By John Newton
Mass was celebrated roughly every 23 seconds somewhere around the world in 2019 for the intentions of a Catholic charity’s supporters.
Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) sends stipends from its benefactors to help priests where the Church is suffering or in dire need.
According to ACN’s recently-released international annual report for 2019, the charity passed on 1,378,635 Mass offerings from its supporters last year.
Mass stipends represented nearly 16 per cent of the all donations worldwide and enabled the charity to assist 40,096 priests – roughly one in every 10 around the world.
The annual report shows that last year the charity’s 23 national offices supported 5,230 projects across 139 countries, meaning that ACN aid went to 1,162 Catholic dioceses, more than a third of the total.
Commenting on the report, Neville Kyrke-Smith, national director of Aid to the Church in Need (UK), said: “Mass stipends are a chain of love between ACN’s benefactors in this country and those priests ministering to the suffering Church.
“These Mass stipends provide financial aid for the priests themselves – and enable them to help their people as they carry out their vital pastoral work – and in turn they offer the holy sacrifice of the Mass for our supporters’ intentions. They are a double or triple blessing.
“We can only accomplish this thanks to the kind benefactors of ACN.
“For, as we pass on so many Mass stipends, we know that with the coronavirus crisis, now more than ever priests are relying on these offerings – in some cases they are their only source of income during lockdown.”
With the Covid-19 pandemic, Aid to the Church in Need has stepped up its support for priests through Mass stipends.
Bishop Dennis Kofi Agbenyadzi of Berberati in the Central African Republic said ACN Mass stipends had provided crucial income for priests ministering to the 19 rural parishes in his diocese.
He said: “Thank you very much for your gesture of generosity and sign of solidarity. May the compassion and mercy of the Lord be with you all… especially in this painful and worrying time of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Be assured of that I always pray for you and for all those who help you to provide for the needs of the missionary activities of the Church in Africa.”
According to ACN’s annual report, around 38 per cent of the charity’s Mass offerings went to Africa in 2019 and more than 29 per cent of all the projects were carried out in the continent.
Picture: A Ukrainian Greek-Catholic priest in the Archeparchy of Ivano-Frankivsk celebrating the Divine Liturgy in an empty church because of the Covid-19 lockdown. (Aid to the Church in Need (ACN)).