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: ARMENIA
Mass Offerings for priests
ACN International, Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada
The Armenians are proud of the fact that Christianity was declared the state religion in their country as early as the year 301, thus making it, they say, the first Christian nation in the world. Almost 95% of the population belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church which, like the Coptic Church in Egypt, is one of the Oriental Orthodox Churches. However, there is also the Armenian Catholic Church which, while also celebrating its Liturgies according to the Armenian rite, remains in communion with Rome and loyal to the Pope.
In 1991 an eparchy (diocese) of the Armenian Catholic Church was established in the country, which today ministers to all the Armenian Catholic faithful in Armenia, Georgia and Eastern Europe. According to the Pontifical Yearbook, there are some 420,000 Armenian Catholic faithful living in these areas. In Armenia itself there are 48 Catholic parishes, in Georgia five, in Russia four.
Gifts from the faithful: acts of love
Archbishop Raphael Minassian tells us that he and his priests face major challenges. “Now, after the end of the Soviet era, the people need the constant presence of the priests”, he writes, “in order to bring them the Word of God in their everyday situations. They need to listen still, to speak, to ask questions, get answers and understand what it means to live their faith. But now there are many sects in the region, who exploit the difficult economic and social situation to lead the people astray“, he adds. But the truth is that, because of the dire economic situation, the Catholic Church herself scarcely has the resources to provide this much-needed pastoral care for the faithful – who moreover live scattered across a wide area.
And so, the archbishop has asked us for Mass Offerings so that he can at least provide some support for his priests. As in many other countries, Mass Offerings are the sole source of income that the priests have available to them. Having a Holy Mass celebrated for a particular intention, such as for the soul of a departed loved one, is already a long-standing tradition in the Church. The stipend, or financial gift, that the faithful give the priest in return is by no means a “payment”, but rather a gesture of loving support and gratitude for the priest who, through the words of Consecration, makes the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ once more present on the altar. For many priests, however, this small gift is vital to their survival. In his letter Archbishop Minassian writes: “If we do not receive help from you now, we are risking our mission in these countries.” We have given him 1080 of these Mass Stipends, given by our benefactors, so that he can help his 18 priests.