25th DECEMBER – NINTH AND FINAL DAY: NOVENA for Central Africa – on CHRISTMAS DAY

 FOR THOSE WHO ARE STRIVING FOR PEACE

“For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore.”

Christmas Eve   (Is 9, 2-6)

ACN-20131212-03626“I will spend Christmas in a small village that has been half burnt down by the Seleka rebels (400 huts burnt out), with people who have lost everything – house and home, beds and mosquito nets, seeds and clothing, and yet they have not yet lost their fear. I am going to spend Christmas with them, to weep or pray, to encourage them, to feel and to be with them, to recite the mysteries of the Rosary so that peace may enter through the pores of our skin and reach our hearts, and to tell them that tomorrow will be better, that calm will return after the storm, that the Lord and his Passion on Calvary is the key to understanding what is happening to us, the key to this and to all the tribulations of the world. May he continue to be our rock during the times of the “dark night … “

Mons. Juan José Aguirre, bishop of Bangassou

ACN-20131214-03690Christmas: Christ, God becomes man; He is the Messiah who came to save us from evil, from hatred, from death.

May this Novena be our support for all our brothers and sisters who by their efforts and dedication are striving so that in the Central African Republic – and in other parts of the world – Christmas may be not merely a commemoration, but a reality.

God is stronger than death, than hatred and war. This is what we believe. This is the root of their hope and their striving.

We also hope that the Central African Republic – a forgotten country that few people know – may become news: because it deserves to be, because it is a country full of beauty and of people who deserve not to be forgotten.

 Aid to the Church in Need 

ACN-20131213-03672

 

Text by Maria Lozano, ACN International

Adapted by Amanda Griffin, ACN Canada


ACN-20131212-03621This concludes our Novena for Central Africa, though our prayers for her people go on in our hearts on this day representing the coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for uniting with us in this time of prayer, reflection and love for those in desperate need of peace, and for continuing in your prayers with us, and other like-hearted people, for the poor and persecuted Church around the world.

We look forward to connecting with you even more in this way of prayer in 2014.  May you be blessed, today on Christmas day, and every day.  Wishing you peace, for this New Year.

Aid to the Church in Need, Canada

 

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24th DECEMBER – Eighth day: NOVENA for Central Africa

Mary Queen of Peace, pray for us!

“Loving Mother of the Redeemer,

gate of heaven, star of the sea,

assist your people who have fallen yet strive to rise again.

To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator,

yet remained a virgin after as before.

You who received Gabriel’s joyful greeting,

have pity on us poor sinners.

                                               Alma Redemptoris Mater

ACN-20130830-00430

© ACN/AED

“I went to a woman who was weeping and was slowly letting the rosary beads pass through her fingers. Together with her husband Jean Bosco she is responsible for the 40 children and young people from the San Pablo orphanage, three stone throws from here. She was thinking about her empty house with all their belongings which could be looted tonight. With the rosary beads of phosphorescent plastic she wanted to prevent a possible violation of her privacy. The rosary is an appeal for peace. I told her she should repeat like the Mother of God: “Do whatever he tells you,” so as to charge the batteries of her hope. Hope leads to peace. Central Africa must leave its past behind, look for peace and live in peace. She answered that she was just praying to fill her heart with a drop of hope, with the first drop for her empty glass. I said to her that when hope is lost, there is still the hope that you will regain hope, which is the twin of prayer.”

Mons. Juan José Aguirre, Bishop of  Bangassou

 

ACN-20131214-03689REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.  Amen.

December 23rd – Seventh day: NOVENA for CENTRAL AFRICA

For hope.

“O Emmanuel, you are our king and judge, the One whom the peoples await and their Savior. O come and save us, Lord, our God. “

COME QUICKLY, LORD. COME, O SAVIOUR!

GRANT US PEACE

“The socio-political situation appears to be desperate. Nonetheless, Advent prepares for the celebration of the happy event in human history: God made Himself one of us in His smallness, his humility and his fragility. He lifts us up from our degradation to fill us with His glory. I am confident that this hope for the people of the Central African Republic will not be in vain. The God who stoops down to the poor, the orphan and the widow, will certainly dry the tears in His children’s eyes and bring them His joy.”

Mons. Nestor-Désiré Nongo-Aziagbia, S.M.A.
Bishop of Bossangoa

 

ACN-20131214-03689REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

Amen.

DECEMBER 22nd – SIXTH DAY: NOVENA for CENTRAL AFRICA

FOR THE POLITICIANS – THAT THEY MAY NOT  FOSTER HATRED BETWEEN THE RELIGIONS

“O King whom all the peoples desire, you are the cornerstone which makes all one. O come and save man whom you made from clay.”

 COME QUICKLY, LORD. COME, O SAVIOUR!

GRANT US PEACE

ACN-20131212-03629“ Turned out that Selekas demand for all refugees to come back home but there’s no guarantee. The problem is not the Muslims. They, the Selekas, are the killers. They are the ones who throw dead bodies in the river, who even took it up on me and the Red Cross because we went looking for them. Seleka arrests and tortures people, Seleka threatens. It’s the Seleka that beats up people and steals from them, Seleka who places barriers illegally with the excuse of protecting: the truth is that they want to exact a tribute from everybody. Their only interest is to protect their own pockets. They forced people to flee, made them escape here and since August demand all food and supply trucks pay them a fee. We have no issues with Muslims, nor Pelus. Our doors were open to anyone in need, we give food to refugees here in the Mission and in the Mosque. Our problem is with you, the Selekas.

Testimony of Fr. Aurelio Gazzera, Carmelite missionary in Bozoum

 

ACN-20131214-03689REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

Amen.

Text by Maria Lozano, ACN International

Adapted by Amanda Griffin, ACN Canada

 

DECEMBER 21st – FIFTH DAY: NOVENA for Central Africa

FOR ALL THE VICTIMS, FOR ALL WHO HAVE DIED; FOR ALL WHO HAVE LOST THEIR LOVED ONES 

“O Rising Sun, you are the splendor of eternal light and the sun of justice. O come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death”.

COME QUICKLY, LORD. COME, O SAVIOUR!

GRANT US PEACE

ACN-20131212-03627“Seeing all these atrocities and the cold-bloodedness of those committing them with impunity, one has the right to question the humanity of those faithless and lawless oppressors of the peaceful people of the Central African Republic. Seeing how they have no respect for the living or the dead, it makes one wonder if human life has any value in their eyes. We have heard of older people [who have been victims], whom a humane person must respect, be he or she living or dead. More than the living, the dead deserve respect and honor. Death? Now that is celebrated. Asked about the reasons for all the strewn across the roadways and streets of the capital, the Red Cross responds: No safe passage permitting the movement of aid workers, no vehicle to transport staff or to move the dead and burial for most of the victims takes place by the side of roadways or streets at the spot where they are found. This has some grave consequences: Parents consider their loved ones missing while in fact they are dead and already buried, Families are unable to honor some of their dead because they do not know the date of their passing, nor the place of their burial…”

 

ACN-20131214-03689REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

Amen.

Text by Maria Lozano, ACN International

Adapted by Amanda Griffin, ACN Canada

 

JOURNEY WITH ACN – Ethiopia

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:  Ethiopia


A simple house for the priest in a remote outstation of the parish of Itang 

The apostolic vicariate of Gambella lies in the extreme west of Ethiopia close to the border with South Sudan. It is a remote and underdeveloped region, where there is great poverty. Many of the children here are visibly undernourished. The Catholic Church is greatly welcomed in this region. Many people say to the priests, “When the Catholic Church comes, everything becomes fruitful!.” And they remark with wonder, “Wherever the Church is, there is water. The government gives us bad water, but the Church brings good water. We love your God; please come to us also!.”

 © ACN

© ACN

In fact the Church not only brings water, but hand mills for grinding corn; sets up kindergartens and support in agricultural matters. The Church also seeks to promote reconciliation between the tribes since bloody feuds erupt on a consistent basis, especially between the tribes which practise cultivation and those which live a pastoral, nomadic lifestyle. The flocks come and eat the farmer’s crops, and the farmers take over the grazing lands of the pastoralists.

In the village of Puol, the people would like the Church to be present with them. However, this village is in such a remote area that one could literally say it is at the other end of the world!  The “road” leading to it is difficult to negotiate even in the dry season. And when the river Baro, floods its banks in the rainy season leaving the village in total isolation for up to 4 months of every year. The people cannot even reach the neighbouring villages. During the wet season the only way that Father Desalegn Desale, their priest, can reach them is by motor boat.

Thanks to help from ACN, a chapel has already been built in the village and was consecrated at the beginning of this year, 2013.  The Catholic faithful meet here for Holy Mass, for prayer and religious instruction, for educational programs and other activities. Over 120 people in the village are preparing for baptism for until recently, they simply sat under the trees when the priest came.

Father Desalegn Desale travels regularly from the town of Itang to these remote regions in order to visit and minister to its people. But given the poor state of travel, it would make things so much easier if he had a place to stay in Puol where he could stay for several days and minister much more effectively to the people in Puol and the surrounding villages.

The good Father has turned to us for help. Traditionally, the people in this region build huts of wood and mud. But although cheap to build, such huts quickly deteriorate as a result of the rain and the floods and the termite activity. Consequently, there is a need to build something more permanent. We are hoping to be able to help with a contribution of $36,000, so that a simple and modest house can be built for the priest and the parish.

To make a donation by  please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333  or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.

To make a donation by please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333
or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.

 

We would like to take this opportunity to wish you a very blessed Christmas and joyful New Year.  May 2014 be one of Peace in our world.

Children's nativity play in Uruguay. AC

Children’s nativity play in Uruguay.
ACN

Patriarch’s Christmas Message to the faithful

Dear friends and faithful of the Holy Land,

Christmas leads the eyes of the world to look towards Bethlehem. It is from here, in the midst of conflict and violence tearing our Middle East apart, that the mystery of Christmas gently rises and spreads throughout the world.

At this time, we cannot forget in our hearts, the inhabitants of Syria, and among them the refugees in our neighboring countries, as well as all those around the world, who suffer in body and spirit. I think especially of our Filipino migrants who live and work in our diocese, in Israel, Jordan and Cyprus, whose families are deeply affected by the devastation caused by the deadly typhoon in the Philippines last month.

ACN/AED

ACN – Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

To you, our journalist-friends, thank you. We continue to rely on your willingness to report to the world the news from the Holy Land, so that what happens here is not forgotten. While the world’s attention has shifted from the situation in the Holy Land to the tragedy in Syria, it must be stated that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains crucial to the region and is a major obstacle in the development of our society and stability in the Middle East.

With this in mind, I want to draw your attention to important events of the past year, with happy and difficult events. This is an opportunity to plan and prepare for the coming year.

 

1.             The Holy See

I was present at the Installation Mass of Pope Francis in Rome on March 19, and had the opportunity to meet him a few more times thereafter. He cares about the Holy Land and the Middle East. His statements evidently express that the Holy See maintains a consistent interest for our region. Before all the patriarchs and archbishops of the Eastern Catholic churches gathered in Rome on November 21, Pope Francis expressed his “great concern” for us, urging us “to not resign ourselves to an East without Christians.”

Concerning the economic agreement that is about to be concluded between Israel and the Holy See, I would stress that the Ottoman Empire, the British, Jordan and Israel for more than twenty years have respected the status quo, which included tax exemptions for Churches. Now Israel wants to introduce changes. Paying a little more or a little less is not the core of the issue. What is the important thing is not to ‘touch’ East Jerusalem, as the issue is still on the negotiating table. We do not want these agreements to have a political implication that changes the status of East Jerusalem, which was occupied in 1967.

2.             Life in the Mother Church

Our diocese concluded the Year of Faith on November 17 in Nazareth, in a celebration attended by 7,000 faithful from the Catholic Churches of the Holy Land. It was an occasion to remember that there is a very important relationship between the life of faith, solidarity and the search for peace. We thank the Israeli Ministry of Tourism for providing the infrastructure and logistical support, which contributed to the success of this event.

In the spring of 2013, we gladly welcomed the appointment of one of our priests, Most Reverend Ilario Antoniazzi as Archbishop of Tunis.

This summer, we had the joy of sending 120 of our young people from the Holy Land to the World Youth Days in Rio de Janeiro.

3.           Political Situation

The situation in the Middle East is becoming more complex and dramatic. The scenarios in Syria and Iraq may be repeated elsewhere, as seen in Egypt and Libya. The instability affects everyone, but especially our faithful who are tempted to emigrate. In Gaza our people are suffering from the effects of the embargo imposed by Israel and even Egypt. To prevent the conflict from spreading like a wild fire in the whole region, a ‘sustainable’ ceasefire in Syria should be immediately established and prevent any entry of outside weapons. As the Syrian problem cannot be resolved by the force of arms, we call on the political leaders of our Region and the Western world to assume the responsibility for finding a mutually acceptable political solution that will end the senseless violence, and uphold respect for the dignity of people.

You are all witnesses to the suffering of victims and Syrian refugees, especially during this cold winter season. The Latin Patriarchate expresses its gratitude to Caritas Jordan for its service of charity and solidarity with these poor people.

The Israeli-Palestinian talks resumed in late July, after three years of interruption. But the efforts are hampered by the continuous building of Israeli settlements. As long as this problem is not resolved, the people of our region will suffer.

The verdict on the Cremisan process in April 2013, approving the continuation of the construction of the separation wall, as well as the demolition of a house of the Latin Patriarchate in East Jerusalem a few weeks ago, are signs of a worsening situation and do not in any way facilitate the peace process. A fait accompli by force cannot become a source of a new law. And we do not have the right to remain silent.

On the other hand, on December 16, the European foreign ministers have promised that the European Union will support “unprecedented” political, economic and security of Israelis and Palestinians, if both parties succeed in concluding the peace agreements. It is a good reason for hope.

4.           Ecumenism and interreligious dialogue

Catholics of the Holy Land (with few exceptions) celebrated Easter on May 5 this year, together with the Orthodox. Unification of the date of Easter is not easy, but it is a first step towards complete unity and this requires efforts from everyone.

An International Summit on “The Challenges of Arab Christians,” was convened by the King of Jordan on September 3 and 4 in Amman. No less than 70 patriarchs and heads of Christian communities in the region participated. They studied and discussed the interreligious impact from the Arab spring and had the courage to speak and suggest a necessary amendment to the constitution of Arab countries, so that Christians can feel at home like all other citizens, with all the inherent rights and duties (including religious freedom), and gain access to mainstream media.

We condemn all forms of religious fundamentalism. In Gaza, a law to be implemented mandates to end mixed classes and to introduce separate classes for boys and girls in private schools. This requires from the Latin Patriarchate, the construction of new classrooms and hiring of new teachers!

We realized that in our Diocese this year, there has been an increase in acts of vandalism that affected some twenty holy places or places of worship carried out by extremists.

5.    Priorities and projects of the Patriarchate

To build peace and to deal with the extremist currents with a prophetic spirit, the Catholic Church runs 58 schools in Palestine, 20 in Israel and 40 in Jordan, including three universities. The American University of Madaba was inaugurated on May 30 this year, in the presence of the King of Jordan, members of his government and Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, the Holy See’s Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

In February and March, the keys to the 72 apartments of the new Beit Safafa residential complex were handed over to the residents. This housing project aims to encourage the Palestinians to do community projects to address the challenge of housing in Jerusalem.

6.    Agenda 2014

Upcoming events for next year include:

– The World Economic Forum in Istanbul (April 27, 28 and 29);

– The Pope’s visit to the Holy Land planned for next May, first in Jordan then in Israel/Palestine;

– A visit to our Christians in the Diaspora in the United States in July 2014;

– The Extraordinary Synod on the Family to be held in Rome from October 5 to 19, 2014, with the theme: “The pastoral challenges facing the family in the context of evangelization.”

7.    Conclusion

In closing, together with my Vicars, priests and the faithful of Holy Land, I raise my prayers to God, that Christians, Jews and Muslims may find in their common spiritual heritage, their shared values in order to end injustice, oppression, ignorance and all evil acts that destroy God’s gift to us – the dignity of the human being.

May the Infant Jesus give peace to all peoples of the region. Have a joyful Christmas.

 

Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

 

Palestine, December 2007  Christmas crib at the warehaouse of Victor Tabash in Bethlehem

Palestine, December 2007
Christmas crib at the warehaouse of Victor Tabash in Bethlehem – ACN