Mass Stipends for 18 Frail and Elderly Priests in Uruguay

Few people have summarized the importance of the priesthood more effectively than Saint Jean Marie Vianney, the famous Curé of Ars: Without the sacrament of ordination, we would not have the Lord.

  • Who placed him in the Tabernacle? The priest!
  • Who welcomed your soul at its first entry into life? The priest!
  • Who nourishes it in order to give it the strength to complete its pilgrimage? The priest!
  • Who will prepare it to appear before God by washing it for the last time in the blood of Christ? The priest, always the priest.”

There are over 400,000 priests in the world in whose hands the bread and wine of the Eucharist are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ. Many of them are now old and sick and barely have strength in their hands to elevate the Chalice. Nevertheless, they continue to faithfully and tirelessly celebrate the Sacrifice of Christ. Among them are 18 frail and elderly priests now living in a retirement home for priests in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay.

The Catholic Church in Uruguay has considerably less influence in society than it does in other countries of Latin America. Only a little over half the population claim to be Catholic and religion has largely been banished from public life. Uruguay, the second smallest country in Latin America, has a long history of secularism, a process that began in the middle of the 19th century. In 1859, the Jesuits were banished from the country, and 12 years later, all the cemeteries were seized by the state. Anticlerical elements engaged in constant opposition, for example deliberately providing free barbecue grills on Good Friday of all days, and inviting all the population to them.

Finally, in 1917, the strict separation of State and Church was enshrined in the Constitution. Officially, there are no Christian feasts in Uruguay. Consequently, instead of Christmas, the official calendar has a “Day of the Family” and Holy Week is a “Week of Tourism. Many aspects of the law are likewise in direct contradiction to Catholic teaching.

Many Catholic priests in Uruguay live on the edge of poverty, especially those who are elderly and sick. The 18 elderly priests in the priests’ retirement home in Montevideo have spent their lives faithfully serving God and the Church. Now that they have come to the evening of their lives, they require care.

Aid to the Church in Need helps support thme with Mass stipends. These impoverished priests will celebrate Holy Mass for the intentions of our benefactors, and with the Mass offerings provided they are to contribute something towards the Church-run retirement home where they now live while at the same time providing for their own simple personal needs, such as medication.

This Christmas help us continue to support these poor and elderly priests with Mass Stipends in Uruguay and elsewhere and encourage your family and friends to do likewise.


Mass Stipends for Priests in Pakistan

Ever since 1948, an on-again-off-again conflict has been dragging on in the state of Balochistan between the Pakistani government and rebel groups fighting for autonomy of the province, which lies in the southwest of the country. Baloch rebels are demanding an independent Balochistan, and are supported in this by the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan. Ordinary people are living in constant fear, and in some areas, every building has a separate rear exit as a means of escape.

The largest province in Pakistan, with an area of around 136,000 square miles, Balochistan is over four times the size of Ireland and covers half of Pakistan‘s entire territory. At the same time, Balochistan is the most sparsely populated province in the country, with just 8 million people. Only 30,000 of these are Catholics, half of whom live in the provincial capital Quetta, while the rest are thinly scattered across the entire region.

In Quetta itself there are numerous checkpoints, and in many areas of the city you can only travel with a special permit, which has to be requested several days in advance. Even the bishop cannot travel everywhere freely and is subject to constant police checks. His cathedral, dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary, is situated in the same area as an army barracks, which means that a special permit is required to enter it. As a result, many of the Catholic faithful cannot even get there for Holy Mass. Even Bishop Victor Gnanapragasam himself requires a special permit in order to gain access to his own cathedral and has to ring up the authorities in advance every time and request permission. Again and again he is stopped and searched by the security forces at the checkpoints.

For the priests, none of whom belong to the Baloch ethnic group, the situation is getting even more difficult. Previously they could travel anywhere, but today the area within which they can move freely is becoming ever smaller. Many places are now completely off-limits due to the fighting between the rebels and the government.

“As soon as the fighting stops, we endeavor to visit our Catholic faithful,” says the bishop. “In doing so, however, we risk being killed by landmines and rocket propelled grenades. It saddens us greatly that we cannot visit the people more frequently.”

Part of the reason the priests cannot regularly visit many places is because of the vast distances. Many Catholic faithful live scattered across the vast area of the province in very small communities. In one town, there are maybe three Catholic families, in another, just one, in another perhaps four. As a result, it is extremely difficult to establish any kind of regular Church life here. Some Christian communities live as much as 500 to 600 miles from Quetta, which means that every journey is very expensive, too.

Consequently, the Mass offerings you give us are a huge help for the bishop and his five priests in Quetta. The masses are celebrated for the intentions of ACN’s generous benefactors and the offerings provided help these men of God carry out their priestly ministry in these most difficult and dangerous circumstances.

Please help us continue to provide Mass stipends to these Holy priests as they struggle to serve the faithful in Pakistan under such difficult and trying circumstances. 


Mass Intentions for Priests Teaching Seminarians in Zambia

The Emmaus Spirituality Center in Lusaka, Zambia, is a formation center at which all the young men in the country who feel called to the priesthood first undergo a “spiritual year.” This is a preliminary stage, which precedes the seminary proper. Technically known as a propedeutic year, this is a year during which the spiritual foundations are laid for their future path as seminarians and where these young men, after having completed their higher school studies (A-levels), are able to grow into the spiritual life and develop and mature on a human level as well. On average, there are 45 young men who embark each year on this first stage of their priestly formation.

“Since we know all too well that the Church needs true witnesses of the Gospel, who will in future be soundly trained, well-motivated and disciplined priests, the seminary has to fulfill its daily duties,” says Father Justin Mulenga, the priest tasked with responsibility for the seminaries by the bishops’ conference of Zambia. Consequently, the five priests responsible for the formation and spiritual accompaniment of the seminarians at the center need to focus all their energies on this mission and be available full-time for this task.

This commitment to teaching and formation also means these priests do not have any other opportunities of earning an income in order to support themselves, such as by working in a parish. As a result, they are very much dependent on Mass stipends, and we plan to help them in the form of Mass stipends.

As a Christmas Gift of Faith, please arrange to have a Holy Mass said and provide a stipend in support of an impoverished priest in need in countries like Zambia.


Support a Poor Priests

In many regions today, the faithful are so poor that they cannot support their priests. Even their bishops often lack the financial means to assist them.

These priests play a vital role in their communities – celebrating Mass and preaching the Gospel. ACN supports priests as they minister to the faithful in some of the most challenging places in the world.

Join us in supporting an impoverished priest in bringing Christ to the faithful in places such as Nigeria, Congo, Eritrea, Middle East, India, Pakistan, Cuba and Venezuela by making a Christmas Gift of Faith.