18.11.2016 in ACN Canada, ACN International, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Religious freedom, World


ACN Report on Religious Freedom Rapport 2016 

“Hyper-extremism” : a threat to World Peace

"I cannot go on living here", laments the father of David, one of the boys killed by the Isis bomb in Qaraqosh. "This country is drenched with blood". The mother, a young woman clothed completely in mourning, buries her head in her hands, weeping. (This was the hardest moment in the trip, please pray for her and for the whole family)

Religious Fundamentalism – more lethal than ever seen before – is unleashing death, destruction, displacement and instability at unprecedented levels, according to a report out today.  This is at least what is concluded in the report published today – online in Canada – by the international pontifical charity, Aid to the Church in Need.

“The Religious Freedom in the World 2016 report, produced by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, warns of the global impact of “a new phenomenon of religiously-motivated violence,” which it terms “Islamist hyper-extremism.”

In defining this new ultra-extremism, the report highlights distinguishing features which are described as evidence of the radicals’ threat to world peace, stability and social harmony in the West.

Iraq, December 2014 A woman with a child at the “Werenfried” centre at the129 District of Ankawa. IRAQ / NATIONAL 14/00247, 150 PVC caravans in Ankawa district for use as emergency accommodation for IDPs (Internally Displaced Peoples) forced from their homes by IS

In fact, key characteristics of “Islamist hyper-extremism” include systematic attempts to drive out all dissenting groups – including moderates, unprecedented levels of cruelty, global reach and the effective use of social media, often used to glamorize violence.

Adding its voice to calls for Daesh (ISIS) persecution to be recognized as genocide, the report’s authors warn of a widespread attempt to replace pluralism with a religious mono-culture.

Extremism threatens diversity

The report, which assesses the situation regarding religious freedom in each of the world’s 196 countries, concludes: “In parts of the Middle East including Iraq and Syria, this hyper-extremism is eliminating all forms of religious diversity and is threatening to do so in parts of African and the Asian Sub-Continent.”

(From left to right) Bishop Joseph Arshad, Father Emmanuel Pervez, footballer Salim Bad and Sumundri Football Club Manager Mohammed Shafiq.

Father Mourad during the press conferece in Rome

Father Mourad during the press conferece in Rome

This is echoed in the report’s foreword by Father Jacques Mourad, a Christian monk who was held by Daesh in Syria for five months before escaping in October 2015.

Fr Mourad writes: “Our world teeters on the brink of complete catastrophe as extremism threatens to wipe out all trace of diversity in society.”

This 13th biennial report, which draws on research by journalists, academics and clergy, records that in the two-year period under review from June 2014 to June 2016, attacks linked to “hyper-extremism” had taken place in one out of five countries worldwide (or 20%) – from Australia to Sweden as well as 17 African countries.

Countering the popular view that governments are mostly to blame for persecution, the report puts the blame on non-state militants in 12 of the 23 worst-offending countries. With refugee numbers at a new high of 65.3 million according to the United Nations, the report describes extremist Islamism as a “key driver” in the massive displacement of people fleeing countries such as Afghanistan, Somalia and Syria.


Some slight improvement

Refugee centre for Yazidi families who had to leave their villages in Northern Iraq because of approaching ISIS fighters. Yazidis are located in several centres around Kurdistan, majority of them being in Zakhu and Dohuk regions.The Aid to the Church in Need report goes on to highlight the ‘domino effect’ on countries in the West whose socio-religious fabric is being destabilized by the arrival of unprecedented numbers of refugees.

Such problems are, according to the report, compounded by the West falling victim to a sudden increase in fundamentalist Islamist attacks.

According to the report, however, not all problems regarding religious freedom are to do with militant Islam – with a “renewed crackdown” on religious groups reported in China and Turkmenistan and an ongoing denial of human rights for people of faith in worst-offending North Korea and Eritrea where human-rights are practically non-existent.



Nor is the outlook universally bleak – looking at Bhutan, Egypt and Qatar, countries notorious for religious freedom violations, the report found that the situation had improved for faith minorities during the period under review.

This is the 13th edition of this report produced by Aid to the Church in Need. The charity provides emergency aid and help for persecuted and other suffering Christians in 140 countries around the world.

The ‘Religious Freedom in the World’ 2016 report’

is available at  www.acn-aed-ca.org/religious-freedom-report

Feature Interview: Iraq – Archbishop Bashar Warda

17.11.2016 in ACN International, Adaptation Mario Bard, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Chaldean Catholic, Iraq


“People will go back when Mosul is liberated”

The displaced Christians in Erbil will probably not be able to return to their villages in the Nineveh Plain until the of summer 2017. While military operations have broadly secured the area, snipers, mines and pockets of militants remain. Until the final liberation of Mosul, it will be not safe for villagers to return. 

Another fundamental condition for the return of Mosul families will be the reconstruction of their villages. In the meantime, according to Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, internally displaced Christians need to survive the winter in Erbil.

In an interview during his visit [Wednesday November 9] to the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Archbishop Warda said: “Going back I think is certain; people will go back but they need some time. When? This ‘when’ is not a time, it’s a status: when Mosul is liberated, when Mosul is secure, when the government starts moving towards reconstructing and trying to really make these places [Nineveh Plain] secure. Of course some people will stay in Dohuk and Erbil because they have made their life and started small businesses, but if concrete signs are given people will definitely return. We expect this to happen but I would say hopefully by the summer of 2017 we will be seeing people on the ground working, cleaning and trying to open institutions again.”

Concerning the retaking of Mosul, the Archbishop remarked: “We expect a hard battle. It will take time to convince the people living in Mosul that it is good for them to change the situation. We have to wait. We know that Mosul is one of the strongholds for ISIS and they are going to defend their position there until the last minute.”

acn-20161109-47927-bishop-warda-at-acnNotwithstanding the evident challenges ahead, for the displaced Christians in Erbil who were expulsed from the recently recovered region, the Chaldean Archbishop from Erbil observes: “There is hope. People thank God because despite a lot of difficulties at least today we are sure that our lands are being liberated. Finally, ISIS is being defeated; the Cross is victorious and finally this terrible evil [ISIS] is no longer there. People are celebrating Masses and prayers. Every day they are going to check on their properties in these villages. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of destruction: burned churches, some of the shrines were completely destroyed and a lot of houses were burned and furniture looted. We need time for reconstruction and to make these villages a livable again.”


Aid to the Church in Need: 43 % of the support given since 2014

Due to the fact that returning home will be not yet be possible: food, medicine, shelter and schooling for the IDPs in Erbil remain the first and biggest worry for the Archbishop: “People would say, if ISIS is gone the help is no more needed, they could say ‘go on with your life’ but we can’t.  The winter is coming. We need the help here until they can go back.”

Of great concern for Iraqi Christians is not only a possible delay in the liberation of Mosul and consequent postponement of the reconstruction of the villages, but also the possibility that new clashes and conflicts will arise in the area of the Nineveh Plain. The Archbishop said: “We have got the military part of this case but the political and social context is not yet settled. Christians are afraid that the borders of the Nineveh Plain will not be protected from political disputes. There are considerable fears that some people, some groups or parties will use the Nineveh Plains to make their position stronger.” Warda added: “This is why we need the international community to put pressure on all concerned parties and tell them: ‘Enough of wars, enough of violence, let’s have a period of peace also for these people who have been suffering and persecuted, who have experienced a severe genocide.”

Archbishop Warda thanked Aid to the Church in Need which according to his reporting has provided through the Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese 43% of the total ongoing emergency aid for the IDPs in Erbil since the summer of 2014. “I would like to say thank you for your support, your prayers and your help. Without your help we would not be able today to speak about a possible return to the villages in the Nineveh Plain. Because of your help we still have Christian families in Iraq. I ask you to continue this support and to continue to pray and to continue to be a voice for the marginalized and persecuted Christians around the world.”


By Maria Lozano of Aid to the Church in Need International

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Canadian office


Project of the Week – Formation of Seminarians in Brazil

16.11.2016 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Brazil, TRAINING


Formation for 28 seminarians in the diocese of Marília

Brazil still holds onto its place as the most populous Catholic nation on earth. Yet, the percentage of Catholics in the country continues to fall.

Today, only around 72% of over 190 million Brazilians still declare themselves as Catholic, though the exact figures quoted are very general. What is however clear is that this number is declining drastically. A myriad of other sectarian churches have sprung up and continue to proliferate. People tend to be seduced by unrealistic promises of rapid wealth, health or the fulfillment of their dreams.

Over 35,000 of these “free churches” exist now. Many people fall easy prey to their promises, especially the disillusioned and uprooted impoverished people in the shantytowns on the edges of the big cities. Many who have come here from areas in the Northeast of the country afflicted by sometimes years of drought, unable to feed their families in their home areas. Their hopes and dreams for a better life in the big city – are bitterly disappointed.   After spending the last of their money travelling to the much hoped-for “Promised Land,” they can count themselves lucky if they find work. Most end-up unemployed, leading them into a vicious spiral downwards of family breakups, addictions and violence.


Priests available for all! 

Hence the Catholic Church is faced with massive challenges, above all since – in relation to the size of the country and the still very large number of the Catholic faithful – there are far too few priests. The parishes are often huge, with many having up to 100,000 parishioners. And so one of the biggest challenges for the local Church is the promotion of vocations. For where there are no priests, the people are easily drawn away by  sectarian groups, churches or religious associations who offer dreams, but very little in terms of concrete ways to rise out of their situation with a sense of dignity.

In the diocese of Marìlia in the state of São Paulo there are 28 young men currently preparing for ordination to the priesthood. The diocese is huge, covering an area of almost 11,980 km², and is divided into 61 parishes. 729,000 Catholic faithful live here, so that on average each parish has close on 12,000 parishioners. And yet there are just 57 diocesan priests working here. So every new vocation is greatly needed. The young men training at the seminary must be more than priests – they must become good priests. What they require is over and above a  solid academic formation.  They need to be intensively prepared and accompanied on the spiritual and human plane, while at the same time gaining real and practical insight into pastoral work by visiting the parishes,  the Catholic social care centres and institutions and making themselves useful while  acquiring real hands-on experience.


brazil-1We are supporting the diocese with $10,150 towards the cost of their formation.  Would you like to support seminarians like this?  In Brazil or elsewhere?  Give us call! or click the ‘donate’ button below!







Project of the Week: Bulgaria

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


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.




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.




ACN Project of the Week – in Bangladesh

02.11.2016 in Uncategorized


How we helped to build a new parish house

There was great joy among the Catholics of Bangladesh when, on October 9, Pope Francis announced the name of Archbishop Patrick D’Rozario of Dhaka among the list of new cardinals in the Church. In this overwhelmingly Muslim country, Catholics make up only a tiny minority of just 0.2%, and in recent months and years Christians and members of other religious minorities have increasingly been the target of attacks by extremists.

For example, in November 2015 the Italian missionary Father Piero Parolari only narrowly escaped an assassination attempt. In July 2016, some 20 foreigners were murdered by Islamist terrorists who took them hostage in a restaurant in the capital of Dhaka. Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the “Islamic State”. Christians Hindus and Buddhists are increasingly targets of similar kinds of attacks.

Despite this climate of terror, the Catholic faithful will not allow themselves to be intimidated. In this Year of Mercy especially, they have taken the opportunity to confront the violence and terrorism with a spirit of forgiveness.

During this Holy Year, the Catholic Church in Bangladesh has opened three Holy Doors. One of them is in the church of Our Lady of the Rosary in Hashnabad, within the Archdiocese of Dhaka. There are around 3,000 Catholics in this parish; their faith is strong and they play an active part in the life of the Church. The parish church was built in the 1770s by Portuguese missionaries and is one of the oldest Christian buildings in the country. It was renovated not long ago in 2002.


Bangladesh 2 ACN-20160823-45263


However, the adjoining presbytery, which was built 150 years ago, was in a very dilapidated state – so poor in fact that it was at risk of collapsing at any moment and deemed too dangerous to live in, the only solution was to demolish it.


Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, we were able to contribute 21,900 CAN towards the cost of building a new parish house. This new centre, a two-storey building, provides living and working accommodations for the priests, offices for the parish secretariat, guestrooms, a meeting room for various purposes, a kitchen and refectory as well. To the joy of the priests and parishioners, this new building has now already been blessed and commissioned. They all want to express their heartfelt thanks to all who helped them, and promise their prayers for all our benefactors.


donateIf you wish to support similar projects – it is as simple as clicking ‘donate’ and following the instructions.

If you prefer to give us a call – or to donate by mail – you can find our coordinates here. We always look forward to speaking with you!



ACN Interview – Father Jacques Mourad visits Canada

31.10.2016 in Abducted Clergy and Religious, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Aid to refugees, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, By Mario Bard, Syria


Stop the sale of arms!

While travelling through Canada recently, Father Jacques Mourad, a monk from the Mar Mousa Community in Syria, spoke with Aid to the Church in Need.  During a brief telephone interview given before leaving for Europe, the priest – once kidnapped by the ISIS (Islamic State) and held from May to October 2015 – asks Canadians to reflect on the impact of the sale of arms, especially those in the Gulf region, which according to him, find their way into the hands of fighters in Syria.


Picture of Father Mourad, kidnapped on 21st May 2015, carrying a cross. Only this low quality file available (picture sent to Fr Halemba during his trip to Syria)

Picture of Father Mourad, carrying a cross.  He was kidnapped May 21, 2015.

ACN: What would you say to the people of Canada about the war in Syria?

Father Jacques Mourad:  “For my first point:  I wish to thank and convey my thanks from the people of Syria – especially the Christians of Syria – to the Canadian people who opened their hearts and their country.

But, I also say however that importing the Syrian people is not a good solution.

Secondly, what we hope for from the democratic countries such as Canada – who [though] are unable to stop this war – will continue to welcome the refugees, and in so-doing save their lives.  Especially [those who are found] in areas where they are in danger (such as in Aleppo among other places). But, I also say however that importing the Syrian people is not a good solution.

Is it possible to bring the entire country over, for everyone in Syria is in danger! Therefore, the effort [needed] from a country with a good heart and who possesses its freedom [like your own] is to do all that is required to raise awareness [about the consequences of war] and convince the government to do everything in its power to stop the sale of arms.

For it is with these arms – like those Canada is producing and which are sold in the Gulf countries – it is with these arms, which land in the hands of all those who are fighting – that the Syrian people are killed. We have no idea of the death toll, the misery, etc. The fact that this country continues to produce and sell arms – makes it in part responsible for the war in Syria.

Father Mourad during the press conferece in Rome

Father Mourad during the press conferece in Rome

Canadians are invited and called [its government] to reflect and to take into consideration that we are aware of what is happening, that we are wounded and that we are suffering.”

Father Mourad calls on all Canadians to pray for the Syria people and for peace to come.

Father Mourad calls on all Canadians to pray for the Syria people and for peace to come. Since the beginnings of the war in March 2011, Aid to the Church in Need has supported the Syrian people by means of emergency projects developed by the local Churches in Syria.  Whether the need required providing support for lodging for the elderly and sick who cannot leave the country – or for the distribution of diapers, food, and warm clothing for those in need – the pontifical charity has provided support in the amount of approximately 19 million dollars.

The projects continue to develop.  Along with the renewal of the project for milk and diapers to help families, the organization is supporting elderly priests and religious Sisters who are living on the edge of exhaustion with Mass Offerings.  Finally, 600 families will receive help to pay for heating this winter, as the cost of mazut remains prohibitive.




Interview and text by Mario Bard, Aid to the Church in Need Canada

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin





ACN Feature Story – Albania looks forward to the beatification of its martyrs

28.10.2016 in ACN International, Albania, Pope Francis, Prayer, Religious freedom


Looks forward to the beatification of 38 martyrs

 “They were tortured to death. They remained loyal to Christ and the Church,” Bishop Massafra of Shkodër

During the 40 years of communist dictatorship in Albania, praying, making the sign of the cross, or simply wearing a cross around one’s neck – just believing – were all acts punishable by law. In 1967, the Balkan country officially proclaimed itself to be the first atheist country in the world.

Churches, mosques and other places of worship were used as shopping centres, sports halls or theaters; as was the Cathedral of Shkodër was used as a municipal sports arena.  On November 5th, 38 martyrs will be beatified in this place which is very special to Albanian Catholics, for after the fall of communism, the first Holy Mass was celebrated in this very Cathedral.

On the cathedral square dedicated to Saint Stephan, a monument has been erected in memory of the martyrs murdered over the course of history out of hatred to religion. Bishop Vicenz Prennushi, Bishop Frano Gjini, Bishop Jul Bonati, Don Alfons Tracki, Don Anton Muzaj, Ms María Tuci … and more, counting to 38 of the faithful.  “Before they were tortured and executed by shooting, they all said, ‘Long live Christ the King, long live Albania. We forgive those who kill us,’” Bishop Massafra of Shkodër, chair of the Albanian Bishops’ Conference, said to the pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).


Thirty-eight stories, of hatred and of terror

María Tuci is the only woman among the Albanian martyrs. She attended the school of the Stigmatines, the Poor Sisters of Saint Francis in Shkodër, and later became a teacher. Her crime was reminding her students of the presence of Christ during the time of the dictatorship. She was arrested and tortured countless times. She was finally put in a bag with a cat. The torturers repeatedly hit the cat with a stick and María later died of the injuries that the terrified animal had inflicted upon her.

Lazer Shantoja, a well-read priest with a special interest in literature and art, was tortured so severely in the environs of Tirana that his own mother begged the murderers to shoot him to finally put an end to his suffering. The priest, writer and deeply patriotic Lek Sirdani was tortured and drowned in sewage.

Ndre Zadeja was the first of those who were executed by shooting. Thus he became the first martyr of the Albanian communist dictatorship. He died in Shkodër. In the interview with Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Massafra said that all who were murdered in that city were forced to go along a particular route that ended at the cemetery wall. There they were “tortured, spat upon, and finally executed by shooting.” The route led them past the cathedral. “This was done on purpose. It was to remind them that they were suffering because of their love for Christ.”

Albania 2 ACN-20160106-34263

 “They are the pride of Albania”

The land with the eagle coat of arms is filled with a pride that transcends borders. It becomes tangible in the thousands of Albanians who were forced to leave their country, especially in the 1990s, in order to have a chance at life. “The beatification ceremony is a joyous festival. Thousands of Albanians all over the world will be following it,” the chair of the National Bishops’ Conference explained. “This small, but great church has given the world church countless martyrs. These were people who had a great loyalty to Christ and the church.”

On the diocesan level, the beatification process of the 38 martyrs of the communist dictatorship began in November 2002 and ended in December 2010. Last April, Pope Francis signed the Decree of Beatification, ensuring the 38 martyrs would be beatified on November 5, 2016.

Despite five hundred years of occupation through the Ottoman Empire, countless raids and the reticence of the communist dictatorship, “Catholicism continued on in Albania. This is thanks to the martyr church,” Bishop Massafra said. Thousands of people lived in concentration camps or in prisons because they believed in God “or in Allah”, the Albanian bishop emphasized. After all, about 60% of the Albanian population was Muslim.


Albania 1-20160106-34256Pope Francis: “powerful testimony”

Many died, but others survived the torture.  For example, Sister Marije Kaleta and the priest Ernest Simoni, who will join the College of Cardinals on November 19, gave their testimony during the papal visit to Albania in September 2014, to which Pope Francis was visibly moved: “To listen to a martyr speak about his own martyrdom is powerful indeed!” Pope Francis said at the press conference held during the return flight from the Balkan country.

Francis embraced the two survivors and emphasized that God had “held” them and helped them survive the torture as well as the uncertainty of whether they “would be shot dead or not.” These martyrs played a very important role in the concentration camps and in the prisons because they were the “secret consolers of the other prisoners,” Bishop Massafra explained. They could secretly celebrate Holy Mass and distribute communion, as Ernest Simoni described in his speech before Pope Francis.


The Church in need in Albania

Since the collapse of the dictatorship in 1991, the international pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need has carried out more than 125 projects in Albania, including the building of churches, spiritual centres and a seminary for diocesan priests. Furthermore, it has distributed copies of the Youcat, a catechism of the Catholic church that was written for young people. In addition, help is also being provided here and there, one example being a van that was bought for the Franciscans so that they can drive children from rural areas to catechesis. There is an enormous sign on the back of the van that reads, “Jesus lives.” The convent of Discalced Carmelites in Nënshat is also receiving support; this is another way in which aid is being given.

In the Land of the Eagles, the Catholic Church is a great help to the population because aid is provided to everyone, irrespective of their religion. In Albania, 70% of the population is Muslim, 20% Orthodox Christian and 10% Catholic.



Text by Mónica Zorita, ACN International

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin



ACN Project of the Week – in Ecuador

26.10.2016 in ACN BENEFACTORS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Ecuador, Project of the Week, Reconstruction, Sisters


Help to renovate the convent of the Poor Clares


The town of San Miguel is situated in central western Ecuador, in the province of Bolívar, the name translates into Saint Michael (the Archangel). Since 1902 the town of San Miguel has had a Marian shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, including a grotto modeled on the one in the original shrine in France.

Just as in Lourdes, there is a spring here that is reputed to be a source of healing. In fact, this shrine has now become an important place of pilgrimage that is visited by pilgrims from all over the country. Particularly large groups of pilgrims tend to come in Mary‘s month, the month of May, and in September too when there is a great feast, lasting for two weeks and ending with the feast of the Archangel Michael on September 29.


Le travail de la terre inclut celui de l'apiculture, chez les Clarisses de San Miguel, Équateur.

Working the land includes beekeeping in Ecuador with the Poor Clares in San Miguel.


Close to this shrine dedicated to Our Lady, is a convent belonging to the Poor Clares.  Sixteen nuns currently live in the quiet of the enclosure, in a strict contemplative life of prayer. Their convent has also been dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes.

The Sisters have chosen to live in poverty.  Nonetheless, they are still must facing the challenge of undertaking major renovations needed for the maintenance of their convent.


ACN is helping with 9,928 CAN for the renovation of six cells, and for the ceiling in the transept in need of repairs.  Thank you to all who helped support these Sisters of the Poor Clares Congregation!


donateIf you wish to support similar projects – it is as simple as clicking ‘donate’ and following the instructions.


If you prefer to give us a call – or to donate by mail – you can find our coordinates here. We always look forward to speaking with you!


Mass for the Persecuted Christians – event in Montreal

18.10.2016 in Aid to the Church in Need Canada, Prayer

Aid to the Church in Need Canada

3rd Mass for Persecuted Christians

On November 4th of this year, the Archbishop of Montreal, Msgr. Christian Lépine, will preside over a Mass dedicated to persecuted Christians for the 3rd consecutive year, which will be celebrated at 7:30 pm at Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral in Montreal. In collaboration with Aid to the Church in Need Canada, this event represents a moment of spiritual solidarity with those who, day after day, suffer persecution because of their religious beliefs.

“Our report on religious freedom will be released on November 15th of this year” says Marie-Claude Lalonde, Director of Aid to the Church in Need Canada. “This information tool is a reminder that when we speak of religion, persecution is often close at hand. Moreover, it seems as though the situation has worsened in 11 countries which were already under observation when the previous report was published in 2014.”


Symbole de cette persécution, à Bagdad en Irak : les tuniques des deux jeunes prêtres assassinés en pleine célébration de la messe, le dimanche 31 octobre 2010, basilique Notre-Dame-du-Sauveur. (photo : 	Father Yoannis Lahzi Gaid

Symbol of this persecution, in Baghdad, Iraq: the robes of the two young priests assassinated while celebrating Mass on Sunday, October 31, 2010, at the Basilique Notre-Dame-du-Sauveur.
(photo: Father Yoannis Lahzi Gaid)

“Unfortunately, alongside their brothers and sisters of other religious traditions, the Christians are the first victims of persecution,” adds the director. “A time of prayer granted to them by their Catholic co-religionists is the least we can do, and we are very grateful to Msgr. Lépine for this essential time of reflection and spiritual union between those who suffer persecution and those who enjoy one of the greatest religious freedoms!” believes Marie-Claude Lalonde.
A trio of young musicians and singers – directed by singer-songwriter Marie-Jeanne Fontaine – will facilitate the musical part of the Mass. “We hope that many other young people will be joining us. We are launching a special appeal for them to show more solidarity with their brothers and sisters in faith,” concludes Marie-Claude Lalonde.


Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral

is located at:
1085 rue de la Cathédrale,
métro Bonaventure.

For more information, call 514-932-0552,
or toll free: 1-800-585-6333.


Thank you for sharing this information within your networks!





Project of the Week – Supporting young mothers in Burkina Faso

05.10.2016 in ACN BENEFACTORS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Burkina Faso, Pastoral work

For the love of life

Supporting young single mothers in Burkina Faso


As soon Antoinette told her boyfriend she was pregnant, he slammed the door in her face. Suddenly, he would have nothing to do with her any longer. And her uncle too, with whom she had been living, simply kicked her out of the house when he learned of her condition.


The 16-year-old found she was completely alone. Fortunately though, the story had a a happy ending. A neighbour told her about the care centre for pregnant women and single mothers run by the Catholic Church in Dedougou. She went to them, sought shelter, and now she can give birth to her baby in a loving, caring and supportive atmosphere.

Antoinette‘s story is far too common a story for many young girls in Burkina Faso. Socially speaking, women very much hang on the bottom rung. Only 14% of so can read or write, and the number of young girls trying to raise one or more children alone is growing.  More often than not, the father of their child will not accept any responsibility for it. Most of these girls are already from poor and disadvantaged families, often with no one to care for them. Many are, in fact, orphaned.

When the girls become pregnant, they are thrown out of the house or forced into abortion. Sometimes they give birth to their baby and then abandon it on a street corner. Many are already compelled to sleep on the streets, because they have nowhere else to go. Others may be fleeing from an arranged marriage, of again may have already slid into prostitution.Too many of these girls and young women only end up in prostitution because they can see no other way of supporting themselves and their babies. This is often the start of a vicious circle in which they might also become infected with HIV and end up in a still worse situation than before. It also frequently happens that they become pregnant again very soon afterwards, still further compounding their difficulties. Sadly, some of these young women end up in such despair – they ultimately take their own lives.


Centre d'accueil en faveur des filles-mères, Dédougou

Supporting young women often rejected from their homes and communities because they are expecting a child. They center in Degougou welcomes these young mothers so that life can flourish in the best conditions.


The centre for young mothers in Dedougou offers hope and a refuge for many girls and women who have ended up in such desperate situations. Here, they are given support and advice, the opportunity to continue their schooling – or go to school for the first time in their lives. Additionally, they are also given the opportunity to train in a useful skill, such as hairdressing. For many of the girls it may be the first time in their lives that anyone has ever cared for or helped them. They learn what it is to feel valued and to what means to feel safe.  They are given the chance to bring their children into the world in the peace and security offered by the centre – resulting in the ability to hope for a better future.


Aid to the Church in Need has been helping for this centre for some time now.


Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, we are able to help again this year, with 21,900 CAD.

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