Aid to the Church in Need honors its donors on first annual ‘Benefactors’ Day’
ON THE SOLEMNITY OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS, Masses will be celebrated throughout the world for the donors of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) to mark the first ever “Benefactors’ Day.” From now on this day will be celebrated every year on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which this year falls on June 11. ACN and its project partners throughout the world will be praying and celebrating Mass on this day for the intentions of all the donors who support the organization via its 23 worldwide national offices.
“Even though most of our benefactors prefer to remain unseen and unsung and in no way expect such thanks, it is very important to us and our suffering brothers and sisters to personally express our gratitude to them,” writes Father Martin Barta, the spiritual assistant to ACN International, in a letter to all the donors. “We have chosen the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus for this Benefactors’ Day since their generosity has its source and strength in the imitation of the Merciful Love of the Heart of God.”
Last year, ACN was actively supported by more than 365,000 individual donors in 23 countries around the world. ACN does not receive any official funding from Church or state bodies and is funded entirely by the private donations of individual donors. The number of the charity‘s friends and donors actually increased in the year 2020 by eight percent over the year 2019, despite the coronavirus pandemic, and ACN was able to continue and even intensify its support for suffering and needy Christians in 138 different countries.
From its beginning CAN, has never regarded itself as only fundraising organization, but rather as a community of prayer. This spirit of prayerful solidarity will be especially visible on “Benefactors‘ Day.” “Eucharist means ´Thanksgiving,’”, Father Martin writes. “Consequently, so many of our project partners—bishops, seminary rectors, religious communities and priests in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America—have promised to pray very specially on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus for all the benefactors of ACN and to celebrate Holy Mass for their intentions.”
One of these project partners is Bishop Zenildo Luiz Pereira da Silva from Borba, in the Brazilian Amazon region. He writes, “On ‘Benefactors‘ Day’ we are moved by two emotions in particular, namely gratitude and a sense of obligation. Gratitude for all the support we have received, since without ACN we could not do the evangelizing work we do. And also, there is on this day a sense of obligation to pray for our benefactors, who are a source of peace and solidarity.”
Bishop Jaime Uriel Sanabria Arias, from the Apostolic Vicariate of San Andrés y Providencia on the coast of Colombia also wrote to ACN. The region under his care is only just beginning to recover from a devastating hurricane which swept through the islands of the region in November 2020. “ACN was already expressing its solidarity through its helpful presence while we were still barely able to travel through our region. This experience of the presence of the Universal Church during such difficult times is a transformative experience, since it enables us to feel the closeness, care and loving concern of the Mother Church,” Bishop Jaime writes.
He added: “Dear benefactors, to all of you, your help made it possible to support our priests, who in turn took this help to our people, supporting and strengthening the faith of the Christian communities, above all so that they were not deprived of the bread of the Eucharist. And with your help we were also able to repair and rebuild the ruined buildings, the churches and parish houses, which are such precious centers for our evangelizing work. Please be assured, dear benefactors, that your generosity has made a huge difference. Our vicariate is praying for you and will remember you very specially in the celebration of the Eucharist.”
The Poor Clare Sisters in Antsirabe, Madagascar, have also sent us a touching letter on this occasion. “We want to express our heartfelt thanks to you on this Benefactors’ Day, for all your help, which has transformed our life here. In 2018, we were in real financial difficulties and could not even afford to pay for our electricity or food. You were our salvation, a true friend to whom we could turn in our need!
“Then last year and again this year you have worked miracles in our life by bringing us well on the way toward being self-sufficient. Your help with the extension of our spiritual center was enormously important to our future. The revenue from visiting guests who use our center is helping us to cover at least part of our daily living expenses. You have helped us to begin a new chapter in our history, and thanks to you we can now look forward to a more secure future.”