This year ACN is celebrating its 70th anniversary. At the promptings of various Popes our founder, Father Werenfried van Straaten expanded our apostolate of prayer and actions for the suffering Church.

And over the years these prayers and actions have, so to speak, formed themselves into the beads which make up an enormous Rosary of Love for Christians throughout the world. Today ACN is a pontifical foundation, working in 150 different countries. But its goal is still the same as it has always been – to relieve suffering and lead people to God.

To this end, Father Werenfried appealed to you, our benefactors, on innumerable occasions. At the turn of the new millennium he wrote:

‘Werenfried – a warrior for peace. I will readily admit to you that I have not always brought honour on this beautiful name, which I received as a novice, and that I have often failed in my programme of life. But as Pope John Paul II has said, God also gives us ‘the strength to fulfil what he asks of us’.

As is clear from the many annual reports we have sent you we have, with God’s help, all of us achieved much together. Yet the heathens still mock us, and Satan is still the prince of this world. Peace is further away than we had hoped, following the collapse of communism. This is a reproach, and it concerns you and me. It means that we have not fought enough, not prayed enough, not sacrificed enough.

It means that we must commit ourselves still more generously for peace, which is irreconcilable with injustice, oppression and our own sinfulness. It means that we – poor weak sinners that we are, who have so often betrayed our Lord – must step forward once more to do battle in this time. And we must do so as though it were the decisive battle.’

For over half a century Father Werenfried appealed to his benefactors in words like these. Only thanks to their help was he able to build up our charity.

We now have national offices in 23 countries – but it is never enough to meet all the growing needs. We are receiving more and more requests and pleas for help. Often we are able to help, but more often than we like to we have to say no, with a heavy heart, because we have ‘not fought enough, not prayed enough, not sacrificed enough’.

Today, in our 70th year, peace is still far away and the persecution of Christians is fiercer than ever. But our benefactors are spiritual warriors, offering their prayers and sacrifices, participating in God’s plan of salvation, just as we all do when we take the Rosary in our hands. Right from the start Father Werenfried put his trust in the intercession of Our Lady.

In Fatima Father Werenfried consecrated our charity to the Mother of God. Let us stand as witnesses to hope with the ‘woman clothed with the sun’ and pray for peace – ‘as though it were the decisive battle’.

This article can be found in Mirror 0717.