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A picture of mercy – the Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt van Rijn (1606 -1669).

In St. Petersburg, in the famous State Hermitage Museum, you can see the original of Rembrandt’s painting The Return of the Prodigal Son. It is a deeply moving portrayal. Masterfully, Rembrandt has given shape to Jesus’ parable of the returning and repentant son and his loving and merciful father. It is a scene of reconciliation and pardon. In the center of the painting, the son kneels with his head on his father’s heart, while the father’s hands are spread out, as though in blessing, on the shoulders of the son. One senses the almost motherly tenderness and enduring strength of the father – his goodness and justice, the greatness and humility in the paternal embrace. Yet the parable in the Gospel also has a sadder side. The elder son, who stands to one side in the painting, refuses to share in his father’s joy. His resentful heart fails to understand the goodness of his father. He is not capable of forgiving his brother because, in his own self-righteousness, he can neither acknowledge his own sins, nor has he ever asked his father’s pardon – and so has never

“Only the man who has been reconciled with God can also be reconciled with himself, and only the person who is reconciled with God and with himself can promote peace around himself and in the wider world.” Pope Benedict XVI in Jesus of Nazareth

the one who forgives. For he must overcome the evil that has been done to him… so that he can then accept the other – the guilty party – into this process of transformation in order that they can both be made new, through the endurance of suffering and the overcoming of evil.” Dear friends, we frequently turn to you for help for the many Christians who suffer social injustice, violence, poverty Forgiveness is not merely and persecution. For these brothers and sisters of ours, the heavy a one-off event but an burden of reconciliation is a much harder than anything enduring attitude of heart. cross we have to bear. For them forgiveness is not merely a one-off of the hurt inflicted and the sense of utter in- event but an ongoing attitude of the heart. justice. Then there are the feelings of hatred They live this pardon, just like the loving faand revenge between families and people of ther and his repentant son in the parable. different origins, languages, religions and They overcome hatred, division and evil – cultures, the memories of social oppression not with retaliation but with open-hearted and corruption. All these things can be a love and in a spirit of daily conversion – and source of deep and painful wounds that very often, even at the cost of their lives. It is threaten peace among nations and can lead for them that we are asking. to global crises and catastrophes. In his book My grateful blessing on you all, Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict XVI writes, “Forgiveness must be more than ignoring, than the mere desire to forget… ForFather Martin M. Barta giveness costs something – first of all from Ecclesiastical Assistant experienced the loving power of forgiveness. Which of these two are we most like? Which of us has not sometimes harbored resentful thoughts, saying: “It’s their fault,” “God may forgive them, but I won’t!” Or again, “I may have forgiven, but I won’t forget!” Forgiving others can be difficult, very difficult. For on the face of it there are good reasons for such thoughts – the painful memory

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ED/2/5/13

No. 6 – October 2012 Newsletter Published eight times a year

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elping h f o rs 50 yea tin America in La

“The fire is spreading rapidly”

parishes, to learn and study together. Bible study, catechism and liturgy are all part of the program, as is shared prayer. But these poor rural folk cannot afford the cost of travel and teaching materials themselves. We have promised $10,000 so they can spread the Gospel, just as the AMA trucks used to. Similarly, the Bishop of Barinas in Venezuela is increasingly relying on families in his missionary outreach. Working with several movements for marriage and the family, he is trying to create a pastoral cenFrom trucks to chapel boats – but funds are still ter. They already have a name for it: the Holy short for the mission in the Amazon region. Family of Nazareth. It is an old farmhouse, but it will be converted into a place where they will run educational courses for married 35 years ago Father Werenfried wrote the following about the AMA Project – couples. We are helping with $16,200. the adaption of 300 Swiss ex-army trucks for mission in Brazil. He called them: “Indestructible army vehicles that will give the bishops in the Amazon region But all these projects would grind to a halt the possibility of leading their scattered flocks towards a better future.War ve- without prayer to fuel them. That is why the Archbishop of Piura in Peru has long dreamt hicles in the service of love, justice and peace.” of opening a convent for contemplative SisAnd his words apply to countless projects secularization is racing through the region. ters in his diocese. Now his dream will come supported by ACN which have made a con- As a result the bishops are increasingly turn- true. For two years now seven Carmelite nection between man and machinery, be- ing to us for help with projects designed to nuns have been praying for vocations. Two tween pastoral and social service. He wrote: support the family. They are experiencing the young women have already joined them and “In this AMA Project, God blesses technol- reality of what Blessed John Paul II ex- another ten are also interested. “People come ogy in the service of His poorest children. He pressed so tellingly: “From the family grows to the Carmel to pray for the priests, that they may be true to their mission,” said the blesses the bishops – no princes of the peace for the family of mankind.” Carmelite nun Saint Teresa of the Child Church these, but willing servants of their people – who are committing to helping the In this same spirit the Bishop of Espinal in Jesus. Now the Sisters need a house, and the harassed indigenous Indians on their reser- Colombia is encouraging married couples in bishop has turned to us for help. $187,100 vations, the hungry agricultural workers and the countryside to form communities for the will not only give a new convent, but help lay the proletariat in the city slums. Our AMA new evangelization. Once a month they new spiritual foundations on this “the most trucks are maintaining the contact between come together for a day, from 56 different Catholic continent” (Pope John XXIII). priests and people, they are promoting the development of Christian communities, bringing food, medicine, teaching and building materials; bringing products to market so that, for the first time, exploited peoples are able to get a fair price for the fruits of their labors. A beacon of hope has been lit in the Amazon region, and the fire is spreading rapidly.” At that time it was the AMA trucks; today it is the mission boats – funded by you – that continue to bring priests to the people.

Today the beacon of hope continues to burn in other projects. For 50 years now, through your generous help, you have been spreading the fire of love in Latin America. But at On the road with an AMA truck – in the the same time the wildfire of the sects and of service of God and man. 2

Whether in Peru, Guatemala, Columbia or Brazil, nothing happens without prayer.

Any donation you kindly give will go to support these, or similar projects, and enable the pastoral work of Aid to the Church in Need.


iliation c n o c Re

They want to stay here, like St. Charbel

The hermit, Charbel Makhluf, died on the eve of Our Lord’s birthday. On the same day, December 24,1898, the first of many miracles occurred when a paralyzed young man, Saba Tanusse Mussa, was healed after touching the hermit’s body. From then until his beatification in 1965 more than a thousand healings have been ascribed to this wonder-working monk from Lebanon. They are all documented. In the Annaya monastery, where his remains lie, there is a mounting pile of abandoned crutches and wheelchairs. Lebanese Chris- The birthplace of Saint Charbel – tians turn to him, for his prayers, they name praying for peace in the Middle East. churches, monasteries and schools after him. He gives them strength to survive, to remain faithful and to forgive. St. Charbel, who slept with a wooden block for a pillow and who lived spiritually and physically from the Sacred Host, is also a shining example of the spirit of sacrifice of the Maronite Christians, the largest Eastern Catholic community of the Arab Orient in union with Rome. In this same spirit the people of the Bleyka, Errame and Orne regions have been struggling for decades to build a church. For years they celebrated Holy Mass in their little shepherd huts, or else out in the open air. Then, on the hundredth anniversary of the death of St. Charbel, they began to build a new church, knowing full well that their DioIn Egypt, too, Coptic Christians were in cese of Baalbek-Deir El-Achmar (35,000 the country long before Islam. Bishop faithful) was surrounded by Syrian troops Kyrillos of Assiut, with his nephew. and the Shi’ite Hezbollah. But they hoped

Under the shadow of Hezbollah – Holy Mass, Maronite rite in southern Lebanon.

and prayed for peace in their country, and trusted in the intercession of Saint Charbel, to whom they have dedicated their church. But now the war, the refugees and poverty have exhausted their last reserves. Some are thinking about emigration, but the Church still gives them support and hope. They were here long before the advent of Islam; for centuries they herded sheep and cultivated the fertile soil of the highland plateau among the mountain peaks of Lebanon. They want to live here and be at peace with everyone – as Saint Charbel taught when he spoke to them about Jesus. They are determined to finish their church. We have promised them $25,000. They want to stay in the mountains, like Saint Charbel – regardless of what happens in nearby Damascus or in Beirut.

Reconciliation with oneself and with God Liberation from addiction is a form of reconciliation with oneself. And it happens in the Fazendas, or “Farms of Hope.” The recipe is a simple one – no substitute drugs, no medication, no psychologists, no nicotine and no alcohol. Instead, a year of practical work in the fields, in the fruit plantations or the factories, together with a life centered on God. All this in seclusion from the world and in community with other drug addicts. The success rate is astonishing – with 84% managing to break with their addiction. By now there have been well over 10,000 of them.

Regular prayer is the sustaining pillar. For its founder, Franciscan Father Hans Stapel, God supplies the strength for healing. He leads people out of the prison of their own addiction and fear, and into a life full of meaning. Many recovering addicts also discover a spiritual vocation. Altogether there are 86 such farms in 15 countries, especially Brazil. The demand is growing, throughout the world, especially since Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the first Fazenda, in Brazil. Liberation

Grateful for your help – two young men working on a Fazenda in Uruguay.

comes through grace. Please help us to support these places of hope.

Any donation you kindly give will go to support these, or similar projects, and enable the pastoral work of Aid to the Church in Need.

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D e a r F r ie n d s ,

On May 22, the Administrative Council, the supreme governing body of ACN’s new Pontifical Foundation, was formally constituted in Rome. It includes seven bishops from all over the world. From the left: Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai (China), Bishop Antoni Stankiewicz (Poland), Archbishop José Octavio Ruiz Arenas (Columbia), Cardinal Mauro Piacenza (Prefect of the Clergy Congregation and Foundation President), Baron Johannes Heereman von Zuydtwyck (Executive President), Bishop Éric Aumonier (France), Father Martin Barta (Ecclesiastical Assistant of the Foundation), Bishop Mauro Parmeggiani (Italy), Bishop Gregor Maria Hanke (Germany).

Need, love and thanks – Your letters Remembrance at Holy Mass You are doing such necessary and wonderful work. May God give you the grace and strength to keep going, and may He keep the old devil away from putting obstacles in your path. You are all in my prayers and every time I am at Mass, I place everyone, there, in the Chalice of the Precious Blood. The Saints believed that one drop of Our Lord’s Precious Blood is enough to save the world, from the beginning to the end of time. May we live this truth fully. Please keep us in your prayers also. A benefactress in Australia Baking biscuits for Haiti Enclosed is 223 Euros 20 cents; it was raised by the Confirmation candidates in our parish. One evening they baked biscuits at our parish center and sold

them on the Christmas market. They put up posters explaining the reason: to raise money for the Haitian people so that they can rebuild their churches that were destroyed in the earthquake of January 2010. A group of confirmation candidates in France A great aid to teaching Many thanks for the wonderful Child’s Bible and painting book. I am a school religious education teacher. Now I have to order more copies, since there are not enough to go round. Both books have been a great help to me in my teaching, and my pupils were absolutely delighted to have their own little Bible – and on top of that a painting book to go with it. A schoolteacher in Germany

To have to travel nearly 400 miles alone by car every weekend in order to celebrate Holy Mass in three small communities, amid great poverty and deprivation – this is nothing unusual for a Catholic priest in the region of the former Volga Republic and in many other regions of Russia. He can just about live on as little as $500 per month, but then on top of this there are the high fuel costs, which are not included in his budget. As a result he frequently has no alternative but to spend his free time going around begging in his own country. It is hardly surprising therefore that most missionaries tend to return home, burnt out, after about 10 years. Bishop Clemens Pickel of Saratov, whose diocese is half the size of the whole of Western Europe, is only too aware of the problems facing his priests. When I visited him in June, he was full of gratitude for the help given by ACN. He wants to create a place in his diocese where his priests and religious can return to from time to time to recharge their spiritual and physical strength. Our income is somewhat reduced at the moment, but the words of Father Werenfried nonetheless came into my mind: “It cannot be God’s will that ACN should shrink from the challenges that face us in places like Russia, just because we can no longer muster the faith to believe that He will never fail to inspire the hearts of our benefactors to still greater generosity.” And so, in this same trust in your generosity, I was able to assure Bishop Pickel of our continued support for his priests and religious.

Baron Johannes Heereman, Executive President

Leave a legacy of your love when writing or changing your will. Publisher: Kirche in Not/Ostpriesterhilfe, Aid to the Church in Need, International Headquarters, Postfach 1209, 61452 Königstein, Germany; www.acn-intl.org; Editor-in-chief: Jürgen Liminski De licentia competentis auctoritatis ecclesiasticae Printed in the USA – ISSN 0252-2535 4


ia Ethiop

His faith means everything to him

Joseph Andreas really does not know just how old he is. Here in Pawe, a remote village in north-west Ethiopia, such numbers mean very little. But one thing this parish elder does know is this: his faith means everything to him. It has always been this way. Indeed, in the 1980s, during the terror of the communist regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam, he was even arrested for his faith. The charge was gathering to pray together with other Catholics. Joseph somehow survived, but countless others paid with their lives for their fidelity to Christ. Joseph explains: “We were kept under constant observation and had to work all the time, even on Sundays. And so we met together early in the morning, in a secret place. They had taken our Bibles away, torn them up and thrown them in the fire. They told us that anyone who preached was teaching people to become idlers. We had no priest, and so we had to preserve the Christian spirit by ourselves.” A young community – Fr. Johannes with some of the children Those who could manage to do so took their children to the town of the parish, in front of the old, structurally unsound chapel. of Bahir Dar to have them baptized there. But it was a long journey. Even by car it takes more than four hours. were not enough for Joseph Andreas. “We needed a priest to be with us constantly, and also a chapel of our own. The Protestant When the dictatorship finally ended in 1991, priests were last able sects were immediately active, trying to woo away the faithful. to visit the remote villages once more. But these sporadic visits And so I travelled the nearly 400 miles, at my own expense, to Addis Ababa to see the Archbishop and ask him for a priest and a church.”

Summoning the faithful to worship – this makeshift steel “bell” does its job, too.

Joseph Andreas – he is asking for a chapel for his village. 5

Father Johannes explains to the little ones about the Cross.

The first chapel built by the faithful had a thatched roof, just like all the other huts in the region. In the pitiless drought of the dry season it caught fire and the chapel burned down. But the people did not let themselves be discouraged and built a chapel of wood instead. This time fate struck an even harder blow – termites ate through the timbers and the church collapsed. Two people died, and another man was so severely injured that he has been paralyzed ever since. Six children were left without one of their parents. “The two men who died were among the most committed members of our community and constantly encouraged us to strengthen our spiritual life and do more. We regard them as martyrs,” says Joseph, deeply moved. Now at last they have begun to build a solid and permanent church. Despite their great poverty, the faithful have contributed greatly to the building. Once again they have made great sacrifices. Now ACN is hoping to help them with $18,700, so that the chapel can very soon be consecrated. Their misfortunes have actually strengthened the people in their faith. “We say that our new chapel has been built by the blood of the martyrs, and that gives us strength,” the father of seven declares proudly. The Church is very much alive in Pawe. Every Sunday large numbers of the faithful flock to Holy Mass, and on Pentecost no fewer than 30 children made their First Holy Communion. The seed that Joseph Andreas and his other nameless fellow Christians have sown is now bearing rich fruit. Eva-Maria Kolmann

Any donation you kindly give will go to support these, or similar projects, and enable the pastoral work of Aid to the Church in Need.


a Bosni ovina erzeg and H

An oasis of peace and love

“There can be no brother in the world, though he may yet have sinned as dreadfully as he could, who has seen thine eyes and then had to depart from thee without thy mercy.” In this spirit of reconciliation and mercy, St. Francis of Assisi spoke even before the Sultan of Babylon, and some biographies of the saint even tell us that the Sultan was converted, and even received baptism shortly before his death.

“God’s touch is gentle, but strong” – raising their voices in song during the procession.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina terrible sins were committed 20 years ago, when war raged in the region. Many people were forced to flee; in fact over half of the 850,000 Catholics there were expelled. For those who have remained, or returned, the mistrust is palpable. convents of the Sisters will become centers There is fear, intolerance and an absence of for the promotion of peace. The Franciscan dialogue. People are living alongside one an- Sisters are planning, and trusting in God. We other, not together in community. The Fran- are helping them, with $6,200, to launch ciscan Sisters in Sarajevo are now trying to their reconciliation program. promote new ways of reconciliation among The best preparation the various ethnic and religious groups. “I offer my hand for peace for peace is love of God. Retreats and They have launched and harmony.” days of recollection a program entitled “I for young people, offer my hand for peace and harmony.” In three centers they are also organized by the Franciscan Sisters in organizing courses for Christians and Mus- the Diocese of Sarajevo, are helping to lims which aim to promote and practice smooth the path towards reconciliation and “non-violent action and thinking.” The pro- nonviolence. Karmela was profoundly imgram lasts for three years. Later on the par- pressed by adoration before the Blessed ticipants (teachers, doctors, politicians, Sacrament. “Face to face with Jesus. A diajournalists and religious) will work as medi- logue of hearts. Grace in abundance, totally ators in their villages. The aim is to promote undeserved. Believe me, I did not want to peace, on the basis of faith. It is hoped the leave this oasis of peace and love.” The oasis

The courses in non-violent thinking – Sr. Klara with some of the participants.

They even tried to destroy the future – Catholic school in Mostar.

she speaks of is the youth and family pastoral center run by the Franciscan Sisters in Bijelo Polje. For many young people, silence is a challenge. Jelena admits this plainly: “The silence, the prayer, the fasting – that was not easy for me.” But then she adds, “Through silence I have learnt again how to speak with God.” Iva also acknowledges that “praying in the convent has once again revealed the true values. God’s touch is gentle, but strong.” This oasis needs to be able to keep its doors open, even in winter, and to accomodate even more people. But, the water and electricity supply are completely inadequate. We are helping towards its renovation, with $18,700. It will be a means for renewing souls, and contact with God through prayer is a precondition for lasting reconciliation.

A spirit of renewal among the ruins – an ordination of deacons.

Any donation you kindly give will go to support these, or similar projects, and enable the pastoral work of Aid to the Church in Need.

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Mirror 6 2012  

Reconiliation, Latin America

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