Nigeria – Help for the renovation of a Major Seminary in Jos

©ACN/AED

ACN International

Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada

In the Western World, many seminaries are forced to close their doors due to a lack of vocations, and many dioceses only have a handful of new priestly ordinations. In contrast, seminaries are simply bursting at the seams in many parts of Africa. The rectors have sleepless nights wondering how they will ever manage to accommodate the many new candidates who wish to join them. The truth is – every potential new vocation that has to be turned away, simply for lack of space, is one too many.

One such institution currently facing this problem is the seminary of Saint Augustine in Jos, central Nigeria. There are 327 young men studying here at the moment for the priesthood. The seminary has already been the target of an extremist attack back in  2008, the neighbouring monastery was also burnt down and it was only thanks to the courageous intervention of the students themselves that the attackers were prevented from doing further damage.

Since then, a group of seminarians have taken turns, each night, guarding the seminary grounds. Keeping the semenary safe is however not the only challenge. There is not enough space for the many students who dwell in it, and the housing building most of the seminarians stay in needs to be extended. The seminary also needs renovation; the walls are cracked and the roof is damaged allowing rainwater to penetrate inside during the rainy season. When this happens, the seminarians living on the top floor use their books to protect them from the rain. In fact, with the passing of time there is an ever greater danger that some parts of the building might even collapse.

There is no way the seminary can afford the kind of extensive building program needed, it already has to pay for the training and living expenses of its many seminarians, and all these costs are constantly on the rise. In the long run, if the building is not renovated it will have even greater problems, and the smooth running of the seminary will be endangered if the building becomes uninhabitable as a result. Where then, would these many seminarians go?

ACN has therefore promised to help the seminary with a contribution of $25,000.

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Ukraine – Renovations of a parish

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 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

India – Renovation of the Carmelite convent in Jordhig

ACN International

Adapted by Robert Lalonde, ACN Canada

The Carmelite Sisters in the diocese of Jalpaiguri in West Bengal are overjoyed – for thanks to the kindness of our benefactors we have been able to give them 37 700$ towards the cost of renovating their convent in Jordhigi.INDE-1

The convent has been in existence since 1977. The bishop at the time had hoped that the contemplative sisters would support the life of the diocese through their prayers. The territory of the diocese is home to almost 5.4 million people, of whom just 131,000 are Catholics, or about 2.4% of the population.

Today there are 14 Carmelite nuns living in the convent who have already made their permanent vows, one sister with temporary vows and one postulant. They spend seven hours a day praying and strive to support themselves by making candles and altar breads and by making and decorating liturgical vestments. The convent also has some areas of land that are used for agriculture.

The Carmelite convent plays an important role in the life of the diocese. Among other things it serves as a place of spiritual recollection and retreat for priests, religious and lay people, including those seeking counsel and spiritual advice. Many people have found their vocation to the priesthood or the religious life in this place.

But the convent was very much in need of renovation – work that has now been undertaken. For one thing, the asbestos roof was a potential danger to the sisters’ health; for another the heavy monsoon rains had taken their toll and caused serious damage to the building. In places the electrical wiring had been damaged or rendered unsafe by the penetration of the rainfall, while on the inside of the chapel wall the damp was causing the plaster to crumble.

Similarly, the sisters’ cells and the guestrooms were in a very poor condition. On top of this, the outside enclosure wall around the convent was slowly but steadily collapsing, so that outsiders were able to get into the convent grounds and steal the food that had been stored after the harvest. This was a bitter blow to the Carmelite sisters, who are only just able to support themselves from the crops they grow. Besides, these intruders were also a real danger to the sisters themselves. That is why they turned to us for help – and why they are now so grateful to the kindness of our benefactors.

This now completed project is an example of our work.