History – the Foundation and Founder of Aid to the Church in Need International

“The Lord always provided me with what I asked him for the suffering Christians. ” – Father Werenfried van Straaten, founder of Aid to the Church in Need

A glimpse into history reveals the lasting impact that our founder Father Werenfried van Straaten still has today. In the same spirit, are active worldwide in supporting the cause of persecuted and suffering Christians and we will continue to remain true to our core mission in the future.

1947 Father Werenfried van Straaten calls on the people of Belgium and the Netherlands to help displaced Germans, including 3,000 priests (hence the original name “Ostpriesterhilfe”). Giving aid to former enemies was truly a unique act of reconciliation.

1950 Start of the “Chapel Truck Initiative” – 35 trucks are converted into “mobile chapels” for persons displaced from their homeland

1952 Start of aid for the persecuted Church behind the “Iron Curtain”

1953 Foundation of the International Building Order to construct houses and churches for the poor​

1956 After the Hungarian uprising, the local Church is assisted

1959 Start of the Asian Assistance Fund and first encounter of Father Werenfried with Mother Teresa in the “House of the Dying” in Calcutta

1962 Father Werenfried participates in the Second Vatican Council; start of aid to Latin America

1965 Start of aid in Africa

1966 The congregation of the “Daughters of the Resurrection” is founded; the first educational facilities for young African women are constructed in the Congo

1970 Beginning of the relief operation for the Church in Haiti

1975 Relocation of the international headquarters of Aid to the Church in Need from Rome to Königstein/Taunus

1979 Start of the “Children’s Bible” project. The Bible has since been translated into 189 languages; around 51 million copies have been published and distributed to date

1984 Recognition of Aid to the Church in Need by the Holy See as a Universal Public Association of Pontifical Right

1989 Political turning point in Eastern Europe, aid for reconstruction and new evangelisation in the former Eastern Bloc countries

1992 Aid for the reconstruction and the new evangelization in Eastern Europe and start of the reconciliation project with the Russian Orthodox Church

1997 50th anniversary of Aid to the Church at Need (ACN)

2003 Father Werenfried dies on 31 January at the age of 90 in his place of residence, Bad Soden/Taunus

2007 Pope Benedict XVI asks ACN to strengthen its commitment in the Middle East

2011 Elevation of Aid to the Church in Need to a Foundation of Pontifical Right by Pope Benedict XVI