JOURNEY WITH ACN is our Friday newsletter which is regularly posted to our blog.   Our weekly newsletter was designed to acquaint you with the needs of the Catholic Church around the world – and with various projects we have been able to realize together with ACN benefactors.

Exceptionally this week, we are offering you 2 stories (Lebanon and Madagascar) in homage to Popes John XXIII and John Paul II whose canonizations will take place this coming Sunday.

Today:   Special on the canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II


Bosnia and Herzegovina

Help for the construction of the John Paul II pastoral youth centre in Sarajevo

Following the breakup of the former communist Yugoslavia, a deadly civil war raged in Bosnia and Herzegovina for three years, from 1992 until 1995. The terrible final toll included 243,000 killed, 2 million people uprooted, or “ethnically cleansed” as a result of the splitting up into smaller, independent republics, numerous churches, religious houses, presbyteries and other Church properties deliberately targeted and destroyed. Even today, 19 years after the end of the war, the wounds are still evident.


Despite his age and ill-health at the time, Pope John Paul II would not be deterred from visiting the newly independent republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina in June 2003. During his homily there, he said:

“Beloved sons and daughters of this pilgrim Church in Bosnia and Herzegovina, I enfold you in my arms in order to tell you that you hold an important place in the heart of the Pope. He constantly brings before the Lord the suffering that still hinders your path and he shares with you, full of hope, your waiting for better days.”

He also assured them of his prayers that God “might inspire in everyone the desire for mutual forgiveness. Only in an atmosphere of true reconciliation will the memory of so many innocent victims and their death not have been in vain; instead they will encourage us to build new relations of fraternal love and understanding.”

Now, in the capital Sarajevo, a youth pastoral centre is being built that will bear the name of this great Pope. The first phase of the building has already been completed; now the second phase is beginning. The centre will offer young people from all over Bosnia and Herzegovina the opportunity, whether as individuals or in groups, to take part in pastoral meetings, training sessions and leisure activities. The centre will also have overnight accommodation, so that programs of more than one day can be offered. The motto of the centre is: “Encounter – Reconciliation – shaping peace and a future together”. The director of the centre, Father Simo Marsic explains: “Young people in Bosnia are seeking role models and hope for the future. They long for genuine values and for understanding between the various ethnic groups. Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims must learn to shape the future together.”

The fact that the centre will bear the name of Pope John Paul II is no accident. As the director explains: “The guiding thought in choosing this name was the fact that Pope John Paul II was a builder of bridges with people of all kinds of different origins and beliefs. This bridge building is crucial for the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, for the Balkans in general and in Europe too. Pope John Paul II saw young people as “bearers of the future”. So it was that, at the World Youth Day in Rome in the year 2000, he entrusted to them the responsibility for the future of our country, just as he did during his visit to Banja Luka in 2003. We take these words as a mission statement for the work of our youth centre.”

Aid to the Church in Need is helping with a contribution of $305,600 CAN.



© ACN  - Father Pierino Limonta
© ACN – Father Pierino LimontaMadagascar

A new church in Toamasina, dedicated to Pope John XXIII

By ACN International

Adapted by ACN Canada

Father Pierino Limonta is delighted, for a new church is to be built in his parish. But what makes his joy even greater is the fact that Archbishop Désiré Tsarahazana of Toamasina has decided that it will be dedicated to Pope John XXIII. In this way it will commemorate both the 50th anniversary of the death of the Pope, who will be canonized on April 27 this year, and also the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. “It will be a church of the Council,” the archbishop explains.

“We are all delighted, and the school we will be building will also be named after Pope John XXIII,” says Father Pierino. An Italian by birth himself, he has been a missionary in Madagascar for 36 years. Most of this time he has spent in the jungle, where he shared with the people their joys, their prayers, their hopes and indeed also their sufferings, their sorrows and their sicknesses.

Now, however, he is facing a new challenge, since he has been appointed as parish priest of the Sacred Heart parish in Toamasina. He has exchanged life in the rain forest for life in the jungle of a rapidly developing port city on the east coast of this island nation in the Indian Ocean.

In one of the sprawling suburbs of the city of Toamasina, a new Catholic community has developed. This particular suburb is known as Andranomadio and it forms part of the Sacred Heart parish. The new church is to be built here, where people live in great poverty, but have a deep religious sense.. Holy Mass is being celebrated in Andronomadio for the time being at a temporary location, that is far too small for the many Catholic faithful who must journey a long way on foot to attend Holy Mass in the central parish church.

Work on the construction of the new church in memory of Pope John XXIII actually began on October 11, 2013, and footings are already laid. A school is under construction at the same time, for children to have some prospects for the future. Already, a community of religious sisters are caring for the kindergarten children and children in their first three years of life, but everything is still on a makeshift basis for now. The region around Toamasina is regularly struck by powerful tropical cyclones, and in 1986 the building was almost completely destroyed. It is therefore very important to build a strong and solid structure.


Pope John XXIII once wrote, “We are not here on earth to be custodians of a museum, but to tend a garden that is bursting with flourishing life and destined for a beautiful future.” That is exactly what the Catholic Church in Madagascar is striving to do. Thanks to the hard work and commitment of Father Pierino and the sisters, both the children and the adults in Andranomadio will now be able to look forward to a better future.

Father Pierino Limonta has asked ACN for $76,000 to assist with the cost of building the new church.



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