Press Release – New ACN Website

MCL National Director

Praying, Informing and Giving

By Robert Lalonde, ACN Canada

Montreal, Friday February 2015 – “ Concerned with better serving our generous benefactors, of providing better communications tools to the public and engaged with encouraging people to PRAY, INFORM and GIVE to help poor and persecuted Christians in the world, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) Canada is proud to present its new website which will be operational as of this coming Monday, March 2nd,” declared with enthusiasm Marie-Claude Lalonde, the National Director of ACN Canada.

“More than ever before,” continued the director,” the situation of Christians in too many countries merits recognition on a large scale.  We hope that the news stories we disseminate through our website will touch our visitors’ hearts, and persuade them to help their so often forgotten brothers and sisters.”

The site which can be visited at www.acn-aed-ca.org is abundantly illustrated with striking pictures, poignant firsthand accounts and content also often exclusive to Aid to the Church in Need.

ACN which is today an international organization numbering over 600,000 friends and benefactors who support each and every year close to 5,000 projects in over 150 countries.  Now operating as a foundation of pontifical right, ACN and its benefactors offer concrete help, through a spirit of love, everywhere where the Church needs them.

 

Interview with Head of Projects – Regina Lynch

REGINA-1On the program VUES D’AILLEURS (broadcast uniquely in French on Radio Ville-Marie Wednesday May 8th) Robert Lalonde, an ACN journalist,  interviewed Regina Lynch, Director of Projects at Aid to the Church in Need, International.

 Translated by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada

Regina Lynch is surrounded by a team of 35 persons, divided into twelve project sections :  Africa, Asia, Near and Middle-East, Latin America and Eastern Europe – together they study between 6000 and 6500 projects per year with certain criteria and priorities in mind.

 

 How do you study a project before accepting to support it?

There are first of all, the priorities according to countries and next the priorities according to the types of projects.

For example, there is the persecuted or threatened Church due to communism, such as in China or in Cuba, where though the situation has progressed, the needs persist.  There is also, as the bishops report back to us, the persecuted Church in the countries where Islamization exists in more and more of an aggressive way, like some countries in Africa and Israel where there were however very peaceful coexistences between Muslims and their Christian neighbours.  There were even situations where our Muslim brothers helped Christians to construct churches.

As for the priorities according to different types of projects, well, the number one priority is formation.  I am speaking of the formation of future priests and religious sisters, but also of laypeople and catechists, and even sometimes students of theology – that is to say all formation which helps to deepen faith and to evangelize.  And, we must very well consider the shelter required for seminarians.  In order to do so, we help with the construction of seminaries; whereas in Vietnam, for example, we provide a means of transportation such as motorbikes for novices who are called to work in faraway parishes.  We also have publications such as the Child’s Bible and the Little Catechism “I Believe” which we provide in over 150 languages.  Moreover, in recent years, we received many requests for the Youth Catechism called the YOUCAT, which is also offered in many languages.

How do you hope to help the Church in Nigeria?

In order to answer, I must speak of the North of Nigeria, where there are many animists and where there are equally more and more terrorist attacks made by Boko Haram.  This is why, as the first order, we hope to have exchanges with the bishops and others who are responsible within the Catholic Church to better know their needs and better evaluate the current situation.  We also want know the status of the projects we have supported.  I am thinking here, for example, of a construction project to enlarge the Grand Seminary in the Archdiocese of Kaduna where the Church has the grace of having more and more seminarians, but not enough dormitories to lodge them in.

How are religions spread out in Nigeria?

In general, we can say that the South is mainly Christian, whereas the North is mostly Muslim.  Between the two are also animists who belong to traditional religions. Until recently, their coexistence was rather good and we even found some families made-up of Christians and of Muslims.  However, the apparition of Boko Haram caused alot of harm, killing and wounding many people – as many Christians as Muslims, creating thus a great deal of tension.  At present, the bishops and religious Muslim leaders are dialoguing in an effort to find solutions and avoid yet greater divisions amidst the population.

Do local Muslims condemn the acts posed by Boko Haram?

Certainly!  In the media, we can see the condemnations clearly set forth by the Muslim communities in reaction to these acts.  The great majority do not accept the violent acts of Boko Haram that many among them have actually been victim to.  It must be made clear, however, that Boko Haram is attacking everything that comes from the West, and for them, being Christian is representative of the West.

Would you be able to recall for us a few of the attacks claimed by Boko Haram?

Spontaneously, I can recall two grave attacks.  The first happened on December 25, 2011, at the St Teresa of Madalla Church in the diocese of Minna.  As the Mass ended, a bomb exploded killing 44 and many more were wounded.  And then, one Sunday, in March 2012, in a church which is part of the Archdiocese of Jos, as the parishioners were leaving after Mass, there was an attack which caused the death of 10 people. These unexpected attacks shocked the entire population.  Lastly, more recently, in mid-April, in the small village of Paga, in the state of Borno in the northeastern part of the country,  bordering  Chad and Niger, there was an attack which caused 185 deaths.

Would you say that the government has the will to put an end to the terrorist acts led by Boko Haram?

There have been a few attempts at dialogue with Boko Haram, the first of which failed and more recently, Nigeria’s president tried to reach them, but, it is difficult to specify the results of all that. However, the Church, for her part, in keeping with her Faith, has a great desire to forgive and to dialogue with the Muslim communities and to find common solutions. It is very important for the stability of the region.

And what are the bishops saying about the situation facing the problems with Boko Haram?

It is very clear to them that this is not a war about religion.  According to them, it is truly terrorists who are using religion as a pretext to justify the violence.  It must be said that this region is a very poor one, even if Nigeria is about to become one of the richest countries in Africa with all their petrol.  But this money does not benefit the poor. And so, we evaluated that 70% Nigeria’s population is poor.  This great difference between rich and poor causes violent reactions.  When nothing changes, groups form and react with violence before these injustices.

With all these years of service behind you and the important responsibilities that your position requires, you have been called to travel on many occasions.  If I asked you to tell of the most difficult experience that you had to live through, spontaneously, what would you tell us about?

I am reminded of a trip to China where many priests and religious sisters had gone missing and where I met a very young bishop who was chosen by the Pope, but not by the government.  He suffered greatly because of this, even if he is now accepted by the government but, nonetheless, constantly under their surveillance.   I asked him how he managed to live under such conditions. He answered me, crying, that he often felt isolated and that he found it difficult.  However, with courage, he continues to take care of his faithful. This is why I think that it is very important to pray for our brothers and sisters in these Churches who suffer and who are persecuted.  It helps them come out of isolation and gives them a lot of strength.

And on the other hand, if I asked you to tell us about one of your loveliest memories…

Oh!  That is very difficult!  There are many, but I think they are all of the same kind.  I mean to say that I have often been impressed by the faith in people that I have met.  They are often humble people, with little education and living in difficult situations, such as in China, or in Pakistan or Iraq; these are people who accept suffering because of their Faith.

I am reminded, among other, of a Pakistani man who was  accused of having burned pages of the Qur’an.  This man did not know how to read or write.  He was arrested and tortured after refusing to convert to Islam.  And, when I asked him why he refused, he simply responded: “Christ suffered a great deal more than me.” This kind of answer always challenges my own faith.  I ask myself if I would be able to hold on like they do.  They are a great inspiration.

 

Uganda: New studio inaugurated on “World Communications Day”

“Radio Wa contributes greatly to peace and reconciliation”

 The radio station which set ablaze by LRA rebels in 2002 during the civil war and had since been housed in temporary accommodation has finally been reconstructed. On the occasion of the 47th World Communications Day, May 12th, the north Ugandan diocese of Lira, the new building of the Catholic radio station “Radio Wa” was inaugurated.

Bishop Giuseppe Franzelli told the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that the diocese of Lira had been hit hard by the civil war and the station was able to encourage over 1500 child soldiers to flee and return home during and immediately following war. The radio station has and continues to contribute greatly the cause of peace and reconciliation in the diocese.

OUGANDA -1“We’re now in a phase of reconstruction and healing,” says Bishop Franzelli. The expansion of the radio station has made it possible to more effectively “reach the people and help them with information and advice.” The broadcasts have reached not only Catholics, but the whole population. “The station wants to proclaim the glad tidings. In this, transmission of the faith is just as much part of the agenda as practical counselling. The help we have received to developing Radio Wa encourages us to carry on.”

ACN’s financial support $19,700 followed earlier material support of technical equipment. The funding provided for the expansion has enabled the building of two new studios, and a cabin for live transmissions and offices.

By ACN International – Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada

World Communications Day

An interview with Mark von Riedemann, Communication Director of Aid to the Church in Need.

By Reinhard Backes, ACN International

MARK RIEDEMAN1.  How important is media work for an international CatholiWorlc pastoral charity like Aid to the Church in Need, which finances over 5,000 projects per year?

Fr. Werenfried, the founder of Aid to the Church in Need, was a master of communication. His gift, upon his return from travels, was to tell the story of the suffering Church in churches and parish halls in such a way as to light a fire of compassion and indignation in the hearts of those hearing his words, spurring prayer and action. Today the charity still relies on preaching, but often the new pulpit has changed, growing beyond the church and parish hall and encompassing the electronic media – a new way of spreading the Gospel message and the story of those, the ‘elite of the Church’ (Fr. Werenfried) who suffer for their Faith and inspire us to a greater reflection of our own baptismal call.

2.  What are the aims of your department?

One is, via our Services department, to support our National offices which are directly responsible for raising the funds to help the suffering church. We provide them with information on projects and work with them to provide accurate and timely information.

The second is our press, photo and audiovisual departments which through articles, images, TV and Radio, seek to inform the public and our benefactors on topics from all around the world, concerning the pastoral needs of the suffering Church.

3.  How would you define the term media apostolate? What is the mission that is associated with it?

Pope John Paul II made this clear in his 1990 World Communications Day message: “It was for God’s faithful people to make creative use of the new discoveries and technologies for the benefit of humanity and the fulfillment of God’s plan for the world….employing the full potential of the ‘computer age’ to serve the human and transcendent vocation of every person, and thus to give glory to the Father from whom all good things come”.

The media silence concerning the persecution of Christians is a fact. ACN has been given a mission to tell the world, via the media, about the suffering Church. Archbishop Georges Casmoussa of Mosul, Iraq, in his foreword to the ACN publication “Persecuted and Forgotten” wrote: “The persecution of Christians in our world today amounts to a human rights disaster. It is a catastrophe that has been ignored by the media, almost as if a news black-out has been enforced.” If we fail in this mission, and the media remains silent on this subject, then the “reality” for many will be that Christians are not suffering and those involved in communications will have failed.

4.  Why does ACN invest nearly 9 percent of its budget in the media apostolate? Was that always the case? Or is it a new project?

 To answer this question, I will draw on three sources: the Decree on the Media of Social Communications “Inter Mirifica” published in December 1963 by Pope Paul VI and the Spiritual guidelines of the founder of Aid to the Church in Need, Fr. Werenfried and finally the 2013 address to journalists by Pope Francis .

In the introduction of ‘Inter Mirifica’ we read: “The Church recognises that these media, if properly utilized  can be of great service to mankind” and, in Chapter 1, it continues: “It is, therefore, an inherent right of the Church to have at its disposal and to employ any of these media insofar as they are necessary or useful for the instruction of Christians.

Fr. Werenfried stated in Guideline 28: “From this pastoral character emerge the aims that we wish to pursue and the projects to which our organisation must give precedence. Chief among these are the training of priests, religious, catechists and lay pastoral workers, the provision of bibles, liturgical and theological books and catechetical materials, the promotion of post-graduate theological studies, the establishment of contemplative convents, the material support of needy priests, religious and others in the service of the Church, the construction and repair of churches, chapels, seminaries, convents and other Church properties, the provision of transport for pastoral workers and the apostolate of the media.”

From this we understand that from the earliest periods in the Church and the charity, the media is a service to mankind and as such bears a great responsibility to communicate the truth. Fr. Werenfried understood the importance of the media and the media apostolate as a worthy project in its own right – equal in importance to the training of priests and the construction of churches. In this sense, the provision of information is also a “project”.

Finally, again today we are called to a renewed understanding of this media apostolate through Pope Francis’s Saturday March 16, 2013 address to journalists in which he stated:

“…At your disposal you have the means to hear and to give voice to people’s expectations and demands, and to provide for an analysis and interpretation of current events. Your work calls for careful preparation, sensitivity and experience, like so many other professions, but it also demands a particular concern for what is true, good and beautiful. This is something which we have in common, since the Church exists to communicate precisely this: Truth, Goodness and Beauty “in person”. It should be apparent that all of us are called not to communicate ourselves, but this existential triad made up of truth, beauty and goodness.”

This call, to spread this truth, beauty and goodness – the gospel – is at the root of our lives as Christians and at the root of Aid to the Church in Need. With the spread of new media and the ever greater impact on our lives, ACN bears anew its responsibility to communicate the Gospel values. 

This interview will be followed tomorrow by an article about the inauguration of a new building to house the Catholic “Radio Wa,” in Uganda.

World Communications Day : Malawi

Follow up World Communications Day : Malawi

 

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Malawi

“Radio Tigabane”: pastoral and social programmes for northern Malawi

 

Reinhard Backes, ACN International

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada

 

Malawi is one of the world’s poorest countries. On the United Nations Development Programme’s 2011 human development index, this south-east African state ranks 171 out of 187. In addition Malawi is one of Africa’s most densely populated countries. More than 80 per cent of Malawians are Christians, including about one quarter Catholics. According to statistics the proportion of Muslims is 13 per cent.

 

The diocese of Mzuzu in northern Malawi is the fastest growing Catholic diocese in the country, according to its own figures. A letter from the diocese to the international Catholic pastoral charity “Aid to the Church in Need” states: “Every year more than 6,000 adults are taken into the Catholic Church. Most are converts from other Christian denominations.” To reach as many of the faithful as possible, the diocese maintains its own broadcasting station, “Radio Tigabane”. The name comes from the local Tumbuka language and means “share”.

MALAWI 1

The programmes on “Radio Tigabane” are, according to the director, Father Eugene W. Ngoma, geared to the needs of the population in this rural area: “Alongside the weekly religious programmes – broadcast of the Sunday mass, prayers and the rosary – we offer programmes on health, education, justice and peace as well as on socio-economic development. In doing this we are adhering to an ecumenical principle because our listeners include not only Catholics, but also Christians of other denominations and Muslims.”

 

And according to Father Ngoma other beneficiaries are the Diocesan Commissions for Education, Development, Health, Justice and Peace as well as Pastoral Work, who address primarily socially disadvantaged groups through a wide range of initiatives.

 

The Bishop of the Mzuzu diocese, Joseph M. Zuza, asked ACN to help with the difficult problem of funding the radio station. The pastoral charity has promised $13,270.

 

Anyone wishing to help fund the project should give as the purpose of their donation: Malawi / Mzuzu 12/0150

 

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Tomorrow:   An interview with the director of the Communications Department, Mark von Reidemann.

 

World Communications Day

For the next three days, our focus will be on World Communications Day, the official day being May 12, 2013 and which is an invitation to believers from every diocese to pray for the work done by the Catholic Media and offer a donation to assist them.

Today, media presence is necessary for the work of re-evangelization, and why Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is supporting projects across the entire world by committing 9% of its total budget for radio and television.

In its decree, “Inter Mirifica” in 1963 on means of social communication, Vatican Council II highlighted the importance of the media for the transmission of the Faith.  Since, its role in preaching has amplified largely due to the evolution in technology.  ACN has supported the media apostolate worldwide with 8.4 of the 2011 budget dedicated to this sector of the mission.

In an interview conducted by Reinhard Backes, a journalist and ACN International Headquarters,  the director of the Communications Department, Mark von Reidemann recalls: ”Fr. Werenfried understood the importance of the media and the media apostolate as a worthy project in its own right – equal in importance to the training of priests and the construction of churches. In this sense, the provision of information is also a “project”.”

In the meantime, we offer two examples of projects that already supports ACN. First in Ukraine

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Ukraine

Catholic TV station for Ukraine – “EWTN’

Reinhard Backes, ACN International

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN CanadaUKRAINE 1

A year ago, tuning in to the Catholic TV station EWTN in Ukraine became possible . The Ukranian version of the “Eternal World Television Network,” which was founded in the USA in 1981 by the Fransciscan Clarissine Mother Angelica, is now available via cable to viewers in the west Ukrainian cities of Lviv and Khmelnytskyi, in the capital Kiev and in Zaporizzhia in the south-east of the country. The broadcasting of this network in these areas was made possible through start-up assistance provided by ACN, among others.

The project grant was granted assistance for the first three years up to and including 2014, following which, EWTN Ukraine will guarantee the funding of the broadcasting station, which it is intended to expand steadily. “We are working on spreading to other cities and via satellite, which will mean that viewers who don’t have a cable connection will be able to receive us, for instance in the countryside,” Father Pavlo Vyshkovskyy, Head of EWTN Ukraine and the Catholic Media Center in Kiev, wrote in a letter to ACN. Pavlo Vyshkovskyy belongs to the order of Oblates of Mary Immaculate, on whose initiative EWTN was established.

UKRAINE 2The Archbishop of Kiev-Zhytomyr, Petro Malchuk, has supported the project from the start. In May 2012 Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, visited EWTN Ukraine. The TV station began in 2011 with a daily three-hour program. American contributions were translated into Ukrainan and broadcast. Now, EWTN Ukraine is on air for up to 24 hours – online and available for  livestream on the internet: http://www.ewtn.org.ua – programs from the main network which have been translated into the national language or are provided with commentary, live recordings and its own contributions.

Aid to the Church in Need is supporting EWTN Ukraine with $31,850. Anyone wishing to help fund the project can give and request that the donation be directed to:

Ukraine / Kiev-Zhytomyr, 11/0540.

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Tomorrow: MALAWI