Support for Carmelite Sisters in Ukraine

Every October the Church commemorates two great figures of the Carmelite life, both of whom have been named as Doctors of the Church.

  • On the 15th of the month, Saint Teresa of Avila, the foundress of order of the Discalced Carmelites will be remembered, and
  • On October 1, Saint Therese of Lisieux, who was only 24 when she died, but whose ‘Little Way’ to this day inspires countless thousands of people all over the world to live in complete and loving trust in God.

The Discalced Carmelite Sisters live in strict enclosure and pursue a life of contemplation and prayer. “I want to be love in the heart of the Church,” wrote Saint Therese of Lisieux, describing her chosen vocation. Although she never again left her convent, which she had entered at the age of just 15, she has been declared Patroness of the Missions, since prayer such as she practiced embraces the whole world and is not bound by time or place.

Since the political changes in the former Soviet Union, there has once again been a Carmel in the Ukrainian capital Kiev. At the earliest possible opportunity, in 1991, Carmelite Sisters from two Polish convents came to Kiev in order to help by their prayer and presence in the spiritual reconstruction of post-communist society there.

Initially, the Sisters lived in very cramped conditions, in quarters adjoining the Holy Cross Church. At the time, this was the only Catholic church in Kiev that still functioned as a place of religious worship. The other two Catholic churches had been confiscated and turned into a museum of atheism and an organ museum. Eventually, in 1994-96 the Sisters were at last able to move to a suburb of Kiev, to the site of a former state farm, and build a new convent in the midst of the fields and orchards there.

Today, there are eight Carmelites living here. They pray a great deal, above all for peace in the world, but also for the many personal needs that are entrusted to them by others. Many people turn to the Sisters, asking them to include in their prayers family members who are sick or living in difficult or unhappy situations.

One of the major challenges facing the Sisters is supporting themselves through their work. Although they bake hosts, fashion wax crib figures and sew liturgical vestments and other items, and although they grow fruit and vegetable for their own consumption – and live very modestly as well – it is still not enough to cover their living costs. Even the annual collection in the immediate area brings in little, for the faithful are very poor themselves and prices are rising as the economic situation in Ukraine visibly worsens.

ACN is also supporting these Sisters – who once a month have a special Mass celebrated for all our benefactors and who include you all in their prayers – and this year we are doing so again.

We have promised them a contribution towards their living costs. This Christmas please help us fulfill our promise to support these Carmelite Sisters in Ukraine.

Support 212 Religious Sisters in Bolivia and Peru

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 looking after 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 it is in the big cities that 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, 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.

Aid to the Church in Need has been helping the communities in Peru and Bolivia each year since 1994, and we intend to continue helping them again this year with subsistence support.

As a Christmas Gift please help us continue to support these religious Sisters in Bolivia and Peru who are dedicated to caring for the poor, the helpless and the elderly.

Be assured that the Sisters and the people they serve will remember you in their grateful prayers.

Help Fund a Catholic Summer Camp for 60 Girls from Poor Families in Serbia

In Zrenjanin, in northern Serbia, the School Sisters run a hostel for 60 young schoolgirls from the villages in the surrounding area who – given the long journeys involved – could not otherwise travel to attend school each day in the local town. The Sisters also provide religious instruction in a number of different schools, work as parish choirmasters, and provide basic catechetical instruction to kindergarten children in three of the villages. One of the Sisters also runs the local Boy Scout/Girl Guide group.

Every year, during the summer holiday, Sister Cecilia organizes a summer camp for 60 young girls on the grounds of the residential hostel which would otherwise be empty during this time. It is the only Catholic holiday camp for girls in the area. Many of these girls come from very poor homes, and not a few of them are alone at home, since their parents have moved to the West to find work and support their families. In other cases, their parents are unemployed. Sister Cecilia tells us: “They are intelligent girls, but they are too poor to be able to develop their talents fully.”

With the help of teaching experts and some of the parents, the Sisters have worked out a very attractive holiday program in which the children can have fun, learn to cook and bake, do handicrafts, sing and pray together and also go on outings. At the same time, they can share their faith experiences and grow in their faith.

Naturally, there is a cost to providing the food and lodging for the girls and to pay for the handicraft materials and excursions. Most of the parents already have difficulties even providing their children with basic necessities for school and can do little to contribute to the cost of this holiday program.

The Sisters have turned to ACN for support, and we have promised to help them.

Please help us help these Sisters continue to operate their Catholic summer camp for poor girls in Serbia. You will be gratefully remembered in their prayers.

Farming for God

In the Central African Republic, Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary are helping the archdiocese of Bangui, by providing education for girls.

The Sisters felt a need to reach out to their community, as the girls were becoming mothers at a young age due to lack of education and future prospects. Within a short time, the Sisters were making a wonderful difference but they did not have sufficient income to sustain themselves.

The Sisters turned to ACN to help them start a poultry farm so they could support themselves and their local community.

Please help us help the Sisters give Joy and Hope to young girls in this impoverished and war-torn land.