Aid to the Church in Need gives thanks for record year of donations

The funds helped finance 5,303 projects in 148 countries.

By Jürgen Liminski 

NEW YORK--In 2016, international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has once again raised a record total in donations. Last year, ACN brought in close to $148M, topping the 2015 total by $5.7M. This was the highest total ever raised in a year. The funds helped finance 5,303 projects in 148 countries.

More than a quarter of the grants were awarded for projects in located in Africa, where the Church is growing very fast. The continent accounts for more than a third of all grant applications.

Countries located in the Saharan zone receive particular attention, as do northern Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania, all of which are countries where an aggressive form of Islam has been spreading.

Just behind funding for Africa came emergency and subsistence aid for Church communities in the Middle East, the cradle of Christianity. This support is vital for ensuring the survival of Christianity in the region. In the Middle East, Iraq and Syria received the most aid in 2016. This is of course due to the volatile political situation in these two nations.

Mass in Mozambique.2.jpg

More than $66M flowed into the crisis areas in the Middle East since 2011. This aid is expected to continue to grow exponentially in 2017 as ACN has launched a multi-million campaign to help displaced Christians return to their homes in areas newly liberated from the grip of ISIS.

As in the preceding years, the majority of the total aid was earmarked for rebuilding projects, which accounted for 30 percent of all spending; next came emergency aid for the Middle East and subsistence aid for women religious, as well as support for pastoral formation: some 30,000 catechists and pastoral agents around the world were among recipients of support.

In Central and Eastern Europe especially, the focus of the aid is shifting from building projects to training and continued education. The Balkan countries have moved to the center of attention in this part of the world, because radical forms of Islam are making itself felt there as well. Construction and repair of 1,200 chapels, churches, cathedrals and seminaries all over the world were financed in part by ACN, mostly in regions hard hit by natural disasters. One third of the building projects were in Africa.

Every ninth priest (or 43,015 in total) received help in the form of Mass stipends, especially in Africa (14,403) and Asia (11,293). That meant that every 22 seconds Mass was elebrated somewhere in the world for the intentions  of ACN donors. Aid was approved for 10,760 seminarians, a number equivalent to every eleventh seminarian worldwide. Most of them were preparing for the priesthood in Africa (4,667), Latin America (2,900) and Eastern Europe (1,577).

Training and/or subsistence aid was granted to 11,080 women religious, or every 62nd sister worldwide. In 2015, only every 67th sister received aid. In most cases, the help was in the form of subsistence aid for members of contemplative orders for women. Further funding was granted for to purchase 375 cars, 149 motorcycles and 239 bicycles as well as two boats.

ACN conducts fundraising through a network of national offices in 23 countries.

 Mass in Mozambique; ACN photo

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