Formation of 15 religious sisters in Brazil

Help for the formation of 15 young religious sisters in Brazil

It was only 30 years ago that the religious Institute the Sevants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matarà was founded in Argentina. Yet since then it has spread throughout the world, with 160 convents in 35 different countries on all five continents of the globe - such is the measure of its success to date.

A particular feature of the Institute is its love for the Eucharist, the Mother of God and the Holy Father. The apostolate of the sisters covers a wide field helping the priests in the parishes, giving retreats and catechetical instruction, teaching in schools, working in the youth apostolate. They also give selfless service in orphanages, handicapped children’s homes, old people‘s homes and hospitals. Some of the sisters also support expectant mothers in conflict situations, helping them to bring their children safely into the world. A number of them are also involved in the publication of theological books and literature. The Institute continues to attract many new vocations, particularly in Brazil. Here there are 15 young women currently in formation. They need our support so that they can receive a sound and solid training for the religious life and apostolate they will be engaged in.

We have promised to help this year with a contribution of 11,430 Euros.

 


PAKISTAN : Family of Asia Bibi interview

ACN News, 15.10.2018 / Pakistan / Family of Asia Bibi by Pierre Macqueron (ACN France)
CONTACT: press@acn-intl.org

Asia Bibi – almost 10 years of suffering for her and her family

Nine years. That is how long Asia Bibi has spent in prison and on death row for an alleged blasphemy – which she has always denied. It is also how old her daughter Eisham was, back in June 2009, when she witnessed an enraged crowd beating her mother. Now 18, she met with ACN on Saturday 13 October in London, accompanied by her father, Ashiq Masih.

«We last saw Asia on Monday 1st October, before coming to the United Kingdom. She is well, physically and spiritually », her husband, Ashiq Masih, told ACN on Saturday 13 October in London. « After being accused of blasphemy, she has suffered, her whole family has suffered, for almost 10 years now. But by the grace of God, we hope she will very soon be set free », he added.

 

Invited to visit the UK by ACN, Ashiq and Eisham Masih agreed to come and share the story of their wife and mother. « Asia Bibi has been in prison for almost 10 years now», Ashiq recalled. « It’s a terrible thing for a husband and for a child. We have come here today to bear witness, to speak up and be a voice for Asia Bibi, who has been falsely accused of blasphemy. She has asked me to urge you to remember her in your prayers, to pray that she may very soon be set free. » Asia was accused of having « insulted » the Prophet Muhammad during an argument with two Muslim women from her village, who had refused to drink water from a glass that she had just used. Asia Bibi is the first woman to have been sentenced to death under Pakistan’s draconian anti-blasphemy laws.

 

Unwavering fidelity

 

Now that Pakistan’s Supreme Court, which is Asia Bibi’s last hope, has stated on Monday 8 October, that it intends to « reserve its decision for the moment », her family members remain, are determined to remain, resolutely optimistic. « We believe that the Supreme Court judges intend to find in her favour », they insist. It is a conviction that is bolstered by a solid legal case and also on the astounding and unwavering hope of this family, who confess that they draw their strength « from the Lord Jesus Christ, who hears the prayers of those who suffer ».

Yet there are all too many reasons for despair for this family, who have been forced to live in hiding in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, where blasphemy is an extremely sensitive subject. Mere allegations of blasphemy regularly end up with the lynching of those accused, and Christians are frequently targeted, as a persecuted minority.

 

Ever since its statement on Monday 8 October, Islamist fundamentalists have been demanding that the Supreme Court carry out the sentence pronounced against Asia Bibi by the two lower courts, namely death by hanging. An absolute wave of violence has been unleashed on social networks: « If you free Asia Bibi, prepare yourselves for more Mumtaz Qatris », is their sinister threat. Mumtaz Qadri, who was hanged in 2016, was the man who assassinated Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab, on 4 January 2011, for having publicly spoken up in defence of Asia Bibi and for criticising the anti-blasphemy laws in Pakistan. These laws were introduced by the British at the time when the British Indian Empire included what is today the country of Pakistan. Since 1986, under the dictatorship of General Zia ul-Haq (1977-1988), this controversial legislation has made blasphemy punishable by the death penalty.

 

«We cannot remain in Pakistan»

 

Besides, Ashiq is quite lucid in recognising that « everyone is afraid; everyone is facing threats – the supporters of Asia Bibi, her lawyers, her judges. » Nevertheless, one can see that he is proud of living in Pakistan, among the Muslims, who represent almost 96% of the population. He goes on to add, « not all of them are in favour of the execution of Asia Bibi. There are many people who understand that we are suffering. But the extremists, and the fundamentalist organisations are also very numerous. » Numerous, and extremely vindictive, as Father Emmanuel Yousaf, the president of the Justice and Peace commission of the Pakistani Catholic Bishops’ Conference, emphasises.

 

And so, it is with a heavy heart that Ashiq acknowledges that his family can no longer remain in Pakistan. And while he is not revealing the place of their exile, he nonetheless continues to trust in providence: « God will take care of Asia Bibi and her family. He will find us a peaceful place. God will choose for us. » A peaceful place, from which her daughter Eisham is determined to continue her studies in law in order to become a barrister, and so to be able to help the poorest and those accused of blasphemy.


Syria: ACN Rebuilding in Aleppo

ACN News, 04.10.2018 / Syria/Aleppo by Maria Lozano
CONTACT: press@acn-intl.org

Syria – ACN embarks on reconstruction programme in Aleppo

The international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is sponsoring 32 new projects in Syria, at a total cost of 1.8 million Euros, for the restoration of the material and spiritual life of the Christian population there.

  • Children, women and the sick will be among the first to benefit from the aid programmes
  • Among the seven reconstruction projects for the physical infrastructure of Aleppo, one of the cities most damaged during the war, there are three cathedrals

The pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is embarking on a programme of reconstruction and restoration in Aleppo, one of the cities that suffered most from the consequences of the war. Among the seven projects for the physical reconstruction of the city there are three involving Catholic cathedrals, namely the Armenian, Maronite and Syrian Catholic cathedrals. These three cathedrals not only represent the riches of the Eastern Rites in Aleppo, but are at the same time a symbol of the Christian roots of the city.

“The churches are like lighthouses in the ocean; they are a source of security and hope, and are but one of the first steps towards encouraging the return of the uprooted Christians here – as ACN well knows, having been so involved in the reconstruction of the towns and villages destroyed by IS in Iraq”, emphasises Father Andrzej Halemba, who heads the project section responsible for Syria at the international headquarters of the foundation. Last year ACN also sponsored the reconstruction of the Melkite Catholic Cathedral in Homs.

In addition to supporting two parish community centres and a biblical study centre, ACN has promised help to complete the renovation work on a centre for autistic children which has been run by Franciscan missionary sisters for the past 21 years. The building is very damp due to the breakdown of the heating system during the war, and poses a real danger to the health of the 15 children cared for daily there.

All this is being done on top of the ongoing aid programmes for the hundreds of displaced families that ACN has been supporting from the very beginning of the conflict in 2011 in Aleppo and in other cities such as Homs and Latakia. “Although we would like these families to be able to return to their homes and be able to begin a new life, there is still a good deal to be done in order to make this possible. And meanwhile we cannot cut off our aid, since the local churches cannot take on this burden. According to UNHCR some 13.1 million people in Syria are in need of humanitarian assistance today. “Those who are suffering most are the poorest”, Father Halemba explains. That is why ACN will be spending two thirds of the 1.8 million Euros allocated on renewed emergency aid packages. These will include among other things paying the rent for 340 families in Homs, providing medical assistance for around 700 people in Aleppo and a monthly allowance for food and healthcare over the next six months for 1,725 of the poorest families in Latakia.

Along with these 32 projects recently approved, the number of projects that the international foundation ACN is carrying out in Syria in 2018 now totals 121 valued at almost 7 million euros.

“The suffering is not over yet!”, Father Halemba insists. “We face massive challenges simply in easing the terrible wounds inflicted over the past eight years, and at the same time we cannot forget that the future of these people lies in our hands and that we have a responsibility towards them.”

 


18 OCTOBER: Kids Pray the rosary for peace

Interview, 01.10.2018 / Rosary Prayer for Peace by Tobias Lehner
CONTACT: press@acn-intl.org

AID TO THE CHURCH IN NEED (ACN) is issuing an open invitation to participate in an extraordinary event taking place on 18 October: “One Million Children Praying the Rosary”. We talked about this prayer initiative with Father Martin Barta, the Spiritual Assistant of ACN International.

 

What is this prayer campaign about and when was it started?

The idea for the campaign came about in 2005 in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. While a number of children were praying the rosary at a wayside shrine, several of the women in attendance strongly felt the presence of the Virgin Mary. They immediately thought of Saint Padre Pio’s promise: “When one million children pray the rosary, the world will change.” And that is exactly what this is all about: having faith in the power of children’s prayers. After all, Jesus teaches us: “Except ye … become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:3).

 

How can people join in the campaign?

Quite simply: we are inviting teachers, priests, kindergarten teachers and parents to pray the rosary together with children on 18 October for peace and unity in the world. ACN has instructional materials on the prayers of the rosary, posters and a letter of invitation for children and adults.

 

Why the 18th of October?

October is traditionally the month of the rosary; the 18th is the feast day of Saint Luke the Evangelist. He has handed on to us the story of Jesus’s childhood and, according to tradition, is said to have been close to Our Lady, the Mother of God. Therefore, the date is quite fitting.

 

Why has AID TO THE CHURCH IN NEED gotten involved in this prayer campaign?

We not only see ourselves as a pastoral charity, but also as a prayer community. Our founder, Father Werenfried van Straaten, deeply venerated Our Lady of Fatima. There, the Virgin Mary proclaimed to the visionary children, “Pray the rosary every day, in order to obtain peace for the world.” The daily project work that carried out by ACN in 149 countries allows the organisation to see first-hand just how greatly Christians and the entire world are suffering from the effects of terrorism and war. Only God can bring peace. We can play a part in this – through our work, but first and foremost through our prayers.

 

Do you receive reports from the world church on how many children take part?

Our materials for the prayer campaign are available in 25 languages, including, for example, Arabic and the West African Hausa language. Children from around 80 countries and on all continents are taking part. Accounts of the events are frequently sent to ACN, over the past year we received reports from countries such as Argentina, Cuba, Cameroon, India and the Philippines. It is truly a campaign of the world church!

 

Children and the rosary: this is not an easy connection to make for the churches in our part of the world. How do you get young people excited about these prayers?

I believe that it is actually the other way around: children are far more open to the rosary than a lot of adults. When the rosary is prayed correctly and under proper guidance, it reveals a view of the Virgin Mary, one that grows more intimate the longer you pray the rosary. And this intimate view of Our Lady is something that we can learn from the children!

For more information on the prayer campaign, go to: www.millionkidspraying.org


A new life, with YOUCAT in Venezuela

 

“And the truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32). This truth is directly experienced by the young people visited by Father Gregorio, in prison – the inner freedom of the children of God.

For a year now Father Gregorio has been regularly visiting the youth prison in the diocese of Carupano in eastern Venezuela. “He was like an angel from heaven” says Alejandro. The 15-year-old is behind bars for aggravated theft. “It has completely changed us”, he says. The “it” is the word of God, which tells of the Lord’s love. Father Gregorio has brought it with him in the form of the Bible and YOUCAT, the youth catechism sponsored by ACN. His bishop requested these books from ACN for Father Gregorio. And many other dioceses are waiting for this kind of help.

“Father gave me this Bible and the catechism”, Alejandro recalls. “Before that I knew a few stories, but didn’t really want to know.” He takes a deep breath and looks at us with eyes full of hope. “Thanks to these visits, I have now made my first Holy Communion, and in a few days I will be confirmed.” Alejandro is one of 30 young inmates aged between 15 and 19. Before Father Gregorio, some of the Protestant sects came, but they only “preached and understood nothing”, their female warder tells us. “The sects could not supply the longing of these young people for understanding and love”, she adds. “And not being understood, they became still more aggressive.” But Father Gregorio speaks to them from the heart, she explains. “He brings them the love that they have never experienced in their lives.”

All the boys are from broken families. “At first I simply listened to them”, Father Gregorio tells us. “They were lonely, inwardly abandoned, but longing for meaning in their lives, for love, for friendship with God. So then they were able to read in the YOUCAT, and little by little we talked about it.” Alejandro confirms this: “We see life differently now. The words of Father Gregorio, the Bible and the YOUCAT, it all made us think a great deal. We’re going to live differently now.” His cellmate, who is also going to be confirmed soon, adds, “All this has shown us the way of truth, the way to goodness, to God. I’m so happy that Father Gregorio has shown us this path.” It is this joy in the truth that now liberates these lads and fills their hearts.

For Antonio José, the visits of the priest were a totally new experience. “I was only just baptised a few days ago, here behind bars. I didn’t know the Bible and knew nothing about Christ. Now it’s like I’m born anew; the past seems so far away. Father is helping me to look forward. I want to live with God.” Nor have these young inmates forgotten you, our benefactors. “We know where these good books have come from, which tell us about Christ and help us to overcome our bad habits and inclinations. We are very grateful to the people of ACN. Through the YOUCAT we feel we are united with them; it’s as though they themselves had come to visit us. Thank you.”


Success story: A moped for a priest in India

Success Story: A moped for a priest in a rural parish in India

Young Father Ravi Kumar Devarapalli of the diocese of Eluru is delighted at his new moped, which he has been able to purchase thanks to the help of ACN‘s benefactors, who gave him 1200 Euros. Now it is much easier for him to visit the Catholic faithful in the surrounding villages.

The parish mission where he works is situated in an underdeveloped, rural region. He has no presbytery of his own, so he has to live in the bishop‘s house. Until now he managed to visit his central parish by using public transport, but in order to reach the villages in the outlying hilly countryside, he had to use a bicycle and battle his way over rough and difficult tracks. This was both exhausting and time-consuming, and besides, some of the villages are a long way from the parish center. There are nine of these villages in which people have already been baptized, and some of them are up to 10 miles (15 km) away, while the other three villages – in which the people are still preparing for baptism – are even up to twice that distance – 20 miles (30 km) away. Almost all the people have to work hard all day, as landless agricultural workers, day laborers or household servants, so that the priest can only visit them in the evenings. As a result, Father Ravi often had to cycle late at night along these long and difficult tracks. And on Sundays and holy days, he would often arrive late for Holy Mass, having been unable to make it on time on his bicycle.

“The people here are very poor and simple, but they are very open to the message of Christ”, Father Ravi explains. But the sects are also beginning to arrive in the region, and if the Church fails, for lack of resources, to provide adequate pastoral care for the people, they may well fall an easy prey to the sects, who often have considerably more money and personnel and who often take people in with their easy and unrealistic promises. But now, thanks to his new moped, Father Ravi can visit the people much more frequently.

“I am very happy to be able to exercise my priestly ministry here” says Father Ravi, who was ordained to the priesthood only in 2016. And he asks us to convey his thanks to our benefactors and tell them this: “Many people make decisions that change people‘s lives. Thank you for being such people! Your generosity will help me and our diocese to do the same for others. Thanks to your generosity we can go on helping to improve the lives of the Catholic faithful, above all in a spiritual sense. Thank you again for your goodness and kindheartedness!”


Padre Pierluigi Maccalli abducted in Niger

 

Padre Pierluigi Maccalli abducted in Niger. Probably being held by Fulani Islamists

ACN News, 21.09.2018 / Niger / Pater Maccalli
by Marta Petrosillo  CONTACT: press@acn-intl.org

His confrere, Father Armanino told ACN: "If they reach Mali, the fear is that the abduction could be as long as that of Sister Gloria."

“It was a swift and coordinated attack. The abductors were familiar with the movements of Father Pierluigi and had chosen him as their victim.” This was the account given by Father Mauro Armanino of the Society of the African Missions (SMA) in Niger to the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) about his confrere, Italian Father Pierluigi Maccalli who was abducted last Monday, from the mission where he worked, some 125 km from the capital of Niger, Niamey.

It was a well-planned attack that took place in a matter of minutes, according to his Indian confrere, Father John, who lives and works in the same mission together with Father Maccalli. “Monday evening, Father John arrived here at our regional headquarters in Niamey, visibly traumatised”, Father Armanino told ACN. “He himself lives in another small room, just a few metres away from that of Father Pierluigi, and he told us how the abductors had simply knocked on the door, seized the priest and then left again firing shots into the air. From the way they went about it, it was clear that their target was the European priest, since otherwise they would not have left his Indian confrere behind”, he added. As a matter of fact, Father Pierluigi had only just returned from a rest period in Italy. “I myself went to meet him at the airport last Saturday. The kidnappers must have known this, which is why they acted when they did. Certainly it does not help that the government, although well aware of the presence of these armed gangs in the area, has done nothing about it.”

According to Father Armanino, one possible motive for the abduction, apart from the likelihood of a ransom demand – which has not yet become known – and the attempt to gain international media attention, is the desire to frighten the Christian community in one of the very small areas of Niger in which Christianity is the majority faith. “The fact that they have now attacked a Catholic priest for the first time, shows that there are no longer any limits to their violence”, he suggested.

Corroboration of the thesis of an anti-Christian attack has come with the fact that another small group of criminals shortly afterwards attacked the convent of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary. Fortunately, the sisters were able to elude them, some by escaping and others by hiding inside the house. “In fact it was they who were able to provide us with important information about the attackers, who were speaking in the language of the Peul ethnic group while they were ransacking the convent”, Father Armanino explained. Peul is the French name used to describe the Fulani tribesmen in Niger. Consequently, it is likely that Father Pierluigi is in the hands of the same Islamist pastoralists who have murdered thousands of people in nearby Nigeria, where they have launched numerous attacks against Christian villages and even murdered two priests in April this year.

Padre Armanino went on to explain that for the moment it is believed that the kidnappers have not yet succeeded in moving their hostage to Burkina Faso, given that the nearby frontier is very strictly patrolled. Hence it is thought that Father Pierluigi is still in Niger, but the fear is that his abductors may be able to reach Mali, where they have more support. “The group that abducted Pierluigi was a small group. But if they were to succeed in getting to Mali, the situation would be much worse for our confrere”, Father Armanino explained. For there are many other members of the Fulani community there, who would give support to his abductors. “It was in Mali of course that the Colombian religious Sister Gloria Cecilia Narvaez Argoti was abducted in February 2017, and she is still being held prisoner today. And so we are fearful that the abduction of Padre Pierluigi could likewise drag on for a long time.”


Hope for South Sudanese refugees in Uganda

Prospect of hope and a future for the South Sudanese refugees dispersed throughout many camps in Uganda

Christine du Coudray, the person responsible for the Africa Department at the Pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), returned from a journey to Uganda a few weeks ago. While there she visited the Bidibidi and Imvepi camps located in the north-west of the country. There are 1.2 million refugees, coming for the most part from South Sudan, dispersed throughout the camps in this region, which covers the dioceses of Arua, Nebbi and Gulu. On top of this there are also refugees to be found in the environs of Kampala, the capital located in the centre of the country. In an interview Robert Lalonde gathers some initial impressions of the trip.

 

What made you decide to visit this region?

 

I was invited by three Bishops: Mgr Eduardo Kussala, Bishop of Tombura Yambio and President of the Episcopal Conference, Mgr Roko Taban, the Apostolic Administrator of the diocese of Malakal  - both from South Sudan -, and Mgr Tombe Trille, Bishop of El Obeid in Sudan. They had come to see for the first time the situation of their compatriots who had fled to Uganda to escape the violence in South Sudan. I was also invited by the American foundation Sudan Relief Fund with which ACN is linked since we co-fund a number of projects. Mgr Sabino Odoki, the Bishop of Arua in Uganda, took us to get an overview of the situation in these camps. It was a highly enriching week and it left a strong impression.

 

How would you describe the situation there?

 

Since we're dealing with refugee camps you would think that the prevailing mood was one of distress. But it's important to know that these camps have been in existence since 2013. The residents have food, drinking water and medical care. They even have a plot of land that they can cultivate. All things considered, the living conditions are definitely better than in many African villages which do not receive any external aid. Even so the situation is difficult, which is why the refugees expect support from us. That's what we came to assess their needs on the spot.

 

What moment on the trip made the greatest impression?

 

We were all impressed by the welcome given to us by Mgr Odoki and by the leadership he has shown. Among other things, he has assigned two diocesan priests to carry out pastoral work in the camps. We were also highly impressed when we learned that the pieces of land on which the 9 camps of the dioceses in the north-west region have been constructed originally belonged to ordinary Ugandans who generously offered them to the refugees. This welcoming attitude shown by the brothers and sisters in the faith is also in Uganda's interest since Uganda hopes that its neighbouring country will one day live in peace. Does this not demonstrate a great spirit of hospitality and provide a lesson that should be remembered?

In what way is the Catholic Church involved in the camps?

 

The presence of the Bishops was a good opportunity for the Church to demonstrate its concern for all these people, who are not there by choice but who have been forced there by life's vicissitudes. Even so, this period of enforced exile can be used marvellously as a time for training with a view to building the society of tomorrow. When these individuals return home, the re-construction of their country will be in their hands. The Church is already involved and may possibly become further involved by giving other training sessions.

Last year ACN sent € 34 000 to the Emmaus community based near Kampala. This community has considerable expertise in different fields such as catechesis, pastoral care, social doctrine, the family apostolate and in providing emotional and sexual education to young people, which is so important in a country decimated by AIDS. 65 young people have been trained in the camps.

 

What is the situation of the young in the camps?

 

These young people have gone through major traumas. Some saw their parents killed before their very eyes, others suffered severe facial burns… they are now asking themselves how they shall ever be able to forgive. The Emmaus community has set up a programme to accompany them in the process of forgiving and invites young people to come and kneel before the Holy Sacrament to pray. The accounts of healing have multiplied, as though the Lord has intervened to soothe hearts and spirits.

 

Will other means be applied in future to help the refugees?

 

On the one hand the Bishops have committed themselves to return in September to celebrate Holy Mass in the camps and, on the other, to ask their priests who speak the various Ugandan dialects to come and conduct an apostolate.

What is more, Mgr Odoki, the Bishop of Arua, told us that he was part of a delegation that recently met Pope Francis. The delegation informe him about the situation in the diocese and mentioned the urgent need for the presence of religious sisters among the refugees. The Pope assured them that he would make a special appeal to convents, urging them to respond to this need.

 

And what kind of support can be given by Aid to the Church in Need in the spirit of these commitments?

 

To foster the presence of Church personnel we envisage building a house with a number of rooms to accommodate priests for a certain time. With the help of other organisations we could do the same for the nuns. Such a house could provide half a floor per congregation with a chapel and a communal dining room.

With regard to the training courses we intend to continue vigorously with our work in this domain. It is clear that the desire for such training, combined with the atmosphere of peace which prevails in the camps, is a factor which favours this kind of involvement. The Bishops were delighted with such a proposal from ACN. They know that, once trained, the leaders we address (catechists, the young people who study the Church's social doctrine and those who go more deeply into the family apostolate) will share their knowledge and experience with other refugees. In this way they will build the future together. One of them, Santos, also described his experience to us as having been "more than wonderful". The more we provide these training conditions, the more the country will rise again. Isn't that a glorious prospect of hope and for a future?


Summer camps with Christ in Eastern Europe

“The welfare of the family is decisive for the future of the world and that of the Church,” said Pope Francis on Twitter. We might also say that the welfare of the children is decisive for the welfare of the family.

It is not only parents who look after children’s welfare. It is true, of course, as Saint John Paul II wrote in his Letter to Families in 1994, that parents are “the first and principal educators” of their children. But he added that they can also share this responsibility “with other individuals and institutions, such as the Church”, who will fulfil this educational duty on their behalf. This is what is happening in the summer camps run by the Ordinaries for Armenian Catholics in Eastern Europe. This year 800 children aged between 9 and 18 will be taking part in the summer camps. Their parents know that their children will be spending their time here in a Christian atmosphere and at the same time learning a great deal about their spiritual inheritance in the Armenian Catholic Church.

In addition to daily Mass and catechism classes, the programme includes a great deal of sport, hiking and group games, as well as Armenian dancing, folklore and learning about the history and culture of the country. The children and young people all come from poor families and would otherwise have no opportunity to have such a holiday. Quite a few of the young people are actually baptised during the summer camp; last year 25 of them received the sacrament. Others will prepare for their First Holy Communion with the help of the catechists and priests. It would be hard to do more for the welfare of these children. We are helping with €25,000.


Bolivia and Peru: Caring for the helpless & elderly

Help for the life and apostolate of 212 religious sisters engaged in caring for the poor, helpless and elderly

 

This year the „Little Sisters of the Helpless Elderly“ (Hermanitas de los Ancianos Desamparados) are celebrating the 145th anniversary of their foundation. Ever since 1873 they have been caring for the poor, the lonely and the helpless elderly. Their congregation, founded in Spain, can today be proud of the fact that they have over 200 houses spread across 20 countries and four continents. Most of their convents are in Central and South America, but the sisters also have homes in the Philippines, Mozambique and in Europe.

In Peru and Bolivia they currently have no fewer than 212 religious sisters caring for over 2,100 elderly people who would otherwise have no one to care for them. In Peru they have 11 convents and a retreat house; in Bolivia they have five houses. Above all in the big cities the traditional family structures tend to fall apart, with the result that many old people rapidly find themselves alone and helpless. They not only need help to wash and feed themselves, but they also need human affection and support in their spiritual and mental needs. The sisters seek to care for the whole person, to „care for the body in order to save the soul“, as their foundress, Saint Teresa Jornet used to say.

We have been helping the communities in Peru and Bolivia each year, ever since 1994, and we intend to continue helping them again this year – with a contribution of 4600 Euros for their basic support.