Celebrate the Year of Faith by supporting seminarians where the Church is poor, persecuted or threatened
The promotion of priestly formation is one of the highest priorities of the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). Each year ACN assists with the training of over 14,000 seminarians worldwide. The African continent, for instance, unlike many Western countries, is witnessing a lively flow of new vocations in the seminaries.
But this good news is tempered by the fact that due to the current economic crisis, many seminaries in the poorer parts of the world are struggling to survive. The poverty is great and often means suitable candidates being turned away, since their families nor their bishops have the funds to support their training.
It is vital to the future of the Church that not one vocation to the priesthood goes astray due to lack of finance. They are the future of Christ's Holy Catholic Church. The average grant ACN gives to a seminarian is $500 - but whatever you can afford will be enormously appreciated. ACN forwards the donations directly to a local bishop or the rectors of the seminaries. You can be assured of their prayers both now and when they come to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Anyone able to help this cause will be sent a complimentary "Year of Faith' rosary blessed by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
The centre piece of the Year of Faith rosary, designed by the Vatican rosary makers, is inspired by the Gospel passage about Thomas "Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed" John 20:29, as interpreted by the famous artist "Caravaggio" (1571 - 1610). The crucifix represents the Evangelists through whom the Faith has been transmitted. The Rosary Beads reflect the Vatican colours, symbolizing Faith preserved through the Holy Father.
To send your online donation please click on this link and select the general donation you would like to give. If you would like to receive the complimentary "Year of Faith' rosary please simply write in the optional Comments box when prompted "For Seminarians and Rosary". An inspirational leaflet explaining the design of the rosary also accompanies the gift set. You can also call the ACN office on 02 9679-1929 and give your donation over the phone.
A video in Memory of Father Werenfried van Straaten - The founder of Aid to the Church in Need
On 17th January 2013, Father Werenfried van Straaten, the founder of the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, would have been 100 years old. He reached the ripe old age of 90 and passed away on the 31st of January 2003.
This short video was compiled to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth and 10th anniversary of his death and reflects on the lifetime work of this remarkable Dutch priest who sixty six years ago started one of the largest private Catholic charities in the world, Aid to the Church in Need. The film, through personal testimony of those closest to him, revisits the early life of Fr. Werenfried, how he gained the nick name of the Bacon priest, his early efforts to support post WW-II German refugees and his help for the persecuted Church in the former Soviet Union.
With a simple black hat, that was to go down in history as his "hat of millions", Father Werenfried managed to collect some three billion dollars during the course of his long life, while his fiery preaching touched many human hearts. Right into old age, and even sitting in a wheelchair when he was too weak to preach, he personally took the collection with the hat in his outstretched hand. Many of his benefactors still remember that old hat today when they make their donations. Ever imaginative, Father Werenfried even managed to turn this battered old hat to his advantage, tirelessly pointing out, with a twinkle, that it would be better to put in notes, as coins might fall through the holes.
"Persecuted and Forgotten?" 2011 Edition - ACN Report on Christians oppressed for their faith
By the beginning of 2011, Christianity has been described as the world's most persecuted religion. Yet despite the growing problems faced by many Christians, media coverage of their plight remains scarce.
Describing the situation in 33 countries, Persecuted and Forgotten? Shows how in some places Christians are denied their basic rights. This includes places in the Middle East where Pope Benedict XVI has said that churches are "threatened in their very existence".
Drawing on the latest Christian persecution reports available and first-hand testimony, Persecuted and Forgotten? describes the struggles faced by Christian communities who are prevented from practicing their faith and living
normal lives. It is for these people that Catholic charities like Aid to the Church in Need exist.
Religious liberty as a fundamental human right is being neglected by world public opinion, above all by politicians and the media. And yet religious liberty is one of the most vital preconditions for democracy.
You will find no better summary about your fellow Christian brothers and sisters in Christ who are persecuted for their faith. Please pray for them.
* Please note that some of the reports make for unavoidably distressing reading and hence the book may be judged inappropriate for very young children and other vulnerable people.
Please click on the front cover of the book to read the report. (You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader (PDF) to view this report).
Hard copies of the report will be available from the Australian office on Aid to the Church in Need by the end of April 2011. To order a copy please ring the office on (02) 9679-1929 OR send your request by e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org OR write to Aid to the Church in Need PO Box 7246 Baulkham Hills NSW 2153
The report, published every two years, examines the degree of religious freedom in 196 countries worldwide and covers the year 2011 and the major events of the year 2012. Country by country, the study not only covers the Christian faith but all religious minorities suffering persecution or oppression. As a Catholic charity we believe that religious liberty should apply equally to all religious groups who wish to practise their faith without fear or discrimination.
Overall the report finds that the threats to religious freedom are not diminishing. Even if some improvements seem to have emerged at a legislative level, in reality there have been no significant improvements. Countries that once enjoyed relative calm, such as Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Syria, are now cause for serious concern. Furthermore, the pressure of Islamic extremism on African countries such as Kenya, Mali, Nigeria and Chad, has increased and threatens to destabilize an entire and important area of Africa.
In Pakistan, the anti-blasphemy laws and the hostility towards Christianity within society continue to cause grave damage, both to the legal process and in terms of outright violence (notably, the murder of the Governor of the Punjab, Salman Taseer and that of Shahbaz Bhatti, the Federal Minister for Minorities and a Catholic). In neighbouring India, so-called 'anti-conversion laws' and the abuses of power that derive from them, now appear to be spreading at a local level in a number of states despite the fact that the national Constitution acknowledges the right to religious freedom.
While the Report concerns all suffering or oppressed religious minorities there is no doubt that Christians are the group most exposed to persecution. This finding is also confirmed by other reports on the subject, including those provided by international organisations. Although the number of Christians of different confessions in difficulty because of legal or cultural structures around the world is not known for sure, last year Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Holy See's Secretary for Relations with States, estimated these to be more than 200 million.
Magadan: Stalin's artic death camps (60 years since Stalin's death)
Magadan, is a harbour town of 120,000 lying on the sea of Okhotsk in the far east of Siberia, some 1,500 km from the nearest city. Backed by the mineral rich Kolyma mountain range, it is today the largest deep-water port in North Eastern Russia, exporting gold, silver, tin and oil. Magadan's rough beauty, however betrays a dark history. The city was the administrative centre of Stalin's Kolyma artic death camps, the Gulags; a vast system of work camps and prisons in Siberia through which millions were imprisoned and perished from exposure, starvation and execution, between 1932 and 1954. An estimated 2 million people died.
Magadan was city based on the prison camps. Its very existence was a holding camp for the Kolyma region. Many of the inhabitants came from the Baltic countries - Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine and many from Poland. When Stalin came to power he wanted to diminished the influence of the West. Part of this strategy was to concentrate on the Baltic countries some of which were very strong Catholic countries. Quotas of young men and women were arrested on trumped up charges and removed from these countries to work in the prison camps of Magadan.
The video features Fr. Michael Shields (pictured), an American missionary priest, who ministers to the last of the Gulag survivors left in Magadan. (March 5th 2013 was the 60th anniversary of Stalin's death).
Mexico: Help for the training of eight novices of the Capuchin Poor Clares
Assisi, in the year 1212. A young and beautiful noblewoman secretly slips out of the house of her wealthy parents. She leaves behind her all the safety, comfort, wealth and security in order to devote her life in poverty, chastity and obedience to her bridegroom, Jesus Christ. She is inflamed with the ideals of her spiritual mentor, guide and brother in the Lord, Saint Francis of Assisi. Chiara Offreduccio di Favarone - for that is her name - leaves her horrified family facing a fait accompli. She has her hair cut short and in this way finally manages to convince her family that she has irrevocably chosen this life of radical imitation of Christ. Although it was not unusual for a young woman to enter a convent at this time, a young woman from a noble family would have been expected to enter a religious community and live a life in accordance with her station. To choose a life of utter poverty was something new and unheard-of. Very soon other young women joined her, and later of course she became famous throughout the world as Saint Clare of Assisi, the foundress of the Poor Clares. The order she founded was unusual in that not only did the individual sisters have to renounce all worldly goods, but even the community itself was to remain poor and have no possessions.
Click here for past weeks' featured projects
Catholic News: Reports for you to read about the work of Aid to the Church in NeedPlease note that you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader (AAR) to view these reports. You can download AAR free of charge from the net by going to the Adobe website. To open a report simple click on the cover of the report you are interested in.
ACN is unique from other Catholic Charities as it offers pastoral assistance and Catholic news to the Church wherever she is poor or suffering under Christian persecution.