Father Werenfried van Straaten
The Founder of Aid to the Church in Need
Aid to the Church in Need came into being in 1947 when a young Norbertine priest, Father Werenfried van Straaten – whose name means “Warrior for Peace” – responded to an appeal for reconciliation made by Pope Pius XII in the bitter early years after World War II. He set out to organise emergency relief to meet the material and spiritual needs of the suffering German people. With the help of thousands of concerned and compassionate people he more than succeeded. His impassioned preaching and calls for reconciliation touched hearts and supplies of clothes and food poured in – particularly sides of pork, earning him his nickname, the Bacon Priest.
The people of Syria have been living through unimaginable pain and suffering for the past seven years, as the conflict has caused terrible devastation.
ACN has supported Christians in Syria since the beginning of the military crisis in 2011 with emergency aid.
Last year alone, the distressed Syrians were helped by ACN benefactors with
4.7 Million Euros in Emergency Aid
which was 75% of total aid budget for the country.
“Drop of Milk” is a flag emergency project aiming to provide support to families with small children.
“Your children’s ‘little eyes’ gradually memorize and interpret with the heart that faith is one of the greatest inheritances you have received from your parents and ancestors…. And if you hand on the faith and live it well, that is where the transmission happens.”
ACN is attentive to the needs of sick and support physical and mental health programmes often dealing with postwar health problems.
Due to embargo many persons have a limited access to medication, expensive as never before. Prices of medical services are skyrocketing because many doctors and other medical staff migrated abroad.
God “gives the Church renewed spiritual energy for carrying out ever more fully that fundamental part of her mission which includes serving the poor, the infirm, the suffering, the outcast, and the marginalized.
ACN has supported the (re)construction of:
- 2 churches
- 3 presbyteries
- 8 pastoral centers also called parish halls
- 2 cemeteries
- 2 convents
- 3 clubs (parish sport clubs/youth clubs)
- 1 kindergarten
Beside churches ACN supported (re)construction of other facilities serving Christian families. ACN also assisted in the purchase of:
- 2 sets of sound system for the churches, 2 electricity generators for the churches and some liturgical vestments & liturgical objects.
“Parishes need your apostolic enthusiasm, your complete availability and your creative service. It is about assuming missionary dynamism in order to reach everyone, putting first those who feel distant and the most vulnerable and forgotten people. It means opening the doors and letting Jesus go forth. Many times we keep Jesus closed inside the parishes with us, and we do not go out and we do not let Him leave! Open the doors so He can go out, at least Him! It is about a Church which “goes forth”: a Church which always goes forth.”
Under Umbrella of God’s Providence
Reconstruction of kindergarten of Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help
RAIN OF MORTAR SHELLS
Our kindergarten was founded at 1985 and we were taking care of 50 children. In 2014 little Maurice, one of our children, was shot to death while playing at our playground. It was a great shock for all of us, the family was mourning. In spite of all and motivated by our faith in God of love, who works with those who love him and turns everything to their good. Bearing in mind that our service to the Christian community is unique in Aleppo and seeing that it is also providing a great moral support to those who stayed, we decided to continue. The following year in February, there was a heavy bombardment in our district exactly at the time when children finish their school and go back home. Many of them did not return on that day. Thanks God, the rain of mortar shells badly damaged only the building of our kindergarten and there were no victims…
UNDER THE BORROWED ROOF IN DAMASCUS
The sisters of Jesus and Mary have been in Syria since 1983 at the request of the Melkite Greek Catholic Bishop and since then have been working in Damascus and Aleppo. Sr. Annie Demerjian, a member of the congregation was one of our constant project partners in Aleppo during the war. The sisters have always lived in properties belonging to the Melkite Church but now they need to have a house in Damascus that would enable them to continue their mission.
Commissioned by the Greek Melkite Catholic Patriarchate they run the university residence and also to develop other activities to meet growing needs of the Christian community. The most urgent is to have a small boarding residence for young Christian girls coming from different cities in Syria to study in Damascus. They need to have a safe place in the Christian quarter, so that their mothers can be calm about their security during their studies. Another necessity is to have a nursery for young children to enable their mothers to work. Sisters’ nursery is all the more urgent, because husbands and fathers have gone abroad. Considering the fact that Christians, who migrated, have started to sell their property in the old city district and is important that this remain in Christian hands. The prices of real estate are going high because many people ere looking for some place to stay, as their own houses were damaged or destroyed. The sisters have found a house in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Damascus. As prices are continuously rising, they borrowed the money and they have already bought it,. The sisters have already done so much good work in Syria but they still have a lot more to do and their permanent presence is essential for the Christian population in the city.
ACN promoted priests’ and laymen formation. Our benefactors made possible family retreat, catechesis, spiritual summer camps for 1300 children, Regional Youth Days in Lebanon, books publication and catechesis equipment purchase.
22 Projects focused on Christian formation and evangelisation
“Let us recover and deepen our enthusiasm, that ‘delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing, even when it is in tears that we must sow… And may the world of our time, which is searching, sometimes with anguish, sometimes with hope, be enabled to receive the good news not from evangelizers who are dejected, discouraged, impatient or anxious, but from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervour, who have first received the joy of Christ’.”