Mali is a landlocked country in West Africa with an overwhelmingly Muslim population. Christians, Muslims and followers of traditional African religions there lived together peaceably, as they had for centuries, until 2012, when war broke out in the northern part of the country, much of which lies within the Sahara Desert region. Tuareg rebels had formed an alliance with radical Islamists and sought to establish an independent Islamic state in this part of the country. Initially, the jihadists gained control over the northern half and hundreds of thousands of people were forced to flee.
In 2013, the Islamists attempted to conquer the south of the country as well and turn the civil state into an Islamist theocracy. At that point, France and the UN intervened militarily in the conflict and rapidly defeated the Islamist rebels.
Since the conflict, Mali has been a divided country. This has also impacted the lives of local Catholics, who today make up close to 200,000 faithful in the midst of a total population of some 18 million.
In the north of the country it is all but impossible for the Church to function normally and the great majority of her structures have been destroyed, but the situation is somewhat better in the south, although there are still violent assaults. The Catholic community is even growing here.
In the Diocese of San, lies the very lively parish of Yasso, dedicated to Saint Therese of Lisieux. It has some 5,000 active faithful and includes 40 or so villages. The number of Catholics is growing steadily. So far they have only a small, temporary chapel which is far too small for the community and at risk of collapsing when the rainy season comes.
They have begun work on a large and permanent church, big enough to accommodate 2,000 people. The walls are already standing, but they do not have the money for the roof. They have turned to ACN for help, and we have promised them $55,400.
Will you give so that this Catholic minority in Mali can finally complete their church?
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