Central African Republic: Hope for a country on the brink

10.10.2013 in ACN International, ACN Interview, Central Africa, Central African Republic, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need
Christine du Coudray ©AED/ACN

Christine du Coudray


Christine du Coudray, head of the African section of the international Catholic pastoral charity “Aid to the Church in Need”, speaks about the dramatic situation in the Central African Republic.

The interview was conducted by Eva-Maria Kolmann


You have welcomed the United Nations Security Council resolution which opens the way for intervention in the Central African Republic. Why?

Du Coudray:  We are very happy that something is happening at last. Only a rapid intervention by the international community can free the country from Séléka’s regime of terror. It’s five to twelve! The country is sinking further and further into chaos, and there is a danger of a conflagration which could destabilise the whole region.  This country needs help, not only from the aid organisations but also from the international community! The UN resolution is the first glimmer of hope for a country which has been on the brink for months.


 The fate of the Central African Republic is on the whole of hardly any interest to the general public. Why this indifference?

Du Coudray: The Central African Republic is a forgotten country which also plays no role on the world map of the powerful. Many people don’t even know that the Central African Republic exists! For them “Central Africa” is a term for the geographical region somewhere in the middle of Africa. That’s why the fate of the country also arouses little interest in the media. This is highly regrettable.


On 13 September President Djotodia officially dissolved the Séléka rebel alliance, which helped him to power in March of this year. How do you assess the present situation?

Du Coudray: The situation is becoming steadily more dramatic. Torture, lootings and the murder of civilians are continuing unabated, whole villages are being burnt down and hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee. Our partners on the spot speak of sometimes “apocalyptic scenes”. The ex-rebels are going about their mischief unhindered. Even the road into the capital of Bangui is still in the hands of the ex-rebels. This is actually inconceivable given the fact that they have officially been dissolved. How can a state tolerate people who are regarded as “bandits” controlling the main access roads into the capital?


 On the road out of the capital there was a dramatic incident last week …



Du Coudray: Yes, on 3 October the car of the Italian Carmelite Father Aurelio Gazzera was shot at by a member of the dissolved Séléka at a road block as it left the capital Bangui. On the other side of the road policemen were standing, but they did nothing to stop Séléka rebels’ actions, who, after all, have been declared criminals. The minister responsible for security in the country has not apologised for the incident, quite the opposite. He attacked the victims and accused them of “acting provocatively”. Why does a security minister come to the defence of bandits? In the course of the same day the missionary was followed by cars containing a number of ex-rebels, who tried to cut him off. There are indications that this was an attempted abduction. To put it briefly: Séléka can still make trouble completely without hindrance, and not only in remote villages, but in broad daylight in the country’s capital!

Question: It was announced that the former rebels would be disarmed, but this appears to be taking place mainly on paper …

Du Coudray: Yes, that is indeed the case. Within three weeks it is clear that only 123 weapons have been seized. It’s a complete farce! There are 25,000 ex-rebels in the country terrorising the population and the government is doing nothing to stop them!


Question: What do you expect of the country’s present government?

Du Coudray: The government must finally meet its responsibilities! The schools are closed, wages and salaries are not being paid, the state’s revenues are in the hands of Séléka, the economy is in a terrible state and tensions are rising.  Public life does not function and the country is still being destroyed. Since nobody wants to stop Séléka’s doings members of the population sometimes take measures to defend themselves, and this exacerbates the situation further. But people are simply desperate and don’t know what to do. Who can they call on to help them? The state must finally do its duty. Even in the past it was almost exclusively the Church which took care of the population.


Question: The chaos that reigns in the country is also being fanned from outside. What are the forces involved here?

Du Coudray: A major portion of the Séléka rebels come from the Sudan or Chad. Many of them speak neither the national language Sango nor French, but only Arabic. A part of the “rebels” are now importing Islamism, which has not existed in the country to date. Up to now the co-existence of Christians and Muslims has been good.  Repeatedly there are joint peace initiatives of all the religious communities represented in the country. The native Muslims do not want Islamists and are themselves victims of the attacks!


Questions: We can we as Christians do to support our brothers and sisters in the Central African Republic?



Du Coudray: The people in the Central African Republic urgently need our prayers! The Month of the Holy Rosary in particular gives us the opportunity to pray for our brothers and sisters in this long-suffering country. We Christians have no other weapons than prayer! Let us take up the rosary and plea for peace and protection for this country’s population. In the midst of suffering, death and despair there are also signs today that the Lord has not forgotten this country. The Archbishop of Bangui, Dieudonné Nzapalainga, recently ordained seven young men as priests. Is that not a cause of joy? In his sermon on 29 September he said: “Our faith in Jesus, the victor over evil, demands that we bear greater witness to the hope which lives within us.” The Church also bears witness to this hope on the Calvary of this country, the hope for the resurrection which conquers death.


Syria – “We’re afraid of the winter”

26.09.2013 in Aid to refugees, Syria

By Oliver Maksan, ACN International

Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada

The conflict in Syria can only be solved politically, not by military means: that is the firm conviction of the Syrian Jesuit Ziad Hilal. Speaking to the international Catholic pastoral charity “Aid to the Church in Need” he said on Friday: “The use of weapons will not stop the bloodshed in Syria.

In this I disagree with America and France. Rather the international community must work towards a peaceful solution and convene an international peace conference. In Syria itself the government and opposition must start a dialogue. The arms deliveries must also be stopped, as must the infiltration of Syria by jihadists from all over world.”



In Homs, Father Ziad heads a social centre which provides medical, psychological and other charitable services. It is located in an area controlled by government troops. About 6000 families from Homs and the surrounding area are taken care of there. He is supported in this by about 100 volunteers.

A third winter of war

Father Ziad claimed that the situation in the embattled city of Homs was difficult. “Time and again there are fights between the “Free Syrian Army” and government troops. Recently a bomb fell very close by. Fortunately nothing happened to our secretary, but her home was destroyed.”

Of the 120,000 Christians who used to live here, 6,000 had left the city and fled to other areas in Syria or abroad. The historical city centre was in the hands of the rebels,and it had been totally abandoned for practical purposes, Father Ziad explained. His superior had given him permission to leave the city if he so wished. But he had rejected the idea. “If we go, who will then serve the people?”

Father Ziad is looking forward to the third winter of the war with some trepidation. “We are afraid of the winter. We need everything to get our people through the winter: heating oil, clothing and blankets. I appeal to our fellow Christians in Europe not to forget us.”

Father Ziad is very worried about the future of Christians in Syria. “I’m very much afraid that the exodus will continue. The Christians are an integral part of this country, its culture and history. But if there is not a major change in the situation, it will soon look here like in Iran or Turkey. The countries also had flourishing Christian communities of which hardly anything is left now. May God spare Syrian Christians the same fate.”

To make a donation by  please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333  or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.

To make a donation by please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333
or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.

Press Release: Syria

16.09.2013 in ACN Canada, ACN International, Syria, Uncategorized

“Leave us alone!”

By John Pontifex, ACN UK

Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada

Montreal, September 16th, 2013 – A Syrian prelate – ordained a bishop only last month – has spoken of his dismay at the country’s mass exodus of Christians but is convinced that the future of one of the world’s oldest Church communities is assured.

SYRIEMelkite Greek Catholic Bishop Nicolas Antiba of Bosra and Hauran described how his faithful in southern Syria were fleeing in the hundreds to the area around his bishop’s house in Khabab following attacks which included the destruction of reportedly one of the country’s oldest churches dating back to the 6th century.

Referring to the attack on the 542 AD St Elias’ Church, in Izraa, he said the exodus of Christians from Syria risked becoming as bad as in Iraq where most faithful left their homes.Bishop Antiba stressed the urgent need for help both for displaced people arriving in Khabab and elsewhere, including food and shelter – a problem which will become more acute as the weather worsens.

In comments echoing those last month by Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III, who ordained him bishop on 25th August 2013, the 67-year-old said the crisis is being exacerbated by the influx of fighters and weapons from abroad, which for Bishop Antiba are like “a cancer” threatening to destroy the country. And Bishop Antiba went on to reiterate calls for an end to plans for foreign military intervention in Syria, saying that his message to President Barack Obama is “leave us alone.”

“Arms are like a cancer”

Amid reports that up to a third of the country’s Christian population is now internally displaced or living as refugees abroad, Bishop Antiba said: “I believe – I know – that persecution will not destroy the Church. The blood of the martyrs gives new life to the Church. I have the hope that we will continue to live here as Christians. Yes, we will be fewer in number – just look what happened in Iraq – but I don’t think the country will be left without Christians,” said the bishop speaking after attacks earlier this month on the ancient Christian town of Maloula, which was attacked and occupied by Jihadi groups.

Christians fleeing the town spoke of direct attacks on Christians and reports emerged that the fighters wanted “victory over the infidel.” Earlier, Patriarch Gregorios told ACN that 450,000 Christians in Syria – nearly a third of the total – had fled their homes.

Bishop Antiba said: “Christians are a peaceful people. They do not fight, especially in Syria where we have been living with tranquillity without any problems. We are the people who have no way to fight. Instead we are a peaceful people who are the first ones who are attacked. Christians have suffered very greatly. We are still suffering. It is not easy.”

The archbishop reiterated calls for the US and its allies to abandon options favouring a military strike. “I hope that [the US and its allies] will leave us alone. If arms continue to come into the country, the situation will get worse. It is not Syrians who are fighting Syrians – those involved in the fighting are non-Syrians. Instead of bringing arms into our country, bring peace. Arms are like a cancer – a foreign body that threatens to destroy us.”

Calling on the US to keep out of Syrian politics, he said: “I would say to President Obama, you always talk about peace… please leave us alone and put these ideas of peace into practice.

“You have your own idea of democracy and it is beautiful but it is not necessarily our idea of democracy; let us work out our own idea of democracy.”

M.A.J. :  September 16, 2013

Press Release: Central African Republic

12.09.2013 in Aid to refugees, Central African Republic, Emergency Aid, Uncategorized

More than 3,500 houses burned down in the Diocese of Bouar; thousands of people are fleeing

By Eva-Maria Kollman, ACN International

Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada

Montreal, September 20, 2013 – A dramatic worsening of the situation in the Diocese of Bouar in the north of the Central African Republic has been reported to the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) by the missionary Father Aurelio Gazzera. “Events have occurred thick and fast in recent days, and the aggressiveness of the rebels has increased,” says the Italian Carmelite. More than 3,500 houses have been burned down in the town of Bohong alone. “Apocalyptic scenes have been played out.” Many people have been killed, and their bodies are still lying in the streets, Gazzara reports.

Since August, 6,500 refugees have arrived in Bozoum where one of the Carmelites’ five mission stations is located. Many thousands more people are in flight. Many of these have been hiding out in the bush for fear of the rebels, reports Father Gazzera. “They are deeply traumatized and have lost everything.”

In recent days, there has been heavy fighting in many places around the town of Bossangoa in which at least 60 people have lost their lives. More than 30,000 people, some 80 percent of the inhabitants, have fled. “The situation is very confusing. On the one hand it is said that supporters of the deposed former President Bozize have been fighting against the Séléka; on the other hand, an eye-witness who fled on foot from Bossangoa to Bozoum reported to me that it all began with fighting between the Séléka and young inhabitants of the town,” Gazzera explains. The situation is an “extremely dangerous mixture of different armed groupings and an increasing propensity to violence by the Séléka rebels,” who seized power in the country in March of this year.

“… the worst that is in people’s hearts.”

The missionary, who has been working in the Central African Republic for twenty years, is very concerned about the worsening conflicts between Muslims and Christians. Until recently, according to Gazzera, the people got on well together. But the arrival of Muslim rebels from Sudan and Chad, who only speak Arabic, has “destroyed much”. In the attacks of recent days, in a similar pattern to what generally occurs when the Séléka strike, “not one single Muslim house was burned down.” There have even been numerous cases where young Muslim people have pointed out to the rebels which buildings and facilities they should burn down or loot. “It is as if the coup in March has brought out the worst that is in people’s hearts,” the Carmelite complains.



“It is difficult to say how things will develop,” according to Gazzera. “It is possible that fighting may break out again. But even now, reconstruction will take years: the reconstruction of buildings, but also – what is even more important – the inner reconstruction of the people. The people feel bitter, but they also bear their burden with great dignity. Despite everything, one sees no hatred or anger against those who have brought these sorrows upon them. But the people are also very tired, because nothing is working. The state is absent. People fear the future and cannot see any light at the end of the tunnel. And it seems as though nobody hears all of this and that nothing is being done to solve it. But at the same time there is great faith: the sentence that one hears most often is ‘NZAPA A YEKE’ – ‘God is there’.”

Egypt – Two Years After the Arab Spring

11.09.2013 in ACN International, egypt, Emergency Aid, Persecution of Christians, Uncategorized

Egypt is not only pyramids and sun soaked beaches; it is also a country where the economic and political interests of the world’s great powers intertwine.The Arab Spring popular uprising in Cairo’s Tahrir square in January of 2011, has resulted in the country stumbling toward an uncertain future, evermore polarised between Islamist and secular forces. The Muslim Brotherhood, opposed to secularising tendencies and keen to introduce Shari’ah law, took over the reins of state in 2012. After a controversial year in office, Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, was ousted by the army following nationwide demonstrations. The country seems to be divided between two fractions. Egypt’s citizens are struggling for stability and economic recovery as they face an uncertain future!


Journey with ACN

06.09.2013 in ACN Canada, ACN International, egypt, Emergency Aid


Financing the children’s education

AED International

Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada


ACN promises $42 000 for the victims and their families

What is a small trader to do when all his possessions, his shop, his means of existence go up in flames? How is the father of a family to cope, knowing that he can no longer feed his own family? It is hard to comprehend what A.W. must have felt when precisely this happened to him. As a Coptic Christian, he was one of many victims of the recent violent clashes in Egypt.

The basic rules of peaceful coexistence no longer seem to apply in the streets of Cairo. Since the deposition and arrest of former President Mursi there have been continuing and frequently violent protests on the part of the Muslim Brotherhood. Shops and private dwellings have gone up in flames, and numerous Egyptians now have to confront the ruins of their former existence. “In our diocese many fathers of families have lost their jobs and been forced to withdraw their children from school for financial reasons,” reports Patriarch Ibrahim Isaak Sedrak of the Coptic Catholic Church. He is asking ACN to provide for the support of four affected families, including that of A.W.

All means of existence –  wiped out

Until recently this 40-year-old devout Christian and family man was the owner of ACN-20130823-00290a bookshop. Business was good and he was able to support his wife and three school-aged children. Then the so-called “Arab Spring” broke out, followed later by some of the first attacks, during which his shop was torched.

It was a bitter blow, but A.W. was soon back on his feet. With the help of a loan he was able to rebuild his business. His children grew and flourished, despite the difficult circumstances. A.W. was able to breathe again – until August 14, 2013 that is, when his nightmare was repeated. At a stroke, the livelihood of this proud and independent man was wiped out. For the second time he was forced to watch helplessly as his entire means of existence went up in flames.

This time, however, he was unable to get a loan, since he was already in debt. “I have no work, I have no business. I have been forced to give it up to pay some my debts. I have now moved back to live with my parents, so as to reduce the living costs for our family. My parents are feeding us. The new school year is beginning, but I have no idea how I can pay for the schooling of all my children. And because I am still in debt, nobody will give me work.” So he describes his desperate situation.

With the help of ACN, A.W. would be able to pay off his debts and begin to rebuild his life. “I pray to God that he will help my family and so make it possible for us to go on living here in Egypt,” he writes to ACN, and asks us to pray for him and his family.

ACN would like to help A.W. and others like him who have been particularly hard-hit by the recent violence. We are proposing to send a contribution of $42,000, which would above all enable the children to continue attending school.


donation If you are interested in offering a financial contribution     for this project: please click the button to make a donation on line – or call us at: (514) 932-0552 ext:  226

Brazil “Come on in … it takes less than 15 minutes…”

07.08.2013 in ACN Brazil, ACN Canada, ACN International

 15,000 young people visit ACN’s exhibition at WYD Rio 2013

By ACN International

Adapted by ACN Canada

“Come on in … it takes less than 15 minutes…” This inviting phrase displayed on a two-metre-high screen was seen by the approx. 15,000 young people who came to the exhibition in Rio de Janeiro organized by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) during World Youth Day.

The exhibition was set up to receive ten visitors every three minutes, but on the first day this number was increased to 15 visitors. On the final day, so many people wanted to see the exhibition – which was part of the official cultural program of WYD Rio 2013 – that it was even necessary to take groups of up to 25 persons. The national and international team of ACN staff was supplemented by 40 voluntary WYD helpers to welcome the young people who came to the exhibition venue at Largo da Carioca.

“What impressed me most was that neither the rain nor the cold nor the adversities could diminish the success of the exhibition or the young people’s interest,” said Father Evaristo Debiasi, ACN’s ecclesiastical assistant in Brazil. “The youth is really looking for something very profound, and they see that it is Christ alone who can give – in the very depths of their heart – the answer to what they most desire in life: love and happiness. I could hardly have imagined that, with its short videos, ACN’s exhibition could be so capable of touching the hearts of thousands of people.”

A desire to join in Church action 

The majority of visitors were Brazilians aged between 19 and 25 years who had travelled with groups from the various cities of the country. But the attendance of people working nearby was also noticeable because the ACN exhibition was held at a very central location,and many people were able to take the opportunity to visit it during their lunch break. Among the foreign visitors, people from Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Mexico were represented particularly strongly. The latter were especially moved by the film of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

JMJ - 2The exhibition comprised six darkened tents in which short videos were shown displaying the missionary work of the Church. These made a particular impact on the hearts of the young people. At the end of their tour through the tents, they found the Most Blessed Sacrament set out in a very brightly lit chapel with a translucent roof within the last tent. On encountering the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, they knelt or sat on the floor to meditate – for much longer than the 15 minutes foreseen by the exhibition’s organizers – thus demonstrating that the new generation, which calls itself “the youth of the Pope,” thirsts after God and is also prepared to make sacrifices for what is worthwhile.

Bruno Pires is a 23-year-old Brazilian. He grew up in a Catholic family, but later became alienated from his faith. He found his way back to the Church when, as he put it in his own dramatic formulation, he felt himself to be “a piece of junk that was no longer worthy of life.” He earned the fare for the journey by selling cakes and pizzas: “I was not aware of ACN before, but you are showing what the Church is and what it has done, and this exhibition definitely arouses the desire in young people to join in; perhaps not in a faraway missionary station, but certainly in their own everyday life.” The young man declared: “The exhibition was very dark. One could see the work of the Church, but one could also see sad and dramatic situations. At the end of the show, one entered a totally brightly-lit room in which the Eucharist was displayed, and there one saw Jesus Christ, the light that can change all of that.”

After passing through the chapel, the young people entered the International Pavilion. This held the booths, not only of various national offices of ACN from all round the world, but also of various religious orders and missionary movements that came into dialogue with the young people and opened new horizons for them.

“The exhibition was a great help to me in considering what I can do to help the Church and to help people,” said Malgorzata Szwed, a young woman from Poland who worked as a voluntary helper in the exhibition. “This work of raising people’s awareness of the various possibilities for giving aid throughout the world is very important.”

15,000 young people now carry the name of “Aid to the Church in Need” in their hearts

The exhibition was also visited by the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, who took the opportunity to address a word of thanks to ACN’s benefactors: “I am very pleased to express my greetings to the benefactors of ACN. I was born in the former Czechoslovakia. Our country received much aid from Father Werenfried, as did many other countries of Eastern Europe during the Communist period. This work has now been expanded to cover the whole world, and the support given by the many donations in all countries, also here in Brazil, is a great help for the many needs of the Church. I would like to express my most sincere thanks to ACN’s benefactors: ‘Muito obrigado!’”

JMJ - 3Now, 15,000 young people carry the name of “Aid to the Church in Need” in theirhearts. In order not to lose sight of the charity’s mission, the exhibition showed not only what the Church is doing now but also what still remains to be done. “We believe it is very important for the young people to see that faith is not just a festival. It is necessary for us to do something to make the world around us a better place. And this depends on every one of us,” concluded José Corrêa, the Director of ACN in Brazil.

The exhibition was open from 22 until 26 July. It took place at a central location in the heart of Rio de Janeiro. To the astonishment of the visitors, the Popemobile drove past carrying the Holy Father, who greeted and blessed the young people.

Uganda – Renovation of the seminary in Alokolum

29.07.2013 in ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Pastoral aid, Reconstruction, SEMINARIANS, Uganda

by ACN International

Adapted by ACN Canada

At present, in the village of Alokolum, northern Uganda,  220 young men from various different dioceses of the country are training for the priesthood at the major seminary . This is good news of course, but it also presents the seminary with a major challenge,for now it is bursting at the seams. Therefore, there is an urgent need to renovate one of the seminary buildings housing the seminarians, to keep it habitable given the already very limited space available.

During the civil strife in Uganda, which lasted from 1988 until 2007, the seminary in Alokolum shared directly in the sufferings of so many of its people. During the war, and indeed for some time afterwards,  a refugee camp actually stood within the grounds of the seminary. As part of their studies, the seminarians are given special training in supporting and helping the traumatized population. Many people were forced to watch as their sisters, mothers, daughters or wives were raped and others murdered. Many mothers saw their children abducted and dragged off into the bush.

Significant trauma

The Church was not spared this violence either. For example, on May 11,  2003,  rebels of the notorious “Lord’s Resistance Army” overran the minor seminary in the diocese of Gulu and abducted 41 of its seminarians. The young men were taken off into the bush and forced to train as child soldiers. Twelve remain missing to this day. The people need help now to rebuild their lives. “Almost an entire generation has either been born in or grown up in the refugee camps. The whole culture of work has been destroyed, since each day the people simply took their food rations and now no longer know how to earn their own living,” explains Father Cosmas Alule, the rector of the seminary.

OUGANDAThis is where the Church has stepped in and is providing a great deal of support and counselling to people. It is true that the government is helping to some extent by providing some building materials and seed for people who are returning to their villages, but of course, this does not suffice. “It is a matter of helping the people to re-establish their lives in a psychological, cultural and spiritual sense as well,” the rector emphasizes. A number of priests were themselves abducted, imprisoned, wounded and in some cases even killed during the war.

One priest had his hands shot through with bullets as he was driving on his way to a church. Many seminarians from the current group have also suffered trauma. This presents a real challenge for the instructors. These spiritual directors address these problems intensively. “Yet at the same time, it is a good thing that these future priests have also shared the experiences of the people, for we need priests who know what suffering is. If someone has been through these painful experiences and still has the capacity not to be broken by them, then he can help others much better,” the rector concludes.

ACN is hoping to help with a grant of $27,000  for the renovation of the residential wing, to ensure the seminary will not be forced to turn away any of these young men who are willing to place themselves in God’s service, as good shepherds to their people.

Ukraine – Renovations of a parish

05.07.2013 in ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Catholic priests, CONSTRUCTION, Construction, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Ukraine, Uncategorized

 The following series of texts has an objective to introduce you to the many kinds of assistance needed by various organizations, parishes or Catholic communities throughout the world.  We invite you to travel with us to all the continents that you may see how very important your support is to them.


Enjoy the read !


By ACN International

Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada

The parish of Saint Stanislaus in Balta is the oldest Latin-rite Catholic church in the diocese of Odessa-Simferopol in the south of Ukraine. After the long years of atheist Soviet domination, the parish has come alive once again. Holy Mass is celebrated daily, and there are also many other religious events. Every Wednesday there are catechism classes for the children, on Thursday’s preparation for the First Holy Communion, on Saturdays a Bible study meeting and on Sundays after Mass, catechetical instruction for adults. There are also meetings for altar servers and for adults preparing for baptism or for marriage. “The members of my parish like to get involved, whether in preparing for the religious feasts or in other things for the Church – and not only through their work but also through their financial contributions,” writes Father Marcin Planeta, the parish priest, proudly.

The importance of the sisters’ nurturing

Beginning in 2007 there has also been a community of Vincentian sisters working in the parish. They care especially for the children of broken homes. Many of the parents are alcoholics and cannot look after their children properly. As a result the children themselves become acquainted far too early with alcohol and cigarettes, or begin stealing. The sisters offer these children security and loving acceptance. They also care for their physical well-being, for the sisters have set up a daily mealtime service for the children, who would otherwise not get a hot meal. Afterwards, they can sit quietly and do their school homework, with which they also get support. There are also constructive leisure time opportunities and religious instruction. There are now 40 such children and young people benefiting from the sisters’ help, and their numbers are steadily growing. In the summer they have an opportunity to go camping. By helping the children, the sisters and the parish priest can also reach out to the parents, so that they too can get the help they need.

But the parish has one major problem. It is in urgent need of repair and renovation; the roof is leaking and there is a lack of adequate drainage around the foundations has resulted in considerable water damage and dampness. As a result Holy Mass has to be celebrated in the presbytery. The floor, the external rendering and inner plastering of the walls, the ceiling, the roof – everything needs to be renovated. Despite the generosity of the parishioners, the parish simply cannot afford the total cost of the renovation work, and so Father Planeta has turned to ACN for help. We have promised him $24,400.

If you wish to make a donation, please call us:  (514) 932-0552 or 1 (800) 585-6333

Democratic Republic of Congo – Construction of a chapel in Murhala

21.06.2013 in ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, RDC CONGO, Uncategorized

By ACN International,

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin

Murhala is a small and dynamically growing town, just 100 yards from the National Highway linking Bukavu, the capital of the South Kivu region, with Goma. Of the current population of 13,000 people, some 9000 are Catholics.

Every morning at six o’clock a large group of the faithful gather to pray the rosary and attend Holy Mass. They also pray to Saint Nicholas of Flüe, for whom they have a great devotion, and ask him for peace for their region, torn for so many years by war and violence.

The Catholics of Murhala haven’t a church where they can all gather together, but instead meet in an old wooden house that is slowly crumbling and in a state of decay – but they would like to build a church of their own, dedicated to this particular saint.

To make their dream into a reality, they have now joined forces and on their own backs they have carried the sand, bricks and stones with which they hope to be able to build their church. But they themselves are very poor and survive only by what they can grow on their little plots of land or by working as small traders. Even so, they can barely manage to feed their families. Without outside help they will be unable to finish their church. “That is why they are knocking at the door of their brothers and sisters in ACN,” writes their parish priest, Father Jean de Dieu Karhabalala Mufungizi. “So that they can finish building this church. We have to restore peace. Peace is something we achieve by doing something good and tangible. Uniting people together before God is the best way for the Christians in Murhala to unite them in peace and harmony. We build up the country by building places where people can gather together; we bring peace to a nation by showing it the peaceful face of God. This is what we are doing in Murhala.”

ACN has agreed to help with a contribution of $66 700, to build this chapel which is to become a place of peace.

This project is just one example of our work. Should you wish to support it, or another similar project that accords with the pastoral priorities of ACN, please contact us to make your donation. Thank you!