The Holy Mass is the foundation of Christianity – in every place and age. “You never cease to gather a people to yourself, so that from the rising of the sun to its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to your name,” as the priest prays prior to the Consecration in the Third Eucharistic Prayer. So supporting our priests touches the heart of our very existence as Christians.
Featured Images: Fr. Klamadjibé blessing the sick in Chad. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.
This applies all the more in these times of coronavirus. In many countries, especially in Africa, people can no longer come together for Mass. They have to follow the “pure sacrifice” on the radio. And in such cases there is no longer a Sunday collection in the church, which, as Bishop Filbert Mhasi of the diocese of Tunduru-Masasi in Tanzania tells us, “was the sole source of income for most of our priests”. And from what little they had, the priests helped their sick and elderly brother priests. Now this source of support has dried up completely. Other priests depended on the faithful bringing them a share of the fruits of the harvest in order to survive. But this year the harvest has been exceptionally poor, and heavy rains have washed away large parts of the crops. So Bishop Filbert has turned to us, to ask for Mass offerings for himself and his 34 priests.
The situation is similar in Kenya, where the apostolic administrator of the diocese of Lodwar has also requested Mass offerings for the 39 priests. Lodwar is the largest of the 26 dioceses and often suffers from drought and famine. Most of the priests live from hand to mouth, relying on whatever offerings the faithful bring to daily Mass.But now, because of the pandemic, the priests celebrate Mass alone.
We receive requests of this kind not only from many African countries, but also from Latin America. Here not only is the coronavirus raging but also, as in Venezuela, the political and economic situation has plunged the priests and their pastoral ministry into a deep crisis.
In the first five months of this year alone we provided Mass offerings to the value of AUD$10,837,800 – in 34 African nations and in 50 other countries around the world.
The patron saint of priests, Saint Jean-Marie Vianney, the holy Curé of Ars, urged his faithful to pray, telling them, “God loves to be pestered by us.” So let us pester God with our petitions. And there is no better way of doing this than through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Featured Image: Tanzania: Father Gabriel, celebrating alone, yet united with the whole world. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.
Main Feature Image: Mission ACN Turkana, Kenya. Photographer: Ismael Martínez Sánchez.
If you want to support priests through Mass stipends select below: