Journey with ACN – Tanzania

© Aid to the Church in Need

JOURNEY WITH ACN is  our weekly newsletter regularly posted to our blog and designed to acquaint you with the needs of the Catholic Church around the world – and various projects we have helped to bring into being together with ACN benefactors.

This week:   Tanzania

Seminarians train for the priesthood 

In the Archdiocese of Tabora, in central western Tanzania, there are 35 seminarians waiting for your support, for without it they cannot continue their studies, or one day be ordained to the priesthood.

Tabora is one of five archdioceses in Tanzania established in 1953 by the White Fathers, who had been working in this area since 1878. It has 23 parishes and 51 priests – a number too low for Father Kibobera Makona, the priest responsible for the vocations apostolate in the diocese. “Of the more than 2 million people living in the archdiocese, some 450,000 are Catholics. Muslims are a majority in this region.

The reason there are so few parishes, is because there is a shortage of priests. In fact, many parishes have actually had to be closed down already for this reason. We have so much to do and we need priests,” he emphasizes. Not surprisingly, he rejoices all the more at every candidate who feels called to the priesthood and is admitted to train for it. The 35 major seminarians currently training here need our help, since the cost of living have risen in Tanzania and the archdiocese cannot afford the full cost of their training – which in Tanzania lasts a total of nine years.


The candidates work in the archdiocese in their first year, followed by three years of philosophy, four years of theology and then a pastoral year, working in the parishes. Currently there are 13 seminarians in the philosophy years and 20 in the theology years, while two seminarians have completed their pastoral year and have now been ordained as deacons.

To make a donation to ACN for refugees

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.


Aid to the Church in Need has promised a contribution of $17,160 dollars to cover the expenses and studies of these seminarians for an entire year! During this time it is expected that 14 young men will be ordained to the priesthood. “While the diocese is seeking ways to fund the training of these future priests, we appeal to your generosity to help us for the support and formation of these seminarians,” writes Archbishop Paul Rusoka. We are convinced that with your help, they will indeed succeed!



Journey with ACN – Cameroon

JOURNEY WITH ACN is our Friday our weekly newsletter regularly posted to our blog and designed to acquaint you with the needs of the Catholic Church around the world – and various projects we have helped to bring into being together with ACN benefactors.

This week :  Cameroon


Help for the training of 11 novices of the Sisters of Saint Anne

The Congregation of Saint Anne was founded in 1834 in the Italian city of Turin. Today the Sisters of Saint Anne work not only in a number of European countries, but also in India, the Philippines, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, the United States and Cameroon, in central West Africa.

The sisters have been working in Cameron for 27 years now, and the congregation currently has 74 native African sisters in this country. They have nine convents in Cameron, in four different dioceses. But more and more bishops are asking if the Sisters of Saint Anne could settle in their dioceses as well. In fact, two more houses are already planned for the near future.

The sisters’ work is above all with children and young people, with single mothers and young girls who have broken off their schooling and who “bear only sadness in their hearts and are helpless in the face of the dangers of the world, which seeks to deceive them with false values”, as the sisters themselves put it in their letter to us. In addition to this work, they have also established a “Divine Mercy Centre” where they help people who have fallen victim to the occult and witchcraft – practices that are widespread in many parts of Africa. It is likewise a place of refuge and help for women who have been traumatised by abortion or whose families have been broken up. The sisters also care for young offenders, and in the remote villages, where there are no medical facilities, they look after people suffering from malaria and other tropical diseases, as well as the victims of HIV/ AIDS.

The congregation is rich in vocations. The formation house of the sisters is in the diocese of Bamenda, in Northwest Province. At present there are 11 novices undergoing training there. And there are also other young girls who would like to enter the community and devote their lives to the service of God and the needy.

It is not easy for the community to raise the necessary means to provide these young sisters with a solid formation. Yet this is an urgent necessity, if these young women are to remain firm in their vocation and also be equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to fulfil the many different duties they will have to tackle. In order to earn a little income, the sisters engage in small-scale agricultural activities, and at the same time they make rosaries and Christmas cards. But the income they receive from this is nowhere near enough to cover their costs. And so they have turned to ACN for help for the training of their 11 novices. We have promised them $5,660.


Interview with Bishop Jacek Pyl from Ukraine, conducted by Robert Lalonde

An interview with Bishop Jacek Pyl, diocese of  Odessa-Simferopol – interpreted by Father Marian Gil – conducted by Robert Lalonde, Head of information for the Canadian office of Aid to the Churcj in Need (ACN) on Tuesday, August 26, in Montreal.

 Written by Amanda Griffin, ACN Canada





‘Let’s support one another’

Can you describe the diocese of Odessa-Simferopol in terms of the numbers of faithful, its churches and other information you would like to share with us about your diocese?

The diocese of Odessa-Simferopol is situated in the Southeast territory of Ukraine.  It’s a bit bigger than one third of Poland. It is a missionary territory which is slowly growing and within it, we face many challenges.  The diocese is presently split following the Russian take-over of Crimea. My co-cathedral is situated in Simferopol in Crimea, where the Russian presence has taken-over while the diocesan bishop is in Odessa – which is approximately 460 kilometers from Simferopol. Therefore, my diocesan bishop, Bishop Bronislaw Bernackiis in Odessa and I am in Simferopol. Under my jurisdiction there are 7 parishes and 13 priests. The entire diocese has 64 priests. and has about 3,000 faithful. 

Can you tell us about the climate in the diocese since the split took place?

It is a very challenging situation where we have many questions but not too many answers. Although there is war in Ukraine and Crimea is under Russian rule, the Catholic Church can still exercise its ministry but we do not know how our future is going to look.

 How did your diocese mobilize itself following this difficult situation?

Following the Russian take-over, Aid to the Church in Need and another organizations contacted me and asked if I needed any help. ACN responded immediately and I am very grateful that we were not left alone. We received medical help and also food to distribute among the poor people in the parishes.

Can you tell us what you know about the priest who was kidnapped in East Ukraine?

I am aware of one priest who was kidnapped and released a week later thanks to the efforts of bishops and also thanks to the priests of Patriarchate of Moscow.  He is doing his ministry, however the bishop restricted his ministry from the area where war is taking place because it is dangerous and because of possible unforeseen consequences.

UKRAINE 2 Can you tell us more about the actual needs at this time?

The needs are very great and varied because this territory is where our most basic and fundamental work began just 25 years ago. If we speak about needs, first of all we need priests and also religious sisters who would help us with evangelization.  In Crimea, we celebrate Mass in three languages: predominantly in Russian, but also in English for students from India and Africa in Simferopol and in Spanish in Sevastopol. And occasionally we celebrate Mass in Ukrainian and Polish.  If I would have enough priests I would be able to open several new parishes.

I would like to invite a contemplative order of sisters who would pray and support this mission from a spiritual point of view because it is an incredible challenge we face, and we need the spiritual support. Once I find a religious order who would like to come and work with us, I would also like to build a monastery for them for which I will need funds. In Ukraine (Kiev and Kharkov) there are Carmelite Sisters and we are very happy to have contemplative religious orders.  A contemplative dimension is very important in our Evangelization.

What would you like to see happen in your diocese?

If the situation stabilizes than my plan is to build a co-cathedral there because we have a very small place for celebrating Mass and for meetings with people at this time.  We have been waiting for the last 20 years to get permission to build a church. So, time will show, and we would also like to build facilities for priests and for meetings with parishioners.

 Will this project be submitted to ACN?

Primarily, ACN looks after these types of projects. As I mentioned, we have been trying for the last 20 years to get permission to build a church. More recently, I had begun speaking with the Orthodox Archbishop Lazar, representative of the Moscow Patriarch in Simferopol; he showed certain openness towards the idea of building a church. We have done many things in order to advance our preparation for building the co-cathedral and other facilities but, everything stopped after the Russian take-over and we are not sure if we will have to start again from the beginning or what will happen with the project.



 How did the people of your diocese react after the tragic crash of a Boeing Malaysia Airlines plane which caused the deaths of 298 people on July 17?

It was a great shock for everyone.  We prayed for those people and embraced them with our prayers. We prayed for those who shot down the plane and for those who were killed.  It was a terrifying situation when we learned that these people, their bodies, were deprived of their dignity because thieves stole their clothing, their belongings, credit cards and whatever they could find. They were not treated like human bodies …

 We recently learned that there would be elections on October 26 in this regard.  What is the position of the Church?  Are they encouraging them to vote?

The Catholic Church of Latin rite prays for just elections and that they are good, solid and also wise people are elected for this country.  Ukraine has suffered so much and for so long – so it is about time that we have good and wise people who will rule this country. We also need champions for peace – because whenever war takes place, everyone suffers.  Families and children – Ukrainian and Russian people suffer alike. War tears people and families apart.

Can you tell us more about the impact on families as a result of this conflict?

There are many mixed marriages, between the Ukrainian and Russian people. This war actually created unbelievable wounds within marriages and families – the society and the Churches.  So, we pray for healing and reconciliation, because it brought upon this nation incredible devastation. We pray for a solution which would create a new civilization not using force to resolve problems, but finding a way instead through dialogue and mutual respect to build a new society.



 Finally, do you have a message for our benefactors?

First of all I would like to ask the benefactors to pray for peace in Ukraine. And then I would like to thank them on behalf of all missionaries there for their prayers, for their solidarity and also their material support. I was very happy when I learned that I would have a chance to meet with ACN here in Canada and that I would be given an opportunity to meet representatives of the Canadian branch. I want to say thank you to the people of Canada and North America for their support.

This year we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Oblate presence of Missionaries of Mary Immaculate in Ukraine. And if we have achieved anything good ministering in Ukraine for the last 25 years, we did it thanks to the support of many dedicated people. We especially thank Aid to the Church in Need.

I would like to summarize in one sentence – let’s support each other, this is the way we can build a better world and better society; when we share our prayers and material goods with each other, the world then becomes a better place.

To make a donation to ACN for refugees

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.



Ethiopia – “I’m going to become a priest!”

By Eva-Maria Kolmann, ACN International

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada

Father Hagos Hayish, the general secretary of the Ethiopian Catholic Bishops’ Conference describes how he came to his vocation and how he followed it in difficult times.

20120918_010Excitedly, five-year-old Hagos runs up to his mother: “Mummy, mummy, Our Lady is down by the river! The priests sang for her! They have such beautiful, colourful robes on! I want to be like them!” His mother laughs.But Hagos, that’s not the Mother of God! The Orthodox are celebrating the feast of Timkat today. They are celebrating the baptism of Jesus down by the river!” Nevertheless, from that day onwards Hagos Hayish is quite clear: “I’m going to become a priest!”

In his family, faith has always played an important role. “All my family and my relatives have been Catholics for years. My parents and grandparents always used to tell me exciting stories about the missionaries. In the evening, when darkness fell, my father would call us eleven children together. We would gather around him and listen. First of all he would play something on the flute, then he would tell us stories – about people, animals, about God and also about priests. And then finally he would teach us the Catechism, with questions and answers. In this way he prepared us for our First Holy Communion. If I had quarreled with a friend and told my father about it, he would insist that I go and settle the quarrel and clear up the matter completely.”

On Sundays Hagos goes with his family to church. The journey is too far for them to be able to go to Holy Mass in the week as well. It is over 11 kilometers (seven and a half miles) each way – in all a journey of over 22 kilometers (15 miles). But Hagos is happy to go to church. “I did not understand everything, but I loved the pictures especially. The picture of St George always impressed me particularly,” he recalls today.


At the age of six the youngster goes to school. He is able to skip a full year because he is so quick to learn. But when he comes to the end of primary school, his father tells him: “Now you have learnt enough. You can now read and write like I can. That’s enough! I need someone to herd the goats.” Hagos cries and cries. After all he wants to become a priest! He appeals to his uncle to mediate between him and his father. And the parish priest is also called in. He is able to send two boys from the village to the minor seminary, where the younger boys prepare to enter the seminary proper, the “major seminary”. Three boys from the village have already applied. “What am I going to do if I can’t find a place?” asks young Hagos tearfully, who is now 13. The priest draws lots, and Hagos is one of the two lucky ones who will have the chance to go to the minor seminary. At the beginning he is homesick, but nonetheless he is happy to be able to follow his vocation.

The times are difficult ones. There is a civil war going on in Ethiopia. The communist regime under the dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam is calling up schoolboys and students for military service. It is a fate with which the seminarians are also threatened. In the holidays it is hard for them to get home, because a special permit is needed in order to travel from one place to another.

In 1985, after his A-levels, Hagos Hayish enters the major seminary. This is the time of the devastating famine, the horrifying pictures of which go all around the world. Again, the seminarians are threatened with being called up for military service – this time for the war against Eritrea. The young men have to hide.

When Mother Teresa visits Ethiopia in order to form a picture of the famine, she also visits the young seminarians. Hagos is the youngest and also, physically, the smallest of them. Because of this, he is standing in the front row to welcome the famous “angel of the poor.” “Do you want to be a priest?” Mother Teresa asks him. “Yes!”, he replies. “Do you want to be a GOOD priest? If so, carry on. If not leave the seminary today!” But Hagos is in no doubt: “I want to be a good priest!”



The times become ever harder. “I have seen many people die,” he recalls. At that time the government had decided to forcibly resettle hundreds of thousands of people. Many of them died as a result. Hagos’ own father is also due for deportation, but at the last moment he is rescued.

During his second year in the seminary, Hagos is called to undergo a medical examination. Now he is really in danger of being called up for military service. After the examination he has to collect his health certificate. The man who is handing out the documents cannot find his name on the list, however. Instead of Hagos, someone has written “Hagosa”. This is the female form of his name. “Women do not serve in the army. You’re in luck. You do not exist here! Go quickly,” the man tells him. “God had guided the hand of a man so that he wrote down my name wrongly,” Hagos Hayish explains, still full of wonder today. When he gets back to the seminary, the rector embraces him.

He enters the Vincentian order and on November 11, 1990 he is ordained to the priesthood. But then in 1998 war breaks out between Ethiopia and neighbouring Eritrea, which in 1993 gains independence from Ethiopia. Actually Abba (Father) Hagos is due to write his doctoral thesis, but for him the decision is clear: in 1999 he volunteers to go to the North of the country, where the people are suffering the most from the war. His own family is also expelled. His father has been abducted by the Eritrean forces, and there is no trace of him. Given this situation, Abba Hagos chooses not to return to university. Instead he takes over the parish of Nkala. For one week he is in the parish, for the next in the mountains, where the many refugees and expelled people have sought refuge. “Every day there was shooting; death was constantly present. The whole time I did nothing but hear confessions, because the people did not know if they would even survive that day. All of them were preparing themselves for death.”

One day the Archbishop of Addis Ababa himself comes to comfort the refugees. He promises the people: “You will return to your parishes!” Abba Hagos recalls the incident precisely. “The people were happy, but some of them asked, ‘Where is the Blessed Virgin? We can no longer hear the bells from Our Lady’s church. What has happened?’ And the children sang: ‘Where is the Blessed Virgin? Where is the Blessed Virgin?’ Archbishop Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel answered them: ‘the  Mother of God is here among you!'”

One month after the Archbishop’s visit, the refugees are able to return to their ruined villages. “Everything was smashed, the houses destroyed, the trees felled; everywhere was full of landmines. Some 70,000 people had lost their lives,” Abba Hagos tells us. Yet his own family had once more been protected, for his brother returned safely from the war, and his father was released from prison after two years.

Today Father Hagos can look back on almost a quarter of a century of priestly ministry. “A vocation is a gift of God, but I received it through my family”, he says, deeply moved.

The Catholic Church in Ethiopia has around 700,000 faithful. That means that Catholics make up barely 1% of the population. Yet despite these small numbers, the Catholic Church is extremely active. She maintains 203 kindergartens and 222 schools, which are open to children and young people of all faiths and religions. They are attended by almost 180,000 children. Through this school is the Church hopes to be able to build bridges between the different ethnic groups and cultures. The Catholic Church also runs four universities, with over 7,000 students.

During the past year the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) helped the Catholic Church in Ethiopia with a total of over 1.71 million dollars CAN.






Journey with ACN – Latin America

JOURNEY WITH ACN is our Friday our weekly newsletter regularly posted to our blog and designed to acquaint you with the needs of the Catholic Church around the world – and various projects we have been brought into being together with ACN benefactors.

This week :  Latin America


By ACN International

El Salvador

acn-20140331-06630Help for the training of eight novices of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception 

The Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception was founded in 1874 in Mexico City. Today it has over 1,100 Sisters. They have close to 150 convents in various different Latin American countries as in some African and European countries. The Sisters’ principal charism is the education of the young, the teaching of catechesis and the care of the sick and elderly.

Happily, the number of young women ready to join the congregation has been plentiful. The congregation in El Salvador currently has eight novices preparing for the Consecrated Life.

acn-20140331-06627For decades now life in this, the smallest country of Central America, has been lived against a backdrop of violence. From 1981 to 1991 a bloody civil war cost thousands of human lives. To this day, the country is plagued by violence and has one of the highest crime rates in the world. Gang warfare is a major source of insecurity, as are murders, abductions, extortion, robberies and other forms of violence which leave these people in a state of constant fear for their lives. And, as if this were not enough, the country is frequently struck by natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, heavy rainfall, flooding and landslides. Many young people see no future for themselves, and feel that life is meaningless. The Sisters have an important task here in helping young people find their way to a better future.


We are helping this year with a contribution of $5 330, for the training of eight novices who have chosen to place their lives at the service of God and their fellow men.





 Help for the training of 31 seminarians in Feira de Santana

People living in the northeast of Brazil are generally poor and often have to contend with drought conditions. As a result, many are leaving the area in the hope of finding a better life, however modest, somewhere.. elsewhere… generally finding their way to the big cities, which are growing rapidly as a result of the influx.

acn-20140124-04588Often these disillusioned and uprooted people are easy prey for the many sects that are springing up like mushrooms in the suburban slums. In some cases one can find a dense network of as many as 50 or so of their temples in a relatively small area. Their message can be an attractive one – often too good to be true – and as a result many people fall for their easy promises of instant salvation. On Mondays, there is a prayer service for material prosperity, on Tuesdays another for a good job, on Wednesdays one for health, and so forth. But so often, hope springs eternal… and so many people living in these slums continue to cling to this last illusion.

The Catholic Church is trying to address not only the visible, material needs, but to help people out of their spiritual poverty, a frequently far more urgent and devastating problem. But of course, there has to be someone there to proclaim the Good News in the first place. For the millions of Catholic faithful in Brazil (estimates vary widely, from around 130 million to 155 million) there are only 18,000 or so priests available. Generally, the parishes are enormous and some even serve over 100,000 Catholic faithful. As our Lord tells us in the Gospels, “The harvest is great, but the labourers are few” – and this is especially true of Brazil. That is why here, as in numerous other countries, helping for the formation of priests is a priority for ACN.

In the archdiocese of Feira de Santana in north-east Brazil there are currently 31 young men preparing for ordination. Archbishop Itamar Vien has their formation very much at heart. He is already looking forward to this year’s ordinations and is delighted that the number of vocations in his diocese is growing. He has once again turned to ACN for help for the studies of the 31 seminarians, counting as always on the goodwill and generosity of our benefactors. We share his confidence in you, and so we have already promised him $13 250.



Journey with ACN – Rwanda

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:    Rwanda

Bringing “Families of Peace” into being 

By Robert Lalonde,

Translated and adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada 

It was in 1995 when the partnership between Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) and the Montreal Institute of Integration and Formation (IFHIM) was first formed.  Since that time, numerous bursaries have been given to students who have come from countries on every continent.  ACN has supported various other formation projects with pastoral goals.  The following experience is one which merits highlighting.


FAMILLE DE PAIX 3Msgr. Servilien Nzakamwita, the bishop of the Byumba diocese in Rwanda, came to know of the Montreal Institute of Formation and Integration (IFHIM) while assisting in the evaluation of the preceding ten years of commitment by the Ibakwe group (former students of IFHIM in Rwanda).  Profoundly touched by the formative work for peace that these people had accomplished within the country, he expressed his desire to see the benefits he perceived brought forth by means of these initiatives, and the work of the Ibakwe group be provided throughout his diocesan.

After coming to Montreal, where he met with African sisters and priests, as well as the first African missionary to Africa, Jean-Claude Kaburane, a Rwandan, and after having participated in seminars, listening and questions, he decided to integrate a process of humanization in his diocese through which people should be formed.

In 2008, the seed was planted and lay people committed in a variety of milieus, sisters and priests alike, were trained to become ‘bridge builders’.  Then in 2010, a second session would serve to extend the training for people to become a little more solid in order to intercede wherever they were enlisted to help.  Further, in 2011, young people would begin joining in with the adults and people from other religious denominations.


Meeting with 48 couples

After all these experiences, Msgr Nzakamwita, felt concern for families and wished to create ‘families of peace’, people who, above and beyond their differences would come together as people and discover themselves through their own active participation and enter into a lifetime commitment.  So he undertook a process which would support IFHIM to give formations to families which would result in ‘families of peace’.

In July 2012, a caravan of former students from IFHIM, composed of twelve helpful people, with their director Marie-Marcelle Desmarais at the helm as educator, would leave for Byumba to meet with 48 couples, along with two sisters committed to Action for the Family and five priests who had been trained in the sessions and who would eventually become relay contacts in the daily lives of these couples.

“It was of utmost importance to allow these people to discover their vital human strengths in their daily living experiences, for it is from their strengths that they will build love and peace between them and around them,” explained the director, to us.

The couples were then invited to share an experience in which both of them had done something helpful for the other.  They discovered that these initiatives were undertaken in order to treat the other, like a person. And from this understanding, their love for one another was revealed to them.  Before the sheer surprise and joy which began to manifest on the couples faces who dared to speak, it became clear that each one had needed to have these lived experiences.

Afterward, the couples were invited to pair-up, two by two, to uncover the riches in their lives, those which they could invest in. “If you could have seen their faces light-up as they discovered these experiences which they never would have spoken of,” said the educator.  The whole process also allowed them to see how they were able to become aware of the effects of their anger toward their children, which would result in a decision to learn how to manage it in order to truly love them.


 “What kind of medicine have you given them?”

At the end of the session, all wished to share an experience related to their process: “What we have just learned,” said one among them,” truly shapes us.”  My life will never be the same.  I would like to turn my home into an oasis of peace.  I have decided to help my wife and my children, for I was even preventing my children’s peace.”

Six months later, Auréa, the Ibakwe coordinator, who was sure the Byumba couples would become ‘Builders of Bridges for Peace’ and also multipliers in their entourage, communicated with Msgr Nzakamwita.  Here is what he said: “The group continues to meet and to live in solidarity and in dialogue with one another. They have become ambassadors for other couples who have not followed the course.  I even heard one person who holds a position of authority in the country ask what kind of medicine we have given them, because the number of trials dealing with domestic conflicts has decreased.”

A new session took place in August 2013 as a follow-up to the last.  Even though it is not the best time of year to attract massive participation, not only did many couples return, but they were accompanied by many newcomers. The experienced couples said, “As much as the newcomers, those of us who are experienced need to be, and to profoundly become,“builders of bridges of peace,” in order to bring into being “families of peace” in our world torn by all kinds of violence.”

The number of couples continues to grow.  From 50 they have expanded to 86. “The next step,” concludes Sister Marie-Marcelle,” consists in equipping them for their mission as multipliers.” This formation deserves to be supported year after year, especially if we wish to see the number of families who will benefit grow even more and expand across this country, which has suffered so deeply.

Imagine the hope this represents, for this country which, only 20 years ago lived through an unspeakable genocide!


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