Strong religious women: Heroines and the “heart” of the church

International Women’s Day on 8 March honours the indispensable efforts of women and campaigns for their rights. The focus of this day is less on the about 660,000 women worldwide who have dedicated their entire lives to serving their fellow humans: religious sisters.

During the Lenten and Easter season, the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) directs the attention of the public to these extraordinary women and calls for support.

“What would the church and society be without religious sisters,” the Executive President of ACN, Dr Thomas Heine-Geldern, commented. “This is true in many countries: when the government breaks down and all organisations leave because of the tense security situation – the religious sisters are the ones who stay.”

Kindergartens, orphanages, schools, medical facilities and parishes would be unthinkable without them. Not to mention their prayers for the concerns of the world: Pope Francis has called the religious sisters the “praying heart” of the church. “Anyone who has put their faith in the prayers of the religious sisters in a time of personal need knows how uplifting it is to be spiritually sustained and supported,” Heine-Geldern said.

Aid for 11,000 religious sisters in 85 countries

ACN supports about 11,000 religious sisters in 85 countries around the world. “Besides funding charitable activities, this includes granting subsistence aid – for example in eastern Europe, where the sisters have no source of income at all,” explained ACN Project Director Regina Lynch.

Other main areas of support are the formation of young religious sisters, rebuilding projects in countries in which convents have been destroyed through war or natural disasters and aid for transportation projects.

“As every employee of ACN who visits one of our project countries can confirm: without religious sisters, it would be impossible to carry out the work of the church under the most difficult circumstances. They are heroines – who do not shy away from either persecution or death,” Lynch said. Each year, the aid organisation receives tragic reports of religious sisters who have been killed in service.

The motto of ACN’s Lenten and Easter campaign is: “Extraordinary women. Thanks to God. Thanks to you.” The campaign gives religious sisters from all over the world the opportunity to talk about their vocations and their lives in prayer and community as well as their work for those most in need.

“The religious sisters are heroines of faith and charity,” explained ACN President Heine-Geldern. “They bear witness of the vitality and strength that comes from a life serving God and those around us. ACN is proud to be able to support these outstanding women.”

 

ACN International

Red Wednesday Campaign to Bathe Cathedrals, Shrines, Schools in Red Light To Stand Up for Faith and Freedom

The Apostolic Nuncio-Designate to the Philippines Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia will preside at the Mass to mark Red Wednesday in the Archdiocese of Manila at the Manila Cathedral on Nov. 22, 2017 at 5:30 p.m. The homilist for the Mass will be Bishop Edwin de la Peña of the Prelature of Marawi. A program of lights and prayers will be held outside the Cathedral after the mass.

 

The Red Wednesday Campaign is an initiative of the Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), to bring attention to the martyrdom of Christians as they battle religious persecutions in many parts of the world. Red Wednesday was successfully launched by CAN United Kingdom last year. The Philippines will join Christians in the United Kingdom this year together with in Malta, Italy, and Brazil on the same date.

 

A total of 45 cathedrals, 24 shrines, and five basilicas nationwide have committed to participate in this year’s Red Wednesday. Many of the participants will illuminate the facade of their churches in red as a symbol of the persecution that Christians are undergoing in many areas around the world.

 

Among the notable churches that will participate in Red Wednesday aside from the Manila Cathedral are t  the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran, the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage in Antipolo, The Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag in Pangasinan and the Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace or more commonly known as the EDSA Shrine.

 

Catholic universities, such as the Ateneo de Manila University, St. Paul University (Manila and Quezon City) and the University of Sto. Tomas will also join the symbolic event. These schools are also conducting exhibits and conferences on the situation of persecuted Christians in other parts of the world.

 

Red Wednesday is an initiative of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), a Catholic charity organization under the Pope that was established to support Christian communities undergoing persecution, oppression, and poverty.

 

ACN sent out packages to all the participants containing the flow of the ceremony, prayers and other informational materials relevant to the campaign.  ACN is inviting the public to participate in the symbolic ceremony by wearing red and praying for persecuted Christians this Wednesday.

 

ACN laments that the scale of religious persecution is not widely appreciated. Through Red Wednesday, ACN seeks to educate Filipinos that not only are Christians more persecuted than any other faith group, but ever-increasing numbers are experiencing the very worst forms of persecution.

 

Through Red Wednesday, ACN believes that as more Filipinos become aware of the situation of their persecuted brothers and sisters in faith, many will be moved by compassion so that they could support suffering Christian communities through prayer, information campaigns, and for those who are able, financial help. Material support is all the more vital given the evident failure of governments and the UN to help those persecuted explicitly because of their Christian faith.

 

By witnessing to the suffering of Christians, ACN seeks to shine a light on persecution and signals to people of conscience that the faithful’s plight should never be forgotten. For more information visit: www.acn-philippines.org; facebook: ACN-Aid to the Church in Need

 

Please refer:

Peachy E. Yamsuan/09053329214

Eunice Ceres Josue/09174420766

Church to Pray for Persecuted Christians around the World

Persecution of Christians in the world is worse than at any time in history.

 

This is according to a report entitled “Persecuted and Forgotten,” produced by the office of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) in the United Kingdom. According to the report, not only are Christians more persecuted than any other faith group, “but ever-increasing numbers are experiencing the very worst forms of persecution.”

 

The report discloses that most of the persecution is happening in countries where fundamentalist groups are present like Daesh (ISIS) in the Middle East and Boko Haram in Africa. Persecution is also notable in authoritarian nations like China and North Korea.

 

For this reason, the Catholic Church in the Philippines has declared this Monday, November 6 as the National Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians. On the said day, the CBCP has requested all parishes to use the Votive Mass for Persecuted Christians found in the Roman Missal. A votive mass is a Eucharistic celebration for special purposes or occasions.

 

The Ateneo de Manila University will mark the National Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians with the following activities: Votive Mass by the Grade School department at 6:30am at the Chapel of the Holy Guardian Angels and by the college department at at 7:15 am and 12 noon at the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception (College Chapel). The Mass of ACN will be held at 11:30 am at the CBCP Chapel.

 

Aside from the Mass, Catholics are also encouraged to pray on Monday the Angelus for Persecuted Christians.

 

ACN is a Catholic charity foundation under the Vatican that was established to assist Christian communities in need, including those that are undergoing persecution, oppression, and discrimination.

 

One of these countries is Iraq where ACN’s report discloses that “the exodus of Christians is so severe that one of the world’s most ancient Christian community is on course to disappear within three years unless there is a dramatic change for the better.” ISIS has destroyed 13,000 homes and displaced 120,000 people in Nineveh, a Christian majority area in the said country.

 

Closer to home, Christians are also undergoing persecution in China where more than 2,000 churches and crosses have been pulled down by the government. Many members of the clergy are also detained since the government considers Christianity as a foreign infiltration. In neighboring North Korea, there are reports of “unspeakable atrocities” against Christians, including starvation, forced abortion, forced labor, imprisonment, and torture.

 

The UK report also included the atrocities of the Maute group against Filipino Christians during the Marawi siege.

 

In the face of this persecution, ACN believes praying for persecuted Christians will make Filipinos more aware and hopefully move many to compassion so that they could support suffering Christian communities through education campaigns, political advocacies and for those who are able, through financial help.

 

Filipinos who would like to contribute donations to Christian communities in Iraq, Syria, Nigeria and other countries may do so through ACN. The money raised will be forwarded to ACN’s headquarters in Germany where it will be disbursed to church communities as financial aid to help reconstruct destroyed churches and war-ravaged communities, as well as funding for humanitarian assistance, and support for the formation of the clergy, religious and the laity among others.

 

On Nov. 22, ACN will also lead a nationwide campaign called Red Wednesday where the facade of participating cathedrals, minor basilicas, shrines and Catholic universities will be lit in red to honor and pay tribute to the sacrifice of modern-day Christian martyrs. Those that have committed to participate include the Manila Cathedral, the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Paranaque and the Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace or more commonly known as the EDSA Shrine.

 

Please refer:

Josemaria E. Claro
Media and Communications Specialist
MOB +63 917 790 3343

Peachy E. Yamsuan
MOB +63 917 8355363

Eunice Ceres Josue
+63 917 442 0766

 

Aid to the Church in Need | ACN Philippines
CBCP Bldg., 470 Gen. Luna St., Intramuros | 1002 Manila | PHILIPPINES
TEL +632 244 7334 |

 
 
ANGELUS PRAYER FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS


 
 
PRAYER FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS