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Christian Tag

 

ACN Project of the Week – Helping those in need in Lebanon

04.03.2020 in ACN BENEFACTORS, Lebanon

ACN Project of the Week – Lebanon 

 

Helping the poor seeking refuge in Zahleh

By ACN International Projects Department, adapted by ACN Canada
Published on the web March 4th, 2020

 

St John the Merciful was a 6th-7th century saint, noted for his generosity to the poor and suffering. Wherever he saw a need, he strove with all his resources to help. By the time he became patriarch of Alexandria he was feeding some 7,900 poor people every day. He died in 619 and is honoured today as a saint both by Catholic and by Orthodox Christians.

 

Saint John the Merciful Table is a program named after him and is run by the Melkite Catholic Church in the Lebanese town of Zahleh, close to the Syrian border. The centre has been up and running since December 2015. It is a place of welcome for all who cannot afford a hot meal every day – serving many Syrian refugees and a growing number of Lebanese citizens as well.

 

Every day, at least 1,000 people are given a hot meal here. About 800 or so people come to the centre themselves for nourishment, while another 200 who are in some way disabled, frail, elderly or sick, receive home visits from the centre’s volunteers bringing with them a hot meal and words of spiritual comfort and human warmth.

 

Nourishing both body and soul

The program was conceived with the idea of providing both food for the body and for the soul. An offering of spiritual and psychological support to those in need. This project represents an important contribution to a great effort to prevent the emigration of Christians from the region. Otherwise, many of these people will likely be forced to try and move abroad in order to feed themselves and their families.

Thanks to the generosity of our devoted benefactors, ACN is able to support this excellent project again this year, with a total of 1,320,000!

Are you inspired by this project? To give and make another similar project a success – click above and select: Project of the Week.

ACN News – Asia Bibi: An encounter with an icon

28.02.2020 in ACN, Pakistan, Persecution of Christians

Asia Bibi in France

An encounter with an icon

 By Thomas Oswald for ACN International
Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada
Published online February 28, 2020

 

Asia Bibi has requested political asylum while in France. This Pakistani Christian woman, whose fate ACN has followed closely since she was first sentenced in 2010, recently gave an interview to ACN France, Aid to the Church in Need’s national office in France.

Asia Bibi is visibly tired. Interviews and official meetings have taken up the few days she has spent in France. Nonetheless, she manages to smile for the photographers with their constantly clicking cameras and valiantly gives her consent for a the long succession of interview requests. “It is thanks to the media that I am still alive,” she insists.

Victim of an absurd law

In fact, she owes the end of her personal Calvary to one French journalist in particular, Anne-Isabelle Tollet, whom she calls “her sister” and who has helped her with the publication of the book Enfin libre! (Free at last! French edition published by éditions du Rocher – due to be published in Canada in April or May, in French). This autobiography relates how this Pakistani Catholic peasant woman has come to be a world icon of resistance to Islamic fundamentalism.

 

Asia Bibi with French journalist, Anne-Isabelle Tollet

Accused of blasphemy by her Muslim neighbours, Asia Bibi spent nine years in prison on    death row, faced with the constant threat of execution. Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws are frequently invoked simply as a means of settling scores between neighbours, and may result in the direst consequences. Often those accused have been lynched by enraged crowds or else “disappear” or commit “suicide” in prison. The media attention given to the case of Asia Bibi undoubtedly helped save her from such a fate.

 

Finally acquitted on appeal by Pakistan’s Supreme Court on  October 31, 2018,  Ms Bibi was at last able – thanks to international pressure and numerous different twists and turns in her case – to escape the country which held her prisoner for many long years – to find her freedom in Canada on May 8, 2019. Now, a landmark legal precedent has been set, a so-called “Asia Bibi Law” which enables those accused of blasphemy to fight back against their accusers. The anti-blasphemy laws still exist unchanged in Pakistan, but at least now exists a greater risk in using them to unjustly accuse an individual.

 

 

“We have been Christians there for over a thousand years”

“I could never have imagined ever being famous,” Asia Bibi insists in her quiet, gentle voice. She tells of a happy childhood in her native Pakistan: “I used to play together with my Muslim neighbours; there was never any separation,” she recalls nostalgically. Baptized at the age of eight, she never faced any difficulties in living her faith. Speaking of her religious heritage, she recalls the ancient roots of Christianity in Pakistan: “We have been Christians there for over 1,000 years.” However, as she grew up, she became aware of differences separating Christians and Muslims in her country. She heard people speak of attacks against Christians, some victims lynched by enraged crowds. There were also cases of Muslim men in search of a bride who might simply abduct a young Christian woman and forcibly “convert” her in order to marry her.

“There is absolutely no anger in her when she recalls this devastating time of trial in her life, only sadness and weariness.”

 

Christians seen as “unclean”

She also discovered that Muslims regarded Christians as “unclean.” It was on account of this belief in fact that her life abruptly changed on one extremely hot day, June 14, 2009. She was working with some Muslim neighbours when they told her to go and fetch some water. She obeyed, drawing up the water, and then drank a cup of water before taking it to the person who had asked for it. One of the women refused to drink from it, because she maintained that Asia had rendered the water “unclean.”  Asia Bibi defended herself, saying that she did not think that the Prophet Muhammad would agree. To which the woman replied that she had just committed a blasphemy! The consequence was prison, her family forced to flee on account of threats by fundamentalists, and a sentence of death by hanging… It was a judicial saga that only reached its final, but happy, conclusion in 2019. There is absolutely no anger in her when she recalls this devastating time of trial in her life, only sadness and weariness.

 

Not the only one

But Asia also knows that she is by no means the only person to have been placed in this situation, and she wants to use the microphone that is held out to her to speak out on behalf of those who are still suffering from accusations of blasphemy in her home country. She becomes more animated as she speaks, and her previously quiet voice becomes more confident and assured: “Throughout my imprisonment I held the hand of Christ. It is thanks to him that I managed to stay strong. So don’t be afraid!” Seeing this new force and conviction, one can certainly see the strength of this woman who has remained undefeated after ten years of terrible trials. This is the woman who stubbornly refused to leave her family or deny her faith, as she was asked to do after her arrest, in order to escape  conviction.

She has been forced to leave her country and yet she still retains the hope of being able to return again one day. “It is the country of my birth, I love Pakistan with all my heart!”she insists. Meanwhile, Asia Bibi hopes to be able to seek refuge in France. “I’ve been met with a great deal of love here, and I think I will be happy with you,” she says.

 

 

Below, a brief video testimonial with subtitles in French

Project of the Week: Support for the youth apostolate in Pakistan

27.02.2020 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN International, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Family Apostolate, Pakistan, Pastoral aid, Youth Apostolate

Project of the Week:  Pakistan

A spiritual breath for a youth apostolate in Faisalabad

Published on line February 27, 2020

Roughly half of the 207 million people who make up the population of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan are under the age of  25, and one third of these are actually aged 14 or younger. Young Christians, living in a society that is 97% Muslim, face many more and much greater challenges than their Muslim counterparts. In fact, for many Christians it is almost impossible to advance professionally within society. And, the religious minorities such as the Christians find themselves in, the lowest strata of society, Most having to work as street sweepers, labourers, or domestic employees.

 

A Christian name can be enough to block one’s access to higher studies. Non-Muslims are in effect seen as second-class citizens, not full Pakistani citizens. They are even unfavourably portrayed in official school textbooks, and the many services performed by Christians on behalf of the country are passed over in silence. Islam is promoted in almost every area of the curriculum, most notably in the selection of essay topics. Christian pupils are often insulted and excluded, or else pressured to convert to Islam. For Christian girls it is even worse, since they are doubly discriminated against, because  of their gender. And young Christian girls face a very real danger of being abducted and forcibly married to their abductors – also meaning: being forcibly converted to Islam.

2020: Year of Youth!

 

In response to this situation, the Catholic Church in Pakistan is working very hard to encourage Christian youth to take pride in their faith and give confident and capable answers whenever they are confronted with prejudice and ignorance. Many Catholic children also attend one of the many Church-run Sunday schools, but the older teenagers also need guidance and support in living their faith. So it was that in November 2019 the Catholic Church in Pakistan announced a “Year of Youth” for this 2020 year, which will contain a range of different initiatives.

The Youth Commission of the diocese of Faisalabad is seeking support for its youth apostolate program. Its aim:  to strengthen young Catholic women and men in their faith and help them to stand firm – and find their rightful place in society. ACN is supporting this initiative with a contribution of $10,725.

 

Are you inspired by this project? To give and make another similar project a success – click above and select: Project of the Week.

Project of the Week – Support for pastoral outreach in Ethiopia

19.02.2020 in ACN International, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN

Ethiopia

Support for ongoing pastoral outreach to the Borana people

By ACN Projects Department and ACN Canada
Published on the web February 19, 2020

 

Holy Cross Parish is based in the village of Dhadim, in a remote and underdeveloped region of southern Ethiopia. Its people are members of the Borana tribe who were until very recently, nomadic. Today more and more of them are becoming settled, although some continue their traditional pattern of migration with their herds of cattle.

 

At present around 5,000 of the 9,000 people in the area are Catholics, however a growing number of people are also seeking baptism. The parish itself is alive with catechetical classes and Bible study circles and in addition, the vocations apostolate is now starting to bear fruits. Two girls have expressed a desire to become religious Sisters, and five of the boys are showing an interest in the priesthood.

 

The youth are very active with around 250 young people regularly involved in the parish. Thanks to assistance supplied by ACN somewhere between 65 and 100 young people are able to take part each year in a three-day pastoral program in another diocese.

 

Father Kenneth Iwunna, the parish priest and a missionary from Nigeria, reports: “Most of them have never been anywhere except their own village. So for them it is an important new experience to meet together with young people from other ethnic backgrounds and share their life experiences with them. They don’t speak the same language, but we make sure there is someone there to interpret. The young people are able to grow in their faith and enjoy an important new experience of being Church. And it is not only they themselves who benefit from these days, but the whole community, for when the young people come back home, they talk about their experiences in church. And the older people are also very interested to hear about it.”

 

 

Overall, the involvement of the Church has tangibly changed the lives of these people. In the past there were intermittent feuds between members of the various local tribes, but the reconciliation work done by the Church has made a major contribution to the calming of the situation. At the same time, the situation of women has greatly improved in the society. Traditionally, the women of the Borana had no voice and were not permitted to do anything outside the home. But things have changed now, thanks to the work of the Church, and today more and more girls are attending school. And now women can even work as catechists.

 

As we did last year, ACN is proposing to support the pastoral work in the parish with $7,500. These funds will be used for the training of catechists, for the youth meetings and wedding ceremonies for couples wishing to marry in the Church following their Baptisms. The money will be also used to fund retreat days and other pastoral activities in the parish.

 

Are you inspired by this project? To give and make another similar project a success – click above and select: Project of the Week.

ACN Project of the Week – Supporting training in the Amazon region of Brazil

06.02.2020 in ACN Brazil, Journey with ACN

Brazil

Training of 27 seminarians in the Amazon region

 Posted to the web February 6, 2020

 

Currently there are 27 young men from the diocese of Rio Branco in western Brazil training to serve God and their fellow men in the Catholic priesthood. The life that awaits them as priests will be a far from easy one, since their diocese lies to a large extent in the Brazilian rainforest and covers an enormous area of over 40,000 square miles (104,000 km²). The distances they must travel are great, many places can only be reached via river travel.

 

Undoubtedly, their vocation is also in part a fruit of the decades of tireless commitment by the Italian missionary Paolino Baldassarri, who even at the age of almost 90 was still travelling long journeys into the wilderness on his simple boat in order to visit the Catholic riverside communities. Since he could not swim, he always wore a life vest and a motorcycle helmet. He was also a doctor, and continued to practice even at an advanced age, treating and helping innumerable patients.

 

 

When he first arrived in the region, almost half a century ago, he immediately fell victim to malaria in the first week of his stay. But somehow, miraculously, he survived and soon afterwards began to visit the jungle settlements in a simple canoe. Because of the shortage of priests in the region, many families had drifted away from the Catholic faith. Father Paolino won them back. He died in 2016, widely regarded as a saint.

 

 

Today the people’s faith is again in danger, because the 40 priests struggling to minister to the 450,000 or so Catholic faithful in this vast and inaccessible region can only rarely visit some of the remotest villages and settlements. Meanwhile, the religious sectarian groups are spreading rapidly, seemingly well-funded, wasting little time on training their preachers, and promising miracle healings to all the people.

 

In this light, the 27 future priests are a great ray of light and hope for the Church in the diocese of Rio Branco.  ACN is supporting the diocese in providing formation with a total of $15,600  this year.

 

https://secure.acn-canada.org/donate/donation/#utm_source=MAIN_WEBSITE&utm_medium=DONATE_BUTTON&utm_campaign=REDIRECTS

Are you inspired by this project? To give and make another similar project a success – click above and select: Project of the Week.

ACN NEWS – the murder of Nigerian seminarian Michael Nnadi

05.02.2020 in Abducted Clergy and Religious, ACN International, By Maria Lozano, Nigeria

 

Nigeria

ACN expresses great sadness at the murder of Nigerian seminarian Michael Nnadi

Published on the web February 5, 2020

 

Michaeil Nnadi, 18 years old

Great sadness and dismay was expressed by the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN International) at the murder of the 18-year-old Nigerian seminarian, Michael Nnadi on Sunday.

 

Last January 8, Michael Nnadi was He was abducted by unidentified assailants, along with three other seminarians from the Good Shepherd Seminary in Kaduna,northern Nigeria. Whereas his three fellow students were all eventually able to regain their freedom, sadly, Michael Nnadi was found dead on Saturday.

 

“With a very heavy heart, I wish to inform you that our dear son, Michael was murdered by the bandits on a date we cannot confirm. He and the wife of a doctor were arbitrarily separated from the group and killed. The Rector identified the corpse this afternoon,” Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto, Nigeria, said in a statement released on Feb. 1. According to local media, the other murdered person was the wife of a doctor living in Kaduna. She had apparently also been abducted, along with her two children, by armed men on 24 January this year.

 

“I am appalled at the unleashing of such terrible evil,” commented Dr Thomas Heine Geldern, the executive president of ACN. “The news of the brutal murder of this innocent young man saddens me deeply,” he continued.

 

According to Dr Heine Geldern, the local Catholic communities are demonstrating an admirable degree of faith and trust in God, as evidenced by the final words of Bishop Kukah‘s message: “The Lord knows best. Let us remain strong and pray for the repose of his soul.” For the ACN president the task of ACN must be to support and sustain the Nigerian Church on its Way of the Cross, by means of prayer and practical help.

 

“But at the same time, the world needs to wake up. The Nigerian government is facing an enormous challenge. The insecurity is as bad as in times of civil war. Nigeria is a multifaith and multi-ethnic nation, and security must be provided for all,” Dr Heine Geldern insisted.

 

Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto

“His only crime was his desire to serve God”

 

One of the teaching staff at the seminary in Kaduna, who asked not to be named, told ACN: Michael was a young and gifted seminarian. He was an orphan who had been brought up by his grandmother. Just a few weeks ago, after a year of spiritual preparation, he had been clothed in the soutane. It seems that his only crime was his desire to serve God. The security forces and the government have failed him.”

 

Two of the three seminarians abducted together with Michael were released on  January 31. Two weeks ago, another of the seminarians was found, badly wounded, lying by the side of the highway.

 

Kidnappings of this kind are a regular occurrence in the state of Kaduna. According to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), an independent American organization, no less than 114 people were abducted in Kaduna state in January this year alone – the highest number for  any part of Nigeria.

 

ACN Project of the Week – Transportation aid in Belarus

30.01.2020 in Sisters, TRANSPORTATION

Belarus

A car for the Dominican Sisters in Baranovichi

 

Back in 1992, almost immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union, three Dominican Sisters from Poland came to Belarus and began their apostolate in the town of Baranovichi. Evidently, their example was a powerful and attractive one, for the order grew and today has a fine number of local vocations with no fewer than 18 Sisters from Belarus itself. And more young women are waiting to join the order.

 

Today the Dominican Sisters are working in four different locations across Belarus. In the Catholic parish in Baranovichi, today a city of 170,000 people, they perform duties as sacristans and parish clerks, they work with children and young people and care for the sick and elderly. Around a hundred children and young people attend the catechism classes, and the Sisters also prepare adults for reception of the Sacraments. At the same time, they help to ferry the frail and elderly to church or bring them Holy Communion in their homes, comforting and supporting them in many different ways. At Christmas time they organize gifts, with parcels of clothes, food and medical items for those in need.

In urgent need of a vehicle

 

The three Sisters living in Baranovichi have just one 10-year-old car at their disposal, which is becoming unreliable and costly because of needed repairs. They have urgent need of a reliable vehicle, for in addition to their ordinary pastoral duties they also travel to the diocesan Centre in Pinsk for retreats and ongoing formation sessions, a distance of some 180 km (112 miles). They also travel to the Dominican formation house in Minsk (190 km) and the other Dominican houses within Belarus, a distance of up to 300 km in some cases.

 

The Sisters cannot afford a new vehicle from their own resources, so they have turned to ACN for help. It would be helpful for them to have a vehicle with a larger boot, since they often have many things to transport – like the Christmas parcels for example.

We have promised to help them with a contribution of $15,000 towards the cost of a new vehicle. The sisters want to thank all our benefactors in advance and they already enfold you in their prayers!

 

Are you inspired by this project? To give and make another similar project a success – click above and select: Project of the Week.

ACN Feature Story from Nigeria –  A spiritual reflection on the recent terrorist attacks

23.01.2020 in ACN Feature, ACN International, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Tobore Ovuorie, for ACN USA, Journey with ACN
Photo, Nigeria, diocese of Minna – March 2012
St. Theresa´s Catholic Church in Madalla – partly destroyed by Christmas day bombing in the church on 25.12.2011

Nigeria

“Darkness has thrived, but it has never won.”

  A spiritual reflection on the recent terrorist attacks

 

By Tobore Ovuorie, for ACN USA
Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada
Published on the web January 23, 2020

 

The Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) on Dec. 26, 2019 released a video of its fighters beheading 10 blindfolded Christian hostages. And on Christmas day, executing an eleventh person.

 

The victims’ names have not been released. However, an earlier ISWAP video revealed that they’d been taken from the African states of Borno and Yobe (Nigeria). The terror perpetrated by ISWAP and Boko Haram has deeply scared Nigerians, particularly the country’s Christians, who suffered a further shock at the news of the December 26 beheading of a bridal party in Gwoza, in the state of Borno.

 

Aid to the Church in Need spoke about the killings with Father Panachy Longinus Ogbede, the Catholic pastor of the Church of the Visitation in Lagos, Nigeria. Father Panachy said:

 

St. Theresa´s Catholic Church in Madalla – partly destroyed by Christmas day bombing (by Boko Haram) in the church on 25.12.2011

 

“We must never accept violence. It is not a part of our culture. Traditional Nigerians are known to have discussions; our forefathers taught us that an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth leaves everyone blind and toothless. There will always be better and more productive ways to express our grievances.

 

“But many people feel otherwise. They would benefit from a stronger relationship with God, which leads to more positive relationships with other human beings; it’s how the human being becomes sacred in our eyes. And we are quickly losing our sense of the sacred, as well as our sense of community. Egotism and relativism have crept in everywhere, and we have forgotten that there are still objective truths. It is not right to kill your brothers and sisters. It is not right to behave cruelly. I implore Boko Haram and ISWAP to reconsider their ways.

 

 

To stay and live in freedom

 

A little girl at Sunday Mass at St. Rita’s in Kaduna

“The truth is that Christians cannot leave their homelands. Where would we emigrate to? And for how long? We are aliens everywhere we go. Only in our parents’ homes are we safe. We must learn tolerance and fortitude; we must persist and live freely.

 

“The Scriptures predicted hard times for us, but hard times don’t last. Tough people do. Life is filled with ups and downs, which are often the results of human selfishness. And there will always be a Judas among the disciples. There will always be a child who strays. And when they do, they see that it rarely works out.

 

“It’s when things fluctuate that we find opportunities for growth. And in order to achieve that growth, we must accept instability, imperfection, and uncertainty. Life is a mystery and requires our ongoing formation. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but we must walk through that tunnel before we reach it, or even see it.

 

“The early apostles faced persecution, too. But Christ has never abandoned His Church. Without Him, all of us would be gone. Darkness has thrived, but it has never won.”

 

 

 

ACN Feature Story: Religious Sister and sexual assault survivor rebounds to ‘bring her people hope’

15.01.2020 in ACN Canada, ACN International, India, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Persecution of Christians, Religious freedom, Sisters

India

Religious Sister and sexual assault survivor rebounds to ‘bring her people hope’

by Anto Akkara, ACN International

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin for ACN Canada

Posted to the web January 15, 2020

 

In August 2008, the Odisha state’s Kandhamal district witnessed the worst eruption of Christian persecution in modern Indian history. It was sparked by the murder of a local Hindu leader. Hindu radicals labeled the killing “an international Christian conspiracy,” blaming the Pope, Europe, and the United States. They called for revenge on Christians, which led to the deaths of 100 people and the destruction of 300 churches and 6,000 homes. Seven Christians, falsely accused of the murder of the *Swami, spent 9 years in jail. In early December, the remaining five Christians were finally released on bail.

 

Courage alongside trauma

Kandhamal district in Odisha where in 2008 riots by radical Hindus took place against Christians.

During the wave of violence that swept through the Kandhamal district, Sister Meena Barwa was raped and paraded half-naked through the streets. After years of trauma and legal proceedings—which are still ongoing—Sister Barwa decided to enroll in law school and work on behalf of the marginalized. She recently spoke with Aid to the Church in Need:

“The trauma was nearly unbearable, and I moved several times for my own safety, sometimes to places where I could not speak the language. I even wore disguises. For years, I was separated from my family. And the nights were especially bad. I dreamt of the assault often. The knowledge that Kandhamal’s Christians were suffering only added to my pain.

“From time to time, I returned to Odisha for court proceedings. The first trial traumatized me all over again. I couldn’t sleep for days afterwards; I was humiliated, offended, and mentally tortured. I developed a serious aversion to India’s legal system.

“But this did not keep me down. I decided to act on behalf of the people who suffered with me, to pursue justice for them. In 2009, I anonymously enrolled in a college outside of Odisha; I was just one of the girls living in a convent hostel. In 2015, I began a three-year law program, while continuing to attend to my duties as a nun.

 

 

Strength born of suffering and God’s blessings

“Many things have changed in the last decade. Today I lead a normal life, and I have become much stronger. The people I’ve met have helped me forget my pain; I consider them blessings from God. They were angels sent to guide me, so that I did not wallow in misery. Instead, I rose from my trauma and found a way to bring my people hope. I’ve become more humble, more patient, and more human.

“I pray the Lord’s prayer every day. The prayer is only meaningful when I forgive. How can I pray Our Lord’s Prayer if I do not forgive? By forgiving my attackers I have become free of my trauma, fear, shame, humiliation and anger. I feel I am living normal life and am happy because I forgave them. Otherwise, I would have gone mad. I have no ill feeling towards my attackers. I only wish that they become good people.

 

Tribal Catholics in Kandhamal district in Odisha where in 2008 riots by radical Hindus took place against Christians. These villagers have been expelled from their lands, losing all their goods, and have been resettled, often after living for months in the forest or in refugee camps, in another part of the district.

“He has empowered me to serve others”

“I am grateful for my life, my strength, and my sense of purpose, all of which were given to me by God. He is my strength, even as my trial drags on. And He has empowered me to serve others.

“The people of Kandhamal have suffered so much, but they are putting all their trust in the Lord. Suffering in itself is a grace. I see it as a challenge to grow out of it. The Christian community’s attitude towards what happened in Kandhamal in 2008 is not negative. They are hopeful and have a deeper faith. The tragedy has made them stronger. He words of St. Paul come to mind: ‘Who can separate us from the Love of Christ?’ The people of Kandhamal are living this.

* Meaning of ‘Swami’ – a teacher – in Sanskrit language: “One who knows.”

 


Aid to the Church in Need Canada (ACN) published a book called ‘God’s Initiative’ co-authored by Marie-Claude Lalonde and Robert Lalonde, made-up of interviews conducted in 2015 of religious Sisters around the world.  Among them can be found Sister Meena’s story.

Please contact ACN Canada if you would like a copy: suggested donation is $20.  Please call (514) 659-4041 x227 or write to info@acn-canada.org.  All proceeds go to supporting pastoral projects supported by ACN in 140 countries around the world.

ACN News: Four seminarians abducted – Nigeria at risk of becoming a failed state

13.01.2020 in ACN PRESS, Nigeria, Peace

Nigeria

“The government must act now, before it is too late”


by Maria Lozano, ACN International

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada

Posted to the web – Monday January 13, 2020

 

Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation ACN International, has learned with dismay of the abduction of four young seminarians in Kaduna, Nigeria.

Königstein/Montreal, Monday, January 13, 2020 – According to local sources, four seminarians were abducted from the Good Shepherd seminary in the city of Kaduna in northern Nigeria on Wednesday January 8. Shortly after 10.30 p.m. armed intruders broke through the fence surrounding the seminarians living quarters shooting sporadically and forcing their way into the student hostel. They then stole laptops and phones, and finally kidnapped four of the seminarians.

 

Who are these seminarians?

The four young men concerned are Pius Kanwai (aged 19), Peter Umenukor, (23), Stephen Amos (23) and Michael Nnadi (18). All come from various Catholic dioceses across northern Nigeria and had only recently begun to study for the priesthood. There has as yet been no news of them since their abduction and no information as to their whereabouts. Nothing is known thus far of the identity or background of their abductors.

 

Religiously motivated?

According to ACN, there has been no indication of the abduction being religiously motivated up to now.  No clear information about the demand for ransom has been made to the families.

What is concerning is the security situation of the whole of Nigeria’s so-called Middle Belt – which includes Kaduna. The situation is already extremely precarious owing to the numerous and repeated attacks on mainly Christian villages by members of the nomadic Fulani people. Thousands of people have lost all their properties and been left as refugees. At the same time, Islamist Boko Haram terrorist group has continued to perpetrate its atrocities across the northeast of the country.

 

Marie-Claude Lalonde, director of Aid to the Church in Need Canada commented on the news of the abductions saying: “We are devastated.  It is so difficult to believe that these kidnappings have happened and continue to happen.  We feel so powerless in the face of this tragedy happening to our brothers and sisters in Nigeria, to the priests whose role it is to guide and comfort God’s people. Worst of all, it seems that nothing is being done to put a stop to it!“

Dr. Thomas Heine-Geldern, the executive president of ACN International, expressed his outrage at the abduction. “The security situation in Nigeria is appalling,” he said. “Criminal gangs are further exploiting the chaotic situation and making matters still worse.” It is time for the government to address the issue urgently, he said, and protect the lives and property of its citizens. It is the duty of government to guarantee the security of the country and its people, he added. Otherwise Nigeria would run the risk of becoming a failed state. “The murders and abductions remind me of the situation in Iraq before the invasion of the forces of the so-called Islamic State. Already at that stage, Christians were being abducted, robbed and murdered because there was no protection by the state. This must not be allowed to happen to the Christians of Nigeria. The government must act now, before it is too late,” Dr Heine-Geldern insisted.

 

“This violent abduction of innocent young seminarians is a horrific act,” he added. “Two of the victims are not even 20 years old. We appeal to the conscience of their abductors and urge them to release these young men. At the same time, we call on all people of goodwill to join us in praying that the four seminarians will soon be freed unharmed.” Dr Heine-Geldern also expressed his sympathy with the families of the abducted young men and with the remaining 268 students at the seminary in Kaduna. “They must be going through a terrible time,” he said. “For years now Nigeria’s Christians have been going through hell, but their faith remains unshaken,” the ACN president concluded.