- Spiritual recovery time for priests in Liberia
- Repairing a damaged boat in the diocese of Lisala, in the Congo River Basin
- Support for the family apostolate in the diocese of Wabag - Papau New Guinea
- Support for 50 Seminarians in Oradea - Romania
- Establishing a branch of the St John Paul ll Youth Pastoral Centre for the region in Northern Bosnia - Bosnia and Herzegovina
Important note: ACN receives 5000 project requests per year and we cannot possibly share all the project stories and images with you.
The projects below are just a small sample of the project requests Aid to the Church in Need receives. Therefore when making a donation we recommend you specify your gift to "projects most in need" that way your donation will be allocated to a project that desperatley needs funding.
We greatly appreciate when you specify your donation in such a way.
However if you would like your donation directed to a specific project area or country, you can leave a comment in the online donation form.
To avoid overfunding of individual projects, if a project has been fully funded your donation will be directed towards a similar project in that region.
If you have the means and would like to "adopt a specific project" please call 1800 101 201 during business hours (AEST) and we can match you with a project that you can fully or partially fund.
(Please note due to the time and resources that this takes, project adoption is only available for donations over AUD $2000).
Spiritual recovery times for priests
From 1989 through till 2003 Liberia went through one of the bloodiest civil wars on the African continent. To this day this West African nation has still not fully recovered from it. More than two thirds of the country‘s almost 5 million population still have little faith in a lasting peace. One reason for this, among many others, is the fact that to this day there have been no prosecutions of the known war criminals. All levels of social life are vitiated by a feeling of profound mistrust. „More than the infrastructure, it was our souls that were destroyed“, says Father Dennis Nimene, the secretary general of the Liberian Catholic bishops‘ conference.
For the Church too the aftermath of the war has been a great challenge. For although – after the end of the war and the subsequent Ebola crisis – various trauma recovery programmes were offered to people, she knows that it is the spiritual dimension that is above all important, and especially for her priests. Consequently, the bishops are hoping to offer spiritual retreats and recovery times for her priests during the current year 2019, so that they in turn can find the serenity to better help the laity. Accordingly, this year 25 priests from the diocese of Cape Palmas will be given an opportunity to recharge their spiritual batteries and find new strength in God, also sharing their problems and experiences with one another so that they can take new ideas back to their home parishes. ACN is supporting these retreats with a contribution of approx AUD $7500. This represents $300 for each priest, to cover travel costs, board and lodging. A small investment indeed, but one that will have a big impact.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Repairing a damaged boat in the diocese of Lisala, in the Congo River basin
The diocese of Lisala is one of the oldest and – with an area of over 24,000 square miles (67,600 km²) – at the same time one of the most geographically extensive in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Situated in the north of the country, in the Congo basin, it is crisscrossed by the Congo River and its many tributaries.
Not surprisingly, therefore, the waterways are absolutely vital to the life of the Church. The diocesan river boat, the Magnificat, is of crucial importance to its pastoral outreach. Sadly, however, the vessel was severely damaged in September 2018, while travelling downriver towards Kinshasa. Surprised by a sudden storm and unable to moor up safely, it was flung against a large tree projecting into the water and had a huge hole torn on its side. Fortunately, the people on the boat were able to evacuate safely, but the boat sank almost completely. Needless to say, the material damage was extensive and the rescue campaign difficult. One of the priests and other helpers had to paddle across the river to reach the accident site.
Initially, they attempted to repair the boat themselves and get it underway again, but it soon became clear that the whole process would be much more difficult than they had imagined and would require specialist materials and expert skills. Two of the motors were out of action, and repairing the hole in the side will require the work of skilled boatbuilders.
The diocese has turned to us for help, and ACN has promised approx AUD $14,300, so that this vital mission boat can quickly be rendered serviceable again.
Photo: Bishop Ernest Ngboko visiting villages that can be reached only by a canoe.
Papua New Guinea
Support for the family apostolate in the diocese of Wabag
Papua New Guinea is the largest and most populous country in Oceania. It also has one of the most rich and diverse ecosystems on earth and one of the most diverse human societies and cultures, with a total of some 830 different languages spoken. Most of its 5 million inhabitants follow Christianity today, and roughly half of these are Catholics – though Christianity was in many cases introduced only a few generations ago and is therefore sometimes not very deeply rooted in the culture.
At the same time many people in Papua New Guinea have found it difficult to adjust to the extremely rapid social developments associated with the modern information age, while the State in many regions seems unable to fulfil even its most basic duties. Many people have simply been unable to cope with the rapid changes, and the consequences have included a sense of social uprootedness, extensive crime, drug and alcohol addiction, domestic violence and even child abuse. The Church is therefore focusing very much upon the family apostolate, since this is the only way to bring about an improvement.
In the diocese of Wabag, the work with families is likewise a major priority. Conditions are difficult, however. The diocese is poor and many of the priests also have to support themselves by growing their own food, in addition to carrying out their priestly duties. Most of the faithful live in remote and inaccessible mountain regions, and the parishes are vast, with numerous outstations, while the roads are often nearly impassable. In order to be able to reach as many of the Catholic faithful as possible, there are 13 diocesan committees which operate pastoral and social activities in the parishes, thereby covering almost every area of social life. At the same time they are also training up members of the laity, so that they in turn can carry on the same work independently later on. In all this work, the improvement of the practical living circumstances of the people goes hand in hand with the work to deepen and strengthen their faith. ACN is supporting this extensive pastoral outreach programme for a period of three years, and once again our contribution for this year is approx AUD $48,500.
Support for 50 for seminarians in Oradea
The Greek-Catholic diocese of Oradea continues to rejoice at the high number of new priestly vocations. One of the most important factors contributing to this is the intensive family apostolate of the diocese. For it is evident that families who play an active part in Church life and who truly live their faith will provide the most fertile soil for future priestly and religious vocations.
In 2017 the seminary in Oradea celebrated its 225th anniversary. In the 20th century, however, this long history was brutally interrupted by the communist persecution of the Church, and it was not until after the political changes that it was once again possible for young men to enter the seminary. The new beginning was far from easy – above all from an economic point of view. ACN has been helping the reconstituted seminary in Oradea since 1993. And it still urgently needs our help today, for the diocese is very poor.
Father Anton Cioba, the rector of the seminary, has written to us. „Without help from abroad, we could not fulfil our mission“, he says. „We continue to depend on your support and we thank you with all our hearts for the help you have already given us in the past. In doing so you are helping us to experience the universality of the Catholic Church. May God bless you and all our kind benefactors.“
We are helping the seminary once again for the formation of its 54 candidates. A total of AUD $52,400.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Help to establish a branch of the St John Paul II Youth Pastoral Centre for the region of northern Bosnia
In 2015 the Pope John Paul II Youth Pastoral Centre was first established in Sarajevo, the capital of the state of Bosnia-Herzegovina. It is open to all young people, without distinction as to faith or ethnic origin. It was formally blessed by Pope Saint John Paul II, for whom young people were especially important and who introduced many lasting initiatives for the young, most notably of course, the World Youth Days.
The centre has been a great success. Every year around 10,000 young people aged 10 and over have taken part in the pastoral meetings, training sessions and leisure activities held there. The slogan of the centre is "Encounter and Reconciliation – Shaping Peace and a Future Together“. The centre has 20 full-time staff, working together with around 300 volunteers on the many pastoral activities offered. The foundation of the centre was supported by ACN with a contribution of around AUD $808,000.
The young people who become involved with the Saint John Paul II centre are often also very active in their own home parishes, further proof that it is possible to live together peaceably in this country, to find work, establish a family and build up a happy life. Part of the goal is also to promote interaction and cooperation among all the different ethnic groups and religions in the country, thereby building bridges for a peaceful future. Such youth work is especially important, not only for a better future but also for the survival of the Church herself. For as a result of the war in Bosnia (from 1992 to 1995) around half of all the 500,000 Catholic Croats living there were either expelled or voluntarily emigrated. Even today, around 10,000 people are leaving the country each year, among them many Catholics, because they find themselves discriminated against in the workplace, the schools and social life generally and can therefore see little future for themselves. But those young people who are deeply involved in their parish life tend to stay on and have faith in the future.
Now, however, the capacity of the centre in Sarajevo is not enough to cope with the high demand, and so a new centre has been opened in northern Bosnia, as a sort of branch centre. It can offer overnight accommodation to up to 10 people and likewise offers a wide range of activities, including such things as seminars for youth group leaders, interfaith and ecumenical initiatives and many more things besides. The grounds of the centre also have a farm, with animals and an orchard where the young people can work. The centre is already up and running, but there are still a number of finishing touches remaining to be done, especially in the bathrooms and toilet blocks. Additionally, there is a plan to set up a sort of outdoor stage, with seating for open-air performances and the like. ACN is proposing to help with a contribution of approx AUD $33,000, so that the work on the centre can be quickly completed.