A multipurpose hall to be used as a church by Catholics who have fled Boko Haram

 It is not only in Nigeria but also in the north of neighbouring Cameroon that people are suffering from the violent attacks of the terroristBoko Haram militias. However, these attacks have attracted little publicity in the world media. Bishop BrunoAteba of the diocese of Maroua-Mokolo, in the region bordering the frontier with Nigeria, laments this fact: “What happened in the attacks in Paris is something we experience here every day, yet nobody in the world is speaking about it.” Instead, all the attention of the world media is focused on the Middle East, he complains. And yet, since the autumn of 2014, in his diocese alone, two senior staff of the diocese, three catechists and over 30 of the Christian faithful have been murdered. On top of this there are numerous abductions. In particular many children and young people are kidnapped to serve as “cannon fodder” for Boko Haram. Others are lured away from their families in return for money and false promises by the terrorists. In fact, in recent months around 2,000 children and young people in Cameroon, aged between five and 15 years, have fallen into the hands of Boko Haram, including a number of girls.

The violence is not affecting the Christians only, however, for many Muslims are also falling victim to it. In a number of places mosques have been burned to the ground, while the imams have had their throats cut, because they refused to toe the line of Boko Haram. Since as early as December 2013, in fact, the local Muslim community in Cameroon has been increasingly adopting a clearer stance against Boko Haram, rejecting the group’s claim to be Muslim. Instead, many Muslims have been helping Christians who are in danger, the bishop reports. “We share the same sufferings together with them”, he insists.

The attacks have caused serious damage to the infrastructure of the region, which is already among the poorest in Cameroon. As a result of the terrorism, over 110 schools and some 13 health centres have been closed, while a number of police stations have been destroyed. Many people have fled. In the diocese ofMaroua-Mokolo alone some 55,000 people have fled the violence. Many have found shelter with friends or relatives, but over 22,000 have sought refuge out in the bush. In addition to the local refugee population there is a flood of refugees from Nigeria too, people who are also seeking to escape the terror of Boko Haram. Altogether there are thought to be more than a million people made refugees by Boko Haram, and many thousands of them have fled here to northern Cameroon.

Bishop Ateba makes this appeal to the world community: “Today we are begging your attention, your prayers and your help. Please help us to put a stop to this nameless brutality that is destroying all hope for the future and bringing to nothing the work of many generations of the faithful.” At the same time, though, he praises the courage of the ordinary faithful, who continue to gather together to pray in many places, despite the danger and their fear. They are “like fireflies of faith, shining in the night”, he says.

ACN is proposing to give 14,900 Euros for the construction of a multipurpose hall, so that the 5,200 or so Catholic refugees currently sheltering in the refugee camp of Minawao can gather there to pray, attend Holy Mass and be given pastoral care and support.


Construction of a hangar as a place of prayer for the 5,000 Nigerian catholic refugees in the diocese of Maroua-Mokolophoto-3

Bishop Bruno Ateba Edo

Code: 113-08-19




Emergency aid for the archdiocese of Niamey, following the violent attacks on Christian properties

The terrorist attack of 7 January this year on the offices of the French satirical magazine

“ Charlie Hebdo” in Paris shook the world. Eleven members of the editorial team of the magazine were murdered, as were two policeman and, later, four hostages held prisoner in a Jewish supermarket by one of the assailants. However, when there were violent reactions and revenge attacks in various Islamic countries, aimed at Christians and Christian churches as well as at some Western establishments – after the satirical magazine had again published cartoons of Mohammed, just a week after the attack –the world took little notice. A particularly powerful wave of violence was suffered by Christians in the West African country of  Niger, resulting in twelve of the fourteen churches in the capital Niamey being looted and then burned to the ground. Two convents of religious sisters were also attacked.

Among the places particularly hard-hit was the Catholic parish in the town of Zinder. The church here had already previously been desecrated and set on fire, in the year 2012. In the latest attacks no single part of the parish was spared. The presbytery, the Catholic primary school, the convent of the religious sisters, the rooms for catechesis and other educational programmes, the guest accommodation, and all the vehicles of the parish – in short, everything that was not nailed down – was first of all looted, and then what was left was reduced to rubble and ashes. Even the homes of Christian families were looted and burned at the same time. The fact that no one actually lost their lives in these attacks can only be ascribed to divine Providence, says the apostolic administrator of the archdiocese.

200 people have been forced to leave the city, together with the priests and religious sisters,and flee to the capital Niamey, where they are currently taking shelter in a Catholic centre.

But the Catholic faithful have responded with immense courage: “Our churches have been destroyed, but not our faith. We will get back on our feet again”, they say. But they will need help in order to do so. ACN has been asked to provide emergency help for the five most severely affected parishes, so that Church life can continue and support can be given to those who have fled here – at least on a temporary basis, until the rebuilding work can begin. We are helping with 29,800 Euros.

photo-1 photo-2 photo-3


Code: 140-08-59




Days of recollection and encounter for all the Catholic priests in Pakistan

There are around 190 million people living in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. And the population is growing rapidly. So even though there are around 1.2 million Catholics in the country, they make up only a tiny minority.

The Catholic priests in the country – somewhere over 300 of them – often have to minister to vast areas of the country. At the same time they face enormous challenges. The threats from extremists are constantly increasing, and Christians are often victims of violence and false accusations of blasphemy. Even in normal everyday life they are exposed to all kinds of hostility and discrimination. Most of them belong to the poorest class of society. They not only look to their priests for pastoral and spiritual support but also turn to them for help in every need. If an agricultural worker should die, after working as a bonded labourer for some wealthy landowner, his widow and children will often find themselves suddenly thrown out on the street, evicted by their landlord at a moment’s notice. Inevitably, they turn to the priest for help, as do the parents of sick children, the victims of violent attacks, and all the other needy and despairing people.

At the same time, the priests themselves often live in a state of constant tension. Most of them have at some time or other received threatening telephone calls and letters, and even some of the bishops have received letters demanding that they convert to Islam. Almost all of them have noticed that their telephones are tapped, and sometimes they have received strange telephone calls in which, for example, someone claims to be a Muslim wanting to convert to Christianity. If a priest should then say one false word, he can find himself in deep trouble. Everywhere there is a climate of fear. One priest reports how he was threatened when some influential men from the Belutsh ethnic group occupied a piece of land belonging to a Catholic school. The priest attempted to resist the occupation and appealed to the government. But then he received threatening letters and phone calls warning him: “If you celebrate Mass, we will blow you up with a bomb!” He was at least given police protection, but even now, some years later, he still experiences a surge of fear when, for example, a motorcycle comes up too close to his car. Other priests have been threatened because they have stood up for the victims of injustice and persecution. One of them assures us, however: “I am not afraid to speak the truth. I will have to die one day in any case. If I should have to die as a result of such a situation, then I am entirely at peace about it. The priests in our society have been given the prophetic role of speaking the truth.”

Father Emmanuel Parvez has received threatening phone calls because he is the cousin of the 42-year-old Catholic politician, Shahbaz Bhatti, who was murdered on 2 March 2011. This man, the former Minorities’ Minister, was gunned down in his car, close to his own home, by masked gunmen armed with machine guns. A Taliban-allied group has since claimed responsibility for the killing. He was murdered for his opposition to the so-called blasphemy laws. Just three weeks after his death, the Pakistani bishops’ conference submitted an official request to the Vatican to include him in the list of the “Martyrs of the Universal  Church”. Since his death, many members of his family have been threatened and forced to leave the country. But Father Emmanuel Parvez himself is staying with his people, for he says, “It is better to be a martyr than a refugee.”

In the face of such challenges, the Pakistani bishops’ conference is trying to ensure that these priests can meet together at regular intervals in order to support and strengthen one another in a spirit of mutual brotherhood, to share their experiences, deepen their theological understanding and gain new insights for their own religious life, so that they can then return, spiritually strengthened, to their people. The idea is that, once every five years, all the priests from all over Pakistan should be able to meet together for such a time of shared spiritual recollection and mutual encounter. This has not always been possible in the past, but it is hoped that this year the priests of the country will be able to gather together again. They will spend five days together, praying together, listening to talks and lectures and sharing their experiences. But for many of the priests working across the length and breadth of this vast country that means a long and expensive journey. In addition the priests have to be housed and fed, of course. Assuming that a certain proportion of these priests will be unable to attend as a result of old age, sickness or other reasons, it is expected that around 220 priests will take part in the five-day meeting. The Pakistani bishops’ conference has turned to ACN for help, and we have promised them 17,000 Euros. This works out at just 77 Euros per priest – a very small amount, yet one that can open up a rich source of strength to an individual priest and strengthen him once again to resume his arduous service and commit his life to God and to his people.


Pakistan/Faisalabad : Support of the pastoral ministry for prisoners (2008-2009): In prison in Faisalabad. Pakistani Catholics often face the treat of prison.


Bishop Max Rodrigues during the teaching what does it mean to be a Christian diocese of Hyderabad.

Code: 328-04-79




Success Story: a moped and 10 bicycles for pastoral work in the new parish of Elurupadu

When the diocese of Eluru was founded in the state of Andhra Pradesh in 1977, there were just 25 parishes there with around 90,000 Catholics. Today there are 110 parishes and over 200,000 Catholic faithful. The parish of Elurupadu still quite new. It has 10 outstations. Quite recently there were some 3,500 Catholics in the parish, but their numbers are growing rapidly. In fact there are no fewer than 250 people currently preparing to receive baptism!

The people here are very poor, however. There are no proper access roads to the villages, and people have to travel long distances on foot in order to purchase the basic necessities of life. Entire families are living in small straw huts, and there is no running water. The people generally work as day labourers and have to live from hand to mouth. Even the children are forced to work on the fields of the big landowners, herding the cattle of the rich or slaving away as servants and messengers. They have no chance of going to school. On average most families earn no more than half a Euro per day – and they are often cheated even of this meagre wage, so that then the whole family has to go to bed on an empty stomach.

“I see their daily struggle for survival and I feel their pain with them, for I myself grew up in the same situation. I am very moved by their faith and I want to do everything in my power to help them to escape from this situation”, says FatherYesudasu, who himself comes from a Dalit family – the so-called “Untouchables” – the people on the very bottom rung of the ladder in Indian society. Yet he is proud of his parents. “Although my parents were poor, as day labourers in the fields, they were rich in their Catholic faith. Perhaps it was their faith and their prayers that motivated me to follow my vocation and be ordained as a priest. Thanks to the grace of God, I am successful in preaching the Word of God and in leading souls who yearn for this to the Kingdom of God. There are a great many souls here who are seeking guidance along the way in the presence of God. And so it is my greatest goal to bring the Word of God to those who most need it and most deserve it. My father died when I was just six years old; my elder brother also died and the son of my eldest brother has died too. This happened when I was still little, but I still feel the loss. And yet I feel that God will always be with me, helping me to carry out the work in His vineyard.”

There are 10 catechists also helping him in his work. For the distances are considerable and the priest cannot be everywhere at once. The catechists help by visiting the sick, instructing people in the Faith, preparing them for reception of the sacraments. They pray with them, lead liturgies of the Word and other prayers and meditations and instruct them in the catechism.

Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, we were able to send Father Yesudasu 1,400 Euros to make it easier for him and his catechists to reach the Catholic faithful. With this he was able to purchase a bicycle for each of the 10 catechists and a moped for himself, since he has to travel more than any of them. Now they no longer have to spend so much time making the difficult journeys and thus have more time to spend with the people themselves. Father Yesudasu sends us his heartfelt thanks: “The brotherly love that you have shown us is a way of helping Christ and helping to spread his Good News. Your generous hands are very precious to us, for they have renewed us in our devotion to the service of the poor, the oppressed and the disadvantaged, so that they can become a spirit-filled and spirit-led community. May God give his special grace to you and all our benefactors. Please pray for us. We thank you all, with joy and love, for your service of friendship.”


Motorcycle and 10 bicycles for pastoral work in the new Parish of Elurupadu and its 10 sub-stations


Motorcycle and 10 bicycles for pastoral work in the new Parish of Elurupadu and its 10 sub-stations

Code: 317-01-29



Success story: Catechetical programmes and a people’s mission in the parish of St Gerard in Port-au Prince

As the Second Vatican Council emphasised, the Church is missionary in her very essence. This is a point that has been taken very much to heart by Father Gilbert Peltrop of the parish of Saint Gerard in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. “Without mission, the Church is dead”, he says. He himself belongs to the community of the Redemptorist Fathers which, as he says, “is there to evangelise, above all among people who are spiritually and materially abandoned”. That is why he organises catechetical sessions and popular missions in his parish, reaching a large number of the faithful through them.

His aim is “to strengthen the faith of the weak in every corner of the parish and to share with them our everyday experience of faith, which we experience with Jesus Christ as our Good Shepherd and liberator.”The aim is also, and in particular, to reach out to those who do not practise their faith or who know only very little about Jesus Christ. At the same time those people who have not yet embraced the fullness of the faith are encouraged to receive the sacraments and fully enter the family of the Church. Needless to say, though, this cannot happen without the appropriate means – transport costs, sound systems, study materials – all of which cost money.

In 2014, thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, ACN was able to help with 6,000 Euros for the popular missions in the parish of Saint Gerard. The fruits this help has borne are considerable. A great many people have been strengthened in their faith, no fewer than 475 children have been baptised and, on one single day, nine couples exchanged their marriage vows in church.

Father Gilbert Peltrop has written to express his gratitude: “We thank you with all our hearts and ask you to convey our thanks also to the benefactors who have made it possible for us to sow the Word of God in every corner of the parish. Thank you, thank you!”


HAITI / PORT-AU-PRINCE : Popular missions and catechism, parish Saint Gérard


HAITI / PORT-AU-PRINCE: Popular missions and catechism, parish Saint Gérard


HAITI / PORT-AU-PRINCE : Popular missions and catechism, parish Saint Gérard: Priest with the bible


Code: 224-01-49




Help to equip a “little seminary” in the apostolic vicariate of Chaco

The apostolic vicariate of Chaco in the west of Paraguay covers an area of some 37,000 square miles (96,000 km²) – more than Austria – yet it has a population of barely 30,000 souls, extremely sparsely scattered. The roads are often very poor and some are quite impassable in the rainy season.

Most of the people in this region belong to the various indigenous ethnic groups. Poverty and unemployment are widespread throughout the region and young people in particular have few prospects of a better life. Many young people do not even complete their schooling, in fact. There are few opportunities for employment, yet at the same time most families do not even have enough land on which to grow their own food and feed themselves. As a result, many are forced to emigrate to other regions of the country.

But there is also an interior change in the people, which the Church views with some concern. The traditional institutions such as the family are also undergoing a profound crisis here, and parents are often ill-equipped to guide and help their growing children. As a result, many young people are left searching for meaning and direction outside the family. This brings with it the danger of falling into the wrong company, with gangs or other harmful ideologies.

Bishop Gabriel Escobar Ayala wants to do more to help and accompany such young people. Above all he wants to confirm them in their decision for the Faith, since a sure grounding in their religion can also provide them with a secure foundation for their future life. Besides, there are some young people who would gladly consider the priesthood or the religious life. Until now there has been no way of providing them with a systematic and intensive guidance and accompaniment. And so the bishop wants to establish a sort of “little seminary” where these young people can study systematically and be spiritually accompanied. At the same time, vocations workshops and days of recollection could be held there, with the opportunity for counselling and personal guidance. Another idea is to train young people to become group leaders for their own communities. This would be not only an enrichment of the Church’s youth work on the ground but at the same time an opportunity for such young people to gain the kind of knowledge and experience that would later serve them in a profession or in their own families. In this way they would increasingly grow into a role of responsibility. With the help of our benefactors, ACN is helping, with 10,270 Euros, to equip this “little seminary”.


Paraguay, Chaco  December 2014   
Furnishing of the minor seminary to iniciate a vocational program for young girls and boys: The boys reading outside


Paraguay, Chaco  December 2014   
Furnishing of the minor seminary to iniciate a vocational program for young girls and Boys; Holy Mass with Bishop Gabriel Narciso Escobar Ayala

Code: 233-08-49


 Bosnia and Herzegovina


Help for the final phase of building work on the John Paul II youth pastoral centre in Sarajevo

This year the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina will be commemorating the 20th anniversary of the end of the war there. In June 2015 Pope Francis will travel to the Bosnian capital Sarajevo for a one-day visit, 12 years after Pope John Paul II also went there, appealing for mutual forgiveness and the rebuilding of relations of fraternity and understanding among the people. Sarajevo was one of the cities that suffered the greatest devastation during the war.

Now a brand new youth centre is being built there, named after Pope John Paul II. ACN has already helped towards the first two phases of the building work, with a total of 300,000 Euros so far. Now the third and final phase is beginning. Father Simo Marsic, the director of the centre, writes: “Even though the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina ended 20 years ago, there are still many wounds that remain unhealed. The peace is still fragile and there is great insecurity. A weak democracy and an economy that does not meet people’s needs are further factors affecting the lives of young people. The younger generation in Bosnia is looking for role models and signs of hope for the future. They yearn for true values and for greater understanding between the various ethnic groups. Christians, Orthodox and Muslims must learn how to shape the future together.”

The new youth centre is open to everyone, regardless of religion or ethnicity, and is also to be used for international gatherings. “Here is a place where Europe will can come together!”, says Father Marsic. The centre will be an open window on other faiths and religions and on other ways of thinking and living. In this way people can learn to live together in tolerance and freedom. In practical terms this will be achieved through pastoral meetings, training sessions and leisure activities in which groups and individuals from all over the country can participate. The centre will also provide accommodation, so that events can be held over several days. The motto will be “Encounter – Reconciliation – Shaping a peaceful future together”.

Father Marsic is hoping that the youth centre will be able to open on 22 October this year – “if God wills and we can obtain the necessary support from our benefactors”. For this is the day on which the Church will be commemorating the patron saint of the centre, Saint John Paul II. ACN has now promised a further 200,000 Euros, so that this centre of peace and hope can finally become a reality.

BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA / VRHBOSNA :  Construction phase of the Archbishop’s Youth Ministry Centre John Paul II (Ivan Pavao II) in Sarajevo:
Youth pastoral of the future Youth ministry Centre John Paul II in Sarajevo, Taizé prayer


BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA / VRHBOSNA :  Construction phase of the Archbishop’s Youth Ministry Centre John Paul II (Ivan Pavao II) in Sarajevo:
Group Picture, Youth pastoral of the future Youth ministry Centre John Paul II in Sarajevo


BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA / VRHBOSNA :  Construction phase of the Archbishop’s Youth Ministry Centre John Paul II (Ivan Pavao II) in Sarajevo:

Code: 444-01-19



 Help to complete the new parish centre for the church of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Krekhivtsi

 The parish of Saints Cyril and Methodiusin Krekhivtsi was founded in the year 2004. It is in the care of the priests of the Institute of the Incarnate Word. The sisters of the Institute have had their novice house in the grounds of the parish ever since the year 2000. Their community, which was founded in Argentina in 1984, is enjoying numerous vocations in Ukraine. It is bi-ritual – which means that the Liturgy is celebrated both in the Latin and in the Byzantine rite.

The parish church itself was formally consecrated only in 2013.

The community is very active in the work with children and young people. It has also organised a so-called “faith school”, which is in effect a catechetical programme for adults. As a result of the atheistic upbringing in the former Soviet Union, many generations have grown up without any clear knowledge of the Faith. As a result, many parents are unable to answer the questions of their children. Many of them say, “How am I to teach my children to pray, when I myself only learned the Our Father from the television?” But at the same time there is a very strong desire among many people to learn more about God. It is this need that the priests and religious sisters of the Incarnate Word are trying to meet through their catechetical programmes.

The problem is, that they do not have any suitable place in which to offer this catechetical teaching. Work has now begun on a new parish centre, which will benefit some 200 families in the future. ACN is helping with a contribution of 7,000 Euros for the installation of the windows.

ArchbishopVolodymyr Vijtyshyn of Iwano-Frankiwsk has most warmly recommended this project to us and at the same time expressed his gratitude for everything the benefactors of ACN have already done for his eparchy (diocese) in the past. “We thank you with all our hearts for the solidarity and generous help that we have always had from you. We thank you also for the great contribution you have made to building up the Catholic Church here, and we pray daily for your intentions. Our prayer is a just small sign of our profound gratitude.”


Construction of a parish center for the parish Kyrila i Metodiya in Krekhivtsi:
Holiday for children at the parishes of the Saints Cyril and Metodia (parish Kyrila i Metodiya) in Krekhivtsi on February 8th, 2015.


Construction of a parish center for the parish Kyrila i Metodiya in Krekhivtsi:
Holiday for children at the parishes of the Saints Cyril and Metodia (parish Kyrila i Metodiya) in Krekhivtsi on February 8th, 2015.


Code: 438-01-19