Help to rebuild two village chapels destroyed by a cyclone
In January 2017 the coastal region of northern Mozambique was battered for five long days by a severe cyclone. The tropical storm brought heavy rainfall and devastated large swathes of the countryside in two of the coastal provinces of this country in southeast Africa, which is already one of the poorest in the world. Thousands of homes were destroyed and countless people left homeless.
Many of the properties of the Catholic Church were also severely damaged, especially in the mission parish of Netia-Natete in the diocese of Nacala. This parish covers a vast and predominantly rural area, which is also very poor. It has no fewer than 120 outstations with their own very modest little chapels where the faithful gather for prayer and catechesis. More than half – some 66 – of these chapels were destroyed by the cyclone.
Now Father Antonio Gasolina has turned to ACN for help, for his Catholic faithful in these villages are dismayed at having lost their familiar places in which to worship God and hear His Word proclaimed. For God is first and foremost in their lives. Now they are hoping, above all in two of the remotest and most inaccessible villages of the region, to rebuild a small chapel where they can gather to pray. They plan to make a start on these two chapels at least. The Catholic faithful here already live from hand to mouth, but have nonetheless made their own modest contributions to the building work and have also promised to pay the carpenters who will complete the roof. But the parish still needs our help to pay for the costly building materials. So we have promised them 15,000 Euros.
Success Story: a vehicle for pastoral work among the indigenous peoples of the San Jose Diocese
For the past seven years Sister Anita has been working among the indigenous peoples of the diocese of San Jose, supporting them with wise counsel and ministering to their needs. She looks after the children in the primary schools, making sure they have enough to eat, helping them with their studies and teaching them the Catholic faith. She helps and advises the women and organises all kinds of different activities for the young people. „It is a joy and a blessing for me“, she says, speaking of her work.
But for some time there has been a problem. For she has to travel to visit the people in the villages where they live, and the distances in this mountainous region are considerable. The only transport, just twice a week, is a so-called „Jeepney“, a public minibus, that travels through the various villages and back into the city. But it is constantly impossibly overcrowded. People cram in, with their sacks of rice and cement and bulky cardboard boxes, and some passengers even have to sit on the roof. And the journeys take forever, because at every stop there are things to be offloaded and then onloaded onto the minibus, as some passengers get off and new ones get on. And if you miss one Jeepney, you have to wait three days for the next one. Needless to say, this made Sister Anita‘s work extremely difficult, and so she turned to ACN for help.
Now, thanks to the generosity of our kind benefactors, we have been able to provide 25,000 Euros for the purchase of a sturdy vehicle that can cope with the untarred roads and the rough and often muddy tracks. Sister Anita is overjoyed and writes, „Your help is a blessing and a great support for our apostolate among the native peoples. Many thanks! We are so happy! And now we are all the more eager and determined to go out to the faithful and serve the Church.“
Help for the training of 91 seminarians in the diocese of Sonson-Rionegro
It is not easy to fit in all these 91 young men on a single photo… They are the seminarians currently studying at the diocesan seminary of Our Lady in the diocese of Sonson-Rionegro in the south of Colombia. Evidently, it is a diocese rich in vocations. In fact, from 1980, the year it was founded, to the present day the diocese has produced 500 priests! And this despite the fact that being a priest in Colombia is by no means risk-free – for again and again there are reports of priests being murdered in the country.
At the same time, this wealth of vocations has greatly benefited the universal Church, since today there are no fewer than 200 priests from the diocese of Sonson-Rionegro working as missionaries abroad, in 18 different countries where there is a shortage of priests. Again and again the bishop receives letters from all over the world, begging him to send priests from his diocese.
But of course priests are needed in Colombia as well. After 50 years of civil war there are many wounds that remain to be healed. Reconciliation and forgiveness are urgently needed if the country is to move forward into a better future. During his visit to Colombia in September 2017, Pope Francis spoke in front of the „Reconciliation Cross“ – a monument to commemorate the victims of the killings in Villavicencio. (It is a bare cross with no body on it). Christ, he told them, „no longer has his arms, and his body is no longer present among us, but his divine countenance remains, he gazes on us and loves us. The broken and amputated Christ is ‚still more Christ‘ for us, for he shows us once again that he has come to suffer for his people and with his people, and also to teach us that hatred does not have the last word, that love is stronger than death and violence. He teaches us to transform the pain into a source of life and resurrection, so that we may learn, with him and from him, the strength of forgiveness and the greatness of love.“
It is also the role of the priest, of course, to help people transform their pain into the joy of the resurrection.
ACN supports the seminary every year for the formation of its seminarians and this year we will be helping once again, with 22,750 Euros, so that these 91 young men can follow their vocation through to ordination.
Support for the life and ministry of four Redemptorist sisters in Lviv
In the 1930s a dozen or more Ukrainian girls travelled to Belgium in order to prepare for the foundation of the first Redemptorist convent in their home country of Ukraine. However, it was not until 80 years later that this dream was finally able to see its fulfilment. The outbreak of the Second World War, and the subsequent Soviet tyranny made their return impossible, and believers faced decades of persecution by the communists. It was not until 2016 that three Redemptorist sisters finally succeeded in establishing the first ever Redemptorist convent in Ukraine.
The sisters had to start from zero, initially establishing their convent temporarily in a family home. They worked hard and long to cultivate the wilderness that had grown up around the house. Soon, another professed sister will join them, but for the present she is still in Poland. In addition there is one young candidate. Meanwhile, the convent has been granted formal permission to admit young women who wish to consecrate their lives to God, and there are already a few interested in doing so. However, they have to wait for the time being, because the house is only able to accommodate eight people.
A number of ordinary Catholic faithful also come to pray with the sisters at the regular prayer times and the other liturgical celebrations. Many come seeking the prayers and counsel of the sisters and a sympathetic ear to listen to their problems.
The sisters are grateful for their vocation and overjoyed that the long awaited foundation in Ukraine has finally become a reality. Nevertheless, despite their frugal lifestyle, it is very difficult for them, as enclosed religious, to support themselves in Ukraine, especially against the background of sharply rising prices.
We have promised them 2,000 Euros for the support of their life and apostolate.