Featured Projects in November 2019
*Support for religious sisters - Benin
*Success Story: a church for the people of Nkontrodo - Ghana
*Success Story: a car for pastoral work among the tribal peoples - India
*Renovation of a centre for the vocations apostolate and lay formation - Peru
*Support for contemplative religious sisters - Ukraine
*Support for the youth pastoral centre in Sarajevo - Bosnia and Herzegovina
Support for religious sisters - Benin
Sister Helène and Sister Epiphanie are both from Togo and belong to the congregation of the Missionary Catechetical Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart. Since July 2018 they have been living and working in Parakou, a large and dynamically developing town in northern Benin.
There are many different ethnic groups living in the town of Parakou. The majority of the population are Muslims, but since the town lies on an important communications intersection and is easily accessible, the congregation has had its formation house here since 1997, and it is here that the young African sisters of the congregation receive their formation.
At present there are five young sisters undergoing training. They are all from poor families and most of them live a long way away. So they can scarcely hope to be supported by their families. Nor can the local parishes afford to support the work of these sisters, despite the vital contribution they make, for example instructing young people and adults in the faith, visiting the sick and elderly and bringing them Holy Communion.
And so ACN is stepping in to help. We are proposing to give $3200 AUD for the coming year to support Sister Helène and Sister Epiphanie in the work of providing a sound formation for the younger sisters.
Existence help needed for the Catechists Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart in Parakou.
Sr. Epiphanie Sr. Helen and Sr. Hermione in the field harvesting some vegetables they have grown in order to support themselves. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.
Success Story: a church for the people of Nkontrodo - Ghana
The town of Nkontrodo is one of eight smaller communities belonging to the parish of Saint Francis in Elmina in the south of Ghana. In the town there are around 200 actively practising Catholics, who regularly attend Holy Mass and play an active part in the life of the Church.
For many years now the people of Nkontrodo had being waiting for a church of their own. Until recently Holy Mass and other forms of worship and liturgical services had to be celebrated in the dining hall of the local school. Not only was this a less than fitting setting for the celebration of the Eucharist, but additionally the parish had to negotiate with the school for its use for every event. And inevitably, there were constant clashes and conflicts of timetabling. On top of this, the town already had eight different sects and Pentecostalist groups, all of whom already had their own, solidly built places of worship. There was a real danger of members of the Catholic faithful leaving to join these groups out of sheer frustration with the situation.
However, Father Martino Corazzin, their parish priest, had constantly exhorted the faithful to "Pray day and night, with faith and trust, and the Lord will hear your prayers and touch the hearts of those who are able to help us!" And their trust was not disappointed. Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors we were able to contribute $81,000 AUD so that the dream of the Catholic faithful could at last become reality. In August 2019 the new church was finally consecrated. We helped initially with a contribution of $49,000 AUD, but the building work ran into problems with difficult soil conditions and other unexpected complications, making the cost higher than originally envisaged. And so, thanks again to our generous benefactors, we made a further contribution of $32,500 AUD.
Father Martino has now written to thank us: „We are all extremely happy and grateful to you for your generous support and for the confidence you have placed in us, and above all for the fact that you have made our dream come true. We ask God to bless you and the many benefactors who have helped us. The faithful of the parish of Saint Anne in Nkontrodo have also asked me to thank you on their behalf and they have promised to remember you in their prayers, especially in the celebration of the Eucharist. They also asked me to tell you that more and more people are now coming to our church. And it is true, we are already seeing new faces.“
Completion of a church construction project for the St Anne community at Nkontrodo, Ghana. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.
Success Story: a car for pastoral work among the tribal peoples - India
For many years now, Sister Christine of the Merciful Sisters of the Cross has been serving the poor and downtrodden in the East Indian province of her congregation. In the region where she is working this includes above all the members of the indigenous tribal peoples, for whom she is caring. She has a great deal of experience behind her and now coordinates the work in the various small Christian communities that have formed here – places where a priest is only rarely able to visit. As a result, the faithful generally gather with a catechist, in order to pray together, celebrate Word liturgies and share their life experiences.
Sister Christine has to cover considerable distances in the course of her work – frequently on poor roads and in inaccessible regions. Her old car had served her well for eight long years, but unfortunately, owing to the harsh conditions, it had become increasingly unreliable, repeatedly leaving her stranded in mid-route and becoming ever more expensive in repair costs.
Thanks to the help of our generous benefactors, we were able to provide $16,200 AUD, and now Sister Christine is delighted with her new vehicle. She writes, "May God richly bless you all. I promise you my prayers and the prayers of all the people in our parishes!"
Providing tranport for pastoral care. Sister Christin in front of the new car. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.
Renovation of a centre for the vocations apostolate and lay formation - Peru
The prelature of Chuquibambilla in southern Peru lies high up in the hills, at an altitude of somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 feet (3000 – 5000 m). It is a region of great poverty, where the local people have to contend with poor soils and frequent droughts. Added to this the 10 years of terror and civil war inflicted by the Maoist guerillas of the so-called "Shining Path" rebels during the 1980s have left behind deep scars among the people that have still not healed to this day. Many families have been torn apart, psychological and physical violence are still very prevalent, there are many orphans, and many lonely elderly and widowed people left to their own devices and without any help. Nonetheless, there are
also many people in whom the faith burns strongly and even in the remote mountain villages there is a rich spirituality among the ordinary people.
Roughly 95% of the 100,000 people living in the prelature of Chuquibambilla are Catholics. They are ministered to by 14 priests and 21 religious sisters who travel to the most inaccessible villages to support the people there. For they cannot expect any help from the state authorities. It is the Church alone which helps them in all their spiritual and material necessities.
There is a desperate shortage of priests in the region, and as a consequence there has been an attempt to strengthen the vocations apostolate in recent years. This year 33 young people took part in a vocations programme and five young men have now entered the propedeutic, or pre-seminary stage (a form of preparatory year before entering the seminary proper) in a neighbouring diocese (since the prelature itself has no seminary structures of its own). At the same time the aim is to do more for the formation of the laity, and especially for the catechists who play such an important part in the villages. And there will also be opportunities for families, who in this way, it is hoped, will likewise become a more fruitful soil for spiritual vocations.
Clearly, a suitable centre is needed, so that regular monthly sessions can be held as part of this vocations apostolate and ongoing formation of the laity. There is a building which 45 years ago housed a minor seminary but was closed down 30 years ago and has never been renovated since. We are proposing to help with a contribution of $38,000 AUD for the renovation of this building.
Renovation works are needed at the former minor seminar so it can be used as a pastoral formation centre. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.
Support for contemplative religious sisters - Ukraine
10 years ago the congregation of the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara founded a convent in in the town of Burshtyn in West Ukraine. It seemed an almost impossible task at the time, since the sisters had to start from nothing. But thanks to their
perseverance and their deep trust in God, their great dream finally became reality. During the early years the sisters were very active, organising many different pastoral activities such as catechetical sessions, spiritual exercises and ongoing training courses which were attended not only by people from the immediate neighbourhood of the convent but by people from other parts of Ukraine as well. However, as time passed, the sisters began to feel that they ought to devote themselves more strongly to contemplative prayer and the enclosed life. Sister Maria has written to ACN: „We believe that the religious life is the most important duty of our sisters and that it depends on the quality of our prayer, our communal life and ongoing formation in fidelity to our founding charism. These elements of the religious life bear many fruits in the sanctification of life, which is the single most important requirement for the salvation of souls.“
At present there are three sisters living in the convent in Burshtyn; they will shortly be joined by three more young religious who are currently still completing their formation in Italy. We are proposing to support the sisters in their life and ministry with a grant of $2400 AUD.
The sisters send their best wishes to all our benefactors for a joyful and blessed Christmas and they write: „May the Child Jesus touch your souls with his example of poverty and humility in the Manger of Bethlehem and may He inspire you with the one thing that can truly satisfy the human heart, namely the love of God."
Existence help needed for the 3 contemplative sisters of the "Zhrom. Sluzhebnyts Hospoda ta Divy Mariyi z Matara" (servants of the Lord and the Virgin Mary of Matara) in Burshtyn. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.
Support for the youth pastoral centre in Sarajevo - Bosnia and Herzegovina
Catholics are a minority in Bosnia and Herzegovina – at a bare 14%, and falling. Already during the Bosnian war, from 1992 to 1995, half the Catholic population was expelled or forced to emigrate. But even today many many Catholics are leaving the country each year because they can see little future for themselves, owing to the discrimination they face in seeking employment, in the schools and in social life generally. The Catholic bishops have been complaining for years that Catholic Croat families who would otherwise be willing to return are not being given the support to which they are due. At the same time there is a noticeable Islamisation of society, which is already externally visible in the form of the numerous new mosques that are being built.
The Catholic Church is still trying to work for a better future, through its reconciliation work among all ethnic groups and through its schools and its charitable work, which is open to people of all ethnic groups. At the same time the Church is striving to offer steady employment opportunities that will offer families some prospect for the future.
One beautiful example of this reconciliation work is the John Paul II Youth Centre in Sarajevo, which also offers a range of initiatives for promoting inter-faith and interdenominational dialogue.
Each year thousands of young people benefit from the broad range of programmes offered by the centre, returning with great energy and enthusiasm to their own parishes to work from there in renewed faith for a better future. At the same time the centre is able to offer employment, in the form of 10 full-time posts and 10 part-time posts, thereby providing these men and women with a steady income and a future for their families. And there are an additional 300 volunteers who help out as needed. The centre offers training courses for group leaders, spiritual exercises for confirmation candidates, volunteer helpers, altar servers and other types of youth groups as well as offering ecumenical programmes in which young people of different faiths can get involved, learning to take shared responsibility for a better future in the society in which they live. Those attending come not only from the archdiocese of Sarajevo (Vrhbosna) itself but from all over the country.
Other big events are also organised, for example the large youth pilgrimage in May to the shrine of Our Lady in Kondzilo, which was attended once again this year by well over 3000 young people. There is a music festival, with modern Christian music and a young people‘s Way of the Cross, when hundreds of young people from the individual parishes gather together in each deanery.
ACN supports the valuable work of this youth centre, named after the great Pope Saint John Paul II who had such great affection for young people and who first established the World Youth Days during his pontificate. This year we are helping once again, with a promised contribution of $40,500 AUD.
Financial support needed for pastoral activities of the Archbishop's Youth Pastoral Center Ivan Pavao II in Sarajevo. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.