Featured Projects in December 2019

 

A new village chapel - Ethiopia
* Help for the continuing care of the traumatised survivors of the terrorist attacks of Easter 2019 and their families - Sri Lanka
A car for mission work - Panama 
* Help for the training of nine seminarians in the Andes - Peru
Help to complete the pilgrim accommodation at the Marian shrine of Berdychiv - Ukraine

 

Ethiopia

A new village chapel

The parish of Our Lady, in Shebo, lies within the apostolic vicariate of Gambella in the far west of Ethiopia. During the devastating drought of 1985 the Marxist regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam resettled much of the population from other regions of the country here, including in the territory of the present parish of Shebo. The people were promised a better life here, but their expectations were bitterly disappointed. It was to help these suffering and disillusioned people that the parish of Shebo was established in fact.

Today the parish has five outstations, one of which is poetically named Village 9… It is situated around 10 miles (16 km) from the main centre of the parish and is a dynamic community, with 700 Catholic faithful, plus an additional 62 people who are currently preparing for baptism.

15 years ago the Catholic community built a small mud chapel here with a timber roof. Over the years, however, it has been eaten away by termites, and the roof was recently torn off by the wind. The building is so dilapidated, it is no longer usable.

ACN 20191029 93097 Easy ResizeConstruction of outstation chapel at Shebo Village Nine in favour of St Mary Parish Ethiopia.
Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.

And yet, for the Catholic faithful here their chapel is a place dear to their hearts. For them a church is like a bridge between life on earth and eternal life in heaven. They have been constantly pleading with their parish priest, Father Netsanet Yadeta, to build a new chapel, but so far nothing has come of it, since the people cannot afford the cost. Father Yadeta writes, „They are poor, but rich in faith. They have a strong faith and they insist that it is only thanks to the help of God that they are able to cope with all the difficulties of their lives.“

In addition to this, it is impossible to provide catechetical instruction during the rainy season, since there is no place of shelter for the people to gather in.

ACN has promised the parish a contribution of $48,500 AUD, so that they will now at last be able to build a new and permanent chapel of their own.

ACN 20191029 93098 Easy Resize

Construction of outstation chapel at Shebo Village Nine in favour of St Mary Parish Ethiopia.
Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

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Central African Republic

Success Story: 30,000 copies of the New Testament in the Sango language

At last, the new edition of the New Testament in Sango, the national language of the Central African Republic, is finished and ready for distribution! Fini Mbuki – “Good News“ – is the title on the red dust cover of the newly printed books. For many years before this, the old edition was unavailable and out of print. Now everyone is happy, however. It is thanks to the generosity of our benefactors that ACN was able to provide the 37,000 Euros that were needed – enough to print 30,000 copies. These will now be distributed among the nine Catholic dioceses in the country – above all for the use of the catechists, who play a crucial role in the transmission of the faith. 

A sound knowledge of the Scriptures is one of the fundamental preconditions for establishing a strong faith. In this country, which has been plagued ever since its independence in 1960 with political crises and violence, the inner renewal of the human person is the key to a better future. Since the bloody civil war, which began in 2013, vast sections of the country are still under the control of armed groups. If the country is ever to be restored, it will be necessary not only to rebuild all the ruined houses and public facilities, but above all the spirits and souls of the people. There can only be a better future if hatred is overcome and a new chapter opened, in a spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness. And in any case it is vital for the faithful to have a sound knowledge of the Good News of Christ. For although two thirds of the population are Christians, nonetheless in many places superstition and belief in witchcraft are still deeply entrenched.

ACN 20191126 94420 Easy Resize

The new edition of the New Testament in Sango, the national language of the Central African Republic, is finished and ready for distribution!
Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

The vicar general of the diocese of Bouar, Italian Carmelite Father Marcello Bartolomei was the man responsible for the revised translation and publication of the new Testament. It was a painstaking and difficult undertaking, but now there is great joy at its success. He writes: "We thank the Lord and all our benefactors, and ACN above all, for having supported us in this precious work for the spreading of God's Word. Now that we have in our hands the writings of the New Testament, and above all the Gospels, it will strengthen our faith and give encouragement to our catechists, our Catholic faithful and all those seeking baptism. It is in fact our custom to give the newly baptised a copy of the New Testament, and at Easter 2020 many of them will now receive this precious gift of the “Word of Life”.

Our heartfelt thanks to all of you who helped!

ACN 20191126 94418 Easy Resize

Catechists in the Central African Republic will now have copies of the New Testament in their own language empowering them to share the Faith.
Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

 

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Sri Lanka

Help for the continuing care of the traumatised survivors of the terrorist attacks of Easter 2019 and their families

The morning of Easter Sunday 2019 will ever remain a horrific memory for so many people in Sri Lanka. On that day a series of suicide attacks in three Christian churches and three hotels claimed the lives of some 300 people, with a further 500 or more injured.

Hundreds of people had gathered that day, in the Catholic church of Saint Sebastian in Negombo, in the Catholic church of Saint Anthony in Colombo – also a popular place of pilgrimage – and in a Protestant church around 160 miles (250 km) from the capital, in the town of Batticaloa, to celebrate the Easter liturgy. It was here in these tightly packed churches that most of the victims were killed.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Colombo immediately came to the aid of the injured and the bereaved, tending their wounds, burying the dead and providing such emergency assistance as was necessary. However, the spiritual and psychological wounds still go very deep. Those who survived the attacks are in many cases deeply traumatised and the bereaved family members of those who were killed continue to go through profound hurt and grief. On top of this there is the nagging fear that more attacks could happen again at any time. Many are living in a state of deep angst. The Archdiocese of Colombo wants to help these suffering people with counselling, trauma therapy and personal accompaniment, so that they can find healing for their spiritual wounds. Above all, the children who survived the attacks need help to recover their confidence in life and not be condemned to living forever under the shadow of these horrific events.

ACN 20190724 89577 Easy Resize

Sister Remoshini with victims of the Easter Sunday attacks from April 23 2019, Colombo. Psycho-social assistance is needed for the families affected by the church attacks on 2019 Easter Sunday.
Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need. 
Photographer: Thomas Baier

The plan is to train up 300 counsellors who can provide professional help to the affected families. At the same time youth group leaders and others working with those affected will be trained in an understanding of the problems and taught to recognise the symptoms of trauma.

ACN is helping with AUD $133,000.

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Panama

A car for mission work

Rio Congo is the newest of the 10 mission zones in the apostolic vicariate of Darien, in the region adjacent to the frontier with Colombia. Some 3500 people live here, scattered across more than 38 small communities. 18 of these communities already have a chapel, while in the remaining 20 the Catholic faithful are currently also striving to build chapels of their own.

The people are extremely poor. Most of them are simple peasant farmers who have migrated here from the interior and who just about manage to make ends meet by growing rice and bananas. But what matters most to them is their faith, and they bring with them a rich treasure of popular piety. Of great importance to them is their local patronal feast. In order to make this event into an occasion for confirming and deepening the people’s faith, the diocese some years ago established an evangelization campaign whereby, immediately after the local patronal festival, a team of evangelisers goes round visiting the Catholic faithful in their homes and speaking to them about the Gospel and the Catholic faith. An indispensable part of this is the work of the catechists, who bear the main burden of the faith life of the community when the two priests, who have to cover the whole vast area, cannot be present in person.

ACN 20191029 93125 Easy Resize

Purchase of a car is needed for pastoral work at the mission area of Rio Congo. Pictured: Mission month celebration in the month of October 2019.
Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

The priests regularly visit the communities in order to celebrate Holy Mass and administer the sacraments. The people look forward to their visits and wait eagerly for them. However, most of these settlements are accessible only in the dry season between January and April, since the remaining months experience heavy rainfall, the rivers burst their banks and transform many of the dirt roads in this relatively hilly region into treacherous mudslides. In any case, the two priests only have one old vehicle at their disposal which can no longer really cope with the challenging road conditions and now urgently needs replacing. ACN has already promised AUD $33,600 for a robust all-terrain vehicle. It will make it possible to provide a much better and more intensive pastoral ministry to the people here in the Rio Congo mission zone. 

Will you help us?

ACN 20191029 93138 Easy Resize

Purchase of a car is needed for pastoral work at the mission area of Rio Congo.
Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

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Peru

Help for the training of nine seminarians in the Andes

High in the Andes, at an altitude of over 10,000 feet (3000 m) lies the town of Huaraz. It is the seat of the diocese of the same name, and the diocesan seminary is also in the same city. There are nine young men here, currently preparing for ordination to the priesthood. A respectable number when one considers that there are not many more than 227,000 Catholics in the entire diocese.

The Catholic faithful live scattered over a region of some 5000 square miles (13,000 km²) and are ministered to by 58 priests. In fact Catholics make up only a little over half of the total population in the diocese of Huaraz, far fewer than the average in Peru as a whole, which is nearer to 80%.

Peru is one of the countries with the most acute shortage of priests in Latin America. So these future priests are urgently needed. In order to promote vocations, the diocese of Huaraz has launched an intensive vocations apostolate, offering retreat days, holiday activities, talks and meetings for interested young people in the schools and parishes. For any who show an interest in the priesthood or religious life there is guidance and accompaniment, and visits to their family homes. Both the priests in the seminary and the local parish priests make every effort to offer help and guidance both to the young people and their families and accompany them in reaching a decision. The nine young seminarians in the diocese are one fruit of these efforts.

ACN 20190523 87926 Easy Resize

Formation of 12 seminarians in Huaraz and 4 in Trujillo.
Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

The rector has written to us, saying that his seminarians are “growing in their friendship with Jesus Christ” and have already proved in their lives so far that “in an environment that tempts men away from God, they have kept their faith and learned to give their lives without asking anything in return”.

The diocese has asked our help, so that these nine young men can continue on their path to the priesthood. We have given AUD $4200 towards the cost of their formation.

ACN 20190523 87925 Easy Resize

Formation of 12 seminarians in Huaraz and 4 in Trujillo.
Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

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Russia

Success Story: extension of the Catholic parish centre in Tomsk

The Catholic parish of the Transfiguration of the Lord in the city of Tomsk in West Siberia is a thriving community. Sundays see Mass attendance of around 350 people and, unlike in many other places, the congregation includes not only mainly women and children but also many men. In addition, every Sunday there are five or six children’s and youth groups and two adult groups who come for catechetical instruction. There is also a Catholic secondary school – one of only two Catholic schools in the whole of Russia – and the local diocesan Caritas has a strong support network for families in difficulties. At the same time the parish offers a home for foreign students living and studying in this large city, including many from Vietnam, Italy and Poland. There are lively and friendly contacts with the local Russian Orthodox Church, and each summer the Catholics and Orthodox together organise a joint holiday camp, in addition to the many meetings and activities held throughout the year. And finally, the parish has an excellent church choir, which is known to music lovers throughout the region.

Needless to say, all these many activities require some sort of suitable premises. Until recently the situation was difficult and a great deal of improvisation was necessary. But then the parish was handed a building that had already once served, back in the late 19th century, as a Catholic children’s home. It is ideal for the needs of the parish, but first of all it needed to be converted and renovated. ACN gave AUD 16,200 towards the cost of completing the interior modifications.

Finally, on October 6, 2019 the parish centre in Tomsk was finally commissioned and solemnly blessed. Now all the regular Sunday catechetical sessions are held here, with courses for children, young people and adults, and the building at the same time serves as a retreat centre, with the possibility of accommodation for Catholics travelling from other towns or distant villages. At the same time the local Caritas has now been able to extend its support and counselling services for those in need.

Now we have received a thank-you letter from the parish: “There was a great celebration in our parish. Without your help we could not have done this.”

So now we want to pass on these thanks to all our benefactors whose generosity made it possible to help complete this work.

ACN 20191030 93169 Easy Resize

ACN 20191030 93170 Easy Resize

Interior of the parsonage for the parish Preobrazheniya Gospodnego Transfiguration of the Lord in Tomsk.
Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

 

 

Ukraine

Help to complete the pilgrim accommodation at the Marian shrine of Berdychiv

Since the year 2011 the image of Our Lady in the Carmelite monastery Church in Berdychiv has been the national shrine for the Latin-rite Catholic Church in Ukraine. The monastery and its attached church were built in the year 1630 by a Polish nobleman’s family, who also donated the image of Our Lady. Ever since then it has drawn large numbers of the Catholic faithful, who have brought their cares and concerns to the feet of the Mother of God. One of the most significant moments in the history of the shrine was in 1998, when the image was crowned by the local bishop with a crown that had been previously blessed by Pope John Paul II.

However, in the 20th century the shrine suffered the same fate as so many other holy places. Under Soviet rule the monastery was closed, and the centre – which in its heyday had also housed a boarding school, a hospital, a home for the homeless and a publishing house – was now converted into a “museum of atheism” with a prison, interrogation rooms and a cinema. Later, a music school and a sports hall were also added.

In 1989 the people of the city of Berdyciv demonstrated publicly for the return of the monastery and its church to the Carmelite Order. Remarkably, the demonstrations were led by an Orthodox priest, for the Carmelite Fathers had been very active in working for ecumenical reconciliation. Success finally came in 1991, and the discalced Carmelites were allowed to return. However, the repair and renovation of the monastery and church was, and continues to be a Herculean task that is still not finished today. In fact some parts of the building have still not been returned to the Order to this day. Nonetheless, over the years – and partly also with the help of ACN which has so far contributed a total of 110,000 Euros – a great deal has already been achieved. In 2012 they were finally able to re-consecrate the Basilica.

Now they have turned to us once again for help, this time in order to refurbish the kitchens and the two large dining rooms, as well as the sanitary facilities – all of which are urgently needed in order to be able to accommodate the many Catholic faithful who come here in pilgrimage to the image of Our Lady of Berdychiv, or to take part in retreats here. We are hoping to be able to help once again with a contribution of AUD $72,800.

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