEK – Iraq

20.01.2016 in ACN Canada, ACN PROJECTS, Iraq, Pastoral care

 

ACN PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Iraq

Providing retreat days for up to 1,200 young people

Every year the Archdiocese of Erbil organizes a series of retreat days for young people. They are aimed in particular at those young adults who for the whole year are profoundly engaged in the life of the parishes, for example in catechetical work, in the youth groups and so forth.

Given the huge numbers of Christians who have been internally displaced from the cities and villages of Iraq, above all by the seizure of these places by the so-called Islamic State, it is an immense challenge for the Church to provide a pastoral outreach to so many uprooted people. These volunteer helpers, most of whom are themselves also refugees, are performing a precious service in this respect. For they are demonstrating to other young people that it is worthwhile to stay in Iraq and to get involved on behalf of the people and the Church. It also allows them to help others see a future for themselves and gives them courage not to abandon their country.

 

Irak: un temps d'arrêt essentiel pour ces jeunes chrétiens réfugiés, engagés dans la pastorale auprès des jeunes.

Iraq: A necessary moment of pause  and retreat for these young Christian refugees 

 

From time to time we hear talk of a “tsunami of emigration,” which may potentially mean that one day no Christians will be left in Iraq. As recently as 2003 there were still 1.5 million Christians living in Iraq; but today the number has dropped to 300,000 or so. These numbers indicate that over the last 12 years,an average of 100,000 Christians have left each year.

The aim of the retreat days – of which there will be four – is to strengthen these young women and men in their life of faith and in their commitment to the Church, and at the same time to be a sort of “reward” for their involvement and hard work.

The participants are generally aged between 17 and 35. Each day will include four hours of catechesis, the celebration of a Holy Mass, an opportunity for Confession, study and meditation on scriptural texts, shared prayer, and group sessions with mutual exchange of ideas and experiences.

This year somewhere between 1,100 and 1,200 young adults are expected to take part in these retreat days, which will be led by a team of 25 priests, 65 religious sisters and 40 senior volunteers.

ACN is supporting the four sessions with a contribution of 43,500 dollars.

 

 

Feature Story – Helping Syrian refugees in Lebanon

27.07.2015 in Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Oliver Maksan, Lebanon, Pastoral care, Refugees, Sisters

Lebanon

“I used to shoot at Syrians. Now I’m helping them.”

With the support of Aid to the Church in Need, Catholic Sisters in Lebanon are helping Syrian refugees – and banishing the shadows of the past.

 

Clusters of tents erected on open land stretch out across the Bekaa plain. Plastic sheets drawn over wooden and iron frames: these are the new homes for tens of thousands of people. Nowhere is the Syrian war as close as here in East Lebanon. The Lebanese army and IS terrorists already engaged in fierce fighting in the area last year. Lebanon is top of the list of areas which ISIS wants to incorporate in the Islamic caliphate which they have set up in parts of Syria and Iraq.

From the Christian town of Deir al Ahmar it’s only a few kilometres to Syria. The war-torn country lies behind the high, snow-covered mountains. Tens of thousands of Syrian war refugees have sought refuge in this area, camping in tents on the vast, fertile plain. Bumpy dirt tracks – when it rains small lakes form in the potholes – lead to one of the ten camps which have been set up around Deir Al Ahmar.

Syrian Muslim refugee woman in a camp near Deir al Ahmar. Sr. Micheline helps them from day one on. LEBANON / BAALBEK-MAR 15/00052 PrID: 1502438 Aid to refugees in the region of Deir El Ahmar – 2015 LEBANON / BAALBEK-MAR 15/00050   PrID: 1500532 Support and development of the mission of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, the Good Shepherd Social Centre, Deir Al Ahmar, Baalbeck, Bekaa

Syrian Muslim refugee women in a camp near Deir al Ahmar. Sr. Micheline helps them from day one on.
 Deir Al Ahmar, Baalbeck, Bekaa

“They’re not Muslims – they’re criminals”

“In the winter it was of course very cold,” says a young mother of seven. “The snow was piled high and the wind blew mercilessly. It wasn’t easy.” The families who live here are all Sunni Muslims and come from Raqqa, the East Syrian city which has been a stronghold of the Islamic terrorist group ISIS for a number of years. “We lived under ISIS,” a man says, agitatedly. “They’re not Muslims – they’re criminals. Our women had to completely veil themselves. We men were no longer allowed to smoke. They control everything.” A woman in the tent says: “We knew God before ISIS. They don’t need to explain anything to us.” This family had fled from ISIS and the war in Syria to Lebanon a few months earlier and were scarcely able to take anything with them, which caused a considerable amount of distress.

Many are deeply grateful for what Sister Micheline and her helpers are doing for them. This Catholic Sister has set up an aid centre for the refugees with the help of Aid to the Church in Need. “God bless Sister Micheline,” says one woman. Sister Micheline makes a gesture of dismissal. “What was I supposed to do? In the middle of winter 2011 I suddenly had more than 150 people, some wearing only sandals, standing in the deep snow at my door. As a member of the Order of the Good Shepherd I couldn’t possibly send them away?” She decided to help. More than 800 Syrian families in the area are currently being supplied with food, clothing or mattresses.

Syrian Muslim refugees with Sister Micheline in a camp near Deir al Ahmar. Sr. Micheline Lattouf (Good Shepherd Sisters) helps them from day one on. LEBANON / BAALBEK-MAR 15/00052 PrID: 1502438 Aid to refugees in the region of Deir El Ahmar – 2015 LEBANON / BAALBEK-MAR 15/00050   PrID: 1500532 Support and development of the mission of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, the Good Shepherd Social Centre, Deir Al Ahmar, Baalbeck, Bekaa

Syrian Muslim refugees with Sister Micheline in a camp near Deir al Ahmar. Sr. Micheline Lattouf (Good Shepherd Sisters) 

Humans like me

Sister Micheline is supported by Raed (name changed for security reasons). For four years this fifty-year-old Christian has dedicated his energies to the refugees. It’s by no means obvious that he would do this. “I used to shoot at Syrians. Now I’m helping them,” he says. “I was a fighter against the Syrian occupation of Lebanon.” He points to his body, which was seriously wounded in earlier battles.

The army which held the occupation only withdrew from Lebanon in 2005. “The Syrian army did terrible things here. We defended ourselves and our homeland. I always saw the Syrians as my enemy. But when the refugees arrived, I looked at their faces and realized that they are humans like me. They need my help,” Raed explains. He was especially impressed by Sister Micheline’s example. “I saw how the Sister looked at the people. This convinced me without the need for big words. I realized that the Syrian regime was my enemy, not the people.”

Sr. Micheline Lattouf

Sr. Micheline Lattouf

Sister Micheline makes a plea for understanding. “You have to realize that this area suffered considerably as a result of the Lebanese civil war and the Syrian occupation. There were tensions both with the Shiites and with the Syrian army of occupation. Many Christians therefore left. Whole Christian villages were abandoned. To improve life a little my order decided in 2005 to open up a centre to support native Christians here, and especially the children. We offered and continue to offer not only catechetical instruction, but also homework courses and leisure activities. People have responded enthusiastically. It’s important that the children get out of their houses. Throughout the winter, which is very long here, they all sit in one room and get on one another’s nerves. Then the Syrians suddenly came. The people thought someone was going to take something away from them again.”

Breaking down prejudices

During the civil war from 1975 to 1990 and up to the withdrawal of the Syrians from Lebanon in 2005, 300 adolescents and young men from the town were killed in battles with the Syrians, the Sister explains. “The people haven’t forgotten that. They say: Why should we help them? We don’t exactly have it easy ourselves,” Sister Micheline says. Because of this, at first, it had been very difficult to explain to the people why the Syrians were being helped. The Sister believes this situation has improved a little in the meantime. “The people in the village are slowly beginning to give up their reluctance. I tell them that we, as Christians, must not live in the spirit of revenge, but have to forgive.” She is happy that her work is bearing fruit. And the refugees are also making an effort. “Two Syrian boys, both Muslims, reported to me how they had once worked up the courage to approach some Christian boys and talk with them a little. They certainly didn’t find this easy to do. Showing respect for others and taking the first step are crucial factors here.” But Sister Micheline not only attempts to get this Christian message across to the children. “We offer manicure courses to enable the women to earn a little extra. This means that Christian women from the village met Syrian refugee women. This also helps to break down prejudices.”

Mother with child - syrian Muslim refugees in a camp near Deir al Ahmar. Sr. Micheline helps them from day one on. LEBANON / BAALBEK-MAR 15/00052 PrID: 1502438 Aid to refugees in the region of Deir El Ahmar – 2015 LEBANON / BAALBEK-MAR 15/00050   PrID: 1500532 Support and development of the mission of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, the Good Shepherd Social Centre, Deir Al Ahmar, Baalbeck, Bekaa

Mother with child – Syrian Muslim refugees in a camp near Deir al Ahmar. 

Sister Micheline is not only worried about the immediate needs of the people. “At some time the war will be over. And what then? How can the people live together again after all that’s happened in Syria? There’s a need for reconciliation, education and prospects. There’s nothing worse than watching a lost generation grow up.” Sister Micheline therefore sets great store by education. In the morning 350 Syrian children attend school and are given a warm meal. “The parents are so grateful. It gives them a feeling of normality. The need is much greater. Unfortunately we don’t have sufficient resources. But in the summer we are organizing a holiday camp. This will be able to accommodate all the refugee children.”


God's Initiative

Sister Micheline’s story is featured in the ACN Publication “God’s Initiative – Stories of Exceptional Sisters” along with 12 other similar and inspiring stories.  You can order your copy on our website or by calling us at 514.932.0552 – x221  to place your order by phone.

Journey with ACN

19.12.2014 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, ACN International, CONSECRATED LIFE, Honduras, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN, Pastoral aid, Pastoral care, Pastoral work, Peru, Sisters
© Aid to the Church in Need

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

This week :   Peru  & Honduras


Peru

“It has become dangerous even to remain inside the church”

Renovation of the parish of the Immaculate Conception in Pevas, San José de Amazonas

There are no other countries in South America where the shortage of priests is more acute than in Bolivia and Peru. Even though some 84% of Peru’s population of around 28 million inhabitants have been baptized Catholic, there remains a tremendous lack of the most basic knowledge of the Catholic Faith and an acute shortage of necessary pastoral care, resulting in the flourishing of sects. Today approximately 10% of Peruvians belong to one of the many evangelical “free churches” – and this trend is increasing rapidly.

Even in the most remote regions, the sects are advancing – including here, in the vicariate of San José de Amazonas which is found in the extreme north-east of the country, bordering Colombia. This is an exceptionally remote region most easily reached by aircraft, or by boat along the upper reaches of the Amazon River. And quite apart from the growth of the sects, the sheer remoteness, inaccessibility and scattered nature of the settlements is another of the greatest challenges for priests and missionaries here.

In many of the smaller towns and villages the sects have already built small chapels and in this way they are luring to them many Catholics. There are, perhaps, 800 small Catholic settlements altogether along the rivers Amazon, Napo, Putumayo and Yavari and their countless tributaries – all in an area of around 60,000 square miles (155,000 km²). One of these centres is the parish of the Immaculate Conception in Pevas, which has existed since 1956. Due to the shortage of priests, most of these small communities are looked after by religious Sisters or lay missionaries, who conduct liturgies of the Word and prepare the faithful for reception of the Sacraments.

The poverty is almost unimaginable by Western standards. Most Catholic faithful are simple campesinos who barely manage to scrape a meagre living from the land. Socially, and culturally, they have few prospects. This is one reason, perhaps, why the Church plays such an important role in their lives. Most of the villages’ inhabitants and of the homesteads and settlements in the surrounding area come to the churches to worship. And the parish church itself is both House of God and a communications centre at the same time – a place of shared prayer, but also a social and cultural meeting place. This is very much the case in Pevas. But time has not been kind to their parish church.

Bishop Miguel Olaortua Laspra has visited the community personally and seen for himself the state of the church, which was built in 1968. The rain and heat have caused the roof to rust through by now and the water drips through onto the altar missals. It has become dangerous even to remain inside the church, since at any moment pieces of the ceiling can break and fall. Therefore, the Bishop would like the church to have a new roof. “Unfortunately, the vicariate is not in a position to cover the costs of the repairs itself,” he writes. “We are therefore appealing to your generosity and would be most grateful if you can help us.”

To make a donation to ACN for refugees

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

 

The parishioners themselves are willing to play an active part in renovating the church. But their efforts alone will not be enough. And so we were happy to promised them a contribution of $12,000 dollars.

 

Honduras

Providing religious Sisters with the basics of life

© Aid to the Church in Need

© Aid to the Church in Need

She is young, and she works full-time – and yet she still does not have enough to live on. Ruth Nohemi Martinez is 29 years old, and since December 2010, she has been a religious Sister in the community of Our Lady of Guadalupe in San Francisco, in the Department of Atlántida.

Sister Ruth is one of 23 religious Sisters working in the dioceses of La Ceiba on the northern Caribbean coast of the country. Most of these nuns are active in the pastoral and catechetical field. They look after children, young people and adults providing religious instruction in the kindergartens and schools, preparing children for their First Holy Communion and young couples for the Sacrament of Matrimony. In many of these parishes the parish priests simply could not cope without the help of these parish Sisters of “theirs.” At the same time, many of the Sisters are also active in charitable and social fields. In their work with young people they run day-cares, help the children with their homework, provide lunchtime meals service for the poorest children, care for young people in the country areas and provide psychological and pedagogical counselling… Other Sisters work in retirement homes and hospitals and in the apostolate with mothers and women.

© Aid to the Church in Need

© Aid to the Church in Need

The scope of their work is enormous – but there is one thing that all these sisters have in common, and that is the fact that the little money earned by just some of the Sisters for their work is not sufficient to support their communities. Without the help of generous donations from outside this precious and richly blessed ministry of theirs would be impossible. Bishop Michael Lenihan of La Ceiba writes to say: “We thank you with all our hearts for your precious support, which is helping us spread the Good News in our diocese.”

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ACN has always given to the work of these Sisters and will continue to do so this year as well – with a contribution of $13,800 dollars, to ensure apostolates among those of the Consecrated Life, like Sister Ruth, can continue.