Charity’s UK arm details next round of aid payments
“The love of the priests and Sisters who serve their people is an inspiration” – ACN UK National Director Neville Kyrke-Smith
By Michael Robinson and John Pontifex
HELP for suffering Christians in Iraq forms the lion’s share of aid announced this month by the UK section of a leading Catholic charity.
Aid to the Church in Need (UK) is providing £180,000 (EUR€250,000) for a new convent for the Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Erbil, the Kurdish capital.
The Sisters distribute material help, provide counselling and give Christian education as part of their ministry to more than 100,000 faithful who fled to Kurdistan a year ago.
Prompting their exodus was the summer 2014 invasion of Mosul and Nineveh by Islamist terror group Daesh (ISIS).
The 22 Sisters and two novices need a new, larger base in Erbil after their convent in Mosul was blown up by Daesh last November.
The Sacred Heart Sisters have also had to leave behind two other convents in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
The ACN UK August 2015 aid payments also included £69,000 (EUR€95,000) to support 26 priests from the Syrian Catholic Archdiocese of Mosul.
The archdiocese suffered a huge blow in June 2014 when Daesh overrun Mosul – legal documents, churches, convents, liturgical objects, some dating back to Christianity’s earliest centuries.
ACN’s latest aid for Iraq comes on top of ongoing help for the country’s Christians.
Over the past 18 months, ACN international has provided more than £5 million (EUR€7.5 million) for Iraq – much of it emergency aid for Christians including food, shelter and schools.
Other grants in this month’s ACN UK aid payments include £40,900 (EUR€56,000) for an extra floor of accommodation in Baalbek, in Lebanon, near the border with Syria, where the Good Shepherd Sisters provide emergency help for refugees.
A package of £30,000 (EUR€41,100) will help three schools in Sudan – providing classrooms, desks and benches for St Kizito Parish school, St Josephine Parish school, and St Stephen Parish school.
A further £22,000 (EUR€30,000) will provide a primary school, nursery school in Torit, South Sudan, and a chapel.
The charity also provided £5,900 (EUR€8,000) for a teacher training course for catechists in Ukraine, £21,900 (EUR€30,000) for a church in the Apostolic Vicariate of Jimma-Bonga, Ethopia, and £3,000 (EUR€4,000) for a catechism course for 75 people in the Philippines.
There were further grants for Church projects in India, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Mozambique, Rwanda, Belarus, Romania, Serbia and Argentina.
Highlighting ACN’s help for the Sisters in Erbil, Neville Kyrke-Smith, National Director, Aid to the Church in Need (UK), said: “I have met these Sisters whom we are helping – many of whom themselves are internal refugees.
“The love, prayers and witness of the Sisters and priests who had to flee and now live and serve their people, living amongst them, is a real inspiration.”
In a message aimed at the charity’s supporters, Mr Kyrke-Smith added: “Please join us in daily prayers for those who have suffered.
“So many of them still face danger as they care for Christians, Yazidis and Muslims who are in need.”
Lorraine McMahon, ACN’s Head of Operations in Scotland said: “I want to take this opportunity to thank our generous supporters who have and continue to show true Christian love, through your prayers and donations, to the persecuted Church.”
Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
Founded in 1947 by Fr Werenfried van Straaten, whom St John Paul II named “An outstanding Apostle of Charity”, the organisation is now at work in more than 140 countries throughout the world.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, Aid to the Church in Need’s Child’s Bible – God Speaks to his Children has been translated into 176 languages and more than 51 million copies have been distributed all over the world.
Aid to the Church in Need UK is a registered charity in England and Wales (1097984) and Scotland (SC040748). ACN’s UK office is in Sutton, Surrey and there is a Scottish office in Motherwell, near Glasgow.
For more information, contact John Pontifex, Head of Press & Information,on 020 8661 5161 or Michael Robinson, Communications Executive in Scotland on 01698 337470.