ACN Canada

 

ACN Interview – Haiti – The Church: an essential source of Hope

24.03.2017 in ACN International, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Maria Lozano, Haiti, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need

 

Haiti

The Church: an essential source of Hope


Marco Marco Mencaglia (head of ACN Latin America section)

Marco Mencaglia, head of the Haitian section of the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need recently travelled to the country. His goal: to take stock of the aid the charity has granted over the last few years, and determine the future needs of the local Church.

According to the “Fragile States Index”1, among all the countries on the planet where no war has recently been waged, Haiti is most in danger of failing and ranks tenth in this index, before countries like Iraq and Pakistan.

 

ML:  What was your first impression when you arrived in Haiti?

 

MM: Haiti is a country of extreme poverty. According to the latest statistics of the IMF, it is the poorest country in the world outside of Africa. Similar to other Latin American cities, the capital of Port-au-Prince is growing in a completely uncontrolled manner, especially at its newly created peripheries, where there are no basic provisions. Most people live from hand to mouth along the main roads, where they engage in black market trade, in hygienic and inconceivable humanitarian conditions.

The traffic, air pollution and population density are constantly on the rise in the capital – and have already become massive problems. The Haitian state is very weak. Its public presence is quite limited, especially in rural areas outside of the capital. In the language of its native inhabitants, Haiti means “Land of the High Mountains.” In many places, and especially in the remote mountain villages, the Catholic Church is the only institution that consistently reaches out to help the inhabitants, despite all of the difficulties.

Haiti, January 2017
One of the many rural chapels in Haiti. Under a very poor tent the faithful live all their liturgical celebrations along the year.

 

Has the generosity of the benefactors of Aid to the Church in Need made a noticeable impact?

I was able to see for myself just how important our support is in the training of seminarians. Currently, 315 candidates for the priesthood are living in the provisional housing set up at the national seminary of Port-au-Prince after the seminary was destroyed by the earthquake in 2010. Our help has become decisive for one of the few riches, for one of the few hopes of the country: the vocations to the priesthood. The bishops’ commitment to priest training as well as to an improved and careful selection of the candidates through a propaedeutic year offer good prospects for the future.

“I was impressed that the church or presbytery was the only building in a 10 to 20 km radius with a stable supply of energy.”

I would also like to point out how successful our help has been in enabling the use of solar energy in remote parishes. I was impressed that the church or presbytery was the only building in a 10 to 20 km radius with a stable supply of energy. We saw how hundreds of people came to the presbytery in the mornings to charge their mobile phones. In the evenings, the entire village gathered around the presbytery so as not to be plunged into total darkness. Light plays a decisive role in making it possible for these communities to have hope. The priests working in mountainous regions are isolated because these are areas that can only be reached via paths that are in a deplorable state, over which one sometimes has to travel by foot for an hour. Thanks to solar energy, the priests can maintain daily contact to the diocese and to the world. Furthermore, the technical support and the quality of the equipment they have received from Germany have fully met the needs of the local church. Although the technology is simple, it is currently not available everywhere in the country.

Haiti, January 2017
Devotion in the Sanctuary of Saut d´Eau, a place of pilgrimage with growing importance at National level

What was the most poignant moment of your trip?

I was moved by the lives of the diocesan priests in Haiti. Their lives are, without a doubt, very difficult and they hold a great deal of responsibility. I was impressed by the dedication of many young priests, 25 to 30 years old, who have assumed their first positions in a parish. The conditions they live in can often be called dramatic and are beyond their abilities and strength. Despite this, they try not to lose their enthusiasm. As brothers and sisters in faith, it is our responsibility to not leave these young priests to their own devices by doing everything we possibly can to support the bishop as the shepherd of the shepherds. Haiti has many troubles; misery can be seen everywhere. These young men represent hope. Their enthusiasm and their love for the church are a light within the darkness that we need to keep alive.

 

 

You probably listened to many testimonials during your trip. Which of these would you choose as a sign of hope?

The football game held at the national stadium after the earthquake: police officers played against priests. The game found unbelievable resonance in the country’s media. Many still remember it. Despite the many difficulties, the Haitians have not lost their enthusiasm – especially not for football, the national sport. The recently appointed bishop of Hinche, Desinord Jean, was one of the players on the priests’ team. He promoted the game on the diocesan radio station “Radio Soleil,” which he managed at the time. He remained visibly moved when he told us that after the police officers had scored six goals, the overflowing stadium celebrated the only goal made by the priests with ear-splitting excitement.

 

You learn a lot from the local churches on a trip like this. Which statement do you remember best?

“The foundation of a new parish is a moment of hope, means joy for the entire village.” Said to us by Father Barthelemy Feuille, a priest at Fond Rouge in the Jeremie diocese. The growing presence of the Catholic Church is palpable all over the country. Thanks to the great number of vocations to the priesthood, each diocese establishes one to two new parishes each year. One example: the Jacmel and Hinche dioceses, both of which were founded in 1988, have grown from 9 to 29 and 10 to 44 parishes, respectively, in 30 years. The foundation of a new parish is a moment of great hope, not only for Catholics, but also for the entire population. Because the arrival of a priest also means access to basic provisions in places forgotten by the government: a school whose activities take place in the church building during the week, a vehicle for emergencies and for transporting the sick to the hospital, and a connection to the world outside… For thousands of communities in Haiti, the priest and the Church represent the soul and hope.

 

Haiti, January 2017
Fr. Montherlant Mathieu, parish of Dumont, isolated on the mountains around the diocesan see of Les Cayes, southwest Haiti. The solar system for the church (which is also a primary school during the week) is the only source of energy in an area of kilometers.

“Without exaggeration, we can claim that without the Church, many of these villages do not have any hope for the future.”

Repair of the roof of the parish church Sainte Cathérine de Sienne d’Arnaud: The parish church destructed by Hurricane Matthew, O5.10.2016

 

What are the next steps that the international pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need has planned for Haiti?

 

On 4 October 2016, the terrifying and powerful hurricane Matthew wreaked great havoc across the country – it was the worst in 50 years. The western part of the country was especially hard hit: the Jeremie, Cayes and partially also the Anse-à-Veau, Jacmel, Port-au-Prince and Port-de-Paix dioceses. In Jeremie and Cayes, 90% of the parish houses suffered damage to their roofs or masonry. More than 200 chapels located in mountain villages in the two dioceses were totally destroyed.  For the next few months, Aid to the Church in Need has made it a priority to work together with other organizations to provide emergency relief for rebuilding or for repair work. In most communities, the church is the only building in which not only pastoral events, but also social events can be held. Without exaggeration, we can claim that without the Church, many of these villages do not have any hope for the future.

 

 

  1. Fragile State Index 2016, Fund for Peace http://fsi.fundforpeace.org/

 

Interview held by Maria Lozano, ACN International
Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Aid to the Church in Need Canada

 

ACN Interview – Czech Republic “A beacon of faith” disappears

23.03.2017 in ACN International, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Czech Republic

Cardinal Miroslav Vlk, archbishop of the diocese Praha, Czech Republic, on a 2003 visit to Aid to the Church in Need

Czech Republic

“A beacon of faith” disappears

Aid to the Church in Need mourns for Cardinal Miroslav Vlk

The international pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need mourns for Cardinal Miroslav Vlk, who passed away last Saturday (18 March) at the age of 84. “Cardinal Vlk was a beacon of faith in a country tested by communism, a country in which today, the ties that link people to the faith are the weakest in all of Europe,” said Father Martin Barta, the charity’s International Ecclesiastical Assistant.  


According to Father Barta, the former archbishop of Prague had to work for years as a window cleaner due to the anticlerical reprisals of the communist government, only carrying out his work as a priest in secret.  He “decisively influenced many people by faithfully bearing priestly witness under the most difficult conditions” and becoming an “iconic figure of the faith in a society that had to rediscover the path to God” after the political turnaround. The cardinal was also “a longstanding friend of our charity,” Father Barta emphasized. He returned the aid given to him by Aid to the Church in Need to rebuild the church in his Archdiocese of Prague “in a different currency – that of prayer.”

 

At the archiepiscopal seminary in Praha Czech/Republic

 “God alone was our light”


Cardinal Miroslav Vlk, archbishop of the diocese Praha in Czech Republic, during his visit at Aid to the Church in Need, celebrating the Holy mass with Father Joaqin Alliende- *

In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need in honour of his 75th birthday in 2007, the cardinal focused on his experiences during the time of the persecution. “The persecution helped us to be more faithful to God. Who else could have helped us otherwise? In the beginning when the communists had seized power, many people in Czechoslovakia still thought that the Americans would intervene. That was, however, just an illusion. God alone was our light. During the persecution, there was no literature, no funds. One could only choose and look for God. For me, this was a great mercy.”  The communists have gone. “But God has not disappeared. He is still here!” the cardinal emphasized.

However, Cardinal Miroslav Vlk was also deeply concerned about the deterioration of the fundamental values in society: a lack of respect for other people, for life, a disappearing sense of honour. “A society cannot be built on selfishness,” he emphasized “but instead it is a part of our human identity to be open to one another. Above all, the church must bear witness, for living witness evokes respect and can trigger a response in the human heart.”

“The friendly ties the cardinal maintained towards us, as well as his witness, are a precious legacy that we will carry in our hearts,” Father Barta said. “We hope and pray that even after his death, his example will continue to lead people to find the faith that was radically destroyed through communism and that is only now gently beginning to blossom again.”

If in 1950, 76 per cent of the population living in the territories of today’s Czech Republic (at the time part of Czechoslovakia) was still Catholic, today it is only 10.4 per cent. Another 11 per cent belong to other Christian denominations. With 34 per cent of people self-declared as having no affiliation with a religion as well as another 44 per cent who do not specify their religious affiliation, the Czech Republic is considered as the country most atheist country in all of Europe. In communist times, the former Czechoslovakia was one of the countries in which the Catholic Church suffered the greatest persecution.

By  Eva-Maria Kolmann, AED International
Adaptated by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Aid to the Church Canada

 

ACN Interview – Central African Republic

21.03.2017 in ACN Interview, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Eva-Maria Kolmann, Central African Republic

Central African Republic

“It was almost like the visit from the Pope”

Cardinal Dieudonné Nzapalainga, the Archbishop of Bangui, is currently travelling through in his country of the Central African Republic in the month of February.

While there, from 22 to 24 of February, he visited the parish of Bozoum and the town of Bocaranga, where only recently, there was serious violence. The Cardinal’s program also included talks with the rebels. Father Aurelio Gazzera, the parish priest of Bozoum, accompanied the Cardinal. Later, on 26 February, he spoke to Aid to the Church in Need about this visit.

 

By Eva-Maria Kolmann, ACN Internaltional

 


ACN: What was your experience of the visit by Cardinal Nzapalainga to your parish in your diocese?

Father Aurelio Gazzera: The Cardinal‘s visit reminded me a little of the visit by the Pope to Bangui a year ago. The joy and the hopes of the people that it inspired were very great! The people gave the Cardinal an overwhelming welcome. Even along the 125 km stretch that we travelled with the Cardinal on his journey from Bozoum to Bocaranga, he had to stop in every village, since the people were already waiting for him along the roadside and wanted to hear a word from him and receive his blessing. It was profoundly moving to see how greatly the people genuinely wanted to listen to the Cardinal. And this listening, I truly believe and hope, was for many of them the beginning of a new journey, just as for many people the words of the Pope were when he visited our country in November 2015.

 

ACN: You also took part, together with the Cardinal, in two meetings with the rebels of the Antibalaka. What can you tell us about them?

Father Aurrelio Gazzera: The rebels were armed, some of them with ordinary home-made guns they had fashioned out of water pipes, and others with Kalashnikovs. During the war, the Antibalaka were the opponents of the Seleka rebels. Since then they have become a mixed group of men who initially took up arms to protect their families and their villages, but to which a number of youths have now attached themselves who seek to profit from the situation and live by robbery and extortion. To them the Cardinal addressed a calm but emphatic invitation to change their lives and not allow themselves to be fooled by material things and money, and above all not to allow themselves to be led astray by those who were urging them on to violence, only to later abandon them.

 

ACN: You yourself are very experienced in negotiating with armed groups, and in fact you have already on several occasions succeeded in persuading rebel groups to withdraw, thereby preventing a bloodbath and protecting the civilian population. You were also able to speak to the rebels on this occasion. What did you say to them?

Father Aurelio Gazzera: I invited them to reflect on the fact that those who sow violence will themselves harvest nothing else but death. And I said that the time had now come to start thinking of rebuilding. I also urged them to think about the fact that in reality they were merely serving the interests of unscrupulous people of whom they themselves would be the first victims! And often they do not think of the consequences of their actions, when they cause destruction, exploit other people and burn down houses.

 

ACN: Do you believe that these meetings with the rebels will have achieved anything?

Father Aurelio Gazzera: Generally speaking, it seemed to me that the men were listening quite attentively, and at least some of them appeared to feel the longing to seek new ways of peace and change their lives. It will take time, but when someone is willing to talk about things, it is always a big step forward and one that can lead to a change.

 

ACN: The city of Bocaranga was only recently the scene of violent attacks. The journey there cannot have been without danger…

Father Aurelio Gazzera: Yes, on February 2, nomads of the Fulbe tribe killed 21 people there and wounded several dozen others. They burnt down the marketplace and many of the shops, looted the offices of several aid agencies and generally spread fear and terror around them. The UN troops did nothing to stop them, though they had been informed of the situation.

So the Cardinal‘s visit was the first happy and joyful occasion following these terrible events. Nonetheless, going there was an act that called for great courage on the part of the Cardinal. The forces of order were completely absent, and on the way there I myself drove ahead of the Cardinal‘s vehicle so that I could get there first and identify and resolve any potential security problems. Thanks be to God, everything went well, even though the armed rebels of the Antibalaka were roaming around, and we also had to pass through a rebel roadblock, 5 km before the city. However, for their part this was more a demonstration of their own power than the intention to really do anything bad.

 

ACN: What was the most important message of the Cardinal?

Father Aurelio Gazzera: I would say that his most important messages were these: first, “Have trust in God; do not fear!” This was also in fact the message of that day‘s Gospel reading. And then, “Take a more farsighted view and do not limit yourselves to looking for satisfaction in material things but have a long-term vision! That will make it possible to have a new country, a new life for everyone!”

 

ACN: In a country suffering from armed conflicts, extreme poverty and the total failure of the state, the Church has an important role to play. Did the Cardinal also speak about the role of the Church, and in particular that of the priests and religious?

Father Aurelio Gazzera: There was a very intense and moving moment in Bocaranga when we had gathered together along with the Cardinal in the Sisters‘ chapel with around 20 religious from various different mission stations. Among them were very young novices, Sisters who had just taken their permanent vows, right through to elderly missionaries who had been working in the Central African Republic for 40 years and more. All of them remained at their posts, especially during these four years of war – despite the threats, the attacks and lootings, the attempts at intimidation. The Cardinal emphatically expressed the gratitude of the Church and of the people for this continuing perseverance, despite the war. And he told us about something that happened in a parish in Bangui at the height of the war. One man said to him, “I stayed put, because I could see the light burning in the Sisters‘ convent. And I knew that if they were staying, then I could stay as well!”

It is true that the Church is doing a great deal. She is building schools, hospitals, churches, chapels… Then there is the work she does in bearing witness and raising her voice. But, the most beautiful thing of all is simply being at the side of the people. Having the doors of our parishes and mission stations open to everyone who was, or is, in need. This too is evangelization. It means making the presence and the love of God the Father concretely visible!

 

ACN: This last year, with help from ACN, you have been able to renovate and enlarge your parish church in Bozoum, in which you welcomed the Cardinal. How important is this church to you and to the faithful?

Father Aurelio Gazzera: For us it was a great joy to be able to welcome the Cardinal in our “new” church. The fact that we were able to make this dream reality was thanks in large measure to the generosity of ACN‘s benefactors. But I also took pains to emphasize that every one of the faithful in our parish should himself contribute a little piece of his heart and his faith towards the building, and a great many of them helped bring sand, stone, gravel and food by way of a contribution. The building of a church is a very important moment for a Christian community, but not only for them. Even many people who weren‘t even Christians wanted to make a little contribution or at least show a gesture of sympathy, and this was something very special and very moving for us.
We wanted our church to look beautiful – very beautiful – for beauty speaks of dignity. And at this moment in the Central African Republic it is extremely necessary to rediscover the dignity of every individual human being. The beauty of the Church must reflect the beauty of God and with it our own beauty as Catholic faithful. It reflects our being Christian! We are very grateful to everyone who has helped us to make this miracle a reality!

 


  1. Anti-balaka: Animist and Christian rebels, means machete proof in Sango; favours the Christians who are more of a sedentary group.
  1. Seleka: A name meaning ‘coalition’ in Sango one of CAR’s two national languages (including French). A rebel group favouring mainly Muslims who are nomadic and herders.
However, the situation is far more complex and clouded than described here.

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin 


 

Feature Story : Six years of war in Syria

17.03.2017 in Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Syria, Urgent need

Six years of war in Syria

Suffering and tears: Syrians only want peace!

A woman weeps. Wrapped in a sheet on which is written in Arabic the word “Syria”, the woman, who is pregnant, sheds tears which run down over her abdomen, within which are two babies fighting with each other. The mother is holding a dagger in her hands, threatening to stab herself in her own womb. 

A drawing from Syrian children, June 2016

 

By Maria Lozano, ACN International
Adapted by ACN Canada

 

It is just one of the hundreds of drawings sent from Aleppo and other Syrian cities to the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). The pictures drawn by Syrian children tell of bombings, death, tears, houses destroyed, weapons, fire and war revealing their profound suffering over the past six years.

 

In another of the drawings a man is weeping, carrying a suitcase. His wife, also with tears in her eyes, is saying goodbye to him. She is wearing a pink dress with hearts on it.

 

“Before the war, Syria was widely respected in the Middle East. Education and healthcare were free. Homs was developing very well; people were earning a reasonable salary, food was not expensive and many people could afford to buy a house or a car. I was studying to become a dentist, and I wanted to open a dental surgery in my suburb.” The speaker is Majd J and she is a volunteer worker on a project funded by Aid to the Church in Need to help families in need in Homs. This young Syrian woman’s eyes shine brightly as she sits in her overcoat to protect herself from the cold – as there is no heating in people’s homes. The window glass of the houses is smashed, and many of them still have holes where the missiles struck. She relates how one family lost their son, who died of his illness for lack of medication, and how they now have another who has been diagnosed with cancer. Another family has just lost its father, who died of a heart attack as a result of the stress and suffering of the last few years. With tears in her eyes, she looks straight at me and says very slowly, “I understand nothing of this conflict. Nothing.”

 

And many miles away from Homs, in the region of Zaleh in Lebanon, where many Syrians have taken refuge, the father of a family remarks, “The cure has been worse than the sickness. There were problems with Assad, but what has befallen us since then with the Islamic State has been simply inhuman. In the town of Rakkah we weren’t allowed to smoke in the street, and girls of six had to cover up completely before going outside. We were living in fear every day.”

With tears in her eyes, she looks straight at me and says very slowly, “I understand nothing of this conflict. Nothing.”

 

Majd works as a volunteer for a project supported by Aid to the Church in Need.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to escape this torment?

The same suffering is palpable in the Lenten pastoral message of Maronite Archbishop Samir Nassar of Damascus, who sums up the recent years of conflict in his country with these words: “In six years of war the face of Syria has been completely transformed. A large wasteland of ruins, pulverized buildings, burned out homes, neighbourhoods turned into ghost towns, villages razed to the ground, and more than 12 million Syrians (half the population) don’t have roofs over their heads. They form the largest mass of refugees since World War II. Several million have left the country in search of a kinder environment. Many are depending on hand-outs in miserable camps, many have drowned, and many stand in long lines at embassies. They have become a nomadic people in search of a land that will welcome them. How can Syria escape from this torture?”

 

Syria continues to suffer the consequences of the conflict, and even though the media seem to have fallen silent since the conclusion of the battle for Aleppo, the situation in that city continues to be precarious. “In Aleppo there is a grave shortage of electricity, and sometimes there is only light and power for an hour or two a day – and sometimes not even that – so that we have to rely on candles. There is a problem with fuel because the government is unable to distribute it,” says Sister Annie, a Syrian nun who, with help from the international foundation ACN, is supporting hundreds of families in the city. “In Aleppo we are also suffering a shortage of water; we are living in a town without running water – and sometimes we go for as long as a month and a half without any.”

Drawing from Syrian children, June 2016

 

A yellow bus drives along a tree-lined road. You can see the passengers in the bus, and the driver. Above it, in the top right-hand corner, where children usually paint the sun, a black bomb-like projectile appears almost unnoticed in the sky, in the shape of a rocket with a fiery tail. Yet in the midst of all the many drawings depicting scenes of warfare, fighting, fire and death there are also the others – those which depict flowers emerging from a revolver, or doves of peace over the map of Syria, children joining hands around the world, a girl celebrating her exam results… These are the ones who have drawn, not what they are living through, but what they long for and desire – a Syria in peace and unity and a return to their homes.

 

Aid to the Church in Need is channeling vital help to many needy families via the structures of the local Church, and has been doing so ever since the beginning of the conflict in Syria. This month the Pontifical charity has announced that it will be allocating 326,256 dollars for a milk distribution program for the children of Aleppo in 2017, a program named A Drop of Milk.
Thank you to support this project! 

Drawing from Syrian children, June 2016. The refugee crisis displaced 6 million Syrian citizens, the largest number since the Second World War. 


 

 

ACN Project of the Week – Training 22 seminarians in South Sudan

15.03.2017 in ACN Canada, ACN International, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, Journey with ACN, Religious formation, Religious men, SEMINARIANS, South Sudan, Sudan

South Sudan                                                                

Training for 21 seminarians in the diocese of Tombura-Yambio

South Sudan is the youngest country in the world today.

In 2011, when the predominantly Christian and animist South of the country finally declared its independence from the overwhelmingly Muslim North after a quarter of a century of bloody civil war, the change was initially followed with great rejoicing. But, the joy did not last. In 2013 South Sudan slipped back into a new civil war.

Once again – as in so many other countries around the world – the Church is the only institution in which the suffering people can place their trust.

Pictures of seminarians at the minor seminary St. John Paul II in Tombura Yambio

With an area of over 81,000 km² the diocese of Tombura-Yambio is almost the size of Austria! The shortage of priests here is acute; many parishes do not have any priest at all. But even where there is a priest, he has to minister to an area so vast and with so many remote and widely scattered villages that the faithful in the local communities only rarely receive the Sacraments. As a result, many Catholics die without the last rites of the Church, many children remain unbaptized and the ordinary faithful are left longing to attend Holy Mass and receive Holy Communion.

Once again – as in so many other countries around the world – the Church is the only institution in which the suffering people can place their trust.

Therefore, the most pressing concern of the diocese is to provide its future priests with a good and solid formation. For every new vocation is a sign of hope for the future. So it is a source of great joy that there are 21 young men preparing for ordination right now,  in the diocesan seminary – the downside, however, is that the Bishop has no resources to fund their training. So often the parents of the seminarians have nothing. They have lost everything due to war, being uprooted and expelled from their homes and have even watched their houses burn to the ground and lost their few possessions to looting.

A seminarian at St. John Paul II in Tombura Yambio

“We are turning to our fellow Christians, hoping you can help us to train up our seminarians, so that they can become priests and serve the suffering people in our country, and at the same time become promoters of peace,” writes the rector of the seminary to us. And his bishop supports his request with these memorable words: “I do not want to see the future of the Church crumble in my hands.” He is also asking for our help.  We have promised him 28,275 dollars

 If you would like to support this or a similar project – simply click here to donate!  Thank you!

 


 

 

Press Release : ACN’s urgent request for children in Aleppo

13.03.2017 in ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, By Maria Lozano, Communiqué, Journey with ACN, Middle East, Press Release, Syria

A Drop of Milk program

An urgent request to support the children of Aleppo

 

Aid to the Church in Need continues the work done since the start of the war in Syria: to support the Christian families of Aleppo, along with local partners, such as Canadian-Syrian gastroenterologist Nabil Antaki. Our immediate concern is to continue the distribution of milk to the children.

Drop of milk: special milk for the infants

 

The aim of the project—named A Drop of Milk—is to provide to Christian children of Aleppo under the age of ten a certain amount of milk every month. In these times of scarcity, this “white gold” is essential for the proper growth and well-being of children. The Drop of Milk program has been ongoing since May 2015.

The project is most appreciated by all the Christian Churches in Aleppo since it is the ONLY program, which helps all Christians regardless of their particular denomination.  It is an ecumenical program. However, the financing of this life-giving project is waning.  Dr. Nabil Antaki, the Syrian doctor who is coordinating the project has approached ACN for support to be able to keep running the milk program, which is essential for the Christian children in Aleppo.

“We distribute milk every month to about 2,850 children: 2,600 receive powdered milk and 250 receive special milk for infants. Babies, not breastfed by their mother, also receive a special infant’s milk. The total number of beneficiaries varies every month depending on the number of births and emigration of the families,” explains Dr. Nabil Antaki.

 The situation is dire…

The relative calm since the retaking of Eastern Aleppo has seen families returning to their homes.   But with the vast amount of destruction and lack of usable structures, their needs are huge.   Basics like food baskets, fuel for heating their houses and electricity are the essentials needed to begin again. Since the start of the conflict, the pontifical charity ACN (Aid to the Church in Need) has been channeling urgent help to those Christian families in Syria.

ACN will help for a year with the program Drop of milk, a total more 326 000 dollars.

Despite the end of the conflict in that region, these staggering numbers tell a story of ongoing despair:  80% of the population of Aleppo is displaced; 70% live below the poverty line.  Food parcels are desperately needed to fend-off the starvation that comes with such devastation.

Georgina, a mother of three children, explains to ACN how important the Drop of Milk project is for her and her family: “Myriam is ten years old; Pamela is six. We are one of the beneficiaries of ‘A Drop of Milk’ project. Both Myriam and Pamela get one kilogram of milk powder every month. Pamela’s health is critical after being hit by bomb which left shrapnel in her back.   Now that she is recovering, she needs milk to become healthier and stronger. This project is very important for me and my family and I’d really like it to continue.”

The children of Aleppo, already deprived of a normal and peaceful childhood, should not be deprived of milk needed for their growth and health. ACN has therefore assured Dr. Antaki of our help for the children of Aleppo.

Aid to the Church in Need will give $27,188 each month during this year whole year – 2017 – for a total of $326,256.

 

Will you partner with us and show the children of Aleppo that there is hope? There are many ways to give to the children of Aleppo:

 

By phone: 514-932-0552 or toll free at 1-800-585-6333, ext. 227
Via our web site: http://secure.acn-aed-ca.org or https://www.facebook.com/AidChurch/

 

By mail:

Aid to the Church in Need
A Drop of Milk program
P.O. Box 670, Station H
Montreal, QC    H3G 2M6

 

In the name of Aleppo’s children: We thank you!

 

 

Text: Maria Lozano, ACN international Adapted by  Aid to the Church in Need Canada

 

 


 

ACN’s Press Release – Pilgrimage to Our Lady of Fatima

07.03.2017 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, By Mario Bard, Communiqué, Father Werenfried van Straaten, Journey with ACN, Our Lady of Fatima

 

70 years of Aid to the Church in Need!


Pilgrimage to Our Lady of Fatima

 

“Father Werenfried, the founder of Aid to the Church in Need, was a fervent prayer to Mary, and 50 years ago this year, he consecrated his charity to Our Lady of Fatima.  This devotion remained dear to our organization and so, we want to share its great significance with our benefactors,” said Marie-Claude Lalonde, national director of Aid to the Church in Need.

 

Our Lady of Fatima

 

From September 9th to the 18th, 2017, the international Catholic charity is organizing, in collaboration with the travel agency, Spiritours, specialized in trips focused on spiritual renewal, a pilgrimage to Portugal. If Fatima is at the heart of the journey, other cities are included such as the capital of Lisbon, Coimbra – where Sister Lucie, one of the Seers of Fatima lived her life out until her death – Porto and Saint James of Compostela.

 

“The Canadian pilgrims will be able to live unforgettable experiences like the international Mass or an evening of Eucharistic Adoration organized in collaboration with Aid the Church in Need.  In this setting, thousands of benefactors from all over the world are expected,” explains Mrs. Lalonde.

 

“It is a unique opportunity to commune with the cause dear to them, at the very heart of this sanctuary where Father Werenfried entrusted his charity to Our Lady.  I will take part in the trip, and I am very excited to share this precious time with those who have made possible more than 6,000 projects a year in on average 140 countries.

 

Then charity begun by the “Bacon Priest” – full of effervesce

 

Fatima, May 1992: Father Werenfried pay a visit to Sister Lucia, one of the Fatima visionary

For 70 years, the projects supported by Aid to the Church in Need have been diversified – but always with one single goal connecting them: helping the Church, the Christian community, where it responds to the needs of the world.

 

“Father Werenfried – also known as ‘the Bacon Priest’ because of the charity’s origins – was always attentive to the requests from the Church, no matter where from. Whether it be to build a chapel or cathedral, or to help the Church feed millions of displaced people and refugees, or with pastoral training for priests, religious or laypeople.  Our founder knew how to listen and understand the ‘nuts and bolts’ of a need,” says Mrs. Lalonde.  “For him, all these projects served one single purpose: announcing the Gospel and its benefits, in word and in action.  And, that is what we continue to do to this day.”

 

 

 

To sign up for the trip, to find out pricing and the details of the trip – please contact Mikaël Maniscalco at Spiritours, (514)374-7965, Ext 207. spiritours.com/en/travel/portugal-et-espagne-sept2017/

 

Portugal, Fatima, September 2013: Pilgrims of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) gather regurlarly to pray and offer the work of so many Church workers to Our Lady.  


 

ACN Press Release – Pope Francis prays for all persecuted Christians

02.03.2017 in ACN International, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Maria Lozano, Persecution of Christians, Pope, Pope Francis, Religious freedom

March Prayer Intentions

Pope Francis prays for all persecuted Christians

The March edition of The Pope Video*, produced by The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network and supported by ACN (Aid to the Church in Need), concerns the situation of Christians persecuted and discriminated because of their faith around the world without distinction of rites or confession.

As Pope Francis has consistently reminded us at different times: “How many people are being persecuted because of their faith, forced to abandon their homes, their places of worship, their lands, their loved ones!” Solidarity with our brothers and sisters suffering discrimination, violence or persecutions for their faith, must be demonstrated.

Read the abridged Religious Freedom report here: http://bit.ly/WorldReligiousFreedom

According to the last report produced last November by the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need addressing the situation of Religious Freedom in the World, Christians are the most highly persecuted religious group on earth. This fundamental human right – Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – is under serious threat in 38 countries and in 23 of these, the threat classifies as persecution.

In his prayer intention, the Holy Father calls for prayers for them: “I ask you: how many of you pray for persecuted Christians? Do it with me, that they may be supported by the prayers and material help of all the Churches and communities.”

“We thank the Holy Father for his constant concern for persecuted Christians. Aid to the Church in Need has been helping the suffering church since the beginning of its history. Unfortunately, the situation in the world has not improved over the years, the scenarios change but the suffering continues: once it was communism, today it is mainly Islamic fundamentalism. This call is more current than ever,” says Johannes Heereman, Aid to the Church in Need’s Executive President.

THE POPE’S PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR March 2017: “That persecuted Christians may be supported by the prayers and material help of the whole Church.”

 

About Aid to the Church in Need

Aid to the Church in Need is a Pontifical charity directly under the direction by the Holy See. As a Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in need through information, prayer, and action. Founded in 1947 by Fr. Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope St John Paul II named “An outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in 140 countries throughout the world.

Undertaking thousands of projects each year, the charity provides emergency support for people experiencing persecution, transport for clergy and lay Church workers, Child’s Bibles, media and evangelization projects, churches, Mass stipends and other support for priests and nuns and training for seminarians.

 

* About the Pope Video

The Pope Video is a global initiative developed by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (Apostleship of Prayer) to disseminate the monthly intentions of the Holy Father concerning the challenges facing humanity. The videos, created by La Machi Communication for Good Causes, seek to unite people in praying with Pope Francis for those challenges. The Project has the support of the Vatican Television Center (CTV).

 

About the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (Apostleship of Prayer)

For over a century, the Apostleship of Prayer has been disseminating to the world the prayer intentions entrusted to them by the pope of the times. Now, in its process of recreation, the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network emphasizes its role of communicating these prayer intentions and leveraging new media and tools. Its mission is to unite people in prayer and service in response to the challenges facing humanity expressed by the Holy Father in his monthly intentions.

Those who participate in this network are encouraged to become apostles in daily life through a spiritual path called the “Way of the Heart,” transforming those who take that path in the service of the mission of Jesus Christ. The Apostleship of Prayer, founded in 1844, is now present in 98 countries uniting together more than 35 million people including its youth branch, the Eucharistic Youth Movement. For more information: http://www.popesprayer.net/.

 


 

 

ACN PROJECT OF THE WEEK IN INDIA : Rebuilding their church

01.03.2017 in Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Marie-Claude Lalonde, CONSTRUCTION, India, Journey with ACN, Persecution of Christians, Religious freedom

ACN Success Story 

An immense and fascinating country, the Indian sub-continent is home to over 16 million Catholics.  The great majority is poor and does not have the funds to support the development of their parishes.  Aid to the Church in Need is there to respond to the needs of bishops, community superiors and others who are tasked with Church responsibilities who ask us to help them to strengthen the faith of Indian Catholics.  Here are some stories of projects – successful ones – which have seen the light of day thanks to you!

 


In the district of Kandhalma, situated in the diocese of Cuttack Bhubaneswar,

the Christians were particularly touched by the inter-confessional violence of 2008.  Villagers fro Bakingia were relegated to camps for the displaced for between 3 months to 2 years and not everyone returned.  For the sixty families who did return, houses needed to be rebuilt in the place of the destroyed ones.  Once that was done, they turned to Aid to the Church in Need to get help for the reconstruction of their Church which was also destroyed.  Thanks to donations from our many benefactors, the villagers can rejoice at having a church of their very own!

 


We have supported them with an amount of $26,775 – but their great joy is worth so much more!

 

 

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

 

 


 

Press Release – Episcopacy denounces violence against civilians in South-Sudan

28.02.2017 in ACN Canada, ACN International, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN, Press Release, South Sudan

South Sudan

Episcopacy denounces violence against civilians

 

United together from February 21 to 23, the Catholics bishops of South Sudan resolutely denounced the violence perpetrated against civilians, as “war crimes” inflicted by both the opposition and the government who are accused of killing, raping, burning, beating, looting, harassing and detaining civilians, even keeping entire villages from harvesting their crops resulting in some regions facing famine.  Aid to the Church in Need has obtained a copy of this declaration; here are some of the highlights.

 

“We, the Catholic Bishops of South Sudan, have frequently written pastoral messages urging change in our nation, but it seems they have had little effect,” they write in their address with a title taken from the prophet Isaiah, also quoted by the evangelists Matthew and Mark, “A Voice Cries in the Wilderness.”

 

“Our country is not at peace. People live in fear. The civil war, which we have frequently described as having no moral justification whatsoever, continues. Despite our calls to all parties, factions and individuals to STOP THE WAR*, nevertheless killing, raping, looting, displacement, attacks on churches and destruction of property continue all over the country,” they write.

Displaced children in Riimenze, South Sudan

 

The bishops also remind us that the people cannot go to do their harvest because they fear the armed forces, whether they are from the government or the opposition. “Some towns have become “ghost towns,” they write.  “While the authorities may claim that they are free to return to their homes, in practice they fear to do so. In places, the destruction has been described to us as “scorched earth,” they tell us. “All of this is a form of ‘collective punishment,’ which is outlawed as a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.”

 

 

Undermining faith in the Church

 

The South Sudan Episcopacy give us an example of these crimes with the story of “Sister Veronica, a doctor who was gunned down by soldiers while driving a clearly-marked ambulance on 16th May 2016. Her killers were arrested, but we have heard no more and we await justice.”

 

Otherwise, the bishops remained “concerned” that “some elements within the government appear to be suspicious of the Church. In some areas, the Church has been able to mediate local peace deals,” but according to the bishops, “easily undermined if government officials are removed and replaced with hardliners who do not welcome Church efforts for peace. Priests, sisters and other personnel have been harassed. Some of the programmes on our radio network have been removed. Churches have been burned down,” say the bishops.

 

On Valentine’s Day, security officers tempted to close their Catholic bookstores.  “They harassed our personnel and confiscated several books.” The ecumenical church leaders’ delegation which visited Pope Francis in Rome and Archbishop Justin Welby in London has been trying,” in vain, they say “to obtain a meeting with President Salva Kiir since December 2016.”

 

The bishops recall that they are not against anyone, “but AGAINST* evil – violence, killing, rape, torture, looting, corruption, arbitrary detention, tribalism, discrimination, oppression – regardless of where they are and who is practising them. We are ready,” they write, “to dialogue with and between the government and the opposition at any time.”

 

They conclude by addressing particularly the faithful while affirming: “We will continue to be “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness”. We wish to give you hope that you are not abandoned and that we are working to resolve the situation at many different levels.

 

Finally, with great joy, we wish to inform you that the Holy Father Pope Francis hopes to visit South Sudan later this year. The Holy Father is deeply concerned about the sufferings of the people of South Sudan.”

 

* Capitalized in the original letter. 

Displaced People in Riimenze, South Sudan