Aid to the Church in Need Builds Churches in Pakistan

Aid to the Church in Need UK is bringing hope to the suffering Catholic Church in Pakistan with a series of grants for major church-building projects.

Four projects will benefit from the vital funds being sent out by ACN just ahead of Christmas - the fruits of a massive fundraising campaign for oppressed Christians in Pakistan.

Multiple projects are set to benefit from the funds, including the construction of two churches, one in southeast Pakistan and the second at Railway Colony in the Punjab city of Faisalabad.

The grants are expected to be major morale boosters, especially in Hyderabad diocese where Bishop Max Rodrigues and the faithful are still reeling from attacks by a mob of thousands enraged by the Prophet Mohammed cartoons published last winter, ACN reported.

St Mary's Church, Sukkur, burnt by Islamists last February, will be reconstructed thanks to the support pledged by ACN, while aid will also go towards another church construction project, also in the Hyderabad diocese.

Fr Parvez Emmanuel, parish priest of the Railway Colony, was just one of several church leaders overwhelmed by the news of ACN funding. A grant of £6,700 will be used to build St Thomas' Church to replace the structure that collapsed just minutes after the end of Sunday Mass. Miraculously, nobody was hurt.

Christ the King Seminary, Karachi, and its 25 seminarians, again the victims of Islamist taunts, as well as the catechetical centre, in Model Town, Lahore, central Punjab, will receive a share of the vital aid.

Neville Kyrke-Smith, Aid to the Church in Need National Director (UK), said: "Advent is about preparing for Christ - and we can only thank the generous friends of the Church in Need for preparing the way for Christ. They have enabled us to offer the compassion and hope of Christ in the midst of darkness, difficulties and oppression. They can be assured of prayers around the world this Christmas."

Further support is headed for crisis-stricken Christians in China, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Vietnam, Peru, Colombia and Sudan, where a second-hand vehicle is needed for St Joseph's Major Seminary in Tambura-Yambio.

And in Cuba ACN funding will help with the formation for the 70 students at SS Charles and Ambrose Seminary, Havana, a catechesis scheme, church candles, formation of sisters, and on-going formation for priests.

Several projects in Haiti will also receive funding. Despite continuing political instability and desperate poverty, priests are pushing forward with plans for new catechetical books, the building of a new missionary house in Port-au-Prince and erecting a presbytery in Cap Haitien.

And there is good news for the Daughters of the Resurrection, the religious order ACN founder Fr Werenfried van Straaten helped to set up, who on their 40th anniversary now have the funds for their monastery in Rwanda, ACN said.