By Murcadha O Flaherty

A CONTEMPLATIVE community of religious Sisters in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) who pray for persecuted Christians will have their future ensured by a new well – after a chronic shortage of water threatened their survival. “We didn’t know how we were going to survive after the collapse of our old well a year ago,” Sr Mahele Mwamini, the Prioress of the Discalced Carmelites at the Glorious Saint Joseph Convent, Kinshasa, told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.    

This year, the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), is celebrating its 70th anniversary as well as the 100th anniversary of the appearances of Our Lady of Fatima, to whom the charity has been consecrated.  

“It is night time in Africa. I am flying through the night from Rome to Africa. The flight takes six hours.” This comment is dated April 1965 and recorded in the book Where God Weeps by its author, Fr Werenfried van Straaten, the founder of the Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). In it he records the moments leading up to his arrival in the capital of what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This first visit of his to the African continent lasted just nine days during which, in addition to visiting Kinshasa, he also went to Kivu, Isiro and Kisangani. On his return he described the stages of his journey as “the stations on the Way of the Cross”. Following that first visit, there were to be five more journeys to Africa between September 1968 and the end of the 1980s, during which the man known to many as the Bacon Priest was able to witness first-hand the sufferings of the continent and the poverty of the Church there. But at the same time he was able to appreciate the work that needed to be done by the Church in Africa and the aid that ACN could give on that journey. 

By Murcadha O Flaherty and John Newton

VITAL help for Syrian mothers and children forced to flee violent extremism is one of nearly 100 new projects announced this month by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). 

By Murcadha O'Flaherty and John Newton

ARCHBISHOP Bashar Warda of Erbil has unveiled plans to provide a future for Iraq’s displaced Christians – despite fresh reports showing the extent of the destruction of their homes in the Nineveh Plains.  

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