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ACN FEATURE STORY— INTER-RELIGIOUS CONFERENCES IN NIGER

30.07.2019 in ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, by Matthias Böhnke & Thomas Oswald, Niger, Persecution of Christians, SUBSISTENCE

Niger

Inter-religious conferences to unleash the “good”

“Less than one per cent of the about 15 million inhabitants of the diocese of Maradi are Christian,” reported Bishop Ambroise Ouédraogo in an interview with ACN International. The 70-year-old cleric is the first, and so far the only bishop of the diocese of Maradi, one of two dioceses in Niger, a landlocked country in western Africa.

 

by Matthias Böhnke & Thomas Oswald, for ACN International
Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada
Published on line, July 30, 2019

 

For the most part, the about 5,000 to 6,000 Catholics in his diocese coexisted for years safely with the majority Muslim population, said the bishop. “That changed in 2015, when caricatures critical of Islam published by the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo unleashed a wave of violence.” Within a few hours, at least ten Christians were killed and over 70 churches and other Christian institutions were destroyed in the numerous riots that broke out across the country. About 80 percent of the Christian churches in the country were targeted—particularly those in the regions of Niamey and Zinder.

“Christians deeply feared the radical Islamic fundamentalists. And still do as time and again, at irregular intervals, incidents are directed against Christians,” reported Bishop Ouédraogo. Just two weeks ago in his diocese, the Protestant church in Maradi was set on fire by radical groups who were protesting the incarceration of an imam. He had been arrested after speaking out in his sermons against a draft law for stricter regulation of funding sources for the construction and operation of private places of worship. In spite of the demonstrations, the law was passed by parliament on Monday, June 17.

 

 

Evil unleashed elsewhere, spreading as if with an accelerant

Sister Marie Catherine Kingbo lives eight kilometres from Maradi, the scene of the most recent attack with her congregation the Fraternité des Servantes du Christ (Fraternity of the Servants of Christ). In an interview with ACN she said, “We expected attacks, but we did not think that they would be triggered by a draft law.” The situation in Niger has changed beyond recognition since she came to the country 15 years ago. At that time, hardly any tensions existed between the religions, she explained. “Now I hear even Muslims say that there are too many mosques and Quran schools, and not enough wells and hospitals,” Sister Catherine continued. Her congregation and the pupils that she teaches are under constant police protection for fear of Islamist attacks. “The evil that was unleashed in Libya, Syria and other countries in northern Africa and the Middle East is spreading like an accelerant here as well,” she deplored.

 

“We will not go. They may have guns, but we have Jesus!”

But Sister Catherine is convinced: it is not only evil that is spreading, but also good! Her religious order organizes many campaigns for the benefit of society. The Sisters help women in need, but also organize an encounter between Christians and Muslims each year. In 2006, the first of these inter-religious conferences took place with 28 people. By 2018, the number had grown to 350. Relations with local imams and neighbours are good, Sister Catherine said. Which is why she will not even consider cutting back her efforts out of fear of extremist attacks. “We will not go. They may have guns, but we have Jesus!”

“Many Muslims find the current situation absolutely disgraceful and show solidarity for the Christians”

Bishop Ouédraogo feels the same way. He has never called the cooperation and dialogue with Muslims into question. “Many Muslims find the current situation absolutely disgraceful and show solidarity for the Christians,” the bishop insisted. “95 to 98 percent of the pupils at our institutions are Muslim, and Caritas also carries out projects in regions which are almost exclusively Muslim. We do not discriminate. And this will remain so.”

 

The pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has been supporting the Church in Niger for many years and has approved funding in such areas as the formation of faith and to help priests in the country secure a means of subsistence.

 

 

 

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 – support for Sisters in Ukraine

29.08.2018 in ACN International, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Catholic Religious Sisters, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Redemptorists, Sisters, SUBSISTENCE, Ukraine, Ukraine

Ukraine

Support for the life and ministry of four Redemptorists Sisters in Lviv

 

In the 1930s a dozen or more Ukrainian girls travelled to Belgium to prepare for the foundation of the first Redemptorists convent in their home country of Ukraine. However, it was not until 80 years later that this dream was finally fulfilled. The outbreak of the Second World War, and the subsequent Soviet tyranny made their return impossible, and believers faced decades of persecution by the communists. It was not until 2016 that three Redemptorists sisters finally succeeded in establishing the first ever Redemptorists convent in Ukraine.

 

The Sisters had to start from zero, initially establishing their convent temporarily in a family home. They worked hard and long to cultivate the wilderness that had grown up around the house. Soon after, another professed Sister would join them, but remains in Poland for now and another a young candidate is also in the picture. Meanwhile, the convent has been granted formal permission to admit young women who wish to consecrate their lives to God, and there are already a few interested. But they will have to wait for some time, because the house is only able to accommodate eight people.

A number of ordinary Catholic faithful come to pray with the sisters at regular prayer times and other liturgical celebrations. Many come seeking the prayers and counsel of the sisters and a sympathetic ear to listen to their problems.

The sisters are grateful for their vocation and overjoyed that the long awaited foundation in Ukraine has finally become a reality. Nevertheless, despite their frugal lifestyle, it is very difficult for them, as enclosed religious, to support themselves in Ukraine, especially against the background of sharply rising prices.

 

We have promised them $3,000 for the support of their life and apostolate.

 

Are you in inspired by this projects supporting seminarians? If you would like to help create more projects such as this, simply click to donate.

 

ACN Project of the Week: Mass Offerings in Uruguay

20.06.2018 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Journey with ACN, Mass Offerings, Priests, SUBSISTENCE, Uruguay

Uruguay

Special Mass Offerings for 18 elderly priests in need

Few people have summarized the importance of the priesthood more trenchantly than Saint Jean Marie Vianney, the famous Curé of Ars: “Without the sacrament of ordination, we would not have the Lord. Who placed him in the Tabernacle? The priest! Who welcomed your soul at its first entry into life? The priest! Who nourishes it in order to give it the strength to complete its pilgrimage? The priest! Who will prepare it to appear before God by washing it for the last time in the blood of Christ? The priest; always the priest.”

 

The Catholic Church in Uruguay has considerably less influence in society than it does in other Latin American countries. Only a little over half the population claim to be Catholic, religion has largely been banished to the private sphere. Needless to say, many aspects of the law are also in direct contradiction with Catholic teachings. The Catholic Church in Uruguay has considerably less influence in society than it does in other Latin American countries. Only a little over half the population claim to be Catholic, religion has largely been banished to the private sphere.

There are over 400,000 priests in the world in whose hands the bread and wine of the Eucharist are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ. Among them are 18 frail and elderly priests living in a retirement home for priests in Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital. Many of these hands have aged and the priests are perhaps also sick, a few barely have strength to elevate the Chalice. Nonetheless, they continue faithfully and tirelessly celebrating the Sacrifice of Christ.

 

Since mid-19th century, Uruguay, the second smallest country in Latin America, has had a long history with secularism. In 1859, the Jesuits were banished from the land and 12 years later all the cemeteries were seized by the state. Anticlerical, liberal elements engaged in constant provocations. For example, deliberately providing free barbecue grills on Good Friday, and inviting everyone to use them. Finally, in 1917 the strict separation Church and State was enshrined in the Constitution. Officially, there are no Christian feasts in Uruguay. Consequently, instead of Christmas, the official calendar has a “Family Day” and Holy Week is a “Week of Tourism.”

 

Many Catholic priests in Uruguay live on the edge of poverty, especially those who are elderly and sick. The 18 elderly priests in the priests’ retirement home in Montevideo have spent their lives faithfully serving God and the Church. Now that they have come to the evening of their lives, they deserve to receive loving care and gratitude for their service.

 

We propose to help them with Mass Offerings which will allow them to celebrate Holy Mass for the intentions of our benefactors. This allows you, our benefactors to contribute something towards the Church in need through this retirement home – and allows these priests to provide for their own simple personal needs, such as medication, etc.

 

We are giving a total of $22,000, to ensure each of these priests will receive $120 per month as an expression of our love and gratitude for their lifetime service.


 

Bosnia – Two professions in the life of the Croat religious sister Marija Bešker

23.03.2018 in ACN International, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, Bosnia Herzegovina, Catholic Religious Sisters, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Josip Vajdner, Journey with ACN, Julie Bourbeau, Karla Sponar, SUBSISTENCE

Bosnia

The more people give, the greater their contentment

 

“She is stronger than Tito,” a doctor at the Trauma Surgery Unit of the Clinical Centre of the University of Sarajevo says. She is quick to retort, “Of course! President Tito is long dead and I – thank the Lord – am very much alive.” Marija Bešker grew up in a family of 14. She spent most of her life at the hospital after she had already chosen her first profession. That came about suddenly. “My aunt was already a religious sister. When I was small, my uncle used to say to me that I could be her Mother Superior one day. I definitely did not want that. But once when I was visiting my aunt in Bijelo Polje, I saw beautiful flowers everywhere. I was so taken by the gardens. On that day, I had to admit to myself that there was a definite possibility that I would one day become a religious sister.”

 

She took her decision at the age of 14 and joined the Franciscan Sisters of Christ the King in the Croatian province near Mostar, in the Herzegovina region. Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has supported this religious order on a number of occasions. Although the principal duty of this religious congregation was the care of orphans, the sisters were not allowed to run a kindergarten or orphanage, much less work in a school, during the reign of the Communist regime in Yugoslavia. This meant that she was forced to choose a different profession, and so she became a nurse.

The Croatian sister Marija Bešker from Bosnia. She took her decision at the age of 14 and joined the Franciscan Sisters of Christ the King in the Croatian province near Mostar in the Herzegovina region. Today she is matron in charge of the fourth ward of the Trauma Surgery Unit of the Clinical Centre of the University of Sarajevo. “The more people dedicate themselves to others, the greater their contentment and happiness.”

 

Holding out in Sarajevo, even during the war

 

“You can neither buy nor learn true standing. It has something to do with an honest attitude towards life, a professional attitude towards work and more than anything else: a love for humanity,” the 61-year-old is convinced. She professed her vows in 1980. Three years before the Iron Curtain fell, Sister Marija moved to Sarajevo, the capital city of Bosnia-Herzegovina. She had been offered a place in the picturesque city of Dubrovnik, a city of fine arts and poets on the Croatian coast. However, she remained in Bosnia, even when war broke out in the region shortly thereafter. She recalls that it became necessary to bear the “reality of evil”. “However, I came away from the war years with something positive. Even during the worst battles, our medical staff never made a difference between saving a Croat, Serb or Muslim.”

 

A way to make proper use of time

 

When asked about her work, she emphasizes, “It is not enough to have completed medical training. You need to have the proper attitude: you need to understand that it is a calling.” This attitude has helped her to advance – today she is matron in charge of the fourth ward of the Trauma Surgery Unit. She has never encountered any problems at work due to the fact that she belongs to a Catholic order. “All of my colleagues treat me with utmost respect.” However, that alone is not enough. “When I have to go to a doctor to ask him for something, I pray inwardly, ‘Think of me, merciful Madonna, so that he is in a good mood and will do me this favour’.” After her work is done for the day, Sister Marija visits patients who are going through difficult times in a society that is still processing the trauma of war – socially, economically and psychologically.

 

Her wish to have a beautiful garden like the one she saw on the day she visited her aunt has come true. “When the flowers in the garden are blooming, all tiredness just falls away,” Sister Marija describes. For her, prayer is the most important part of religious life, both shared as well as private. “From older fellow sisters I learned that the day would come when we would be held responsible for lost time.” Sister Marija smiles almost mischievously. She radiates that of which she speaks. “The more people dedicate themselves to others, the greater their contentment and happiness.”

Sister Marija Bešker in front of the hospital where she work. 

 

In 2017, Aid to the Church in Need donated approximately $120,800 to a number of communities of religious sisters in Bosnia-Herzegovina for subsistence aid, pastoral work and transportation.

 

 

 

 


 

ACN Project of the Week – Argentina

19.07.2017 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Argentina, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Sisters, SUBSISTENCE

Argentina

 

Support for Sisters in the poorest diocese of the country

 

For Father Werenfried van Straaten, the founder of the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), suffering and need were never an abstract problem. For him it was always about the individual, a person with a face and a name, a child of God.

 

It is very easy to dismiss any sense of personal involvement when it comes to a statistic, a mere number can mean very little to us. However, the fate of an individual person with a face and a name is not as easy to distance ourselves from, for it touches us inwardly; it is a direct appeal to us personally and to the heart.

 

On his many travels around the world, Father Werenfried encountered a great many people living in poverty and destitution, in whom he saw God himself as weeping. They had names – Anna, Pablo and John, Maria and Miguel. He had looked them in the eyes, and what he had seen was for him a cry for help. He asked himself – and all of us – the question: “How is it that we are so comfortably situated? These people live beneath the same sun and the same stars as we do. God also created them on the sixth day, to be kings of creation. Where then is their kingdom? This trampling of their human dignity is a mortal sin against nature, a crying injustice. In addition, we too will personally share in this injustice if we do not do everything in our power to banish it from the world – everything in our power!”

 

 

A human crisis

Very few people know there are regions in Argentina where people live in the direst poverty. One such region is a diocese with the long name of “San Roque de Presidencia Roque Sáenz Peña.”  It is one of the poorest dioceses in the country and this, on paper, seemingly dry statistic is in reality a human crisis for those involved. Some of these people live in dirty, damp, unhealthy hovels or even under plastic sheeting. There are sick people barely being cared for, emaciated children, living off little more than a little flour moistened in water, gaunt-looking mothers…

 

The diocese covers a vast area of over 27,000 square miles (70,000 km²) in the north of the country, characterized mainly by savannah and dry forestland. It is home to the descendants of various indigenous tribes who in the past used to live as nomads. Many still live as hunter-gatherers. Now the large Agro industries, which are encroaching ever further on their traditional territories, are increasingly restricting their traditional lifestyle, grubbing up the forest and establishing vast soybean plantations. At the same time, the goats and cattle of settlers and small farmers are eating the forest bare.

Bringing home the truth

The Catholic Church is the only organization supporting these people. However, the distances are huge and there are only very few priests. Therefore, the support of the religious Sisters is vital. At present, there are 38 religious from various different congregations working in the diocese. They are supporting the people in many ways and bringing home to them the truth that they are indeed children of God. They visit the families in the villages, care for the sick and elderly, pray with the people and, while bringing them urgent and vital help, while at the same time managing to introduce a little light and laughter into their poverty-stricken homes.

 

We regularly help these sisters and this year once again we plan to support them in their modest lifestyle, for all the work that they do is offered entirely free of charge. We have promised a total of $24,800 to support their life and ministry – just $653 per Sister for an entire year. Thank you to our benefactors!

 


 

Press Release – Hope in Erbil

10.01.2017 in ACN International, ACN International, ACN Interview, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, by Mónica Zorita, Christmas in the Middle East, Iraq, Press Release, press@acn-intl.org, SUBSISTENCE

Christmas Celebration in Erbil – Community of Father Luis Montes IVE

Iraq

After the liberation of villages in the Nineveh Plains

Christmas celebrations filled with hope in Erbil

“There is still a long way to go before the refugees can return to their homes. The region is riddled with bombs,” Father Luis Montes reports. In fact, the area he says has been “riddled with land mines.”

Iraq: the remnants of a statue of Our Lady in the Mar Quryaqus (Qeryaqos) in Batnaya destroyed by  Daesh  (Picture – December 2016)

“The refugees in the northern part of Iraq know that Christians from other countries have kept them alive,” Father Luis Montes, episcopal vicar of the Latin bishop for Kurdistan who has lived in Iraq since 2010, reported to Aid to the Church in Need. This year, Christian refugees in the northern part of Iraq are twice as excited to celebrate the birth of Christ. This is because the vast majority of the villages on the Nineveh plains, which have been under occupation by the “Islamic State” (IS) since the summer of 2014, have now been liberated. At the time, 120,000 people fled the advancing jihadist threat, leaving their homes in great haste.

“When we received the news that IS was retreating, a spontaneous celebration broke out in the refugee camps. The people went out into the streets to dance and sing, as though they did not have any other problems in their lives,” said Father Luis.

In an interview with the international pontifical charity   Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the Argentine priest from the Institute of the Incarnate Word explained that despite this initial joy, very difficult steps must first be taken before the refugees can return to their homes.

According to some estimates, “approximately 60% of the homes on the Nineveh plains were burned down. The terrorists not only seized all of their belongings. They riddled the region with land mines.” They even “put bombs in with children’s toys” so that they would explode when the people returned home.

According to some estimates, “approximately 60% of the homes on the Nineveh plains were burned down.”

 

“It is true that some people were able to return to their houses. However, they were only able to determine that they still exist. Because it is impossible to live there,” Father Montes said gravely. “The mines first need to be cleared out of the entire region. Only then can the villages be restored, and that from the ground up. Everything still needs to be done, the people have nothing left.”

 

December 2016 – seen here, a partially destroyed village of Batnaya in the Niniveh Plain.   

Meanwhile, the refugees are living in Erbil, the capital city of semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, in what is practically a dream state. Most of the country’s Christians are living there at the moment. “They have not lost the hope of being able to return to their homes. They envision themselves living back in their houses, receiving friends and relatives there. Because hospitality is very important to them. Despite everything, Iraqis have lost neither their smiles nor their hope.” Father Luis Montes described them as a model of willpower. They held out all through these horrible years “not only in peace, but also with joy. It is easy being a pastor here because they really live what they say. To talk about forgiveness with them is easy because they forgive without bearing a grudge. They are what gives us strength.”

 

Christmas with blankets and chocolate

Christmas 2016 in Erbil, Iraq. “I find it quite impressive to look into the faces of the children when they see the presents. Not only because of the things in and of themselves, but because people who live very far away were thinking of them.” Father Luis Montes

The Christmas holiday is celebrated very intensely in the northern part of Iraq. The houses and streets are decorated with Christmas trees and lights. A very special atmosphere pervades. During Advent, believers prepare themselves by going to confession and Masses are highlights of the celebration during these days.

The Argentinian priest describes how chocolate is passed out in the refugee camps after Holy Mass as a sign of joy and brotherhood. If an aid organization has donated gifts, they are also distributed. “I find it quite impressive to look into the faces of the children when they see the presents. Not only because of the things in and of themselves, but because people who live very far away were thinking of them.”

 

These days, the average temperature is minus three degrees Celsius. A great contrast to the sweltering 50 degrees that the country experiences in the summer. The solution is “blankets and more blankets,” because the walls of the prefabricated barracks in the refugee camps are very thin. “Because they had to be built very quickly to accommodate the large masses of people, many of these barracks have construction defects. These are gradually being repaired. Sometimes the families live in flats that they share with other families and that have been rented by the diocese of Erbil.”

Finally a little hope for Iraq!  Shown here, a  Christmas celebration in Erbil.

“They know that Christians from other countries have kept them alive.”

For several years now, Aid to the Church in Need has been providing aid to Iraq.  In Erbil alone, the help given by the international organization has risen to – since 2014 – more than 17 million dollars representing 43% of the local support to displaced Christians and refugees in the Archdiocese of Erbil. This support becomes concrete through various projects throughout the country such as the building of schools, renting flats for refugee families, Mass offerings for priests, and the distribution of Christmas presents or covering the cost of the maintenance for various Christian refugee camps.

Father Luis Montes expressed how deeply he appreciates the charities’ work. He affirmed that the refugees “know that Christians from other countries have kept them alive. They always pray for their benefactors.” Nevertheless, the priest from the Institute of the Incarnate Word asked that the international community not forget Iraq once the Islamic State has been defeated. “This country needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. The people have lost everything.”

 

Mónica Zorita, Aid to the Church in Need International

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Aid to the Church in Need Canada

 


 

Project of the Week in Peru and Bolivia

04.01.2017 in ACN Canada, Bolivia, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN, Peru, Project of the Week, Sisters, SUBSISTENCE

Peru and Bolivia

2015: Sister caring about elderly people in the Highlands of Peru

Support for religious sisters caring for the poor and elderly

The congregation of the “Hermanitas de los Ancianos Desamparados” (“Little Sisters of the Helpless Elderly”) was founded in Spain in 1873 to help poor, helpless and abandoned elderly people who had no one else to care for them.

Today the congregation has no fewer than 204 houses in 19 different countries, on four continents. Most of these are in Central and South America, but the Sisters are also active in the Philippines, in Mozambique and in Europe.

 

Collectively, in Peru and Bolivia, 230 Sisters from the congregation can be found caring for over 2,000 elderly people, above all in the larger cities where the traditional family structures have collapsed, and older people can rapidly become isolated and helpless. It is the Sisters’ charism to focus on the whole person. And while it is of course important to wash and feed and materially support these aging people, it is equally important to show them human warmth and support in their spiritual and psychological needs. This is also part of the Sister’‘ apostolate, which is so ably summed up by their foundress, Saint Teresa Jornet as “caring for the body, so as to save the soul.”

 

We are planning to contribute 10,440 CAD to support the Sisters of the congregation in Peru and Bolivia in their life and in their apostolate.

 

Please click to donate if you wish to support this project or one similar !  

 


 

Help for 12,000 refugee families in Mosul

30.11.2016 in ACN International, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Iraq, Refugees, SUBSISTENCE

acn-20150318-21653-iraq-3

Iraq

12,000 families still need help 

Since the summer of 2014 when forces of the terrorist militia the so-called “Islamic State” declared an Islamic caliphate in north-west Iraq and eastern Syria, spreading fear and horror with their bestial cruelty, some 3.3 million people were forced to flee their homes in Iraq alone – many of them from Mosul and its surrounding area.

Even before that time and since the US invasion of 2003, Mosul had become something of a hell for Christians in particular. Abductions, bomb attacks and the targeted murder of individuals had become the norm.

 

But in June 2014 the city was completely overrun by the forces of IS. Christians were given an ultimatum by the terrorists, either to convert to Islam or be killed, and as a result there was an exodus of all the Christian families from the city itself and its surrounding area in the plain of Nineveh. Many Muslims and those of other faiths also fled, most with little more than the clothes on their backs – many sought shelter in Erbil, an autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan.

 

Still in need

In spite of the good news that certain villages and small towns around the area of Mosul had been liberated, as well as some city neighbourhoods, the return home will not happen tomorrow.  It may still take many months.  The Church which has helped them since their flight in 2014, is still helping.

 

Mgr Bashar Matti Warda, archevêque d’Erbil, a demandé une aide d’urgence afin de fournir des colis alimentaires pendant six mois aux 12 000 familles les plus pauvres. Irak

Msgr Bashar Matti Warda, Archbishop of Erbil, asked for help to support 12,000 of the most needy families who left everything behind in their flight from terror.

In Iraqi Kurdistan where they have found refuge, numerous people need not only a roof over head, but food, clothing and medication, as well as a school for their children.  That is why Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda of Erbil turned to ACN, urgently seeking help for 12,000 of the most needy families who left everything behind them. He asked us to help the people for 6 months by supplying a monthly food parcel, containing: sugar, rice, oil, noodles, tomato purée, canned fish, milk powder and other canned foods such as chicken and mushrooms, and also dried beans. The families also receive a portion of fresh salad. The food parcels are packed and distributed by well-organized volunteer helpers.

 

 

The package containing staple foods for six months comes at a cost of barely 463 dollars per family. Aid to the Church in Need has been able to promise a total of 5,548,000 CAN for the families.

 

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Thanks to your generosity, similar projects are underway and have been completed all over the world. Last year alone, 6,900 projects were supported by you! 


Project of the Week: Bulgaria

09.11.2016 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Bulgaria, Sisters, SUBSISTENCE

Bulgaria

Support for the apostolate of five Franciscan Sisters

 

Bulgaria is now a member of the European Union, but despite this, around a fifth of the 7.1 million or so inhabitants of this Southeast European nation still live in poverty.

 

In fact, one in 10 people are defined as living in “extreme poverty.” Unemployment touches close to 25% of the population. Those who do have jobs often earn so little that they barely make ends meet or support their families. Life is particularly hard for the elderly, who often have to make do on a tiny pension.

 

In the small towns of Zitnitza and Rakovski, there are five Catholic nuns belonging to the congregation of the “Franciscan Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart,” a congregation founded in the 19th century in Italy – present today in 20 countries throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. Their special charism consists in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ through their selfless service of the poor.

 

acn-20140814-12504-2-bulgaria-1

 

Doing “all they can do”

These five religious Sisters visit the poor, the elderly, the sick and lonely people in the area, doing all they can to help them to cope with their difficult lives and combat their loneliness. They also help the poorest families who barely have enough to eat, feeding around 40 people every week who otherwise could not afford a hot meal. They also give religious instruction in the schools and catechetical instruction in the parishes, preparing the younger children for their First Holy Communion and the older ones for the Sacrament of Confirmation.

 

Without the support of ACN benefactors, the Sisters themselves would also struggle terribly to make ends meet.

 

That is why we are supporting the Sisters on a yearly basis, to sustain them in being there for the people who need their help. Once again this year, we are planning to give them 2,175 CAN in answer to their call for help.

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