This year, the Little Sisters of the Helpless Elderly (Hermanitas de los Ancianos Desamparados) are celebrating the 145th anniversary of their foundation. Ever since 1873, they have been caring for the poor, the lonely and the helpless elderly.
“Mary tells us that she has ‘the honor’ of being our mother, assuring us that those who suffer do not weep in vain. These tears are a silent prayer rising to heaven, always finding a place in Mary’s mantle.” Pope Francis
Some 40 percent of the world’s estimated 1.2 billion Catholics live in Latin America, but the continent has seen a decline in the Catholic population. Latin America’s biggest challenge? How to engage the Catholic flock in ways that deepen their knowledge and love of the faith, thus boosting their engagement in and faithfulness to the Church.
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The Apostolic Prelature of Cristalandia in central western Brazil covers a vast area of over 24,000 square miles – larger than many U.S. states. It has 17 parishes and its close-to 177,000 Catholic faithful live widely scattered. There are just 16 priests to minister to them pastorally, and the distances are vast, making pastoral care a massive challenge.
The Apostolic Vicariate of Yurimaguas in the east of Peru is mostly in the Amazon rain forest, in an area that is home to various different indigenous Indian groups. The 224,000 or so Catholics in this region live scattered over an area greater than many small European countries. There are just 25 priests to care for them, and these priest all face long, difficult and dangerous journeys as part of their mission.
It is one of the roles of the priest, of course, to help people transform their pain into the joy of the resurrection, and ACN supports the seminary every year for the formation of its seminarians. This year we will be helping once again, with $26,500, so that these 91 young men can follow their vocation through to ordination. Will you join in supporting the training of these seminarians in Colombia? We are sure they will remember you in their grateful prayers.
Few people have summarized the importance of the priesthood more trenchantly than Saint Jean Marie Vianney, the famous Curé of Ars: “Without the sacrament of ordination, we would not have the Lord. Who placed him in the Tabernacle? The priest!”