Life and work of Aid to the Church in Need founder remembered

Father Werenfried van Straaten, the late founder of Aid to the Church in Need, holding a pig(Photo: Aid to the Church in Need)

Scotland's Catholics remembered the founder of Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need, at a special Mass in the centenary year of his birth.

The life and work of Dutch Norbertine priest, Fr Werenfried van Straaten, was celebrated at the eleventh Memorial Mass held at St Brides, Cambuslang, on Monday at 7pm.

ACN's Head of Operations in Scotland, Lorraine McMahon described this year's event as "a milestone", as 2013 marked the 100th anniversary of Fr Werenfried's birth, and the tenth anniversary of his death.

She went on to pay tribute to Fr Werenfried, who founded ACN in 1947: "Through the work and inspiration of this one man countless Christians have been helped around the world.

"Whether they were refugees fleeing war or fanaticism, poor people who had lost everything in a natural disaster, churches who were too poor to train the young man in their midst who was called to be a priest, or helped in some other way, this has only been possible through Fr Werenfried and it's only right we should come together to remember him every year like this."

Ms McMahon thanked Maurice Taylor, Bishop Emeritus of Galloway for presiding at the Mass – which was concelebrated by six other priests – and made special mention of the bishop's homily.

"Bishop Taylor's homily touched on so many different aspects of Fr Werenfried's life.

"He spoke about the Beatitudes, the need to help the less fortunate and the poor, and how we are all welcome at the feast of God.

"It was a very memorable sermon."

Concelebrating with Bishop Taylor were Fr Paul Morton, parish priest of St Bride's and a trustee of Aid to the Church in Need, Fr James Morris, Fr Krzysztof Garwolinski, Fr Gerard Chromy, Fr William McMahon and Fr Francis Ferriggi.
At the end of the Mass Neville Kyrke-Smith, national director of Aid to the Church in Need (UK), said a few words about the charity's work helping Christians who forced out of their homes in Syria.

Known as the Bacon Priest after his first appeals for help for German refugees in the aftermath of World War II led to him receiving donations of ham from farmers near his abbey in Tongerlo, Belgium, Father Werenfried led Aid to the Church in Need for more than 50 years.

During that time, he responded to requests from a number of popes to expand his work – firstly into the post-war Communist countries of Eastern Europe, then into Africa, South America and worldwide.

Today the charity supports Christians who are suffering, persecuted, or in serious pastoral need in more than 130 countries.