Subsistence aid for religious sisters, brothers and priests during the coronavirus pandemic
Our priests, brothers and religious sisters travel to and serve in some of the most remote, poor and at times dangerous countries in the world. In these regions they are often as poor as the people they serve, relying on the generosity of the Catholic community to provide for their own living costs. Due to the coronavirus disrupting the world economy and causing the shutdown of multiple industries, Catholic workers in poor countries and where Christians face persecution are left with little to support their own families, let alone to give to the mission of the Church.
Compounding to this tragic reality is that with Masses suspended (in order to slow the transmission of COVID-19) and with monasteries being closed to pilgrims for prayer and the sacraments – it means that donations to the Sunday collections and to the work of the Church are no longer coming in as they used to.
Nigeria. Archbishop Kaigama distributes palliatives to vulnerable Nigerians, 25 April 2020. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.
Bishops, priests and religious sisters have been writing to Aid to the Church in Need asking for support, and also sharing messages and testimonies of prayer, gratitude and hope, which you can read below.
As a result, we have set up a special fund to collect donations for the subsistence aid of religious sisters, brothers, priests and contemplative religious so that they can continue their work. If you are able to make an offering at this unprecedented time you can do so at the bottom of this article.
Messages of prayer, thanks and love:
Read some of the messages of love and hope from the beneficiaries of your generosity in which they express their gratitude, prayers, as well as their fears and concerns for the future. For most of them, COVID-19 is one threat among many, as these Carmelite sisters from Morondava in Madagascar explain:
MADAGASCAR - Morondava:
“In these times of global trial, we never stop asking the Lord to help His people, as He once did for His people in the desert. Our thoughts are with all benefactors who are sick and require assistance, as well as with all those who are affected by COVID-19. Our country is also plagued by this pandemic. There are strict curfews in place. Many people are now afraid that the terrorist militias will take advantage of the situation and carry out raids. The coronavirus terrorises us, but we also pray that the thieves will not contribute even more to the death toll.” Carmelite sisters from Morondava in Madagascar.
MALI - Diocese of Ségou:
"Everyone is aware of what is happening around the world today. How will end 2020? Who can answer? GOD ALONE. Yes, God alone can answer. Coronavirus disease is very real in Mali today. 144 cases have been reported, 13 have died (press release from the Ministry of Health on April 16) ... I think that the impact on the population will be enormous, especially in poor countries. Here, churches are closed, unnecessary travel is prohibited. The curfew is too heavy for small traders. Money is increasingly scarce, income-generating activities are reduced. I think it's hard all over the world. At Easter, we were unable to baptize our catechumens. We will do it when the churches will be open again. However, the triduum was celebrated in small groups. I celebrated at the postulate of the Sisters Servants of the Sacred Heart in Ségou. At each celebration, we were about twenty people. We hope that coronavirus disease will soon be overcome." A priest from the Diocese of Segoe, Mali.
Bukina Faso: A family listening to the Holy Mass through a radio broadcast, Tenkodogo. Unfortunately, as families cannot attend their local church they are unable to contribute to the Sunday offerings, this reality has left priests wondering how they will survive. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.
GHANA - Navrongo-Bolgatanga:
“Continue to pray for us. We are very much concerned about the situation of our country where our health system is quite weak. We need to do all we can to prevent the spread of the disease. Our diocese has put a response plan in place and we are trying to mobilize resources to provide our health workers with protective equipment such as face masks and hand gloves. These are the people who are risking their lives to ensure that the disease does not spread.
We also need to get closer to God at this time of difficulty which is also a good time for us to renew our relationship with one another and of course with God. It is truly a time of grace and I believe our world may never be the same after Covid-19.” Bishop Alfred Agyenta.
BULGARIA: Fatima parish of the Franciscans: Prayer at the church during the coronavirus pandemic. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.
BRAZIL - Parnaíba - ENGLISH translation:
“I express, on behalf of myself and the priests who celebrated, our gratitude for your solicitude through Mass stipends.
Here at the moment, we are apprehensive about COVID-19. There is a lot of disinformation and a lack of care in prevention. That's why we fear we may have a high outbreak of infections.
We are celebrating Mass in private to avoid crowds, broadcasting through social media, informing people that they should stay at home, and campaigning to help the needy, without income for what is needed.
May we, with the joy of the Risen Lord, find the strength and willingness to face with serenity and action the turbulence imposed on all of us by COVID-19.”
Aid to the Church in Need supports the diocese with Mass stipends for the poor priests. You can arrange a Mass for the multitude of needs surrounding coronavirus here.
BRAZIL - Fr. Estéban Oliveres, Fr. José Antonio Gonzales, and Fr. Alejandro Cunietti thanking ACN benefactors for the Mass stipends. In these coronavirus times, Mass stipends will help poor priests to survive. Photographer Milena Vincintin. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.
SYRIA - A message from Sister Annie Demerjian RJM:
“It is very painful what the world is passing through at this time. In this situation of the coronavirus, do not panic about the news. Follow the instructions about healthcare. Our faith is not like pressing a magic button and expecting everything to be OK. The pain and suffering is there but we must also not forget the resurrection is there every day.
We need to help those who are most in need. We need to help each other, lift each other’s spirits and things will pass. In Aleppo, our groups of volunteers are continuing, visiting homes (where it is safe to do so) and taking great care. We are helping the old people, especially because so many of them have no other support, and in Damascus our Sisters are helping some old people, buying what they need so they will not have to go out. People have nothing to rely on. How will they survive?
To all our ACN benefactors, we say very sincerely: Thank you for your enormous generosity. You have helped us for so many years and continue to do so. May God continue to bless you and keep you and your families safe and well." Listen to Sister Annie's audio message here: https://bit.ly/2Uz57JG.
Sister Annie Demerjian RJM checking on the welfare of an elderly Syrian woman. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.
NIGERIA – The Dominic sisters (not contemplative)
“I am writing just to check on you at this time of devastating coronavirus pandemic in our world. I hope you are keeping fine. On behalf of my sisters and our sister novices, we pledge our solidarity of prayers with and for you, your families, colleagues, our benefactors and benefactresses and indeed, all who are affected directly or indirectly by the pandemic. We continue to pray to God to put an end to the pandemic, grant repose to the souls of those who have lost their lives in the pandemic and console those left to mourn them. We have a few cases of the pandemic in Nigeria but so far, none of us (Dominicans) is affected. Thank you very much for all that you have been and are to us. We sincerely appreciate you.”
Burkina Faso - Sisters of Our Lady of Sacred Heart in the diocese of Fada N’Gourma in coronavirus times. Subsistence aid is needed for 36 nuns working in the diocese of Fada N´Gourma, 2020. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.
UGANDA - Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales
“Today everyone talks about corona because it has touched everyone`s lives somehow. It has changed the flow of events. It has changed history. On 7th March I flew to Uganda for a short mission visit. But I could not fly back to Italy as the situation deteriorated there. I decided to stay here in for a month. Now flights are cancelled. I hope that by the beginning of May I can get back to Rome. In Uganda, there are a few causalities. However, I appreciate the way they handle the situation. Since a week, the president has banned all the schools, places of prayers and any kinds of gatherings. No one is to go out unless for food, medicine and for farming. Unfortunately, this banning has produced a lot of poor people as they cannot go for any work. People have nothing to eat. So, we decided to feed 100 families with necessities. We can provide a hearty meal for a family of six to ten members with about 15 USD. We are also providing them with some sanitizers and vitamin C tablets. In Iyolwa, so far we have not heard of any corona cases. All the villages are closed. All public transport is banned. So the village heads will know if any stranger or guest comes to the village.
We have a lot of rains. Sometimes it pours down heavily with thunder and storms. As a result, the electric posts which are planted in the rice-fields fall down cutting the power supply. We have some solar connections. Though the rains have made the roads unpassable, they support the trees and nature a lot. After the thunders and rains, the clouds will vanish, and the skies will become blue again. It will restore the calmness not only in nature but also within ourselves. When we see that thousands of people fall in Europe and U.S, where the medical systems are far advanced (seemingly), we thought, what will be the situation if corona embraces Uganda, one of the poorest countries in the world, where there may not be hardly 100 functioning ventilators in the whole country? It can be disastrous. In our, daily small talks among confreres, we already talk joyfully about our own earthly end. It gives me again the awareness to be joyfully ready to leave when the call comes until then to be loving and caring.
“For many of us, this may be the first time in our lives that we have felt so little control over our own destiny and the destiny of those we love. This lack of control initially feels like a loss, a humiliation, a stepping backward, an undesired vulnerability. However, recognizing our lack of control is a universal starting point for a serious spiritual walk towards wisdom and truth.” Fr. Richard Rohr OFM Cap.
ACN has many projects with this congregation in Cameroon, Mozambique, Chad and more.
MOZAMBIQUE: A sister cares for the sick. Existence help is needed for 3 Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO -Diocese of Kabinda:
“Allow me to express to you, on behalf of all the priests benefiting from this precious financial aid, and on my own behalf, my profound gratitude for your providential intervention. Indeed, with the latest measures taken to limit the spread of COVID-19, our priests who live mainly on Sunday offerings are experiencing great difficulties and can no longer meet their basic needs. It is, therefore, to tell you that your financial assistance is welcomed as a heavenly intervention. Thank you for always being instruments of providence for our particular churches. May the Lord repay you a hundredfold. For our part, we will do everything within our power to ensure that all the Masses requested are regularly celebrated. With the assurance of our humble prayers for you, for all your collaborators, without forgetting all the benefactors of your work. Thank you once again for everything.
Priests in Ukraine creating care packages for the vulnerable in their community during COVID times. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.
To ensure that priests, brothers and religious sisters are able to pay for their own living costs during the coronavirus pandemic, Aid to the Church in Need has set up a special fund and is asking for donations. If you would like to make an offering you can do so with the form below: