Journey with ACN – Ukraine

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:    Ukraine


Help for the formation of Ukrainian Catholic seminarians

In 1946 Ukraine, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was forcibly dissolved by the communists. Believers were violently persecuted, and for over 40 years the Ukrainian Catholic Church – which is in communion with Rome – was only able to exist underground. In 1990 the Ukrainian Catholic Church was at last able to emerge from its catacombs.


 © ACN


In 1993 the seminary in Ternopil was able to officially resume its activities. Thanks to financial support, from ACN among others, it became possible to build a seminary, named in memory of the great Cardinal Confessor, Josyf Slipyj, who endured 18 years imprisonment under the communists and finally died in 1984, in exile. He was a friend of Father Werenfried, who did everything possible to help and support the Ukrainian Catholic Church throughout its time of persecution.


Today the Ternopil Seminary boasts the formation of 143 seminarians. It not only serves the local diocese, but also seminarians from other dioceses that do not have their own seminary. The young men receive an excellent academic formation, but the rector is well aware that study alone does not necessarily produce good priests. Consequently the seminarians are encouraged to become familiar with everyday pastoral work, through a series of practical training sessions and tasks, which help them to have direct experience with the life and problems of ordinary people.


They work particularly with children and young people, helping them to draw nearer to Jesus both in play and in prayer. As a result, they not only gain practical experience in the parish apostolate and in dealing with other people, but through their commitment provide a vital service, for in many regions where the Church is still only in its early beginnings, the few priests who are available are so overstretched that they simply do not have the time for such intensive ministry among all the groups of the faithful. Thus, these seminarians are already serving the faithful today where one day, after completing their training, they will fill an even more urgent need as priests.


ACN is helping the seminary in its work with a contribution of $760 per seminarian, per year.



Press Release – Ukraine

Your ‘solidarity is very dear to us’

Archbishop’s message of hope and faith at time of huge change

by John Pontifex, ACN United Kingdom

Adapted by ACN Canada

Montreal, February 25, 2014. An urgent appeal for prayer has come from one of Ukraine’s most senior Catholic bishops as momentous political change sweeps the country.

Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki, President of Ukraine’s Latin-rite Catholic Bishops’ Conference, highlighted the “great solidarity” of people worldwide – shown in prayer and practical aid.

The archbishop’s comments, given in an interview with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), came as Ukraine underwent dramatic change, climaxing with President Viktor Yanukovych fleeing the country and MPs issuing a warrant for his arrest.

The Archbishop of Lviv said: “We are experiencing a great solidarity with the faithful, not only from the neighbouring countries, but also from the whole world.

“So many are supporting us with their prayers. They are remembering us and offering humanitarian aid.

“These gestures of solidarity are very important and dear to us.”

Archbishop Mokrzycki’s appeal for prayer came as Ukraine’s health ministry claimed that 88 people – most of them protestors – had died in last week’s clashes. Others gave a total of more than 100 dead.

Church sources told ACN that 2,000 people had been wounded, with Kiev’s St Alexander Cathedral being used as an operating theatre.

The archbishop said the turmoil of the past weeks had changed Ukrainians’ political and social outlook. “People have developed a deeper sense of responsibility for the country as citizens and a deeper conscience of civic duty,” he said.

The archbishop also said the turmoil had bound the people together. “On Maidan Square, there was an atmosphere of solidarity, regardless of denomination, rite, and ethnicity. All were one. All were united.”

Ukraine 2Many months needed to heal the wounds

Archbishop Mokrzycki gave his comments on Friday ( February 21 ) just hours before President Yanukovych suddenly left the country after MPs voted to remove him. By then, Parliament had voted to reinstate the 2004 constitution which in effect meant returning to MPs powers taken by the President since the 2010 elections.

Parliament, on Sunday( February 23) named Speaker Oleksandr Turchynov as interim president, with the whereabouts of his predecessor still unclear, according to latest reports. And, MPs agreed for Presidential elections to take place on  May 24.

Speaking before President Yanukovych left office, Archbishop Mokrzycki’s secretary, Father Andrzej Legowych, told ACN: “Ukraine will need many months and even years to settle down and start a new life. The country is still divided and we will need many months – and longer – to heal the wounds.”

Ukraine has for many years been a priority country for Aid to the Church in Need, which has given the Church there key support. The charity’s ongoing aid has helped enable the recovery of the Church – notably the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church – which for 70 years was heavily persecuted under the Soviet communist regime.

Support for nearly 1,000 seminarians and help for catechists remain essential to the charity’s work in Ukraine.

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.

Message from the CCEE Presidency concerning the recent events in Ukraine.

In the light of the recent violence in the Ukraine, the Presidency of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) invites the bishops and the whole of the Church in Europe to join with the prayers of the Holy Father for the Churches and the Ukrainian people in these particularly distressing days.

The CCEE Presidency assures the Ukrainian people of its spiritual closeness and invites all the citizens of the continent to pray particularly for those who are suffering and the victims’ families. May God bestow peace on the Ukrainian people!

©  Jakub Szymczuk Catholics, protestants, orthodox... all together at the stage praying for the future of the country

© Jakub Szymczuk
Catholics, protestants, orthodox… all together at the stage praying for the future of the country

Journey with ACN – Brazil

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:  BRAZIL

A missionary says thank you

ACN International

Adapted by ACN Canada




Father Peter Shekleton found his vocation in 1991 as he sat in London’s Westminster Cathedral listening to the preaching of Father Werenfried van Straaten, ACN’s founder. Now he is working as a missionary in the Amazon region of Brazil.

Since January 2012, Father Peter has worked in the parish of Barcelos which extends over a vast mostly uninhabited area. Most of its 25,000 inhabitants live in the town of Barcelos itself, but there are also 45 settlements of varying sizes on the Rio Negro and its 10 tributaries, most of them difficult to reach and some requiring 3 to 4 days by boat.

The majority of people living in these settlements are nominally Catholic, but the sects are very active in this area, trying to woo away the faithful. Therefore, it has become important for a priest to make regular visits, including the most distant settlements. For this reason, our generous benefactors have already helped Father Shekleton with $60,000  for the purchase of a river boat. He has written to tell us about his work:

“I began my work with an old boat belonging to the parish, which was very basic and very much in need of repairs. I was advised not to waste money on repairs but rather to buy a new boat. But why? The parishes are very poor and could by no means afford the cost of the new boat.” So Father Peter had to go on using the old and damaged boat to travel to the remote riverside villages. At least, after a time, he was able to purchase an outboard motor.

“There are many rapids, dangerous currents, hidden rocks and constantly shifting sand banks, and also many dangerous eddies. And one is also exposed to heavy storms and scorching sun – to say nothing of the fact that the water is full of crocodiles, piranha and snakes. At night time you have to hang up your hammock and sleep in it, which leaves you a prey to mosquitoes, bringing malaria and other infectious diseases. Last year I caught malaria.”

“I often come back happy from these journeys into the wilderness, because I have done what I believe to have been my duty. But at the same time I am also saddened by the godlessness of many people. Since the satellite dishes have advanced even into the remotest corners of the jungle, many people are starting to be influenced by the anti-values, such as hedonism, individualism, consumerism and relativism that are typical of our age. They are being robbed of their religiosity and dignity and encouraged to yearn for a life that has nothing to do with their reality. This results in many people no longer turning to God, and many of the chapels are now abandoned, or at least in a poor state. There is a great deal of alcohol abuse and sexual promiscuity. Nevertheless, I am firmly convinced that this is my mission and that the Church must continue to be present: “Preach the word; in season and out of season…” (2 Tim 4:2). For now, this Church is just me and my boat, given by ACN.”

Photo exhibition – february 20th to march 30th 2014 – MAISON DE LA CULTURE DU PLATEAU MONT-ROYAL

We are pleased to invite you to a photo exhibit entitled “We are no more” created by the photographer Valérian Mazataud.

© Valérian MAZATAUD

© Valérian MAZATAUD

This exhibition can be found at the Maison de la culture du Plateau Mont-Royal and will be available for viewing starting today, February 20, through to March 30.




© Valérian MAZATAUD

© Valérian MAZATAUD

Valérian is a journalist who has provided ACN with many articles of great interest during his travels, especially with regard to circumstances in both Egypt and Haiti.



Sudan – An imminent threat of famine

“People are on the edge of starvation and, if nothing happens, people will fall into that situation” – Msgr Roko Taban Mousa

by John Pontifex, ACN UK

Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada

Entire communities in South Sudan are at risk of starvation, according to a Church leader, who says fighting continues despite a ceasefire.

Monsignor Roko Taban Mousa said vast numbers of people are “in urgent need” across his diocese of Malakal which extends through the Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei states, and where there are scenes of some of the worst fighting between government forces and rebel groups.

Speaking on February 13. from South Sudan in an interview with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Msgr Taban warned of mass famine if aid – particularly food – is not sent very quickly.

Describing the difficulties of getting aid to the worst-affected areas, he said that, in spite of the ceasefire on January 24, the fighting had continued – though the conflict had diminished in its intensity.Stressing the need for rice, maize, beans, sugar, oil and salt as well as clean water, he said: “The question of food is very urgent. People are on the edge of starvation and, if nothing happens, people will fall into that situation.“Upper Nile, Bor and Unity are really destroyed. This conflict has been devastating and very inhuman.”



30,000 homes lie in ruins across the diocese

Msgr Taban, who is Apostolic Administrator of Malakal, in effect acting bishop, said that in some of the worst affected areas of his diocese, up to 100,000 people are in dire need of food. According to Msgr Taban, at least 30,000 homes lie in ruins across the diocese, half of them in three main towns – Bor, the center of particularly severe conflict, Malakal and Bentiu. He also highlighted mass looting and attacks on core services such as pharmacies and other medical centers.

The monsignor said people had no access to healthcare at a time when malaria and diarrhea were on the rise. He reported that people without clean water were drinking from the White Nile that runs through the diocese.

The UN has reported that since the violence began on December 15,  2013  in South Sudan, more than 860,000 have fled their homes.thousands have died in the conflict between the government forces and rebels led by former deputy president Riek Machar.

Stressing  the impact of the devastation as being was far worse than during the catastrophic 21-year civil war that ravaged Sudan until 2005, Mgr Roko said: “What we experienced during the [civil] war was never as bad as what we have experienced these past weeks.”

Describing the current violence, he said: “The fighting is continuing but not at the same level as when it started.

“From Christmas Eve until 20th January, there was very heavy fighting. Now it is subsiding because of the [Addis Ababa] negotiations.”

Msgr Roko described how his own home in Malakal was damaged by gunfire – luckily he was not in danger – but he came home to find damage to the doors, windows and lighting. “People need to pray for us. We feel that sense of solidarity when people pray.The need for prayer is very important. For those who have suffered so much, knowing that there are people who are praying for them will encourage them and give them back their hope.”

Aid to the Church in Need is working with Msgr Roko to assess options for emergency aid.

ACN’s Sudan and South Sudan projects coordinator Christine du Coudray Wiehe said: “The charity is willing to offer emergency help, but we would first like to raise the question of logistical capacity; whether there are trained personnel capable of implementing the project efficiently.”

She also raised concerns about aid convoys being looted by underpaid and hungry soldiers, citing instances of this kind involving the UN.

Journey with ACN – Benin

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:  Benin

The family in Africa – In every corner of the continent

By ACN International

In 12 short years, the African Family Life Federation (AFLF), which was founded on the initiative of Blessed John Paul II, has helped over 1 million people to better understand and live the teaching of the Church on marriage and the family. ACN has supported the AFLF, right from the beginning. We spoke to Christine du Coudray, who heads our Africa section and has also been involved since AFLF was founded.

seite 5 International 13-00932 Sr Alphonsa, Christine Ducoudray, Père Mika, Norbertine

Why does ACN support this Association?

It is vitally important for the Church and for the people. During the plenary session of the first Africa Synod in 1994 the Holy Father warned of the dangers that were emerging from international meetings and from such ideologies as feminism and gender theories, which were threatening to destroy the natural family consisting of father, mother and children. They were prophetic words. As a consequence a number of smaller associations for the defence of life and the family were able to join together and – together with the John Paul II Institute for the Family in Cotonou, Benin – establish the first such association for French-speaking Africa. They had no funding; only ACN stood by them. For years the federation has fought a David and Goliath battle against the anti-family, anti-life and pro-abortion policies of the UN and other massive international organizations.

Has David grown since then?

Yes. Thanks to the support of our benefactors, the federation is now present in 22 countries of French-speaking and English-speaking Africa, and embraces a total of 34 organizations. In the last year alone 141 diocesan and expert groups have trained tens of thousands of (mainly young) couples in family values and also instructed an additional 21,000 married couples in natural family planning. But these are only figures. The real success lies in the fact that, thanks to the federation, millions of people have come to discover and live the happiness that resides in a respectful attitude to life and sexuality. Above all – and despite the massive pressures from a throwaway consumer society that despises human values – tens of thousands of young couples have learned that fidelity and mutual respect and true love can be lived and truly bring happiness. This is also true for young people generally – and it is the best protection against AIDS.

Who is supporting the AFLF?

05 Seite Mgr Henryk HoserSo far, only ACN. In the years since its foundation we have contributed  $6.9 million for a vast number of different projects. But given the number of people helped, that works out at less than $7 to make someone happy and live and love in a manner pleasing to God. We are very much hoping that other organizations will soon get involved. For there is an immense need for teaching materials, pamphlets, handbooks, short films – and also for the teams of experts who have to travel. The demand is immense, the growth of the federation has been remarkable, and the Church in Africa is faithful, but poor.

How do you see the future?

I am pinning great faith in the Synod for the Family, in autumn 2014 in Rome. It will put a strong emphasis on John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. This should give a boost to the federation. The current president of the Africa-wide Bishops’ Symposium (SECAM) Archbishop Gabriel Mbilingi, from Angola and the president of the pontifical council Cor Unum, Cardinal Robert Sarah both see the Family Life Federation as pivotal for the future of Africa. For thanks to its trans-diocesan infrastructure, it can convey such human virtues as solidarity, fidelity, respect and fraternal charity to every corner of the continent. It is a lynch pin of love. And I am of course hoping that our benefactors will continue to be as generous as before, so that this work of love can still thrive and flourish.     •