Success Story: Mass Stipends for 40 Priests in Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone has a long story of constant suffering, from bloody civil war and massive poverty, to the Ebola epidemic of 2014 and a string of natural disasters. Today, thanks to ACN’s donors, a small ray of light and hope exists.
In the Archdiocese of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, 40 priests are helping the people in all their spiritual and material needs. Many of them are working in parishes where there is neither electricity nor running water, no vehicles and no other means of communication. The archdiocese itself is very poor and already could not help its priests with all the funding they actually need, while the coronavirus has only made things worse. All public Masses have been suspended, so even the little support that came in on the collection plate has also dried up.
For over a hundred years, the Church has been supporting the faithful in the country, both pastorally and practically, providing the sacraments while also providing basic medical care and development aid, feeding the hungry, and accompanying families in all their many needs.
The Church is particularly active in the field of education. Until very recently, Catholic schools were the only educational centers existing in Sierra Leone, despite the fact that 78% of the population is Muslim.
The Catholic Church is greatly respected by the people for its many works of charity, and for the fact that it helps all the people, regardless of their religion or ethnicity. At the same time, the Church continues with her primary mission of proclaiming the Gospel, administering the Sacraments and bringing souls to God.
To compensate for the lack of public Masses, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) agreed to help the 40 priests of the archdiocese with Mass stipends, for a total of $20,300 – or just about $500 for each priest – for the entire year. The priests will celebrate these Holy Masses for the intentions of the benefactors who have made these offerings, which are a gift freely given by the faithful as a gesture of gratitude and support.
Father Emmanuel is one of the priests in Sierra Leone who have received these Mass stipends. He described the situation he was in prior to receiving aid: “Every day, during the crisis, I had to go out after Morning Prayer, working with the fishermen to earn my daily bread.” This priest had barely any time to tend to his parish.
In his letter, Father Emmanuel says, “I am so grateful for the Mass stipends you have sent us. May the Lord continue to bless you abundantly!” Thanks to the help of fellow faithful, now he and his fellow priests can continue their pastoral and charitable activities.
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