Featured Projects in July
* Ongoing Formation session for Priests in the Diocese of Bouar
* A new church for the Catholics of Camela
* Help for the formation of 13 novices of the congregation of the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara
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(Please note due to the time and resources that this takes, project adoption is only available for donations over AUD $2000).
Central African Republic
Thank you for supporting an ongoing formation session for priests in the diocese of Bouar.
Thanks to the help of our benefactors, we were able to contribute AUD $4,800 to enable 40 diocesan and religious priests to attend an ongoing formation session in the diocese of Bouar. Given that the country is suffering such violence and extreme problems, it is especially important to support and strengthen the priests, since they are often the only ones who can really help their people not to lose hope.
The formation programme included such important pastoral issues as marriage preparation and how to deal with irregular marriage situations and, more generally, the appropriate formation for the Sacraments, adult baptisms and the role of catechists in the small and remote rural villages. At the same time the priests were able to reflect on their own vocation and the importance of the priesthood, while additionally receiving training in a range of practical matters, such as bookkeeping, general administration and record-keeping – all matters that are essential and obligatory in every parish and institution but for which many priests are often inadequately prepared when required to take over a ministry which demands such skills.
Ongoing formation for diocesan priests of the diocese of Bouar. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.
The priests of the diocese all benefited greatly from these days of exchange and ongoing formation and wish to express their gratitude to all our generous benefactors who made this meeting possible.
Sadly, however, immediately after these beautiful and encouraging days, there was a terrible and tragic incident. 47-year-old Capuchin Father Toussaint Zoumalde, who had so recently given a talk on the priesthood and the vocation of the priest, was murdered on his way home from the meeting. This priest, who himself came originally from the diocese of Bouar, but was currently serving as Provincial Superior of his order in Chad, had been planning to spend the night in Ngaoundere, in Cameroon, on his way home, when he was stabbed to death by unknown assailants. He was a highly learned priest who had studied in Rome and himself been involved in the work of priestly formation. Friends and colleagues described him as a fine and multitalented individual with a profound soul and a great love of the Church and the priesthood in particular. A songwriter and poet, he had a wonderful manner with young people, to whom he brought the Gospel message, and he had previously been responsible for the Catholic radio station in Bouar. In Chad, in addition to his many other activities, he was the head of a cultural museum of the Mboum ethnic group. In their obituary for him the Capuchin Fathers wrote: „In killing him on the night of 19 March, the cowardly hand of his murderer knew nothing of the beauty and elegance of Brother Toussaint, this priest who was so rich in the fine qualities of the Gospel and the beauty of the priestly order.“
Group photo of the priests with Bishop Miroslaw Gucwa. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.
So it was, that just a few days after meeting with their fellow priests in Bouar, at which Father Toussaint had given his confreres such inspiring and profound reflections on the priesthood, his mortal remains were carried to their burial by his brother priests, amid great mourning among all the people and the entire Church in the diocese. The words he had spoken at this meeting of the priests have thus become his lasting legacy.
A new parish church for the Catholics of Camela
The town of Camela has a population of around 30,000 souls and lies in the midst of the vast sugarcane plantations in the northeast of Brazil. The life of the people here is marked by great poverty and grave social problems, with widespread violence and drug addiction and an invasion by fundamentalist sects. Today there are no fewer than 75 different temples of these sects in the town, while the Catholic Church has just one, far too small parish church and a chapel in the cemetery.
Parish Imaculada Conceição e Santo Antônio:
The church of the recently founded parish was built as a chapel and is the only catholic church building in the small city, which has already 75 neopentecostal groups. Since Fr. Laion Fernando Gonçalves dos Santos Ferreira and 3 other members of the Community Obra de Maria have overtaken the pastoral work in the parish, many evangelical members have returned to the Catholic Church and the pastoral life is increasing. As a result the chapel has become far too small and there is no space for amplifying the church. For this reason, the construction of a new parish church is urgent.
Photographer: Ulrich Kny
Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need
Moreover, the parish church is sandwiched between a store and a supermarket, and there is consequently no possibility of extending or enlarging it. Sunday Mass is now celebrated on the local sports ground instead, since there is not enough space inside the church for all the faithful.
Father Laion Fernando Gonçalves dos Santos Ferreira works very hard among his people, together with three lay missionaries, and is providing an excellent and fruitful pastoral ministry among them.
The parish has now been given a plot of land on which to build a new parish church. And they need our help… ACN is proposing to offer AUD $57,000 to support the project. Will you help us?
Help for the formation of 13 novices of the congregation of the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara
Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.
The congregation of the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara has been blessed with many vocations in Ukraine. Currently there are no fewer than 13 young novices undergoing formation in the diocese of Ivano-Frankivsk, desiring to consecrate their lives for ever to the service of God and their fellow men. Most of them are young, being aged no more than around 20.
The sisters of the congregation accompany young people, organise retreat days, provide catechetical formation and care for orphans, the sick and elderly, who often live in great need in Ukraine.
Among other things, the young novices help in summer to organise holiday camps for children and young people, giving them an opportunity to take a break and enjoy themselves, but at the same time to deepen their understanding and faith in God. For these young sisters it is also a good exercise in the work of catechesis. Last year some of them travelled with a group of 50 or so young people to attend a youth meeting in Italy. Although the bus journey was long and tiring, they were all enthusiastic and inspired. Sister Maria Christiana, the novice mistress, recalls: "I have never seen young people so filled with enthusiasm at the truth and the experience of community.“ The sisters also organise walking pilgrimages to the shrine of Krylos, in Ukraine in the diocese of Ivano-Frankivsk itself. During the pilgrimage, a walk of around 25 km, they pray and sing, and the sisters are also available for personal counselling sessions, at which the young people can unburden themselves freely and put all their many questions about the Christian faith or their own personal problems. Last year some 400 young people took part.
ACN regularly supports the congregation for the formation of these young sisters, and this year we are proposing to do so again, with a contribution of AUD $12,500.
Study time for 13 novices of the "Zhuzhebnytsy Hospoda ta Divy Mariyi z Matara" (servants of the Lord and the Virgin Mary of Matara) Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.