CUBA - In the Archdiocese of Camagüey Holy Mass being offered on the ruins of the chapel in Jiquí after Hurricane Irma
© Aid to the Church in Need

In September 2017 vast areas of Cuba were struck by Hurricane Irma. The island was pounded by winds gusting up to 250 km an hour, torrential rainfall, tidal surges with waves of up to 30 feet and widespread flooding. At least 10 people lost their lives and there was extensive damage across wide swathes of the country. And while hurricanes are no rarity in this region, Hurricane Irma was more powerful than anything people here have experienced for decades. 

Needless to say, many of the Catholic dioceses in the country have also suffered from this natural disaster, and many of the people have been forced to stand helpless at the sight of their damaged homes and churches.

The recent opening ceremony of OMI Fathers' House in the Parish of Our Lady of Lourdes, in Madagascar's second-largest city, Toamasina
© Aid to the Church in Need

In Toamasina the Oblate Missionaries are delighted with their new mission house, which was built thanks to the generosity of the benefactors of the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need who contributed of $45,000 towards this project. 

The Oblates of the Immaculate Virgin Mary have been in charge of the parish of Our Lady of Lourdes, in Madagascar‘s second-largest city, Toamasina since 1988. The original church and parish house were built way back in 1924 and both buildings had long since suffered the ravages of time and the vicissitudes of the tropical weather. 

Formation of 8 major seminarians in the Diocese of Mongu in Zambia for the academic year 2017-2018 © Aid to the Church in Need

Zambia, a landlocked country in southern Africa, is fortunate to be enjoying a degree of stability - unlike many other African countries. Nevertheless, the country still faces numerous challenges, including poverty, poor infrastructure and at 12% an alarmingly high rate of HIV/AIDS, as a result of which numerous children have been made orphans. 

Religious sisters of the Ukrainian Catholic eparchy (diocese) of Kiev leading a children's liturgy © Aid to the Church in Need

The 35 religious sisters of the Ukrainian Catholic eparchy (diocese) of Kiev perform an outstanding work of service. They belong to 6 different religious communities and are involved in a wide range of different activities. They prepare children for their First Holy Communion and First Confession, they lead Church choirs and attend to all the many and various needs of the local parish communities. They instruct children, young people and adults in their faith, lead Bible study groups and organise retreats and seminars for girls and young women; they also organise summer camps for the children and visit the sick and elderly in their homes and in the hospitals, comforting them and praying with them. Some of the sisters also carry out domestic duties in the diocesan seminary. 

Archbishop René Osvaldo Rebolledo Salinas during a visit to a village in his archdiocese © Aid to the Church in Need

Archbishop René Rebolledo Salinas faces major challenges. For his archdiocese of La Serena covers an area of over 40,000 km2 - the size of Switzerland. Consequently the distances are huge and the 500,000 Catholics of the archdiocese are widely scattered across this area. Many of the villages lie in valleys that are accessible only along rough, unmade roads. 

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