More than 1,000 Ukrainian seminarians enduring the winter cold have good reason for festive cheer after support for their studies topped the list of aid payments from a leading Catholic charity.
Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is providing key assistance totaling over $429,000 to seminarians from the Ivano-Frankivsk Diocese and others from nearby Lviv, as well as students attending a theological academy in Uzhhorod.
The aid payments in support of the 1,070 Ukrainian seminarians are among 80 grants being given out in December by the charity for persecuted and suffering Christians, which prioritized help for the Church in Eastern Europe during the darkest days of the Cold War.
Seminarians from other parts of the suffering Church will also receive help, including those from St. Paul’s Major Seminary in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, 90 students from the Archdiocese of Bertoua, Cameroon and nearly 80 young men preparing for the priesthood in Olomouc, in the Czech Republic.
At the close of a year in which ACN has paid special attention to the plight of Christians in Pakistan, the charity is providing more aid for 30 seminarians at Christ the King Seminary in Karachi. There is support, too, for students for the priesthood in Hebei province in China, outside Beijing.
ACN is also helping seminarians in Grodno, Belarus, and is supporting youth work and the teaching of Christianity in northern Vietnam.
In line with Pope Benedict XVI’s request that ACN give priority to the Middle East, the charity is providing $70,000 to build a church hall in Makhoul, in Galilee, in the Diocese of Greek Catholic Archbishop Elias Chacour.
In Iraq, the charity is helping with Christmas food packages for poor and sick families in and around the town of Zakho, close to the Turkish/Syrian border.
Iraqi Christians living as refugees in Syria are receiving $28,700.
Two cathedrals in Islam-dominated North Africa will also receive $70,000 each for urgent repairs. They include St. Augustine of Hippo’s Cathedral in Annaba, north-east Algeria, and the cathedral in the Tunisian capital, Tunis.
Elsewhere in Africa, ACN is helping with $70,000 to repair a church damaged by an earthquake in Bukavu, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and there are funds for another church to be renovated in the Archdiocese of Huambo, in Angola.