Featured Projects in June 2020 

Pastoral summer activities for children and young people in Alexandria - Egypt
Help for a Catholic radio station - Burkina Faso
Success Story: a new church for the parish of Saint Anthony in Bishrail - India
Pastoral travel costs for the diocese of Saint Clement - Russia
Technical equipment to enable live TV streaming from the Catholic cathedral in Pristina - Kosovo

internet projects icons March 2020

 

Egypt

Pastoral summer activities for children and young people in Alexandria

These 290 children and young people have long been looking forward to the summer. For during the months from June to September the Coptic Catholic eparchy (diocese) of Alexandria organises a variant and interesting summer programme of activities in the parish church of El-Khsou for young people of all ages – from primary school to university age – in which those participating can deepen their understanding of their faith, gain a better knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, enjoy the sense of companionship with others of their own age and generally experience what it means to be a part of the universal Catholic Church, whose members normally have to see themselves as a tiny minority within Egyptian society.

The pictures from last year‘s events show just how much joy these young people gained from them. Sadly, though, this year the coronavirus pandemic has forced the cancellation of all the plans. Nonetheless, the organisers have come up with some resourceful and inventive ideas so that they will not have to miss out entirely on the programme. So now most of the activities will take place online.

ACN is supporting the summer programme of the diocese with AUD $7400.

Code: 143-00-49

 ACN 20190919 91744 Easy Resize

Egypt: Spiritual Formation Program of 150 Diocesan Youth, 2019. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

 

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Burkina Faso

Help for a Catholic radio station

For over 50 years now ACN has been supporting media-based evangelization, above all via radio. For the founder of ACN, Father Werenfried van Straaten understood very early on how the modern media could help in those remote and far-flung regions where distances were too great and there were too few priests, by ‚bringing the Church to the faithful‘ in those places where the faithful could not get to church.

In Africa especially, radio is a medium ideally suited to this purpose, reaching the people especially in those remote and inaccessible parts of the continent and thereby playing a vital role, not only in spreading the Faith but also in the field of education, development and agriculture.

In Burkina Faso diocesan radio stations have been established for 10 years now, and today 12 of the country‘s 15 dioceses have their own radio transmitters. However, the bishops‘ conference has decided to merge all these different stations together, since given the numerous problems the country is facing, they now see the need to unite all their energies and pool their resources together.

The presence of radio is particularly important in the north of the country where the recent terrorist attacks and killings have leftover three-quarters of 1 million people homeless and caused more than 1000 schools to close, spreading chaos and insecurity among the people. In these crisis regions radio is a crucial means of reaching the people and accompanying them, strengthening them in their faith, keeping them informed and helping them with practical advice and counsel as they struggle to rebuild their lives, and at the same time continuing to provide at least a minimum of education to the children and young people. Radio is also a vital means of promoting peace and reconciliation.

More recently of course, the coronavirus pandemic has still further underlined the importance of the role played by local radio, helping to inform people as to the best way of protecting themselves from the virus. And, last but not least, it plays a crucial role in enabling people to join in the celebration of the Liturgy and pray together across the miles that separate them.

ACN is contributing AUD $16,450 towards the establishment and improvement of this Catholic radio service

Code: 125-00-69

ACN 20200504 100369 Easy Resize

Support for populations in insecure and internally displaced areas by radio broadcasts, Catholic Radio Network of Burkina Faso. Interview with Fr. Blaise Bicaba, priest of the Archdiocese of Ouagadougou.
Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

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India

Success Story: a new church for the parish of Saint Anthony Claret in Bishrail

23rd of February 2020 was a big day for the faithful of the parish of Saint Anthony Claret in Bishrail, in the state of West Bengal – and for two reasons: first, it was the silver jubilee of the establishment of the parish, and secondly the occasion of the consecration of their new parish church – both events celebrated with a great feast. Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, ACN was able to help with a contribution of AUD $60,000 so that this long-cherished dream of the faithful could become a reality. Father Martin Soren has written to thank us:

"Our heartfelt thanks to all the benefactors of ACN for their generous financial support, which has now made this project a reality. Once again, we want to reiterate our sincere gratitude to you all. Without your tireless prayers, your help and financial support, this undertaking would never have been possible. Thank you for everything you have done us!"

ACN 20200219 97318 Easy Resize

India: Construction of a Parish Church at Bishrail Parish. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

The original, tiny chapel had been built of mud with an asbestos roof. Not only was it far too small but had long been in danger of collapsing. So naturally, it had been increasingly difficult in recent years for the parish community to come together for Holy Mass, catechetical instruction, marriage preparation classes, work with children and young people – and still more for celebrating the major feast days or their patronal feast. The alternative of holding the celebrations in the open air had likewise been difficult, especially in the rainy season and in the scorching heat of summer.

By themselves, and the Catholic faithful could contribute very little towards the cost of this new church, since the diocese of Raiganj to which the parish of Bishrail belongs, noise on the frontier with Bangladesh in the region of extreme poverty. Most of the people living here belong to the marginalised ethnic minorities and barely earn enough to support their families in the first place. And the 94,000 Catholics of the diocese account for only around 1% of the population, while the majority still follow various animist tribal religions. There is still widespread superstition and belief in witchcraft. And yet more and more people are coming to hear about and feel drawn to the comforting message of the Gospel, attracted at the same time by the faith witness of the Christians they encounter. There are even some local vocations to the priesthood: in fact most of the priests now working in the diocese are local men, and more and more young people are feeling that God is calling them to serve Him.

ACN 20200219 97321 Easy Resize

India: Construction of a Parish Church at Bishrail Parish. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

Moreover, here as in many other parts of the world, the Church is playing an important role in the field of education, knowledge and development. Whilst her primary goal is, of course, a pastoral one, the Catholic faith is also always expressed in works of practical charity towards all people, regardless of faith or creed.

Thanks to the support of our benefactors, the Catholic faithful in the parish of Bishrail can now take pride in their new church and pleasure in the fitting celebration of their liturgical life. 

Code: 317-01-19

ACN 20200219 97319 Easy Resize

India: Construction of a Parish Church at Bishrail Parish. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

 

Kosovo

Technical equipment to enable live TV streaming from the Catholic cathedral in Pristina

The brand-new Catholic cathedral of Pristina is the first cathedral in the world to be dedicated to Saint Teresa of Calcutta. It was formally consecrated on 5 September 2017, the 20th anniversary of her death. Needless to say, it was an occasion of great joy for the people, attended by thousands of Kosovans, not only Catholics, but also Orthodox Christians and Muslims. For Mother Teresa has become an icon of charity, not only for Catholics but for people of all faiths. ACN help towards the cost of the construction of this cathedral, which is today, so to speak, the heart of Catholic life in the diocese of Prizren and Pristina. Although there are only around 58,000 Catholics in Kosovo out of a total population of 1.8 million, many nonetheless play an active part in the life of the Church.

However, Kosovo has not been spared from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic either, and here too infection rates are still climbing. Bishop Dode Gjergij could never have imagined situation in which people were forced to stay at home and Holy Mass would no longer be allowed to be celebrated publicly, and this is a situation and causes him great sorrow.

ACN 20200520 101418 Easy Resize

Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

But as in other places, he can at least remain in contact with the Catholic faithful via the media. Everyday Holy Mass is transmitted live from the cathedral, together with a time of prayer, but for now the technical equipment is inadequate. Using just an iPod, the transmission quality is very poor, and using Facebook is available only to a limited number of people. So now the diocese has set up a channel via YouTube and wants to improve the transmission quality. This involves better cameras and at least a minimum of technical equipment. Moreover, this will be useful not only during the coronavirus crisis but also in future, enabling not only religious services but also catechetical instruction to be given for those preparing for baptism, and other forms of activity as well. ACN is helping with AUD $13,200.

Code: 452-01-69

ACN 20200520 101424 Easy Resize

Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

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Pastoral travel costs for the diocese of Saint Clement in southern Russia in 2020

The Catholic Diocese of Saint Clement is based in the city of Saratov, on the Volga River in southern Russia, and serves an area of some 550,000 square miles (1.4 million km²) – twice the area of France. Yet there are just 20,000 or so Catholics living scattered across this vast region, served by just 19 priests. Often they consist of no more than a tiny community in one locality, sometimes just a single Catholic family, with the nearest Catholic neighbours living hundreds of kilometres away. Needless to say, it is impossible to build churches in every one of these micro-communities and in any case, even if it were possible, there would be far too few priests to minister to them.

Obviously, therefore, in order to reach these groups of Catholics the priests have to travel vast distances. Yet it is vital that they do so since no priest means no sacraments, and this could ultimately mean the loss of a sense of Catholic identity and belonging, and eventually to discouragement and loss of faith. So begins a vicious circle whereby fading faith leads to falling religious vocations and fewer priests to reduced pastoral care and still further estrangement from the Church – and thereby still less fertile soil for the nurturing of local vocations. To this day, most of the priests in the diocese still come from abroad.

ACN 20190930 92133 Easy Resize

Russia: Purchase of a house for the construction of a community house with chapel for the St. Peter and Paul parishioners in Belgorod.
Photo: Communion, Easter, 2018.Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

Again, such long distances mean high fuel costs. But if the priest cannot afford the fuel, then he cannot visit the community and the Catholic faithful are left waiting in vain to take part in Holy Mass, to receive communion, have their children baptised or see them married. And these are people who already have to live daily with the sense of extreme isolation from their brothers and sisters in the Faith. Consequently, the priests are dependent on outside support in order to be able to visit their widely scattered flocks and bring them new faith and courage.

ACN has been regularly supporting the cost of this pastoral travel for the priests of the diocese of Saint Clement, and we are doing so once again this year with a contribution of AUD $24,700.

Code: 427-04-49

ACN 20190930 92132 Easy ResizeRussia: Purchase of a house for the construction of a community house with a chapel for the St. Peter and Paul parishioners in Belgorod.
Photo: Consecration of the chapel by Bishop Clemens Pickel on July 8, 2018. 
Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

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