The diocese of Lisala is one of the oldest and – with an area of over 24,000 square miles (67,600 km²) – at the same time one of the most geographically extensive in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Situated in the north of the country, in the Congo basin, it is crisscrossed by the Congo River and its many tributaries.
Reparation of a ship for the diocese of Lisala: The diocesan boat HB Magnificat is one of the instruments of the Pastoral.
Not surprisingly, therefore, the waterways are absolutely vital to the life of the Church. The diocesan river boat, the Magnificat, is of crucial importance to its pastoral outreach. Sadly, however, the vessel was severely damaged in September 2018, while travelling downriver towards Kinshasa. Surprised by a sudden storm and unable to moor up safely, it was flung against a large tree projecting into the water and had a huge hole torn on its side. Fortunately, the people on the boat were able to evacuate safely, but the boat sank almost completely. Needless to say, the material damage was extensive and the rescue campaign difficult. One of the priests and other helpers had to paddle across the river to reach the accident site.
The ship after hitting a tree following a violent wind on 20.09.2018 around 2pm. A great wind had struck the whale-boat lying in a difficult place to accost.
Initially, they attempted to repair the boat themselves and get it underway again, but it soon became clear that the whole process would be much more difficult than they had imagined and would require specialist materials and expert skills. Two of the motors were out of action, and repairing the hole in the side will require the work of skilled boatbuilders.
The diocese has turned to us for help, and ACN has promised 8800 Euros, so that this vital mission boat can quickly be rendered serviceable again.
The parish of Mlevela is still very young, having been established only in 2017. It is situated some 10 miles (15 km) west of Njombe, where the bishop resides, and has 11 outstations. These villages lie anything up to 20 miles (30 km) from the centre of the parish.
Without a car, the work of the parish is almost impossible. All the Catholic faithful, including those in the outlying villages, long to be able attend Holy Mass. Moreover, there are seven primary schools and two higher schools in the parish, where the priest and his catechists have to give religious instruction. And often there are sick and elderly people to be visited, funerals to be held and all manner of other tasks to be done as well in the villages.
ACN was able to contribute 24,700 Euros so that the parish could obtain a robust all-terrain vehicle.
Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, ACN was able to contribute 24,700 Euros so that the parish could obtain a robust all-terrain vehicle, strong enough to cope with the difficult road conditions. The vehicle has now arrived safely in Mlevela and been joyously welcomed by all the people. The parish priest, Father Bruno Henjewele, and all the faithful want to say a heartfelt thank you to all our generous benefactors for their kind support.
In her private diary, Mother Teresa writes: “Once, I was speaking with a priest about the kind of friendships that can take us away from God. He confessed to me: ‘Mother, for me Jesus is everything. I have neither time nor space for any other friendships.’ For me this was the explanation why this particular priest had brought so many people to God. He was always united with Him.” This is the secret of the saints. They are always closely united to God.
Filled with the spirit of this relationship, they are able to perform works of mercy. Don Luigi Orione, the founder of the “Little Work of Divine Providence” (“Piccola Opera della Divina Provvidenza”), was, in the words of Pope John Paul I, “a strategist of mercy”. He himself saw himself as the “servant of Divine Providence”. He did not ask many questions, but simply acted. His guiding motto was this: “Do not ask who he is, what he is, or what he believes. Ask only about his pain.” In this spirit he founded orphanages and vocational schools. For he knew that the future of the young and abandoned depends on how and what we teach them. Inspired by this same spirit, and for over 20 years now, the congregation of Don Orione has been running mission stations for hundreds of Catholic families in Bardhaj, at the foot of the mountains in the diocese of Shkodra, in northern Albania.
Canonised 15 years ago: Don Luigi Orione, the founder of the “Little Work of Divine Providence”.
After the collapse of the Communist dictatorship of Enver Hoxha, they had emerged from the craggy mountain villages, where they had hidden away from the tyranny of the atheist regime, and come down into the valleys – in rags and tatters, emaciated, but with God in their hearts. Today three missionaries, Don Rolando, Don Dorian and Don Giuseppe, care for these four thousand or so souls. They also run four other mission stations in the mountain regions, all of them inaccessible an all-terrain vehicle. “We travel around 400 km (250 miles) a week”, they tell us. They do not ask questions, they act. They ease the bodily pain with medication, still the thirst for God with catechesis, the physical hunger with bread, and the spiritual longing with prayer. They bring God to people and the people to God. Roughly 60% of Albania’s close on 3 million inhabitants are Muslims. Catholics make up around 10%. They have maintained their faith throughout the decades of atheist dictatorship. And one of them, of course, was Mother Teresa, who at an early age travelled to India. Many of these Catholics hardly know their catechism. But, up in their mountain villages, they eagerly look forward to the visits of Padres Rolando, Dorian and Giuseppe.
Looking to his future: an orphan in one of Don Orione’s vocational workshops.
However, when they are late – since the roads here are really barely worthy of the name – they begin to fear that the old Jeep has broken down again, as it has often in recent years. For without a vehicle, the mission and its work would grind almost to a standstill, and that would be painful for everyone. We have promised them €14,000 for a new vehicle.
Though outwardly seemingly unremarkable, the village of Khushpur is sometimes jokingly described as „Pakistan‘s Vatican“. For in a certain sense, it can be seen as the heart of the Catholic Church in Pakistan. The reason: from this one Catholic parish no fewer than two bishops, over 35 priests, more than 100 religious sisters and a considerable number of religious brothers have emerged. And also in Khushpur is the National Formation Centre for Catechists, where catechists from all over the country receive their training. Another famous son of Khushpur was the late Minorities‘ Minister of Pakistan, Shabaz Bhatti, a profoundly faithful Catholic who stood up against the country‘s infamous blasphemy laws and also defended Asia Bibi. In March 2011 he was gunned down by extremists on his way to work. He knew very well that his life was in danger but was nevertheless willing to die for Christ if need be.
The village of Khushpur is sometimes jokingly described as „Pakistan‘s Vatican“.
The village, or small town, of Khushpur, with its population of almost 8,000 Catholics, lies some 25 miles (40 km) south of the city of Faisalabad and is the largest almost entirely Catholic village in the entire „Islamic Republic of Pakistan“, where for the most part Christians make up only a vanishingly small minority and constantly have to contend with discrimination, obstruction and outright violence.
The parish is an exceptionally lively one, and the many vocations that emerge from this community speak for themselves. Catholic feasts and festivals are celebrated with great solemnity, especially the feast of Christ the King, which is marked with a procession lasting many hours. The people are rock-solid in their faith and live the liturgical year of the Church with great intensity. The importance of prayer and the Sacraments is a daily reality for them.
The village, or small town, of Khushpur, with its population of almost 8,000 Catholics, lies some 25 miles (40 km) south of the city of Faisalabad.
Needless to say, a vehicle is an absolute necessity for the pastoral care of the parish. For it covers a large area, and the priests and catechists have to minister to all the scattered faithful. There are sick people to visit and Mass to be celebrated in the remotest corners of the parish, and there are also many ongoing pastoral activities for which some means of transport is an urgent necessity. We are therefore proposing to give them 9,000 Euros so that they can purchase a vehicle for the pastoral work of the parish.
Duc in altum! “Put out into the deep!” (Lk 5:4). Christ does not demand the exceptional, still less the impossible, in order for miracles to happen. However, he does demand faith and sometimes a little effort. In the diocese of Lisala, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the catechists and missionaries regularly travel down the broad Congo River in an old river boat called the Magnificat in order to reach the communities on the banks and riverine islands.
“And he taught them from the boat” (cf. Lk 5:3): Bishop Ernest Ngboko on one of the islands on the River Congo.
Last autumn on such a journey, a sudden squall, as on Lake Genasereth, tossed the boat about violently. Driven by the wind, it veered off course and hit a tree on the bank. A large branch went straight through the stern, causing the hold to fill with water and the boat to capsize. Miraculously, no one was hurt but the Magnificat was unable to go any further.
The Magnificat after the accident.
Despite Bishop Ernest Ngboko Ngombe’s best efforts, the boat’s recovery and repair swallowed up the last of the diocese’s financial reserves. Now the faithful are hoping
for another miracle – in the form of our help. The diocese needs this boat. Bishop Ernest is asking for €8,700, so that the Magnificat can once again sail forth with its
“fishers of men” aboard.
Again and again we are asked for help in providing bicycles and mopeds for the priests and catechists of the diocese of Eluru in southeast India. For many of the 1,150 villages of the diocese where the Catholic faithful live are accessible only via narrow, unmade tracks and the priests and catechists would otherwise have to spend hours on foot, walking from one village to another. At the same time, a car would be no use, since the narrow tracks are unsuitable for them. Hence, a moped or a bicycle is an ideal way of saving time and energy and providing a more intensive ministry for the people.
Success Story: 4 Motorcycles for pastoral & socio-educational work & evangelization in the villages of Eluru Vicariate.
For one thing, the faithful need pastoral support. Many have not long been Christians and need intensive support and accompaniment if the faith is to put down deep roots within them and enable them to grow into the life of the Church. At the same time, however, they need a great deal of help in the needs of their everyday lives. There is deep poverty in the region; most people work as day labourers and live from hand to mouth. Even the children have to work in the fields of the big landowners, herding the cattle of the rich or running themselves ragged as message bearers. Most cannot even think of attending school. Entire families live in tiny grass huts, without running water or any modern conveniences. On average, these families have to live on half a Euro a day, and sometimes they are cheated even of these paltry wages, so that the whole family has to go to bed on an empty stomach.
Thanks to the 3,200 Euros donating by our benefactors, we have been able to provide four mopeds for the diocese, so that the priests and catechists can now more easily reach these villages and bring the people the help they need. Bishop Jaya Rao Polimera extends his heartfelt thanks to all our benefactors and promises his prayers for all who have helped!