ACN Lenten Campaign Extraordinary women

ACN launches Lenten Campaign for religious sisters in 85 countries

The pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has launched a Lenten and Easter campaign to strengthen its support for religious sisters in those countries worldwide that are most affected by war and poverty or in which Christians are a minority. The campaign bears the title “Extraordinary women. Thanks to God. Thanks to you.”

The executive president of ACN, Dr Thomas Heine-Geldern, commented at the start of the campaign, “Religious sisters are the heroines of the church. They show us a way to holiness and set an example for a happy and meaningful life. This can also be the way to healing for a society marked by ongoing discussion about the role of women.”

Each year, the pontifical foundation receives more than 800 requests to support formation projects, subsistence aid, building or transportation projects of religious sisters in 85 countries.

Among others, ACN supports over 4,500 religious sisters to ensure that they can continue their monastic lives as well as carry out their pastoral and social work caring for the sick, orphans or older people even in those regions where they do not have any way of earning a living. For example, this is the case in Ukraine, Russia and in crisis-ridden Venezuela.

ACN receives more than 800 requests to support formation projects, subsistence aid, building or transportation projects of religious sisters in 85 countries.
ACN receives more than 800 requests to support formation projects, subsistence aid, building or transportation projects of religious sisters in 85 countries.

A large number of convents have been destroyed or severely damaged, not only in war zones such as Iraq, Syria, the Central African Republic and South Sudan but also after natural disasters such as the earthquake in Mexico. It would be virtually impossible for religious sisters to carry out their work in these regions without rebuilding aid from ACN.

According to the figures published in the Statistical Yearbook of the Church, there are about 660,000 women who are living in religious communities throughout the world and have dedicated their lives to prayer and service to those most in need. The charity gives direct support to more than 11,000 sisters. In addition, there are other religious women who benefit from assistance for construction, transport and pastoral projects.

Even though the number of vocations to orders is declining most notably in Europe and America, the number of vocations continues to grow in Africa and Asia. This is why more than 80% of all projects supported by ACN in the area of formation for religious sisters and novices are on these two continents. This aid benefits more than 5,700 sisters.

In accordance with their charisma and their history, the foundation pays particular attention to the contemplative orders. As is written in the Apostolic Constitution Vultum Dei Quaerere issued by Pope Francis on the contemplative life of women, this life “is rooted in the silence of the cloister; it produces a rich harvest of grace and mercy” and represents “the praying heart” of the church. According to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life, there are about 40,000 religious sisters in contemplative orders throughout the world; half of these are living in Europe. For this reason, 80% of the aid granted by ACN to contemplative orders supports cloistered sisters in eastern European countries who continue to find themselves in dire economic and spiritual need due to their communist past.

There are about 660,000 women who are living in religious communities throughout the world and have dedicated their lives to prayer and service to those most in need.
There are about 660,000 women who are living in religious communities throughout the world and have dedicated their lives to prayer and service to those most in need.

During the Lenten season, ACN and its 23 national offices would also like to express their appreciation for all of the religious sisters who fulfil their mission in dangerous situations or who have sacrificed their lives for the people entrusted to them. A few examples are the four religious of the “Missionary Sisters of Charity” who were murdered by jihadists in Yemen in 2014 or the two religious sisters who were killed during the extreme violence that was unleashed in Haiti and South Sudan in 2016. And not to forget the Columbian missionary Cecilia Narváez, who has been held hostage by Al Qaeda in Mali for two years.

“Through their work, religious sisters convey the loving proximity of God to millions of people each day,” declared ACN President Heine Geldern. “Supporting religious sisters often involves helping an entire community or even an entire ethnic group.” He explained that, in addition to personal signs of appreciation and prayer, this includes providing financial assistance to religious. “This is why the motto of the campaign also includes a reference to our benefactors: ‘Thanks to you.’ This is an appeal: become a part of the mission of courageous religious sisters worldwide!”

A website on the Lenten campaign provides information about the lives of religious sisters on different continents and highlights ACN’s main areas of assistance. The website can be found at the address: https://sisters.acninternational.org/


Pope Francis, Pope Video March 2019

ACN supports the video of Pope Francis’s to pray for people who are persecuted for their faith

Rome/Königstein, 5 March 2019 – The March edition of the pope’s video is dedicated to the persecuted Christians who live in countries that do not guarantee religious freedom and human rights. The video is produced by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network in collaboration with the international foundation ACN (Aid to the Church in Need).

To make the sign of the cross, read the Bible, go to church on Sundays, talk about Jesus, pray the rosary – for us, these are normal and everyday things. However, this is not the case in many parts of the world. Any one of these can lead to exclusion, imprisonment in a work camp or even death.

The year began with an attack carried out on Jojo Cathedral in the Philippines during Holy Mass; 23 people were killed. Forty missionaries were murdered worldwide in 2018, 35 of these were priests. Two of them were massacred in late November together with 80 believers in a refugee camp in Alindao in the Central African Republic.

One also should not forget Asia Bibi, the Pakistani mother who was sentenced to death on charges of blasphemy and only released from prison after 9 years. It is estimated that more than 25 Christians are currently incarcerated on the same charges.

Also the Coptic Christians in Egypt are also under constant persecution. This calls to mind the pictures of the 21 Egyptians who were beheaded in 2015. In contrast, the murder of 33 Coptic pilgrims in 2017 and 2018 were virtually ignored.

There are thousands of cases of persecution and discrimination that go unnoticed because they are not reported by the media. In the video, Pope Francis commented, “We find it difficult to believe, but there are more martyrs today than there were in the early centuries,” because “they speak the truth and proclaim Jesus Christ,” even “in countries in which freedom and human rights are protected in theory, on paper.”

According to the Religious Freedom in the World Report of the Pontifical foundation ACN, Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world. This fundamental human right is severely threatened in 38 countries – 17 of which are even classified as countries in which persecution occurs.

“This prayer intention of the Holy Father is quite significant for the Christian community. Praying for our persecuted and discriminated brothers and sisters is one of the pillars of ACN. We support this prayer intention of the Holy Father with great joy and gratitude,” Thomas Heine-Geldern, ACN President, said.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7DYTqCsaLY&feature=youtu.be


Pope Iraq Donation Lamborghini

ACN to “convert” the Lamborghini donated by the Pope into a nursery school and a centre for Christians in the Nineveh region

Thanks to a donation of 200,000 Euros from the Holy Father, following the auctioning of the Lamborghini that was given to him last year, ACN will be able to fund two new projects on behalf of the Iraqi Christian families and other minorities who have returned to their homes on the Nineveh Plains.

On 15 November 2017, the Holy Father decided to give ACN part of the proceeds from the auctioning of the Lamborghini Hurricane that had been donated to him by the famous Italian carmaker. Now ACN will give concrete form to the Pope’s gesture by funding the reconstruction of two buildings of the Syriac Catholic Church, destroyed by the war. They are the nursery school (kindergarten) of Our Lady and the multipurpose centre of the parish of the same name.

Both buildings are in the village of Bashiqa, just 30 km from Mosul. The village was badly damaged during the war, but the Christian community has returned and in large numbers. In fact, by now 405 of the 580 homes that were destroyed here have already been rebuilt and around 50% of the Christians, or 1,585 people, have already returned.

Totally destroyed multipurpose hall of St Mary, in the Syriac Catholic town of Bashiqa.
Totally destroyed multipurpose hall of St Mary, in the Syriac Catholic town of Bashiqa.

Totally destroyed multipurpose hall of St Mary, in the Syriac Catholic town of Bashiqa.

The two projects funded with the money from the Lamborghini will also benefit the other minorities in the town, since the multipurpose centre, which has a capacity for over 1,000 people, will be used for weddings and the religious feasts of all the various different communities. It will be the largest such centre in the area and will be available for use to over 30,000 people of all different faiths and ethnic groups.

Just a little over two years since the liberation of the villages of the Nineveh Plains, the number of Christians who have been able to return to their homes has exceeded even the most optimistic predictions. By 11 January this year at least 9108 families had returned to their villages, or almost 46% of the 19,832 families dwelling there in 2014 prior to the arrival of so-called Islamic State. This is thanks above all to the immense work of reconstruction – to which ACN has greatly contributed – that has made it possible so far to rebuild or repair some 41% of the 14,035 homes destroyed or damaged by IS.

Partially destroyed Virgin Mary Kindergarten, in the Syriac Catholic town of Bashiqa.

Partially destroyed Virgin Mary Kindergarten, in the Syriac Catholic town of Bashiqa.

This intervention, in which the pontifical foundation ACN has played a major role in collaboration with the local Churches, has also found a generous benefactor in the person of the Holy Father. Already back in 2016, Pope Francis gave 100,000 Euros in support of the “Saint Joseph Charity Clinic” in Erbil, which provides free medical assistance.

This most recent gift by the Holy Father will be a further help to local Christians, enabling them to live their own faith and offer a future in Iraq to their children. At the same time, it is a powerful message and an invitation to peaceful coexistence between the different religions in a region where fundamentalism has sadly done grave damage to interreligious relations.

Since 2014 and up to the present day ACN has given over 14 million Euros for the support of Iraqi Christians.