Formation Tag


ACN’s Project of the Week – Support for the Catholic the families in Togo

07.03.2019 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Africa, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, By Eva-Maria Kolmann, Family Apostolate, FORMATION, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN, Togo

The Fédération Africaine d’Action Familiale (FAAF, or African Family Life Federation) is an initiative for the support of healthy families and the protection of life. It involves doctors of various disciplines, theologians, priests, religious and lay pastoral workers. Its aim is to support families and help them to tackle their problems, offering Africa-friendly, family-friendly and pro-life solutions, as opposed to the alien Western-style solutions which many Africans have by now seen through as a “culture of death.” Instead, they seek to promote a “culture of life” of the kind so frequently referred to by the late Pope Saint John Paul II.

In Togo – West Africa –, the programs of the FAAF have been established since 2005. In the diocese of Aneho in the southeast of the country there are five people who have been involved up to now, for example in giving introductory talks and sessions in the parishes, so as to encourage more people to become aware of issues surrounding marriage and the family and train them to be able to accompany families and married couples.


The meetings address such questions as, “What is God‘s plan for marriage?” and “What does it mean to be a mother or a father?” Couples are encouraged to talk together and grow in mutual love and respect. Another important aspect is natural family planning, which observes and respects the natural fertility cycle of the woman. Husbands also learn in this way to respect their wives and respect their bodies. The goal is an education in love, which emphasizes the beauty and value of human sexuality and the human body and the importance of fidelity and responsibility and openness to life. It is the best way to counter such evils as abortion and the spread of AIDS. At the same time, the program aims to help and accompany families and married couples in conflict and crisis.


There is a great demand for these talks and for personal counselling, and they are hoping to be able to train up 10 more female counsellors. Printed information materials are also needed.
Aid to the Church in Need has promised 17,500 dollars in support of this laudable initiative.


Make your donation now to support family education training in Togo. Thank you very much for your generosity.

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










ACN-Projects of the week – India – Help for the formation of 15 novices Sisters

20.02.2019 in ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Asia, By Eva-Maria Kolmann, FORMATION, India, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN, Sisters


Help for the formation of 15 novices of the Holy Spirit Sisters


The Holy Spirit Sisters are a congregation founded in 1950 in Germany. They work above all in pastoral care and their role is to support the priests in their work. Right from the start it was the desire of their founder that these religious sisters should be given a thorough theological formation, so that they could fulfil this mission as well as possible.


The sisters give catechetical instruction, prepare children, young people and adults to receive the sacraments and organize prayer meetings. They also visit the sick, poor families and the needy, and help them in their difficulties.


One of the pastoral work is to visit families.

In the two regional provinces of the congregation in India, namely Atmadhara and Jeevadhara, there are a total of 207 religious sisters in a region that covers seven of India’s federal states. In the state of Odisha, which until 2011 was called Orissa and which became notorious in the year 2005 on account of the violent and unprovoked attacks against Christians there, the sisters run a hostel or boarding home for 40 schoolgirls whose homes are too far from the nearest school and who would therefore be unable to attend school otherwise. The girls belong to various faiths and ethnic communities, and the sisters seek to convey genuine Christian values to them while teaching them mutual respect, so that their boarding home is at the same time making a contribution to peaceful coexistence among the various religions and ethnic communities in the country.





At the present time the Holy Spirit Sisters have 15 young novices undergoing training. Aid to the Church in Need have promised the congregation $6,750 to help with the cost of their formation. Thank to help us to help them!

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 – Kazakhstan – Books for the Seminarists

07.02.2019 in ACN Canada, ACN PROJECTS, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, By ACN Project Services, By Mario Bard, FORMATION, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN


Books for the seminary in Karaganda


Kazakhstan is a vast country, covering an area of well over 1 million square miles (2.7 million km²), or the equivalent of more than a quarter of the size of the entire United States! Yet it has a population of just 18 million. A former Soviet republic, it has been an independent state since 1991.


The population of the country is 70% Muslim and around 25% are Christians, most of whom belong to the Russian Orthodox Church. Catholics make up only a tiny minority of some 300,000 souls. At present there are barely 100 Catholic priests for the entire country, serving in the four dioceses of Kazakhstan. Most of these are the descendants of former Polish, German, Baltic or Ukrainian people, deported here under Stalin and others.


Kazakhstan is today an exceptional and happy example of friendly coexistence between the Catholic and Orthodox Christians and there are many positive encounters and joint initiatives between them. Therefore, it was, just recently, for the feast of the Orthodox Christmas, which falls on 7 January. Bishop Jose Luis Mumbiela Sierra of the diocese of the Most Holy Trinity in Almaty, who is also chairman of the Catholic bishops’ conference of Kazakhstan, met together with Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Alexander to congratulate him and express his best Christmas wishes on behalf of all the Catholic bishops, priests and faithful in the country. Gifts were exchanged and the two men spoke together about some of the important issues facing both Churches at the present time.


The challenges facing Christians today are also keenly felt by 12 young men currently preparing for ordination to the priesthood in the seminary in Karaganda – the only Catholic seminary in the country. The seminary has asked for our help in providing theological books for the seminary, so that these future priests can enjoy a solid and rounded formation. We have promised $2,250.

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: Formation for young sisters in Brazil

01.11.2018 in ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Brazil, FORMATION, South America


Help for the formation of 50 young religious Sisters


It was only 30 years ago that the religious Institute the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matarà was founded in Argentina. Yet since then it has spread throughout the world, with 160 convents in 35 different countries on all five continents around the globe – such is the measure of its success to date. 


A particular feature of the Institute is its love for the Eucharist, the Mother of God and the Holy Father. The apostolate of the sisters covers a wide field – helping the priests in the parishes, giving retreats and catechetical instruction, teaching in schools, working in the youth apostolate. They also give selfless service in orphanages, homes, old people‘s homes for disabled children and hospitals. Some of the sisters also support expectant mothers in conflict situations, helping them to bring their children safely into the world. A number of them are also involved in the publication of theological books and literature.

The Institute continues to attract many new vocations, particularly in Brazil. Here, the birthplace of the samba, there are 50 young women currently in formation. They need our support so that they can receive a sound and solid training for the religious life and apostolate they will be engaged in. We have promised to help this year with a contribution of $17,145.


Thank you!


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

ACN’s Project of the Week ! – Sierra Leone: teaching materials

07.02.2018 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN PROJECTS, Africa, FORMATION, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN, Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone

Teaching materials for the minor seminary in the diocese of Makeni


Sierra Leone is still struggling to emerge from its state of near-permanent crisis. The consequences of the terrible civil war, from 1991 to 2002, are still all too painfully evident to this day. During this civil war, approximately half the population was forced to flee their homes and thousands of people were killed. One still sees people today with a missing arm or foot, hacked off by the rebels of the so-called “Revolutionary United Front”. So many women were raped, and many children born of rape were left to wander the streets, helpless. The economy is ravaged by poverty, unemployment and corruption and today this country of West Africa is still one of the poorest in the world – a poverty only exacerbated by a series of natural disasters, including above all the devastating Ebola epidemic of 2014.


While around 70% of the population are Muslims, the Catholic Church is nonetheless widely respected, above all for its many schools and the selfless help it has provided to so many people, regardless of race or religion. At the same time, however, the Church is very careful not to neglect the spiritual and religious dimension, and is accordingly stepping up its efforts to promote vocations and provide a solid formation for its future priests.

Discerning in the prayer: one of the crucial step when priesthood seems to call. 


The diocese of Makeni covers a vast area of over 36,000 square kilometres, though it has only 25 parishes. It also has a „minor seminary“ – that is, a form of school that precedes the seminary itself. Here, young boys who feel a calling to the priesthood attend school and are given a normal academic formation. But, in addition to their ordinary schooling, they are also introduced to the religious life. This includes daily Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours, regular personal prayer and spiritual accompaniment. Each month there is a retreat day and at the end of each semester the youngsters take part in a longer spiritual retreat. “The spiritual formation is at the heart of their education,” says the rector of the seminary, Father Peter S. Kanu. Attention is also paid to psychological and social-cultural aspects of their formation, since the training for the priesthood has to address the whole person. “Our future priests are being trained not only for the local Church but also for the universal Church,” the rector explains.


Many of the 40 priests currently working in the diocese also attended the minor seminary themselves and, happily, every year there are one, two, or even several priestly ordinations in Makeni. This is the fruit of an intensified vocations apostolate. “We spend some time in the parishes and schools, talking about vocations. We believe that this apostolate inspires the desire in the hearts of these boys to devote their lives to God,” Father Peter adds.


But now world economic factors are also impacting on the life of the seminary in this desperately poor country. Prices are rising almost daily, and it is a struggle for the seminary to make ends meet. Above all they need school textbooks and Bibles. We are proposing to help the seminary with a contribution of 3,975 dollars, so that they can purchase the necessary materials.


Success Story: Peru

17.01.2018 in ACN International, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, Catechist, Peru, South America


Success Story: Training of catechists in the Rainforest

Deep within the jungle of the Peruvian Amazon region lies the apostolic vicariate of Iquitos, a place only accessible by air or by boat. Though this may appeal to an adventurer on holidays, it represents a major challenge for the pastoral workers of the Catholic Church.


The parishes, which are generally made up of numerous small riverside settlements each one, accessible only by river boat have the possibly of being visited only when river levels allow for travel.  During certain seasons, like in the summer, when there is very little rain and the water level is low, many of the settlements are simply unreachable.

Father Jacek Zygala on his way to a community


Consequently, the local catechists play a very important role in the Church as facilitators for  prayer with the people in the villages, and instructors in the faith who generally sustain the life of the Church for long periods of the year given that the priests simply cannot each and every individual village as often as would be needed to provide the necessary pastoral care to the people. But now, thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, at least in the parish of Santa Clara of Nanay, the training of these catechists can be improved.


Every month, there is a parish meeting of catechists where workshops are provided and a range of different ongoing training opportunities. And at the same time, the catechists themselves can exchange ideas, based on their own personal experiences. Thanks to our benefactors, ACN was able to contribute $8,400 towards the set-up of this program.


In a letter of thanks, Father Jacek Zygala has written us, saying “It is still too soon to speak about the fruits of our work. We sow, and it is God who gives the harvest. But we are happy and satisfied to have been able to make this project a reality. Without the financial support we have received from you our missionary and evangelization work would be impossible.” He ends his letter with a heartfelt thank you to everybody who has helped!

Fr. Jacek Zygala with his pastoral team, Carococha

You can give to a similar project. Thank you!

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 – for Sisters in Guatemala

20.07.2016 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, CONSECRATED LIFE, CONSTRUCTION, Contemplative Sisters, Guatemala


A  house for the relious formation of Sisters 

The Congregation of the Sisters of Martha and Mary was founded in 1979 in the diocese of Jalapa. In this very poor region of Guatemala, there is also a great shortage of priests, and the congregation was established partly  to counter the proliferation of religious sects.


The Sisters combine a contemplative life of prayer with an active life of fraternal charity. They also support the work of a small number of priests; caring for disabled children, orphans, the lonely and the elderly as well as people who have fallen into drug addiction. They also teach in some of the poorest and most neglected areas in the region.


This young congregation rejoices to have been blessed with numerous vocations and have watched it expand steadily. Now they number 700 Sisters altogether working in Latin America, Africa and Europe – with more and more young women showing eagerness to join the congregation.


Les religieuses préparent la cuisine dans le lieu de formation.

The Sisters preparing food at their training centre.

In Jalapa, no fewer than 200 young novices are currently undergoing formation. But the congregation is poor and does not have the appropriate buildings or facilities for training so many young Sisters. So far they have been using rented premises which are truly unsuited for their purpose. For example, the young women have to sleep 24 to a single dormitory and there is a shortage of many basic necessities.


In order to cope with all these new vocations and to provide these young women with an appropriate formation and preparation for religious life, the congregation is now building a two-story house, with an attached chapel, dormitories and classrooms.


Aide à l'Église soutient la construction d'une Maison de formation pour les religieuses de Marthe et Marie. Aidez-nous à les soutenir! Merci.

donateThey have appealed to ACN for help to build one wing containing three of these classrooms, and we have promised a contribution of  $40,020 CAD.





Our Project of the Week in Brazil

29.06.2016 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Adaptation Mario Bard, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Aide à l’Église en détresse., Brazil, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN, Voyager avec l’AED


New books for a seminary in Diamantina

It was not by chance that the city of Diamantina got its name – for in the 17th century this was the first place where diamonds were found outside of Asia. But, as happens everywhere in the world, those who got rich were only a few lucky ones. There are many men who are still trying to support their families by digging for diamonds here. They are not slaves as their forefathers were, but they earn very little from this backbreaking work. What profit there is goes into others pockets, and anyway, diamonds have become quite rare in the region now.


Au Séminaire du Sacré-Coeur de Jésus, à Diamantina au Brésil, les livres vont servir à nourrir l'instruction des jeunes séminaristes. Grâce à vous!

These men spend months in mountain camps trying to pull these precious stones from the rocks, often leaving their wives and in most cases their numerous children behind to struggle in poverty. Because of these difficult conditions, many of  families break apart, and many children are left neglected. But there are few other opportunities for work. Only a handful of people benefit from tourism, while others, who endeavour to live from making handcrafted items do not find many buyers. The land is rocky and ill-suited to agriculture and until now no industry worth mentioning has been established in the region.


Hope for the future

The city of Diamantina is also the seat of the diocese of the same name. The Archbishop knows that good priests are needed to help the people, to provide guidance for lives to be led with dignity, for as Our Lord tells us in the Gospels, “man does not live by bread alone.” The archdiocese is vast, covering an area of over 18,000 square miles (47,000 km²) – half the size of Portugal, in fact – yet there are only about 60 priests for a population of half a million people.


There is hope, however, for the future in the form of new vocations to the priesthood. In fact there are more than 40 young men currently training for the priesthood in the local diocesan seminary. However, this diocesan seminary is as poor as all the people in the region. The seminarians themselves cannot afford to pay for their own training. They do their best to make themselves useful in the seminary, by cleaning, serving one another at table and performing other menial household tasks. They do so gladly, and with joy, yet this is only a small contribution to the cost of running the seminary. At the moment, the greatest need for the seminary is to upgrade and update the stock of books in its library. For a well furnished library is one of the bases for the sound formation of future priests.



donateAid to the Church in Need and its benefactors are providing the seminary with $4,553  for the purchase of  the books necessary for their training.

Would you like to help support a similar project?




Journey with ACN – Rwanda

04.04.2014 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, ACN International, FORMATION, IFHIM, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN, Rwanda

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

This week:    Rwanda

Bringing “Families of Peace” into being 

By Robert Lalonde,

Translated and adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada 

It was in 1995 when the partnership between Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) and the Montreal Institute of Integration and Formation (IFHIM) was first formed.  Since that time, numerous bursaries have been given to students who have come from countries on every continent.  ACN has supported various other formation projects with pastoral goals.  The following experience is one which merits highlighting.


FAMILLE DE PAIX 3Msgr. Servilien Nzakamwita, the bishop of the Byumba diocese in Rwanda, came to know of the Montreal Institute of Formation and Integration (IFHIM) while assisting in the evaluation of the preceding ten years of commitment by the Ibakwe group (former students of IFHIM in Rwanda).  Profoundly touched by the formative work for peace that these people had accomplished within the country, he expressed his desire to see the benefits he perceived brought forth by means of these initiatives, and the work of the Ibakwe group be provided throughout his diocesan.

After coming to Montreal, where he met with African sisters and priests, as well as the first African missionary to Africa, Jean-Claude Kaburane, a Rwandan, and after having participated in seminars, listening and questions, he decided to integrate a process of humanization in his diocese through which people should be formed.

In 2008, the seed was planted and lay people committed in a variety of milieus, sisters and priests alike, were trained to become ‘bridge builders’.  Then in 2010, a second session would serve to extend the training for people to become a little more solid in order to intercede wherever they were enlisted to help.  Further, in 2011, young people would begin joining in with the adults and people from other religious denominations.


Meeting with 48 couples

After all these experiences, Msgr Nzakamwita, felt concern for families and wished to create ‘families of peace’, people who, above and beyond their differences would come together as people and discover themselves through their own active participation and enter into a lifetime commitment.  So he undertook a process which would support IFHIM to give formations to families which would result in ‘families of peace’.

In July 2012, a caravan of former students from IFHIM, composed of twelve helpful people, with their director Marie-Marcelle Desmarais at the helm as educator, would leave for Byumba to meet with 48 couples, along with two sisters committed to Action for the Family and five priests who had been trained in the sessions and who would eventually become relay contacts in the daily lives of these couples.

“It was of utmost importance to allow these people to discover their vital human strengths in their daily living experiences, for it is from their strengths that they will build love and peace between them and around them,” explained the director, to us.

The couples were then invited to share an experience in which both of them had done something helpful for the other.  They discovered that these initiatives were undertaken in order to treat the other, like a person. And from this understanding, their love for one another was revealed to them.  Before the sheer surprise and joy which began to manifest on the couples faces who dared to speak, it became clear that each one had needed to have these lived experiences.

Afterward, the couples were invited to pair-up, two by two, to uncover the riches in their lives, those which they could invest in. “If you could have seen their faces light-up as they discovered these experiences which they never would have spoken of,” said the educator.  The whole process also allowed them to see how they were able to become aware of the effects of their anger toward their children, which would result in a decision to learn how to manage it in order to truly love them.


 “What kind of medicine have you given them?”

At the end of the session, all wished to share an experience related to their process: “What we have just learned,” said one among them,” truly shapes us.”  My life will never be the same.  I would like to turn my home into an oasis of peace.  I have decided to help my wife and my children, for I was even preventing my children’s peace.”

Six months later, Auréa, the Ibakwe coordinator, who was sure the Byumba couples would become ‘Builders of Bridges for Peace’ and also multipliers in their entourage, communicated with Msgr Nzakamwita.  Here is what he said: “The group continues to meet and to live in solidarity and in dialogue with one another. They have become ambassadors for other couples who have not followed the course.  I even heard one person who holds a position of authority in the country ask what kind of medicine we have given them, because the number of trials dealing with domestic conflicts has decreased.”

A new session took place in August 2013 as a follow-up to the last.  Even though it is not the best time of year to attract massive participation, not only did many couples return, but they were accompanied by many newcomers. The experienced couples said, “As much as the newcomers, those of us who are experienced need to be, and to profoundly become,“builders of bridges of peace,” in order to bring into being “families of peace” in our world torn by all kinds of violence.”

The number of couples continues to grow.  From 50 they have expanded to 86. “The next step,” concludes Sister Marie-Marcelle,” consists in equipping them for their mission as multipliers.” This formation deserves to be supported year after year, especially if we wish to see the number of families who will benefit grow even more and expand across this country, which has suffered so deeply.

Imagine the hope this represents, for this country which, only 20 years ago lived through an unspeakable genocide!