Sudan – Ongoing formation of priests from the dioceses of Khartum and El Obeid

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

 

After almost 25 years of civil war, millions of dead and wounded, millions more refugees, and even after the referendum and establishment of a new nation in the South, the wounds are still fresh in Sudan, and in hearts of many. The danger heralded by new hostilities is never far away. An entire generation has known little else but war, violence, expulsion and destitution.

 

SOUDAN-2Priests in Sudan know all about suffering, it’s not something they’ve merely read about in the paper or watched on television, but something rooted in their personal experience of enduring the bloody Way of the Cross along with their Church in Sudan. Many of the younger priests have scarcely known their country as anything other than a country at war throughout their lives. Many trained for the priesthood in the most difficult conditions.

 

Ever more constricted breathing space for the Church

 

The priests are present for the faithful and support them in every possible respect – pastorally, materially and educationally. They do all this even though they are far too few in number to be able to respond to this ocean of need. Within their own souls, they suffer the same traumas as the rest of the Catholic faithful, and feel such helplessness being empty-handed, as they have nothing to give but themselves. God has called these men to be shepherds to his harassed flock.

 

Since the secession of South Sudan, the Khartoum government has pursued an even more aggressive policy of Islamization, with the continued introduction of the Islamic Sharia law and its application to Christians as well as Muslims. It now applies to both public and private law and is also imposed in the field of education. The goal of fully Islamizing Sudanese society is now a major political issue. Breathing space, for the Church, is becoming ever more constricted.

 

It is a small wonder then, that many priests have reached a limit with their endurance and that some of them undergo severe vocational crisis during these difficult times. The prefect of the Vatican’s clergy congregation, Archbishop Mauro Piacenza has remarked that a priest needs “the heart muscles of a Rambo” in order to muster all the love and spiritual strength he needs to fulfil his vocation, and all the more so, in countries like these.

 

Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako, Archbishop of Khartoum, writes: “Those of us who are responsible for these priests are deeply concerned for their spiritual welfare during this time of great changes, and we want to create an environment in which they can have time to read, to pray and to deepen their faith, so that they in turn can minister to their flocks.”

 

These priests need our support to protect them from the risk of psychological breakdown. The cardinal’s aim is to bring together 68 priests from the Archdiocese of Khartoum, and 22 priests from the Diocese of El Obeid, for a program of ongoing formation and spiritual renewal that they may be strengthened in their vocation and share and tackle the challenges facing them all; where they can mutually comfort and support one another.

 

On four occasions, during this Year of Faith, the priests of the two dioceses will come together. And ACN will be supporting them with a contribution of $12,700.

 

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

 

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Jamaica – Formation for men and women of the Consecrated Life

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

What Richard Ho Lung had seen, had changed everything. The poverty and destitution, the violence and suffering present in Jamaica deeply moved Father Richard Ho Lung. In 1981, this Jesuit priest and university professor set aside his academic titles and duties. He had studied philosophy, English literature, theology, and had lectured at St. George’s College, at the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Jamaica as well as at Boston College in the United States. In 1971, Jamaican-born Richard Ho Lung was ordained to the priesthood. “I was preaching the Word of God, but not really living it,” recalled Father Richard.

JAMAIQUE-2He left the Jesuit order and went to live in slums and ghettos of Kingston, the Jamaican capital. “I got to know the poor and came to understand the Beatitudes of Christ as my mission,” says Father Richard, now aged 73, whose father and mother originated from Hong Kong.

At first, there was considerable astonishment among those he encountered, but very soon people came to admire this priest who had devoted himself to caring for the poor, the elderly and the sick. Drawn by his example, others soon joined him and very quickly a small community of four men, priests and laity, was formed. They called themselves the Brothers of the Poor, because they were indeed accepted within these circles as such.

 

Jamaica:  A young country

The Kingston’s bishop encouraged and supported this young community that had just come into being. Later, the brothers continued their service in the slums by establishing a home for the homeless. Soon after, they began helping prisoners. They drew strength for their growing task of ministering to the material and spiritual needs of the poorest of the poor, from their community life, rooted in faith and regular times for prayer, liturgy and discussion. The young community grew and later changed its name to the Missionaries of the Poor.

The Beatitudes became their guiding rule, while listening and helping became their daily routine. In order to help people find a way out of poverty and violence, the brothers encouraged those involved to adopt a new way of thinking, a fundamental conversion of spirit. Instead of resorting to violence and fighting one another, they were encouraged to embark on joint initiatives together. Father Richard reminded the brothers, “Whatever Christ said, did and suffered, we too must say, do and suffer.” The centres run by the brothers are places not only for meetings and social support but also for silence and prayer.

The concrete spiritual and material needs of society are seen by the community as a challenge. For Jamaica is a young country, the average age of its population being 2.8 million is under the age of 24. The Holy Innocents Crisis Centre was created to meet this challenge, a home and refuge for up to 200 at-risk mothers and their babies, or expectant mothers about to give birth.

The order, Missionaries of the Poor, has now spread worldwide and currently numbers over 500 brothers and priests, not only in Jamaica but also in Haiti, in India, Indonesia and Kenya, the Philippines, Uganda and the United States. They are supported in their work by part-time volunteers as well.

ACN has supported the Missionaries of the Poor in the past and this year we are supporting them once again in Jamaica, with a contribution of $ 27,000 for the formation of 106 brothers and 44 novices, to ensure the continuum of their ministry to the poor and spiritual lives built on solid foundations.

 

 

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

 

 

 

Pakistan – A chapel for a new Christian village for liberated slaves

 

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-Paul resting approximately 25 km south-west of Faisalabad, conveys an atmosphere of peace. The school’s students have painted an outside enclosure wall within which stand a church, a presbytery and school, with colourful images depicting a peaceful world. One of these depicts a lamb, snuggling up trustingly against a lion. The priest has planted fruit trees, and inside the inner courtyard canaries twitter and pigeons coo, while the children play football.

This parish, which was only recently established in February 2010, serves 30 different villages. The parish priest, Father Emmanuel Parvez, certainly has his hands full. “In many villages the people do know that they are Catholics, but they have never seen a priest before,” he writes. “The catechists are a great help to me. They go into the villages, invite the people to pray and come to Holy Mass, visit the sick and prepare the faithful for the reception of the Sacraments. But we urgently need to have a second priest here.”

ACN has already helped with the construction of a new presbytery, since the old one only had one room which served the priest as a bedroom, a dining room, a sitting room and a workroom combined and was already too small, even for one priest.

Improving living conditions

Father Emmanuel has many plans. Above all, he wants to improve the living conditions of all the locals. Even the children have to work in one of the 25 local brickworks that are scattered all along the roadside in this area. The children make the bricks with their bare hands and leave them to dry in the sun. If it rains before the clay bricks have been fired in the kilns, whose tall chimneys dot the countryside, then all their work is wasted. The factory owner simply says, “How can I help the fact that it has started to rain?” And he refuses to pay them.

The people are trapped in near-slavery conditions and live with their families in unhygienic environments in near-destitution. They can lose their jobs from one day to the next, and then  forced to wander seeking shelter somewhere. Worst of all, if they must borrow money from the factory owner, for example, in the case of someone in the family falling ill who needs medical treatment – this can result in the family becoming still more indebted and dependent on the employer. It takes generations to obtain freedom from this kind of slavery debt, because they can never manage to pay back the initial loan at the horrendous interest rates which have been tacked on to the initial loan.

Now Father Emmanuel Parvez is assisting families like these to escape slavery. He wants to build a small settlement, and begin sheltering  families, initially 80 or son. Each will have their own little house, and there will be a school, a small medical aid post and a chapel. Father Pavez requested help from ACN for the construction of this little chapel.

 

A special gift

In fact, he has already been given a rather special gift for this chapel – a 2-foot-high statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague. This copy of the miraculous replica came directly from the famous shrine in Prague. It is sure to be a source of consolation and of blessings for these Christians in Pakistan. For weeks, hundreds of children awaited the Child Jesus’ arrival to their village and prepared themselves for it through prayer. When the statue finally arrived, they welcomed it with a celebration of song and dance.

PAKISTAN-3These children, who have experienced poverty and slavery since their earliest years, are overjoyed that the Child Jesus himself has come to them. He will be given a place of honour in the chapel of the new village, where these former wage slaves are now able to live a life of genuine human dignity for the first time. He will be invoked above all for the protection of the children, who are so terribly threatened in Pakistan, and will also be a great attraction for Catholics from other parishes. Very soon a Holy Mass will be celebrated in Pansara in honour of the Child Jesus, and priests and faithful from the entire diocese of Faisalabad will be invited, as this replica of the renowned image of Prague is carried in solemn procession to its place of honour in the chapel.

Father Emmanuel is particularly concerned for the children who face many and continuing threats here in Pakistan, from the likes of poverty, child labour, terrorism and violence. He would like to help them enjoy a better future and protect them from harm. He has set up numerous different activities for children that are open to Muslim children as well. By playing and reflecting together, he believes they will come to a good and peaceful understanding in life. He is loved by many Muslim families as well, because he helps them too.

Family ties with Shahbaz Bhatti

Not only is Father Emmanuel tirelessly active in his own parish, but he also lectures at the seminary in Faisalabad – for he is a biblical scholar too. He also writes books for children and young people, based on the parables and miracles of Jesus. The students can perform these stories as plays, for example, and so come to appreciate them more deeply. He has written many other books besides, aimed at deepening faith.

PAKISTAN-1Aged 62, he is in fact a cousin of the Minorities’ Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, who was brutally gunned down by machine guns by extremists in March 2011, for having opposed Pakistan’s iniquitous blasphemy laws. Just three weeks after Bhatti’s murder, the Pakistani Bishops’ Conference made an official request to the Vatican to have his name included in the list of Martyrs of the Universal Church. Already in his last interview, the Catholic minister had described his commitment as a “witness for Christ.” Several of Shahbaz Bhatti’s family members have since left Pakistan because they fear for their lives. Father Emmanuel himself has also received threatening phone calls. But he is staying, for he says, “It is better to be a martyr than a refugee.” There are many others who need his priestly ministry, his help and his intrepid witness.There is still a great deal that he wants to do for the people in Pansara.

Father Emmanuel Parvez has asked our help to build a chapel in his village of former slaves. We would like to support his project with a contribution of $17,650.

Will you help us?

 

 

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

Bolivia – Support for the life and ministry of the “Hermanas Marianitas”

 

The following series of texts has the objective of introducing you to the many kinds of aid needed by various organizations, parishes or Catholic communities throughout the world.  We invite you to travel with us to every  continent, that you may see how very important your support is.

 

Enjoy the read !

 

By ACN International

Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada

After Haiti, Bolivia is the poorest country in Latin America. Two thirds of its close to 11 million inhabitants – the great majority of whom belong to the indigenous population – live in poverty and 40% of them in what is classed as extreme poverty. Roughly 83% of the population is Catholic.

In the diocese of Cochabamba there are more than one and a half million Catholics. They are ministered to by just 130 diocesan and religious priests – a ratio of almost 12,000 Catholic faithful for each priest. The average size of each parish is approximately 442 km² – almost double the size of a city like Vancouver, Canada.

In the south of the diocese of Cochabamba, in the region of Alto Pagador, four nuns belonging to the congregation of the Hermanas Marianitas (Marian Sisters) are engaged in offering pastoral care. In a region where there is a great deal of poverty and high unemployment, medical provisions are scarce and basic – nor is there running water or proper drainage. Many women attempt to make a living through illegal trade, while the men who do have work, toil on building sites or work as taxi drivers. Yet the cost of living is climbing constantly, and even when both husband and wife have work, their income is often still not enough to feed their families. Many families break up as a result of the strain.

BOLIVIE-2Father Marco Verberckt writes: “For over 10 years the sisters have been devoted, heart, life and soul, to the work of pastoral care in this parish, above all in the Mary of Nazareth Centre, where they are the ones mainly responsible for the pastoral work. They care above all for needy children and women and provide a midday meals service for schoolchildren. They are engaged in catechetical work with the children and young people and in guiding and encouraging the various youth groups and the childhood and youth missionary groups.”

Two of the sisters also teach in a local school, but the salary they receive is not enough to cover their basic needs. ACN is helping with a contribution of $1,570 to help cover the most basic costs of their life and ministry that they can continue in their vocation to give their lives for others.

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

ANNUAL REPORT 2012

Aid to the Church in Need

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release

A record year for ACN – Over 117 million dollars raised for 5,600 projects in 140 countries

Montreal, Thursday June 20, 2013 – For the first time since it was founded, the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has recorded donations in excess of $117 million . This is reported by the charity in its annual report, published today. It shows that last year the benefactors of ACN in 19 different countries gave donations totalling over $117.9  million – a remarkable $11.2 million more than in the previous year.

From these resources ACN was able to fund no fewer than 5,600 pastoral projects in 140 different countries around the world, the report reveals. The highest individual total ($5.3 million) went to the growing Church in India, followed by Brazil and Ukraine (with $4.9 million each) and Russia, with $2.6 million…

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Democratic Republic of Congo – Construction of a chapel in Murhala

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!

ANNUAL REPORT 2012

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release

A record year for ACN – Over 117 million dollars raised for 5,600 projects in 140 countries

Montreal, Thursday June 20, 2013 – For the first time since it was founded, the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has recorded donations in excess of $117 million . This is reported by the charity in its annual report, published today. It shows that last year the benefactors of ACN in 19 different countries gave donations totalling over $117.9  million – a remarkable $11.2 million more than in the previous year.

From these resources ACN was able to fund no fewer than 5,600 pastoral projects in 140 different countries around the world, the report reveals. The highest individual total ($5.3 million) went to the growing Church in India, followed by Brazil and Ukraine (with $4.9 million each) and Russia, with $2.6 million. Some of the highest subsidies were also given for Church projects in those countries where Catholics had to face political or social crises or repressive state control – for example in the Democratic Republic of Congo (with almost $2.8 million ), in Cuba ($1.8 million) and Vietnam ($1.6 million).

ACN was also very much present in other crisis countries, for example in Pakistan, Iraq and Sudan, where Christians have experienced oppression and persecution; in Syria, currently torn by civil war; in Haiti, which continues to suffer the repercussions of the terrible earthquake of 2010; and in Burma (Myanmar), which still faces an uncertain political future.

According to the report, 27.9% – the largest proportion of the aid given – went on a wide variety of construction projects, for churches, religious houses and community centres around the world. The second largest proportion, 18.9%, included Mass offerings for priests and other forms of financial support for the life and ministry of priests and religious. Other priority areas detailed in the annual report include the theological formation of pastors and pastoral workers (10.6%) and subsidies for the day-to-day pastoral work in the parishes (12.1%). A further 8.3% of the last year’s budget was allocated to the support of various Catholic radio and TV stations around the world.

 

By ACN International

Adapted by ACN Canada