Aid to the Church in Need Canada
A busy fall program!
“This is by far one of the busiest and fall seasons in our history!” declares Marie-Claude Lalonde, National Director of Aid to the Church in Need Canada (ACN) with regard to the upcoming fall program for the organization which will be marked by four major events.
They are: the arrival of Msgr. Ignatius Kaigama, Archbishop of the diocese of Jos in Nigeria and the president of his Episcopal Conference; a campaign to support reconstruction for Christians on Iraq’s Nineveh Plains; a Mass for persecuted
Christians in the Archdiocese of Montreal; the launch of the biennial 2015-2017 Persecuted and Forgotten? Report on persecution of Christians around the world.
“Keeping people informed is part of our mission,” Mrs. Lalonde emphasizes. “To remain faithful to it, nothing could be better than a witness who agrees to meet with us. The archbishop of Jos and president of the Episcopal Conference of Nigeria, Monsignor Ignatius Kaigama, will be in Canada from October 31 to November 4. We can confirm that there will be events in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal and possibly in Ottawa. Nigeria is especially touched by the violent terrorism of the Boko Haram extremist group, and Msgr. Kaigama will be able to help us grasp the point to which – and that despite some progress – the situation remains a worrying one for the population.”
Monsignor Kaigama will participate in celebrating Mass for persecuted Christians, presided over for a fourth consecutive time by the archbishop of Montreal, Msgr. Christian Lépine and celebrated on Friday, November 3rd at the Mary Queen of the World Cathedral (in Montreal). “It will be a unique opportunity to gather for these millions of Christians, who, every day, live with discrimination and persecution as a result of their faith,” recalls Mrs. Lalonde. Robert Lebel, a popular Québec French language singer of religious songs – a priest himself and a good friend of ACN – as well as the choir from the Centre étudiant Benoit-Lacroix, will assure a wonderful quality musical presence for the liturgy.
A campaign and liturgy
Among the four elements to watch for, there will be the launch of a report and of a fundraising and information campaign highlighting the situation of Christians of the Nineveh Plains in Iraq. “Little by little, Christians who fled the Islamic State in summer 2014 are starting to return,” explains Mrs. Lalonde. “Aid to the Church in Need is supporting this process. We have begun the construction and repairs of a hundred or so houses in Christian neighbourhoods in this region. But this is only a beginning. Our campaign aims not only to raise money, but it is also a part of our mission to inform the public about the importance of rebuilding to maintain a Christian presence in Iraq.” Since the second war in Iraq in 2003, their very presence has been threatened by terrorist groups, such as the ‘so-called’ Islamic State. “ We have denounced this genocide they are guilty of perpetrating. Now, and despite the continued fighting in some sectors, we wish to ensure that Iraqi Christians, whose presence has been held by this land for two millenniums, get to go home.” She insists, “This position is not an ideological one. We are talking about their ancestral land. It is where they were born, and their parents and their grandparents were born! Leaving is the last solution and Aid to the Church in Need will do everything it can to help them return to their lands and live there again,” she explains. Videos, calls on social media, and a micro-website dedicated to the task will be the tools used to support the information aspect of the fundraising campaign.
Finally, the Persecuted and Forgotten? 2017 Report is due to be published in early October. Every two years, Aid to the Church in Need takes an inventory and alerts us to the situation of Christians in countries where persecution against them is most pronounced. The report provides information on the lack of religious freedom lived by an impressive number of Christians. “A sad reality that this international report highlights more than every today,” she underlines and finally adding, “The people of the Laurentians will also we gathering for a second vigil on November 8 organized in this region by the Groupe L’Étincelle. This year, Christians in Africa will be honored.
Follow updates from ACN Canada on social networks – Facebook, Twitter, and Google +. Regular updates are also posted to the ACN Canada website: www.acn-aed-ca.org.