Media releases, News 05 Jun 2023

Changes in the leadership of ACN International

Media Release 02.6.2023

The international pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) will from 14 June 2023 be led by Regina Lynch,  a long-serving Project Director of the charity. She takes over the role of Executive Director for the next five years from Dr Thomas Heine-Geldern (71). Cardinal Mauro Piacenza remains President of the foundation, and Philipp Ozores has been confirmed as General Secretary.

In mid-April Fr Anton Lässer CP was appointed as the new Ecclesiastical Assistant of ACN International. He replaces Fr Martin Barta Opus J.S.S., who after 13 years is taking on a new role within his Order.

Regina Lynch: New Executive Director of ACN. Copyright: Ilona Budzbon/Aid to the Church in Need.

The new Executive President Regina Lynch (66) originates from Northern Ireland. A literary scholar, she has worked since 1980 at the international headquarters of ACN in Königstein im Taunus (Germany); in 2008 she took over the role of Project Director and became responsible annually for 6,000 of the charity’s projects in more than 140 countries. In over 40 years she has made numerous journeys to beneficiary countries and nurtured relationships with project partners, branches of the Church, and other charities.

In her new role, Regina Lynch is responsible for the basic content and the statutory leadership of the international foundation, with its 23 National Sections. She represents the foundation externally and is supported in her duties by the Administrative Council and the General Secretariat. As Executive President, she reports to the Supervisory Board under the chairmanship of Cardinal Mauro Piacenza.

In 2021 she received a special appreciation of her work: as representative of ROACO (a combination of charities serving the oriental Churches) she was able to accompany Pope Francis on his trip to Iraq, where ACN has given significant support to Christians returning to the Nineveh Plains after having been driven out by ISIS.

In April 2023 she handed over the leadership of the Project Department to her successor Marco Mencaglia (45). A political scientist born in Rome, he has been active in the department since 2014; he was initially responsible for some Latin American countries and then for the whole of Europe.

Marco Mencaglia: New head of the Project Department for ACN. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

The new Ecclesiastical Assistant Fr Anton Lässer CP (62) comes from Austria. He initially studied business management and worked as a management consultant. After theological studies he was ordained a priest in 1999; in 2007 he joined the Passionist Order (CP). As International Ecclesiastical Assistant he has responsibility – along with the Ecclesiastical Assistants of the 23 National Sections – for the spiritual life of the foundation.

“With the new Executive President, the new Ecclesiastical Assistant and the confirmed General Secretary ACN is excellently established, both organisationally and spiritually,” said the departing Executive President Heine-Geldern. “Regina Lynch knows and loves ACN. She enjoys the highest recognition inside and outside of the foundation. And she is a guarantor that ACN will continue to develop in the fulfilment of its mission.”

Fr. Anton Lässer CP: New Ecclesiastical Assistant of ACN. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need. 

Heine-Geldern, who was Executive President from 2018, led the charity through the challenge of the growing persecution of Christians across the world and the Covid-19 pandemic. In May 2019 he received the “Path to Peace Award” from the UN representative of the Holy See in New York for ACN as a “leading mouthpiece for persecuted Christians”.

Pope Francis has received Heine-Geldern many times and has repeatedly expressed his appreciation for the work of ACN. One such occasion was on 15 August 2019, when the Pope blessed 6,000 rosaries at the Angelus prayer, which were distributed to the surviving relatives of war victims in Syria.

Since March 2022, ACN has strengthened its support for the war-torn Catholic Church in Ukraine.

Founded in 1947, the pontifical foundation is dedicated to the service of Christians around the world, through information, prayer and action, wherever they are persecuted or lacking in money for pastoral care. The foundation is entirely supported by private donors and does not accept public funding.

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