Year in Review: ACN raises over $175M to Help Persecuted, Suffering Church around the World

THROUGH ITS 23 national offices, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) raised over AUD $175M in donations in 2018. The organization’s more than 330,000 donors enabled ACN to fund more than 5,000 pastoral projects to support the persecuted and suffering Church in 139 countries.

The resources raised, thanks to the generous donations of its more than 330,000 private benefactors around the world, have enabled the charity to fund no fewer than 5,019 pastoral projects in some 139 different countries.

“We are deeply moved by the generosity of our benefactors all over the world”, commented Thomas Heine-Geldern, the executive president of ACN International, at the formal presentation of the charity’s Annual Report. “Once again their sacrifices and their faith have moved mountains!”

Bernard Toutounji, National Director of Aid to the Church in Need Australia added: "I can only offer my sincere and heartfelt thanks to every benefactor; those who sent $5 and those who sent $5000. This work of ours, in support of the suffering Church, is not (and never has been) just about raising money. ACN brings into one spiritual family, those who support the projects and those who receive the help. We pray every day for our benefactors, and we give thanks especially for the way they have responded and continue to respond. Together we are keeping the faith alive."

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Children from the parish of Preketé in Benin had been baptised by Mgr Paul K. Vieira during his last visit. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.

As has been the case in recent years, a major proportion of these donations went to support projects in Africa (27%) and in the Middle East (25%). In the last few years the region of the Middle East has witnessed a substantial increase in aid from ACN. Since the beginning of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ in 2011, in fact, the Pontifical Foundation ACN has given over 156 million, of which over 28 million were in 2018 alone. The charity’s emergency support for the thousands of uprooted Christian refugees in this region above all accounted for over 12% of the total aid granted last year. What should be underlined as particularly significant in this respect was the huge project of rebuilding the houses and homes of the Christian refugees in Syria and Iraq that was made possible by the support of ACN International. In fact no fewer than 1,479 Christian homes were rebuilt in these areas of the Middle East, thanks to the involvement of the foundation.

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 Zaineh village, Valley of the Christians. Pictured in the photo is a displaced Syrian family. The grandmother, Johena, her daughter, Selma (not pictured in the photo) and grandchildren, Elian, 11, and 16-year-old Marita, received emergency help from ACN thanks to generous benefactors.
Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.

Not surprisingly, the country which saw the largest single amount of aid from ACN during 2018 was also in the Middle East, namely Syria, where the support given by the charity was almost 13.6 million, 4.6 million more than given by ACN in 2017. And in second place in terms of the aid given was Iraq, also in the Middle East, where last year ACN funded projects to a total value of more than 10.3 million. These two countries were followed by India (8.2m), Ukraine (5.2m) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (close to 4.6m).

In terms of the types of project supported, as in recent years, the first place was that of construction or reconstruction, with over 36.6 million (31.9% of the total) attributed for 2,470 buildings, including private homes, chapels, churches, convents, seminaries and pastoral centres.

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The Sisters of "Insituto del Verbo Encarnado" in Odesa. They are building a house for pregnant women and young mothers supported by ACN. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.

In second place were Mass Offerings (16.4%). During 2018 this particular form of support – absolutely crucial in the poorest parts of the world where priests have virtually no other form of support – brought help to no fewer than 40,569 priests, or roughly one in every 10 worldwide. In this way, last year, no fewer than 1,421,001 Holy Masses were celebrated for the intentions of the benefactors, or approximately one Holy Mass every 22 seconds.

Tied in third place in terms of the types of aid given were emergency aid projects and those providing support for the formation of priests and religious (12.4%). During 2018 ACN supported the formation of 11,817 seminarians, or approximately one in every 10 worldwide, in addition to the ongoing studies of 4,370 priests. In addition to this, the Mass Offerings given were able to support the life and work of 1,383 priests teaching in the major seminaries.

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A priest in the diocese of Kandi, Benin standing next to his motorcycle financed by ACN. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need..

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ACN supported the development of pastoral and catechesis lessons taught by the Missionaries of Jesus Word and Victim. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.

Also extremely important for ACN was the education of the lay faithful, which took fifth place in terms of the percentage (11.2%) of the total aid given. In this way the charity was able to support the formation of some 14,169 catechists and lay leaders last year.

In sixth place was the aid given for the means of pastoral transport (6.8%), with a total of 907 vehicles funded – 370 cars, 189 motorcycles, 342 bicycles, two trucks, two coaches and two boats. This was followed by support for the Catholic media and the publication of Bibles and other religious literature (4.6%). Including sacred texts and its own publications, the Foundation ACN was able to fund the publication and dissemination of some 1,103,484 volumes.

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ACN helped to purchase a vehicle (Sumo Gold EX) for the Divine Mercy Parish at Yingkiong in India. In the photo are the parishioners with their priest. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.

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Trip to Iraq by ACN UK in October-November 2018. Children with Red Ted (teddy bear) at The Sacred Heart School with the Sacred Heart Sisters in Erbil. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need. 

These figures illustrate a fundamental reality of ACN’s support for the Church throughout the world. It is a support given also and above all in a spirit of closeness to the oppressed and persecuted Church and with the capacity to react promptly and in practical terms to the attacks to which the Christian communities are ever-increasingly subject around the world. In the event of such tragic attacks as the recent bomb outrages in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, or the frequent attacks in countries such as Pakistan and Nigeria, ACN has always been able to react promptly and appropriately to help the wounded communities get back on their feet again and reaffirm their presence, even and especially in those countries where Christians are a small and oppressed minority. It does so by helping to rebuild their damaged churches, supporting the families of the victims and helping the priests and religious to continue in their pastoral mission. And thereby, ultimately, demonstrating that faith has the power to overcome hatred.

Written by Marta Petrosillo, edited by Laura Cain.

*Figures have been converted from Euro at the average exchange rate for 2018 that is 1 Euro = $1.5797 AUD.

To donate to the projects of Aid to the Church in Need click below:

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Or you can call: 1800 101 201
or send a cheque to: Aid to the Church in Need
PO BOX 335, PENRITH, NSW, 2751

In addition to the ACN 2018 Annual Report you can also read the Aid to the Church in Need Activity Report. 

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