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RDC CONGO

 

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.


 

ACN Project of the Week – Water in Kinshasa

08.03.2017 in ACN BENEFACTORS, RDC CONGO

Democratic Republic of the Congo

A spring welling up in glorious Kinshasa

Following a chronic shortage of water that threatened their survival,  a contemplative community of religious Sisters in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)  are looking forward to a new future ensured by a new well.

“We didn’t know how we were going to survive after the collapse of our old well a year ago,” Sister Mahele Mwamini, the Prioress of the Discalced Carmelites at the Glorious Saint Joseph Convent, Kinshasa, told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.

ACN responded to the Sisters’ urgent request by providing a grant to enable the deepening of the well to reach a new water source. During the 2017 dry season, the well will be extended by another 100 feet (30 metres) to a new depth of more than 160 feet (50 metres) to ensure enough water is reached to provide for the convent’s needs.

Sister Mwamini said: “We are committed to praying for the Church, but especially for those who need our prayers the most – the priests and the Christians persecuted because of their faith.” In a desperate plea to Aid to the Church in Need she described the crisis they were facing: “Our well that provided water has collapsed. We haven’t had a single drop since February 2016. Our convent is suffering from this situation.”

“Previously we did sell a few vegetables, this was to help the community be more self-sufficient and support unemployed mothers and their children including with their school fees.” she writes, “but now with this water shortage, we have no more vegetables and we are forced to buy them for the community.”

The lack of the water from the well made it difficult for the Sisters to bake Eucharistic bread and to maintain their small farm. “It was difficult [without water]… to prepare the unleavened bread for Communion and tend our small barn with pigs, our chicken coop, our rabbit hatch, our small vegetable garden and ourselves – it was disaster,” said Sister Mwamini and adding, “We didn’t know how we would survive. Since the well’s collapse we have used a small old hand pump which has already undergone several repairs.”

The water shortage meant the convent had to stop the spiritual retreats they ran: “There were people who came to us for a time for healing or retreats, but due to the lack of drinking water we were obliged to tell them that it would be impossible for them to come and spend time in prayer with us.”

 “We are touched by your care that you have shown to our suffering and by your willingness to do all that you have done to help us. May God bless you.”

But Sister Mwamini spoke with optimism: “the new well will ensure drinking water, our resource-generating activities and retreats as well as our needs for cleaning, domestic and hygiene needs.” Also benefitting will be “mothers without work who buy vegetables, chickens and pigs for re-sale to enable them to support the needs of their families.”

Father Saverio Cannistrà, General Superior of the Discalced Carmelites, said: “We are thankful that this project ensures that these contemplative nuns can live in peace, that they not further disturbed by the lack of drinking water and so that they can continue to support the Church with their prayers.”

Thanking Aid to the Church in Need benefactors for their support Sister Mwamini said: “May the Lord bless you and fill you with abundant grace… this kind assistance that you give us enables us to achieve a drilled well.” Speaking on behalf of the 12 Sisters, whose ages vary between 32 and 81 years old, she added:  “We are touched by your care that you have shown to our suffering and by your willingness to do all that you have done to help us. May God bless you.”

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By Murcadha O Flaherty
Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin

 


ACN Project of the Week – Democratic Republic of Congo

28.09.2016 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN International, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Project of the Week, RDC CONGO

Democratic Republic of Congo  

Housing for those who provide dignity

Already one of the poorest and most underdeveloped countries in the world, the Democratic Republic of Congo has been thrown still further into destitution and chaos by the continuing violence and armed conflict throughout the country.

 

A lack of security and political instability have left ordinary people in Congo poorer than ever before. Many parents are finding themselves unable to care for their children, and many children are being abandoned or even thrown out of their homes – often under the pretext of having practiced witchcraft and therefore bringing evil upon the family.  It comes as no surprise then, that so very many boys end up going off the rails and joining criminal gangs. Girls, are very often forced into prostitution or become pregnant and have no one to help them, they are left completely alone often incapable of caring for their children. They have had no education and have no idea how to support themselves and no resources other than prostitution to turn to.

 

Construction of a convent for the Congregation Filles de Notre-Dame du Sacré-Coeur in Mbandaka

New resources

The Sisters of the congregation of the Filles de Notre Dame du Sacré Cœur (Sisters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart) are caring for these helpless people barely out of childhood in four separate centres around the country. The Sisters care for street children and orphans and help adolescent young mothers by providing them with new resources.  They teach the girls how to knit and how to sew, so that they can support themselves.

The Sisters also teach basic literacy, provide care for the elderly, tend to patients suffering from leprosy in special centres created for the purpose.  They provide medical services for the sick who would otherwise have no access to medical treatment and midwifery care for expectant mothers. Schools enjoy the benefit of their teaching and parishes benefit from their support in various ways such as cathechetical instruction.

 

Construction of a convent for the Congregation Filles de Notre-Dame du Sacré-Coeur in Mbandaka

 

Plans to build a new centre are now underway in Mbandaka (the north-west of DRCongo). The centre’s main function  will be as a place for the Sisters to put their skills to work in the care of orphans and the sick.

 

ACN has promised 116,800 CAD toward the realization of this wonderful project.  

You can help.

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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)


 

 

 

 

PRESS RELEASE – CONGO

20.07.2015 in Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, DRC Congo, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, John Pontifex, Persecution of Christians, RDC CONGO

 

DR Congo

Training for terror at age nine

 

 

Reports reveal Islamist training camps for children

Montreal/Surrey, July 20 ,2015 – Jihadist training camps made up of nearly 1,500 children as young as nine have been uncovered in central Africa, according to reports received by a leading Catholic charity at work in the region.  Sources close to Aid to the Church in Need – which cannot be named for security reasons – stated that poverty-stricken children are being lured off the streets of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and taken to remote camps where they are being brutalized and indoctrinated by Islamist militia.

 

Boys, spread across at least three camps in the Ruwenzori Mountains of eastern DRC, have been sighted in camouflage kit doing military exercises watched over by soldiers with guns.The reports go on to describe how up to 60 girls were huddled together in the camps wearing burkhas and were being prepared for marriage to Islamic fighters. Reacting to the reports, Maria Lozano, ACN vice-director of communications, said: “We have been given access to a variety of materials that shows the nature of these camps. “The reports show soldiers wielding rifles, watching over the children aged nine to 15 in military outfits carrying our military exercises. “The images we have seen are very disturbing.” One of the camps is in Medina, about 50 miles from Beni city in the region of which nearly 500 people have been killed in a string of massacres which have taken place since October 2014.

UN peace keeping forces alleged complicit

Ms Lozano said: “We are very concerned for the children as they have been lured off the streets with the promise of an escape from poverty. “Some of the children are orphans but others have left their families after being deceived by recruiters who build up their hopes by offering them the chance to study in the Middle East, Europe or Canada. “The information we have is that the girls are being forced into marriages in which they will be treated as sex slaves.”

The sudden emergence of the jihadist camps is being linked by the ACN sources to UN peace keeping forces with concerns that they are complicit in the camps and that they are intentionally failing to take action against them.

It is alleged that some members of the Mission of the United Nations Organisation for the Stabilization of DR Congo are fundamentalist Muslims from Pakistan who in their spare time in the African country are setting up Quranic schools and working on mosque construction sites.

The ACN contacts have alleged that the mosques have been built in areas where virtually no Muslims were living. Ms Lozano said: “People don’t feel protected by the UN soldiers; the information we have received suggests that they are supporting the jihadist camps or at least they are not taking action against the indoctrination of children and the barbaric treatment of them.” According to the 2014 Journal of International Organisations Studies, 28 of the 44 mosques (63 percent) in the Medina region of DRC were erected between 2005 and 2012. Reports have stated that within a few years Muslim numbers in eastern DRC have risen from 1 percent to 10 percent.

The Catholic bishops of the Ecclesiastical province of Bukavu, in eastern DRC, sent an open letter past May to the country’s President, the UN and international leaders denouncing an upsurge of jihadist fundamentalism in a region traditionally dominated by Christianity and where there have been very few Muslims until now. Ms Lozano stated: “It has already been one month since the Bishops’ Conference sent their urgent appeal to the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other leaders but nobody has acted.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Democratic Republic of Congo – Construction of a chapel in Murhala

21.06.2013 in ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, RDC CONGO, Uncategorized

By ACN International,

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin

Murhala is a small and dynamically growing town, just 100 yards from the National Highway linking Bukavu, the capital of the South Kivu region, with Goma. Of the current population of 13,000 people, some 9000 are Catholics.

Every morning at six o’clock a large group of the faithful gather to pray the rosary and attend Holy Mass. They also pray to Saint Nicholas of Flüe, for whom they have a great devotion, and ask him for peace for their region, torn for so many years by war and violence.

The Catholics of Murhala haven’t a church where they can all gather together, but instead meet in an old wooden house that is slowly crumbling and in a state of decay – but they would like to build a church of their own, dedicated to this particular saint.

To make their dream into a reality, they have now joined forces and on their own backs they have carried the sand, bricks and stones with which they hope to be able to build their church. But they themselves are very poor and survive only by what they can grow on their little plots of land or by working as small traders. Even so, they can barely manage to feed their families. Without outside help they will be unable to finish their church. “That is why they are knocking at the door of their brothers and sisters in ACN,” writes their parish priest, Father Jean de Dieu Karhabalala Mufungizi. “So that they can finish building this church. We have to restore peace. Peace is something we achieve by doing something good and tangible. Uniting people together before God is the best way for the Christians in Murhala to unite them in peace and harmony. We build up the country by building places where people can gather together; we bring peace to a nation by showing it the peaceful face of God. This is what we are doing in Murhala.”

ACN has agreed to help with a contribution of $66 700, to build this chapel which is to become a place of peace.

This project is just one example of our work. Should you wish to support it, or another similar project that accords with the pastoral priorities of ACN, please contact us to make your donation. Thank you!