Iceland – Translation of the Missal into Icelandic

ACN International

Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada


40 years ago work first begun on preparing a Missal in the Icelandic language. Now, in the Year of Faith, the printing of this book has finally become possible, thanks to ACN’s financial support. In fact, Bishop Pierre Bürcher has already personally handed Pope Francis a copy.

There are only 10,000 or so Catholics collectively living on the island of Iceland and they account for just 3.3% of the total population. The good news, however, is that the number of Catholics has tripled within the last 10 years  – now 10 times as many baptisms as burials and each year and somewhere between 5 and 20 adults are baptized during the Easter Vigil. The number of Catholics is also increasing as a result of immigration, mostly arriving from Poland and the Philippines.

Bishop Pierre, who comes originally from Switzerland, remarks: “Previously, when I was still living in Switzerland, I myself did not think that the Catholic Church in Iceland needed any help. But that was in fact a mistake. In reality we cannot survive as Church without help from abroad. We are extremely grateful to ACN.”

Above all, the Church in Iceland needs outside help because there are too few Catholics in the country and because they are so thinly scattered across the island. Many of the practicing Catholics tend to be immigrants who have such little money themselves leaving them little to contribute, while the State makes only a symbolic contribution to the Church.


Syria – Jesuit priest abducted by extremists

By ACN Portugal

Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada


According to Reuters, the news spread that the priest Paolo Dall’Oglio, a Jesuit known for his opposition to the Assad regime, has been abducted by a radical group that calls itself  the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,” which is constituted by militants linked to al Qaeda in Iraq.


The priest, 58, was kidnapped while walking the city streets of Raqqa, a city under the control of rebel forces. The Jesuit, Paolo Dall’Oglio, who has always engaged in dialogue between Christians and Muslims, had been expelled from the country where he lived for nearly three decades, precisely because of his advocacy of dialogue between religions.


In the eighties, he was responsible for restoring the Syrian Catholic monastery of Mar Musa (Monastery of Saint Moses the Abyssinian), in the desert north of Damascus, and the benefactors of ACN supported the reconstruction of the Monastery of the Community of St. Simeon Stylites. Its then superior, Father François Maurad,  was assassinated in June, after an attack by an armed jihadist group known as al-Jabat nustra.

Madagascar – Gratitude for a village chapel and lodging for a visiting priest

ACN International

Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada


The parish of Antsohihy, in north-west Madagascar, lies in a region of primary evangelization where the people are only now coming to embrace Christianity. Around 12,000 people in this area are already Catholic; however, most of the population still adheres to traditional pagan African religions. Within the territory of this vast parish there are 26 mission stations with their own simple chapels – in many cases they are no more than straw huts. An underdeveloped region, with no electricity, telephone or postal services, many of the villages lie in the dense rainforest, and only 40% of the children actually go to school.


Most of the Faith proclamation work is provided by lay-catechists who prepare the people for the sacraments of Baptism, Confession, First Holy Communion, and Matrimony. Clearly, it is impossible for the local priest to be in all these villages at once, so each village has its own catechist to give instruction in the Faith and also to call together the people for a time of prayer.


MADAGASCAR-2The village of Andrafia, with its 1,400 inhabitants, is no exception. It also has its own catechist, but only the priest can actually administer the sacraments, and therefore, twice a month, a priest comes to visit the villagers. Until recently, Holy Mass was celebrated in a hut belonging to one of the village families, but now, thanks to our generous benefactors and a grant from ACN of $57,000, a more permanent chapel has been built recently in Andrafia, as well as a small lodging for the visiting priest who comes from afar. He will now have somewhere to sleep for the night.


Thank you to all


Father Jean Bosco, the diocesan bursar for the diocese of Ambanja, has written to us to thank all our benefactors for helping to make possible the building of this new simple chapel, a much anticipated one for all the Catholic faithful of the region. “I send my greetings, and thank you all, on behalf of all the Christians in the region who helped so enthusiastically with the building of “their” church. Everybody contributed something towards the building of the chapel, so that now the Catholic faithful can gather on Sundays to pray, sing, receive instruction, hear the Word of God and gather round the Table of the Lord to receive the Bread of Life. The young people carried sand and stones, the women collected water and the children spent their playtime watching,” he writes, and concludes: “I assure you of my grateful prayers and those of all the Christians in Andrafia and in our entire diocese.”


ACN interviews His Eminence Cardinal Schöenborn about the YOUCAT giveaway at WYD in Rio

CARDINALACN:  Your Eminence what are your thoughts on WYD Rio?

Schönborn: It is my second time in Brazil. The first time I was here in 1996, and I see a country that is full of live, a Church that is a kind of explosion of vitality. I see so many new communities growing in Brazil. I hear, and I see that there are many challenges, many social challenges but I have the impression that the Christians and specially the Catholic Church in this country is capable with the help of God and with the help of Pope Francis and the inspiration of Pope Francis to bring to Brazil a real new evangelization. I give you just one example: The first day I was here, I went to one of the big churches here in Rio and to my joy and amazement, I saw so many young people in deep prayer, really in deep prayer. And I had the impression that for them, prayer is so naturally a part of their life, it is so integrated in their lives that it makes me very hopeful for this country. Thus, I can only bless the Lord for all the good that is growing in this country and especially I am grateful for all the work of Aid to the Church In Need which is such a magnificent work.

ACN: Your Eminence, you just visited our stand where the YOUCAT is being promoted.Can you tell  more about its origin and what you think about its promotion on WYD Rio 2013?


Youcat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Schönborn: YOUCAT is a kind of miracle. It happened, it just happened. Therewere some people who had the courage to try to produce, starting with the big Catechism of the Church and with the Compendium of the Catholic Church, to start a real catechism for young people. And as the Holy Father Pope Benedict said in his preface, at the beginning he had himself great doubts about the possibility to produce the catechism of the Catholic Church, the big one. But then, he saw the miracle that this catechism came to life, and he said, it is kind of a similar miracle that has happened for the YOUCAT. His support was very very important from the very beginning. He was encouraging the project. And through his encouragement, many obstacles could be overcome, because there were many obstacles. I think with the blessing of Pope Benedict, this book has become an immense success worldwide: 27 translations, probably in the meantime even more, all around the world, and such an encouragement was what the blessed Pope John Paul always dreamed of: The new evangelization. With the young, for the young and through the young. The YOUCAT is simply a blessing.

ACN: Your eminence, 1.5 million copies of the YOUCAT were distributed for free by Aid to the Church in Need to the Brazilian young people. What do you think about this initiative?

Schönborn: First I would say that Pope Benedict insisted so much that the YOUCAT be given to all the young people in Madrid, and it was a gift from Aid to the Church in Need to Pope Benedict to make it possible through this big donation in 2011. It was possible to hand over to 1 million young people the YOUCAT in main languages, and now, you have surpassed by far the gift of Pope Benedict from Pope Benedict in Madrid, again thanks to Aid to the Church in Need in Brazil. I think that Fr. Werenfried, probably, in heaven, is applauding the donations from so many persons were used for this purpose. He insisted on catechesis which was a core need of his work. I think he would be in great joy and happiness, and he is, actually, very happy to see the success of YOUCAT and not only in Brazil.

Uganda – Renovation of the seminary in Alokolum

by ACN International

Adapted by ACN Canada

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

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

Significant trauma

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

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

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

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

Rio de Janeiro (WYD) – International volunteers share the enthusiasm of World Youth Day Rio 2013 at ACN’s Missionary Expo

ACN International

Adapted by Robert LalondeJMJ EXPO-1

Coming from eight of the 17 offices of ACN (Aid to the Church in Need) around the world, volunteers say they are “extremely happy” with missionary exhibition sponsored by Kirche in Not in Rio de Janeiro where the 28th edition of World Youth Day is currently taking place.

The exhibition happens at largo da Carioca, one of the most privileged places of Rio de Janeiro downtown, under the title: “We are all missionaries”. The aim of the organizers is to show the youth and the adults who visit the event that by living out charity, praying and spreading the Word of God among those who in need, all of us can be true missionaries of Christ. The exhibition starts with Mass and the Holy Eucharist remains exposed throughout the day, so visitors may pray and them leave their messages to Jesus, expressing their willingness to be missionaries.

Clemence Duquesne, a young lady from France, currently working as a fundraiser for ACN at its bureau in Paris, affirmed that the exposition “is being extremely moving”. “There are many volunteers helping us, and a lot of them are Brazilians which helps making ACN better known. The Church must remain alive and for this, it needs financial support because in certain countries, Catholics do not have the means to sustain their priests and their churches and that is why it is so important that people from wealthier countries may help poorer countries and thus, to be radiant about their faith”.

EXPO JMJ-3Theresa Englaender from Germany, a member of ACN’s staff in Frankfurt, went to Rio to help at the exposition and participate on World Youth Day 2013. “My task here”, she says, “is to invite people passing by to come and see the exposition for themselves and I think that there are quite a lot of people coming. Today, an American woman came spontaneously to me after visiting the exposition and told me she was so moved and touched  with what she saw that she simply came to me and gave me a hug”.

“The love of Our Father is already in us. We only have to pass it on and there are no borders, no frontiers nor limits between people to bring God’s love into their lives. We just need to love our neighbor”. In Theresa’s opinion, all Catholics “are supposed to transmit the love of Our Father and it doesn’t take much on our part: just an open heart, our own hands and the willingness to do good”.

“We have 600 000 benefactors and all of them pray for the people they are helping. I believe this prayer is even more important than every cent given to us, because at the end it helps the donors themselves to live out solidarity and gives them strength to perform their activities. That is priceless”.

A few other movements and Church communities supported by ACN in Brazil are also represented in the exposition. For example, coming from Sicily, Italy, Francesco is volunteering at the stand of the Carmelite Messengers of the Holy Spirit, a young and energetic community of nuns and brothers who work with the poor and the sick in Brazil. In a conversation with ACN International, this young Italian man shares he was deeply impacted by seeing the poverty of the homeless in the streets of Rio but also amazed with the enthusiasm of the Brazilian young Catholics.

“Faith is what truly makes us rich”, says Francesco, “faith and love for Christ, and for the poor, is what actually makes us EXPO JMJ-2happy, not the money”. “Here I found out that the greatest possible gesture of love is to give up one’s own for the others. This is truly an incredible experience”, he concludes.

ACN’s international exposition started on Monday, 22nd and will be open until Saturday, July 27th.

Central African Republic “I can’t remain silent when people are being killed like flies.”

Eva-Maria Kolmann, ACN International

Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada


CENTRAFRIQUE-1Montreal, July 24th, 2013 – In his sermon last Sunday, 21 July, in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Bangui the Archbishop of Bangui, Dieudonné Nzapalainga, had clear words to say. “I can’t remain silent while the sons of this country are the victims of the worst kind of barbarism. I can’t remain silent while Central Africans are being tortured and killed, squashed like flies. I can’t remain silent while our mothers and sisters are being raped. I can’t remain silent while the dignity of the Central African is being trampled underfoot, while innocent people are being robbed, while the just and well-earned fruit of our country is being destroyed and looted as though we were in a house of cards. I can’t remain silent when impunity reigns and a dictatorship of arms is being set up.”


At the same time he forgave those who saw him as a “political opponent” or “wrongly” ascribed to him “political ambitions and power aspirations.” He declared: “I am a shepherd, not a political fighter. I dare to hope that one or other person will hear in my voice the Central African people’s cry of suffering.”


The Holy Mass was being held on the occasion of the first anniversary of his Episcopal consecration. On June 26 of this year Archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga received the pallium from Pope Francis together with 33 other Archbishops from throughout the world. Last Sunday was celebrated in the capital of the Central African Republic as “Action of Mercy”.  At the same time services were held in many countries for peace in the Central African Republic.


This international day of prayer had been initiated by the order of Carmelites in Italy, which maintains five missions in the Central African Republic. The international Catholic pastoral charity “Aid to the Church in Need” had also invited the faithful throughout the world to pray on this day for the people of this country as it descended into violence and chaos.