ACN covid-19 response programme
Chad, in West Central Africa is a majority Muslim country and is one of the poorest nations in the world. Roughly 57% of the population are Muslims, and they are very visible, since wherever there is even a small number of houses, there is also a mosque to be found. The Catholic Church by contrast is relatively young in Chad. The first missionary arrived here only in 1929 and the first native priest was ordained in 1957, followed by the second 13 years later in 1970. Today Catholics account for approximately 8% of the population. Mgr. Miguel A. Sebastian, the Bishop of Sarh, presents his diocese in a letter written to ACN on 29 APRIL 2020. “The diocese, created in 1961, has a surface area of 57,000 km2 and a population of about 1,700,000 inhabitants; the Catholics have more than 200,000 baptised and 50,000 catechumens.
The 19 parishes and 3 quasi-parishes are served by about 40 priests. The diocese has 58 priests, but the others are formators or work in education and health. The religious brothers are five, plus four scholastics, and the religious sisters are 35. From the administrative point of view, the diocese is made up of 2 Provinces (called until a few months ago regions), headed by a governor, and divided into departments (5+4). The Diocese is rural, most of the inhabitants live from agriculture: millet, sorghum, peanuts, rice, cotton, etc. The population of the Diocese is about 1,000,000. There is a good group of merchants, mostly from the north of the country and Muslims, and civil servants. Breeding is practiced mainly
as a nomadic activity, although lately there are more and more breeders who are sedentary and build small villages called “Ferrick”. There is some industry (1 complex for the production, processing and sale of sugar, 2 cotton processing factories, 1 textile factory in perspective).” ACN will support with prayer and generosity the 30 priests of Sahr with 11.220 €.
Facing the Covid 19
Mgr. Miguel A. Sebastian, the Bishop of Sarh, presents how his diocese is facing COVID in a letter written to ACN on 29 APRIL 2020. “Currently, because of the corona virus and the measures taken by the government to stop its advance, the life of the priests in the parishes is a little difficult. Indeed, since March 19, the government has taken measures, including the closure of mosques, temples and churches, to prevent the spread of the virus. The Episcopal Conference has issued a communication to tell all our faithful that we accept these measures and that we ask our faithful to respect them. From that moment on, pastoral activities were suspended, but priests continue to remain in the parishes and to celebrate the Eucharist, which is followed by the faithful in spiritual communion. Every Sunday the celebration of the Eucharist is broadcast by our diocesan radio. The faithful are encouraged to pray in family and in spiritual communion with their pastors. The priests also celebrate every day, without the faithful. This begins to have a repercussion in the economy of the parishes because there are no quests for the denarius of the cult (this period at the end of Careme and Easter, with the baptisms and confirmations, was favourable for this) and the priests have already appealed to the bishop’s pastoral charity. For the time being we can only give them intentions for Mass, because the diocese also has economic difficulties.” The Bishop asked for help with Mass Stipends, ACN will help Chad in these difficult moments.