The Portal May 2018 - Page 21

THE P RTAL May 2018 Page 21 Aid to the Church in Need Giving witness to life and faith Murcadha O Flaherty writes about Macedonia T he Church in Macedonia is helping Christian refugee families and others in need with support from Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need. The charity’s Eastern Europe head, Magda Kaczmarek, spoke about projects helping the Church’s pastoral work including developing young people’s faith. She met with the ACN’s project partner, Bishop Kiro Stojanov of Skopje – who told her about the struggles working with just 23 priests in 17 parishes in the country’s only Catholic diocese, which covers more than 11,500 square miles (30,000 km 2 ). One parish, Kumanovo, has recently been revived by young Polish priest Fr Tomasz. He described the work as “strengthening our Catholic identity and self-awareness for active and responsible participation in the Church and society. [We are] providing additional education to young people to develop the skills and the abilities and knowledge in the area of group management… working together more on spirituality.” Ms Kaczmarek said: “The parish already existed but had been vacant for a long time. I was greatly impressed that three families with many children had emigrated from Kosovo to Macedonia in order to give witness to life and faith in the parish and its environs. Each of these families has between eight and ten children.” One of the new arrivals, Anna, spoke about her faith. “For her, a life without Christ has no meaning. They both wish to set a living example to the many others who are searching for meaning in their lives. I was deeply impressed by so much trust in God and love of God.” Speaking of the ongoing refugee crisis, she said, “In Macedonia we were told of chaotic conditions on the border with Serbia during the last year [2016], and of refugees who died in Macedonia because they were already exhausted when they arrived there.” Ms Kaczmarek added, “The Catholic Church has also tried to give aid. The parish of Radovo has set up pastoral care for migrants and organised training and seminars for volunteers who work with refugees.” The charity is also helping the fledgling Christian community in Radovo, Ms Kaczmarek said, “Here, special importance is attached to child and youth ministry. ACN supports for example their summer camp, ‘Holiday with God’, in which, incidentally, Orthodox children also take part. This fosters ecumenism.” ACN is planning to translate the missal, the She also saw Skopje’s Cathedral of the Sacred Heart lectionary and the Compendium of the Catechism into of Jesus, where Dean Davor Topić spoke about projects the Macedonian language. “According to the dean, the developing youngsters’ faith. He said, “We priests compendium is a good instrument for preaching the cannot wait for the people to come to us – we must Gospel, because the people are very open to it… and go to them.” ACN is supporting the dean’s ‘The Young they are searching for ‘something’.” for the Young’ project, helping youngsters deepen their faith by sharing experiences through discussion Aid to the Church in Need - groups. contact: or call 020 8642 8668