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.