Featured Projects in February 2020 

Help for the formation of 46 young Carmelite novices - Central African Republic and Cameroon
Support for the ongoing pastoral outreach to the Borana people- Ethiopia
Success Story: Help to rebuild part of the Bridgettine convent in Puebla - Mexico
Support for the youth apostolate in the diocese of Faisalabad - Pakistan
A vehicle for pastoral work - Krygyzstan

 

Central African Republic and Cameroon

Help for the formation of 46 young Carmelite novices

At the age of five, Jean-Thierry Ebogo from Cameroon already knew he wanted to be a priest. For him, being a priest meant the same thing as "being Jesus“. But in 2004, just a year after entering the Carmelite order as a novice, a malignant tumour was found on his right leg. Not even amputation was enough to save him.

On the feast of the Immaculate Conception on 8 December 2005, with special permission, he was permitted to take his final vows in his hospital room. His only concern was whether he would still have time to be ordained to the priesthood. He endured the intense pain with a smile and offered everything up for priestly and religious vocations. "I only want to be healed so that I can become a priest“, he said. But his lifelong wish was not to be fulfilled, for he died shortly afterwards, aged just 23, already reputed for his sanctity.

Before his death, young Jean Thierry Ebogo had promised to bequeath Africa with a veritable "rainfall“ of priestly vocations. And he seems to have kept his word, for in fact the discalced Carmelite Friars in Cameroon, and especially in the neighbouring, crisis-torn Central African Republic, have been blessed with numerous vocations. At present, there are 29 young Carmelite novices from the Central African Republic and 17 from Cameroon now undergoing their religious formation in the various centres in Bangui, Bouar and Yaoundé. We have been regularly supporting the training of these young Carmelite novices and we hope to help again this year, with a contribution of AUD $45,000, so that these 49 young religious can pursue their vocation.

ACN 20181220 81640 Easy Resize

Central African Republic.
Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need
Photograph Credit: Fr. Federico Trinchero

Padre Federico Trinchero, the prior of the Carmelite monastery in Bangui, where some of these young men are training, has written to us recently: "The Church in the Central African Republic is celebrating the 125th anniversary of its first evangelization. We thank you for your constant and generous help in providing a sound human and spiritual formation for these young Carmelites, both in the Central African Republic and in Cameroon. In the not too distant future, they will be called to continue the work that was begun by the foreign missionaries.“

If you would like to fund this project please copy and paste this code in the comment box in the online donation form:
Code: 199-02-79

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Ethiopia

Support for the ongoing pastoral outreach to the Borana people

The Holy Cross Parish is based in the village of Dhadim, in a remote and underdeveloped region of southern Ethiopia. Its people are members of the Borana tribe, who were until very recently nomadic. Today more and more of them are becoming settled, although some of them continue their traditional pattern of migration with their herds of cattle.

At present around 5000 of the 9000 people in the parish are Catholics, but a growing number of people are also seeking baptism. It is a very lively parish, with catechetical classes and Bible study circles, and in addition, the vocations apostolate is now starting to bear its first fruits. Two of the girls have expressed a desire to become religious sisters, and five of the boys are showing an interest in the priesthood. All in all, there is a great deal of youth activity, with around 250 young people regularly involved in the parish. Thanks to the aid supplied by ACN, somewhere between 65 and 100 young people are able to take part each year in a three-day pastoral programme in another diocese. Father Kenneth Iwunna, the parish priest and a missionary from Nigeria reports: "Most of them have never been anywhere except their own village. So for them, it is an important new experience to meet together with young people from other ethnic groups and share their life experiences with them. They don‘t speak the same language, of course, but we make sure there is someone there to interpret. The young people are able to grow in their faith and enjoy an important new experience of being Church. And it is not only they themselves who benefit from these days, but the whole community, for when the young people come back home, they talk about their experiences in church. And older people are also very interested to hear about it.“

Thanks to the support of ACN, the parish has also been able to establish a programme for married couples who have adopted the Christian faith. For some of these newly baptised adults, there is a problem in the fact that they were not married in the church, which means that they are unable to receive Holy Communion. For many of them are unable to afford the rings, the festive attire and the entertaining that is expected of them. To resolve this problem, the parish organises multiple wedding ceremonies for several couples at the same time, also providing everything they need for the celebration. „It is a great relief for these couples to be finally married in church and so able to receive Holy Communion“, Father Kenneth tells us.

All in all, the involvement of the Church has tangibly changed the lives of these people. In the past, there were not infrequently intermittent feuds between members of the various local tribes, but the reconciliation work done by the Church has made a major contribution to the calming of the situation. At the same time, the situation of women has greatly improved. Traditionally, the women of the Borana had no voice and were not permitted to do anything outside the home. But things have changed now, thanks to the work of the Church, and today more and more girls are attending school. And now women can even work as catechists.

 

ACN 20191113 94017 Easy Resize

Fr. Iwunna Kenneth celebrating Holy Mass in an Outstation in Ethiopia, Awasa-Lat
Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need

Once again this year ACN is proposing to support the pastoral work in the parish with AUD $8000, as we did last year. This help will be used for the formation of catechists, for the youth meetings and wedding ceremonies described above for couples who, after baptism, wish to be married in the sight in the Church. And it will be also used to fund retreats days and other pastoral activities within the parish.

If you would like to fund this project please copy and paste this code in the comment box in the online donation form:
Code: 118-01-49

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Mexico

Success Story: Help to rebuild part of the Bridgettine convent in Puebla

The Order of the Most Holy Saviour was founded in Sweden in the 14th century by Saint Bridget of Sweden, and so it is also known as the Order of Saint Bridget or the Bridgettine Order. The nuns live a life of strict enclosure and contemplative prayer. In the 17th century a Spanish branch of the Order was founded, and today it still has convents in Spain, Mexico, Venezuela and Peru.

The Bridgettine convent in Puebla, Mexico was founded in 1907. It still has 20 professed nuns and three young women who have yet to take their final vows. And there are more young women who wish to enter the convent. Astonishingly, the sisters relate, it was a tragedy a few years ago which led to a sharp rise in the number of vocations. It was after seven of the professed nuns had been killed in a road accident. Suddenly, there were more and more young women who wished to join the Order.

But then a major problem arose for the content, when the building was severely damaged by an earthquake, whose epicentre was not far from Puebla. Part of the building had to be demolished for safety‘s sake – and also because the building, which dates back to the 19th century, was already problematic on account of the cold, the damp and the inadequate ventilation – problems that had, in any case, made it an unhealthy place to live in the past. It was also small and cramped, and with outside sanitary facilities, all of which made it inadequate for accommodating new vocations.

 

Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, ACN was able to help with a contribution of AUD $40,000 towards the cost of rebuilding the convent wing. Now there is much more space, and the sisters will be able to take on more young women and at the same time enjoy healthy living conditions. They send their grateful thanks and prayers to all who have helped!

If you would like to fund this project please copy and paste this code in the comment box in the online donation form:
Code: 230-06-19

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Pakistan

Support for the youth apostolate in the diocese of Faisalabad

Roughly half of the 207 million people who make up the population of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan are younger than 25, while one-third of them are actually aged 14 or younger. Young Christians, living in a society that is 97% Muslim, face many more and much greater challenges than their Muslim counterparts. In fact for many Christians, it is almost impossible to advance professionally within society and the religious minorities such as the Christians find themselves in the lowest strata of society, mostly having to work as street sweepers, day labourers or domestic employees. A Christian name can be enough to block one‘s access to higher studies, and non-Muslims are in effect seen as second-class citizens, not full Pakistani citizens. They are even unfavourably portrayed in official school textbooks, and the many services performed by Christians on behalf of the country are passed over in silence. Islam is promoted in almost every area of the curriculum, most notably in the selection of essay topics. Christian pupils are often insulted and excluded, or else pressured to convert to Islam. For Christian girls it is even worse, since they are doubly discriminated against, on account of their gender. And young Christian girls face a very real danger of being abducted and forcibly married to their abductors, which at the same time means being forcibly converted to Islam.

In response, the Catholic Church in Pakistan is working very hard to encourage Christian young people to take pride in their faith and give confident and capable answers whenever they are confronted with prejudice and ignorance. Many Catholic children also attend one of the many Church-run Sunday schools, but the older teenagers also need guidance and support in living their faith. So it was that in November 2019 the Catholic Church in Pakistan announced a „Year of Youth“ for this year, 2020, which will contain a range of different initiatives.

ACN 20200115 96069 Easy Resize

Socio-religious formation of youth in Faisalabad Diocese - Catholic Diocesan Youth Commission - 2020
Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

Now the Youth Commission of the diocese of Faisalabad is seeking support for its youth apostolate programme. Its aim is to strengthen young Catholic women and men in their faith and help them to stand firm – and at the same time find their rightful place in society. ACN is supporting this initiative with a contribution of AUD $11,500.

If you would like to fund this project please copy and paste this code in the comment box in the online donation form:
Code: 328-08-49

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Kyrgyzstan

A vehicle for pastoral work

Up until 1991 Kyrgyzstan was a Soviet republic. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, this country – which lies in Central Southern Asia, bordering on China in the southeast – gained its independence. It has a population of only around 6.3 million people from various different ethnic groups in an area of around 78,000 square miles (almost 200,000 km²). Roughly 75% of the population are Muslims, and while most of the Kyrgyz Muslims are generally tolerant, there has been a very recent tendency among younger Muslims towards increasing radicalisation. As for the remaining population, around 20% are Russian Orthodox, while the remaining 5% belong to a range of different religious groups. Catholics make up only a tiny minority, most of whom have Polish, Ukrainian or German roots. There are just three regular parishes, plus a further 20 smaller communities where the Catholic faithful gather. Sometimes there may be only a single Catholic family in a village – far removed from their fellow Catholic believers.

Altogether, the Apostolic Administration of Kyrgyzstan has six priests, one religious brother and five religious sisters serving there. In addition to its pastoral work in the parishes, the Catholic Church also runs a number of institutions for handicapped children, orphans and victims of drugs and alcohol abuse.

Needless to say, the priests and religious sisters have to travel long distances in challenging climatic conditions in order to serve the people. Much of the country is mountainous and the long winters bring with them bitter cold, snowstorms and avalanches. The road conditions are often very poor and many places are difficult to reach. The priests make every effort to reach even the most isolated and distant members of the Catholic faithful. Not surprisingly, then, a robust and powerful vehicle is indispensable for their work here. But unfortunately, most of the cars available for pastoral work are at least 10 years old and some even more than 20.

Father Adam Malinowski works in the parish of Dzalalabad tätig. At least once a week he has to drive to the town of Osh, to visit his small chapel and his little Catholic flock there. And he is also very committed to his pastoral and charitable work at the children‘s centre on the shores of Lake Yssykköl, which is no less than 600 miles (1000 km) away.

ACN 20170515 54399 Easy Resize

Sisters of St. Francis in Bishkek Kyrgyzstan.
Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.

His existing car is already on its last legs and has to spend more and more time in the repair shop. We want to be able to help him with AUD $78,000 for a new and more reliable car.

If you would like to fund this project please copy and paste this code in the comment box in the online donation form:
Code: 307-08-19

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