On the 13th of May 2014, with an International Conference tagged “Can Christianity Survive Persecution?” and an inaugural Mass the day before, officiated by the President of Aid to the Church in Need International, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) Malta was born.
The events were attended by the then President of Malta, HE Marielouise Coleiro, HE President Emeritus Eddie Fenech Adami, the Patriarch of Syria Gregorios III, a number of parish priests and many other dignitaries.
Baron Johannes Freiherr Heereman, the then International Executive President of the Charity, inaugurated ACN Malta with these words: “It is part of our assignment by the Holy See to expand our activities so that more people can learn about the fate of Christians in the world and to give them the possibility to support our activities of solidarity. This is why we are opening a new office in Malta”.
Aid to the Church in Need (Malta) is the local branch of Aid to the Church in Need International, which was founded in Belgium in 1947 by a Dutch priest, Fr Werenfried van Straaten. At the time, Europe was still recovering from the devastating effects of WWII and several countries in Eastern Europe had been taken over by the Soviet Union. Christians in these countries faced persecution from totalitarian Communist regimes. This is how ACN’s mission evolved into helping persecuted Christians, with a mission statement of “Prayer, Information, Action.”
ACN’s mission statement is: Prayer, Information, Action. Over the last 6 years, ACN (Malta) has been active in these three key areas.
From time to time, ACN Malta leads prayer campaigns in schools, parishes and groups, and organizes retreats and Masses.
As a voice for persecuted Christians, ACN Malta tells their stories of faith and courage through its publications- weekly e-Newsletter, weekly radio programme on Radju Marija, weekly page in the Catholic Newspaper, “Il-Lehen”, talks and video presentations to parishes, school and groups, ACN’s two major biennial reports –“Persecuted and Forgotten” and “Religious Freedom in the World”, periodic TV interviews, articles published on local newspapers, the foundation’s website and social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).
To make people in Malta and Gozo more aware of the suffering of persecuted Christians, ACN Malta has invited prominent people from the Middle East, Africa and other parts of the world to Malta to relate their experiences first-hand. Among these were: Fr Jarr who feeds and takes care of over 400 refugees from Iraq and Syria that sought refuge in his parish in Jordan, Fr Ziad Hilal, a Syrian Jesuit who worked in the heart of Syria’s “Valley of the Christians” where he witnessed some of the worst horrors of the country’s civil war, Fr Firas Lufti, a Franciscan from Syria who is known for his pastoral and humanitarian work with the people of Aleppo during the war, Sister Annie Demerjian, ACN’s key partner in Syria who runs various aid projects on behalf of ACN in Aleppo and Damascus, Mgr. Ignatius Kaigama who is renowned as a promoter of peace and inter-religious dialogue in Nigeria and Africa, as well as other priests, sisters and lay faithful who have had direct encounters of persecution.
Every year, ACN Malta joins efforts with the 22 other national offices of the international Foundation to fund over 5,000 projects in more than 140 countries, providing emergency aid for displaced Christians and refugees, supporting the building and reconstruction of homes, destroyed Churches and religious centres, supporting the training of priests and religious, providing transport for pastoral work particularly in remote areas, publishing and distributing copies of faith materials such as the ACN Child’s Bible, YOUCAT, DOCAT among others.
In the past year, our aid projects focused on:
– Helping displaced Christian families return to their homes and rebuild their lives
– Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with victims of blasphemy, like Asia Bibi.
– Supporting parish soup kitchens where poor people eat daily
Rwanda, Congo, Uganda
-Supporting religious sisters and providing them with food, equipment and transport so they can continue their extraordinary mission.
-Supporting the formation of major seminarians
– Embarking on the “Console my People” prayer campaign launched by Pope Francis
– Helping victims of Fulani violence and Boko haram terror
-Backing the local Church’s psychological and pastoral aid programme for bomb victims
Our flagship project for this year… Support for Priests’ accommodation
As ACN has a history of supporting Priests in their pastoral work and Malta is also doing its part,
Two Priests from Nigeria, with the support of ACN Malta will be following a pastoral course at the University of Malta for the next two years.
We need your help to provide accommodation for these Priests
If you can spare a place for them in your home or within the community, it would be greatly appreciated
Remember…“He who receives and welcomes a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward” (Matthew 10:41)
Thank you immensely for your generosity which helps us continue our work of supporting the Christian faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need.