Featured Projects in September 2019
*Burkina Faso - Support for Religious Sisters
*Benin - An evangelization centre for young people
*India - Mass stipends and retreats for 27 Jesuit priests
*Pakistan - Success Story: help for the formation of 42 trainee catechists
*Peru - Help for the formation of religious sisters
*Bolivia - A house and formation centre for a community of priests in La Paz
*Belarus - Success Story: a car for the pastoral work of a priest in Grodno
Each month Aid to the Church in Need receives hundreds of project requests from the Church in need, and each month we highlight a few of these projects to show you our benefactors how your donations assist our brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank you for your continued support.
Burkina Faso - Support for contemplative religious sisters
The sisters of Mary, Morning Star are a very young congregation, having been founded only in 2014 in Spain. Despite this, they have enjoyed considerable growth and already number 300 sisters. In addition to this they also have around 350 so-called "oblates“ who are associated with the congregation. These are people from all walks of life, above all families, young people and priests, who strive in their daily lives to live the spirituality of this congregation and in a spirit of unity with the sisters.
The sisters live a life of contemplative prayer, yet unlike other contemplative communities they do not live in enclosure. They describe themselves as "living in the heart of the world“. Above all they cultivate a spirit of silent prayer and Eucharistic adoration and organize regular retreat days for all who are interested, as well as prayer vigils for young people. They invite the people from the surrounding area to pray together with them and participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
This congregation also has a convent in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso in West Africa, where seven religious sisters live. They come from Burkina Faso, France, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and even Taiwan, and are beloved among the local people. The children in particular love coming to the sisters to pray with them. And many young women are happy to accept the invitation to study with them and deepen their faith through shared study of the Scriptures. Some of these young women are considering joining the congregation and becoming religious themselves. Other young women are learning useful professional skills such as sewing and needlework with the help of the sisters.
However, providing for their own support is a constant challenge for the community. For Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world. Among other things they make candles, weave cloth and pursue various other handicrafts in order to help support themselves; yet despite their very modest lifestyle, this income is still not enough to enable them to make ends meet.
ACN is therefore proposing to help these seven sisters with basic support of AUD $8000 for the coming year. Would you be willing to help us?
Existence aid for the 7 Sisters de Maria Stella Matutina/Soeurs de Marie Étoile du Matin in Ouagadougou. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.
Benin - An evangelization centre for young people
Whereas the north of Benin is overwhelmingly Muslim and Christians are only a small minority, in the south of the country the population consists above all of Christians and of members of traditional African pagan religions. Voodoo is widely practised, and superstition is widespread – even among many Christians. Hence there is a need for a constant deepening of the faith. As a result, religious formation is one of the highest priorities for the local Church. For this reason, in Cotonou, which is the economic and administrative – though not the official – capital of the country and also the seat of government, and which sits in the far south of the country on the Atlantic coast, a special school of evangelization was established in 2014 for young people aged between 18 and 30. This is known as the "Jeunesse Bonheur“ (or "youth happiness“) project and is regularly supported by ACN. It is derived from the well-known "Jeunesse Lumière“ project in France, initially established by the well-known priest, Daniel Ange.
Some students of the promotion of Jeunesse Bonheur celebrating Sunday together. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.
Under this project the young people involved spend a full year living their faith together, getting to know it better and discovering how to pass it on to others – and with joy.
Among their other activities, these young people go into the schools and visit the families, people in prison and the elderly, and share their faith with all who are willing to listen.
This "school of evangelization" makes the Church in Benin something of a pioneer within Africa, and ever since 2014 young people and young adults have been able to take part in its various programmes. It has borne many visible and tangible fruits – for example, out of the young people who took part in the first four years of its programme, no fewer than 12 have since entered the seminary and five a religious order. Several have gone on to establish their own Christian families, while others have found work within the Church sphere and now play an active part in its life.
However, the evangelization school was initially established on a provisional basis and in temporary conditions. This has done nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of those involved, but in the long term the centre does need suitable and appropriate premises, not least so that it can accommodate more participants. For it is to be expected that in future young people will come from other African countries in order to take part in the programme. And so a new building is being built progressively, in stages. The first section, which is currently under construction, is the accommodation block for the young men. ACN has already promised AUD $81,000 towards the cost of the project.
Boys' and girls' buildings for the "École Jeunesse Bonheur." Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.
India - Mass stipends and retreats for 27 Jesuit priests
The state of Assam is well known for its vast tea plantations. Millions of people live and work here, a large proportion of whom belong to the various ethnic communities that have been traditionally at the very bottom of India‘s social structure. The Jesuits here minister pastorally to the tea plantation workers, most of whom have a strong faith and a profound desire to participate more fully in the life of the Church, receive the Sacraments and generally grow in their faith. At the same time, however, the priests are helping them to improve their concrete living conditions and above all encouraging the parents to send their children to school. Many parents are not convinced of the need for their children to receive an education, since they themselves have never had the opportunity to attend school. The Jesuit Fathers are engaged in a vital work of gentle persuasion here. And indeed many of the parents are themselves now deciding to learn to read and write, since many of them cannot even write their own names. Often they sign with a fingerprint, but at the same time they can neither read nor write what they are signing up to and as a result they are easily cheated in this way.
The Jesuit mission in this region is still relatively young, and the priests themselves are dependent on outside help. We are proposing to help them by providing Mass offerings. The priests will then celebrate these Masses for the intentions of our benefactors, in return receiving support that will help them to survive. The offering of such Mass Intentions has been a long tradition in the Church. However, this is not a matter of "paying" for Holy Mass to be celebrated, but rather a gesture of love and gratitude on the part of the faithful, in return for which the priest will celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the benefactor‘s particular intentions – such as the soul of a departed loved one, for example. In many poor countries such Mass offerings are frequently the sole means of support for many priests. We are proposing to pass on these Mass offerings of our benefactors to the 27 Jesuit priests in Assam, for a total value of AUD $12,127 – which equates to just AUD $450 for each priest for the entire year.
At the same time, and again thanks to the support of our benefactors, we were able to send these priests a total of AUD $2,100 to enable them to take part in a one-week spiritual retreat and thereby renew and refresh their own spiritual and intellectual lives. They send you their heartfelt thanks for this.
Pakistan - Success Story: help for the formation of 42 trainee catechists
The work of catechists is of immense importance for the life of the Church in Pakistan. The parishes here are often vast and with numerous outlying settlements, and consequently the catechists are an indispensable support for the priests and play a major role in passing on the Catholic faith. In many cases the life of the parishes would virtually come to a standstill without them, since it is impossible for the priests to be everywhere at once.
Not surprisingly, therefore, the national catechists‘ training centre in Khushpur in the diocese of Faisalabad, which has been in existence since 1965, is today the beating heart, so to speak, of the Church‘s pastoral outreach in Pakistan. Men from all over the country come here to train so that they can then carry out this vital ministry back in their own home dioceses.
Those candidates who are already married and have families are provided with accommodation for the duration of their training. At the same time their wives also attend a range of courses, including needlework, good housekeeping and healthcare, together with basic Scripture knowledge. In Pakistan the worlds of men and women are strictly segregated, and consequently the catechists' wives will also have a vital role to play in ministering to the womenfolk in their own communities. Meanwhile, any children they have will at the same time attend kindergarten or school for the duration of the course.
Formation of 42 residential candidates from 6 dioceses at St. Albert's National Catechists' Training Centre, Khuspur. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.
Great emphasis is placed on practical activities and consequently the trainee catechists will also visit the local parishioners, talking and praying with them. They will also accompany the fully trained catechists in their work for a week or so, in order to acquire a feeling for their own future apostolate.
ACN has long been supporting the training of these catechists. Last year 42 such trainee catechists were able to benefit from the AUD $13,500 you gave towards the cost of their training. To all our generous benefactors who provided this help, we pass on their grateful thanks!
Peru - Help for the formation of religious sisters
In many countries of Latin America there is no state help of any kind for the physically or mentally handicapped. Most families, already living in poverty, have little possibility of helping their own handicapped children in a manner appropriate to their needs. However, the congregation of the Servants of God‘s Plan (Siervas del Plan de Dios) have a special vocation for the care of the poorest and most needy. They have established schools for handicapped children and they also care for the elderly, sick and needy. They want every person to feel loved and accepted and for the handicapped especially to be able to discover and develop their own particular talents. And at the same time they want to help transform the negative attitudes within society towards such handicapped people. Today the sisters work not only in Latin America but also in Asia, Africa, Europe and the United States.
Maintenance of 31 sisters in formation, Siervas del Plan de Dios. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.
Their young congregation has many vocations, and many of the young sisters are qualified doctors, lawyers, teachers and nurses.
At present there are 31 new sisters undergoing training in the Peruvian capital Lima. ACN is helping towards the cost of their formation with a contribution of AUD $26,000.
Bolivia - A house and formation centre for a community of priests in La Paz
Sitting at an altitude of almost 12,000 feet (3600 m) La Paz is the third largest city in Bolivia and its capital in all but name. It is also growing constantly, owing to the steady influx of people from the rural regions, and now has a population of around 1 million. This population increase is likewise resulting in a steady growth of the parishes within the city. Around 80% of the population in Bolivia are Catholics, and at the same time there are far too few priests.
The parish of Saint Joseph the Worker (San José Obrero) in La Paz now serves a population of some 50,000 souls. The parish is very active and many young people are involved in its activities. At the same time there are 33 schools within its pastoral area.
Also present within the parish is a community of the new spiritual movement Cristo Pastor (Christ the Shepherd) which has priests who live in community and whose vocation is the promotion of priestly vocations. 15 young men have joined this community and are currently undergoing formation here. They represent a veritable sign of hope for the Church in Bolivia.
The problem however lies in the fact that the building currently at their disposal is far too small and cramped. So now they are planning to build a new house where the priests and the trainees/seminarians can live and which will also have sufficient space for guests.
We are proposing to support this project with a contribution of AUD $42,000. Can you help us?
Construction of the rectory at the San José Obrero parish and formation house for the missionary community Cristo Pastor. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.
Belarus - Success Story: a car for the pastoral work of a priest in Grodno
It was only in 2017 that a new Catholic parish was established here on the outskirts of Grodno. It is dedicated to Saint John Paul II and serves many young families and their children. For many young people are moving into the towns today, because there is work there and they can guarantee their children a better education than in the country regions. As a result the number of the Catholic faithful in the towns is growing.
Almost everything in the parish is still under construction, however. Since there is as yet no parish church and no presbytery, all the catechetical instruction is given in the houses and homes of the faithful. Holy Mass is currently being celebrated in the open, on the site where the Church will eventually be built. Father Henryk Jablonski, the parish priest is still living in a one roomed flat, 6 miles (10 km) from the site of the new parish centre. He is constantly travelling – to the building site, to the homes and dwellings where the catechetical instruction is being given, and to the hospital where he regularly visits the sick. He urgently needs a car for his work. He had previously managed to purchase a secondhand vehicle, but this was confiscated by the authorities, since the previous owner had forged the documents for it. As a result he lost not only his money but the vehicle as well.
Thanks to our kind benefactors, we were able to provide AUD $16,000 so that Father Jablonski could buy a new car for his work. He is delighted, and immensely grateful, and asks us to thank all those who have helped!
Car for the newly founded parish of Sv. Ivan Pavao II in Grodno: The priest and his parish celebrating holy mass outside while the new church is still under construction. Car for the newly founded parish of Sv. Ivan Pavao II in Grodno: The priest and his parish celebrating holy mass outside while the new church is still under construction. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.