Featured Projects in January 2020 

*Help for a two-year formation course for 10 catechists and their families at the Mobokoli training centre
*A roof for a new church in Boaco
*Help for the training of 27 seminarians in the diocese of Rio Branco, in the Amazonas region
*A car for the Dominican Sisters in Baranovichi

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Help for a two-year formation course for 10 catechists and their families at the Mobokoli training centre

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as in almost every African country, catechists play a vital role in passing on the faith. In the diocese of Lolo, in the north of the country, the life of the Church would practically grind to a halt, were it not for the catechists living and working alongside the ordinary faithful in the villages and encouraging them to gather together for prayer and study of their faith. For many of these parishes cover vast areas, with numerous villages, often very difficult of access. The handful of priests available have to cover long distances on foot, sometimes wading through waist-high streams, in order to reach the people in the villages. Hence it is impossible to them to visit the villages as often as they would need to in order to instruct and guide the faithful. But the lay catechists are always on hand and present in the villages.

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Formation of 10 catechist families in formation from 10 parishes at the Catechetical Centre "Mobokoli", Diocese of Lolo, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

In the diocese of Lolo there is a catechetical centre, where the lay catechists can gain a solid training for this precious service which they perform, and also regularly update and refresh their knowledge. The basic training for thse catechists lasts two years. Since they generally already have a family, their wife and children come with them. So the diocese also provides basic accommodation for the whole family. While the fathers are studying, their children also attend school, the diocese covering the cost and providing teaching materials and school uniforms as well. And at the same time their wives also follow a range of courses, for example in needlework, domestic science, reading and writing and also basic courses in Bible studies and morality.

The aim is to provide the future catechists with both a theoretical and a practical training in pastoral studies and proclaiming the Catholic faith. For Bishop Jean Bertin Nadonye Ndongo the training of his catechists is a project dear to his heart and he is quite sure that their improved formation has given a "new impetus“ to the diocese and been a "source of inspiration“ to them all. But the need for well-trained catechists is still acute, he says, and this is why he has asked our help for the training of 10 more catechists and their families. We have promised him $21,000.

 Code: 115-07-49

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India

Success Story: a new church in Majerburi Village, Assam

The Catholic faithful in Majerburi Village, in the west of the Indian state of Assam, are delighted with their new church. At last the whole numerous congregation has room to sit inside the church together. Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors ACN was able to contribute $100,000 AUD towards the cost. The dedication ceremony was a great and joyful feast, and the people are continuing to pray for all those kind souls whose contributions have made it possible for this long-cherished dream to be finally fulfilled.

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Construction of a Parish Church at Matia Majerburi. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

In 1983 the Capuchin Fathers opened the first mission station in Majerburi Village and set up a primary school there. In 2012 the parish of Saint Francis was formally established here. Up to that time there was only a very small chapel, simply too small to accommodate the growing number of Catholic faithful. As a result, on Sundays and all the major feast days, around a hundred people were forced to attend Holy Mass standing outside the church. The children from the more remote and outlying villages, who cannot attend the village school unless they can find space in the parish boarding house, were likewise unable to get to Holy Mass on Sundays. And the pupils and teachers from the new college, which was established by a congregation of religious sisters in 2016, also wanted to be able to attend Sunday Mass.

The people are strong in their faith and play an active part in the life of the parish, but are far too poor ever to have been able to find the money to build a new and bigger church. They belong overwhelmingly to a variety of indigenous tribal groups, and struggle to make a living gathering firewood in the forest and growing vegetables to sell at market. Even at the cost of great sacrifice, they would never have been able to achieve this goal by themselves – which is why their parish priest, Father Kuriakose Kattoopara turned with confidence to ACN for help. On behalf of all the people, he now sends us a heartfelt 'thank you' and promises their continuing prayers for all have helped.

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Construction of a Parish Church at Matia Majerburi.
Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

Code: 317-01-19

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Nicaragua

A roof for a new church in Boaco

After Haiti, Nicaragua is the poorest country in Latin America. So not surprisingly, the Church needs help in many places in order to be able to fulfil her mission. In the year 2012, on the outskirts of the town of Boaco, a new parish was established, named after the great Pope Saint John Paul II. Over two thirds of the parish covers a rural area, with 14 outstations, and roughly 70% of the local population of some 20,000 people are Catholics.

It is a very lively parish, and even weekday Mass attendance is around 50 people. On Sundays there are three Masses, with around 80 people attending each one. There are also numerous pastoral activities, for children, young people and adults, and the number of faithful is growing dynamically, not least owing to the general population increase in the town of Boaco.

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Installation of the roof and electrical systsem, San Juan Pablo II church at Boaco: Celebration of the feast of the patron Saint John Paul II. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

At present a new church is being built in the parish in order to be able to accommodate the growing number of Catholic faithful. The parish priest, Father Miguel Angulo Rivas, is one of the most experienced and longest serving priests in the diocese of Granada. He volunteered to take over this parish, along with this difficult and demanding new construction project, because he wanted to take on the challenge of such a major undertaking before his retirement. He is widely regarded as a model for the other priests and for the Catholic faithful in the diocese.

The project is now well advanced, but help is now needed for the roof and the electrical wiring. So Father Miguel has turned to ACN for help, so that the new church can be finished as quickly as possible. We were only too happy to contribute $21,000 AUD.

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Bishop Jorge Solórzano Pérez, San Juan Pablo II church at Boaco. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

Code: 231-01-19

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Brazil

Help for the training of 27 seminarians in the diocese of Rio Branco, in the Amazonas region

Currently there are 27 young men from the diocese of Rio Branco in western Brazil training to serve God and their fellow men in the Catholic priesthood. The life that awaits them as priests will be a far from easy one, since their diocese lies to a large extent in the Brazilian rainforest and covers an enormous area of over 40,000 square miles (104,000 km²). The distances are great, and many places can only be reached via the rivers.

Undoubtedly, their vocation is also in part a fruit of the decades of tireless commitment by the Italian missionary Paolino Baldassarri, who even at the age of almost 90 was still travelling long journeys into the wilderness on his simple boat in order to visit the Catholic riverside communities. Since he couldn‘t swim, he always wore a life vest and a motorcycle helmet. He was also a doctor, and continued to practise even at an advanced age, treating and helping innumerable patients.

When he first arrived in the region, almost half a century ago, he immediately fell victim to malaria, in the first week of his stay. But somehow, miraculously, he survived and soon afterwards began to visit the jungle settlements in a simple canoe. Because of the shortage of priests in the region, many families had drifted away from the Catholic faith. Father Paolino won them back. He died in 2016, widely regarded as a saint.

Today the people‘s faith is again in danger, because the 40 priests struggling to minister to the 450,000 or so Catholic faithful in this vast and inaccessible region can only rarely visit some of the remotest villages and settlements. Meanwhile, the sects are spreading rapidly, seemingly well funded, wasting little time on training their preachers, and promising miracle healings to all the people.

In this light, the 27 future priests are a great ray of light and hope for the Church in the diocese of Rio Branco.

ACN is supporting the diocese for their formation, with a total of $16,800 AUD this year.

Code: 212-04-79

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Belarus

A car for the Dominican Sisters in Baranovichi

Back in 1992, almost immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union, three Dominican sisters from Poland came to Belarus and began their apostolate in the town of Baranovichi. Evidently, their example was a powerful and attractive one, for by now the order has a fine number of local vocations, with no fewer than 18 sisters coming from Belarus itself. And more young women are waiting to join the order. Today the Dominican sisters are working in four different locations within Belarus.

Within the Catholic parish in Baranovichi, today a city of 170,000 people, the sisters perform a number of different duties, as sacristans and parish clerks, working with children and young people and caring for the sick and elderly. Around a hundred children and young people attend the catechism classes, and the sisters also prepare adults for reception of the Sacraments. At the same time they help to ferry the frail and elderly to church or bring them Holy Communion in their homes, comforting them and supporting them in many different ways. At Christmas time they also organise gifts and presents, with parcels of clothes, food and medical items for those in need.

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Car for the sisters Dominican nuns in the parish Pod. Sv. Kryzha in Baranovichi. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.

The three sisters in Baranovichi currently have just one 10-year-old car at their disposal, which is becoming unreliable and costing more and more for repairs. And yet they have urgent need of a reliable vehicle, for in addition to their ordinary pastoral duties they also have to travel to the diocesan Centre in Pinsk for retreats and ongoing formation sessions, a distance of some 180 km (112 miles), and also to the Dominican formation house in Minsk (190 km) and the other Dominican houses within Belarus, a distance of up to 300 km in some cases.

The sisters cannot afford a new vehicle from their own resources, so they have turned to ACN for help. It would be helpful for them to have a vehicle with a larger boot, since they often have many things to transport – like the Christmas parcels for example. So we have promised to help them with a contribution of $16,130 AUD towards the cost of a new vehicle. The sisters want to thank all our benefactors in advance and they already enfold you in their prayers!

Code: 439-05-29

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