This week, St Clare's is lighting up red to show our support for persecuted Christians.
It marks 'Red Wednesday', this year 25th November, a day of prayer and awareness for those who are persecuted for their faith. The campaign is organised by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), which works to alleviate suffering wherever church communities are persecuted, threatened or suffering from poverty.
Many public buildings light up red for Red Wednesday (in recent years, the Houses of Parliament, the Foreign Office, Blackpool Tower and many great churches are amongst the landmarks which have been lit up to show support. This year, St Clare's is lighting up every evening this week, as on ongoing reminder of the suffering of our brothers and sisters throughout the world. It invites us to spend time in prayer for them and to support them in any way we can. The article below has been prepared by Andrea Sinnott, our parish ACN rep, to give some ideas how we can support ACN during the lockdown.
Supporting Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) during COVID
Over the last 3 years, St Clare’s Parish and St Clare’s School have been actively fundraising to support the work of ACN and its efforts to support persecuted Christians. To date, our Parish and our School community has been incredibly generous and together we have raised close to £30,000 for ACN projects in Syria and Iraq. Of course, this year has been, and continues to be, very different. The COVID pandemic has brought difficult and unforeseen challenges for many families in our community. Similarly, the pandemic has brought additional hardships and challenges for many persecuted Christians supported by ACN.
Despite the pandemic, the work of ACN continues. Although we can’t gather as a community to actively fundraise, we can continue to support ACN. Below are some ideas which may be of interest.
Advocacy - Stay informed about ACN campaigns as there may be practical ways to support ACN. For example, signing a petition to lobby the UK for political help is often a really important practical way to help this charity. The ACN website provides information on a number of advocacy cases, you can read about them here: Advocacy Support
If you can, please sign the petition to get UK asylum for Maira Shahbaz, a 14 year old Catholic teenager, based in Pakistan, who has been abducted and forced to marry her abductor and abandon her Catholic faith. You can sign the petition here: Maira Shahbaz Petition.
Prayer – Private prayer for the work of ACN and persecuted Christians is another practical way we can support ACN.
You can also request a mass for a loved one. Mass offerings to ACN are a really important source of subsistence for priests working in some of the poorest countries in the world. See here for more information: Mass Offerings.
Financial Support – Donations to ACN are always welcome and these can be made via Fr Andrew. However, shopping on the ACN website is also a great way to provide financial support to ACN. The ACN shop is full of beautiful gifts, cards, music, jewellry and audiobooks as well as toys! So, if you want to buy some christmas cards or gifts online, take a look here. ACN Shop.
Any support you can give is truly appreciated by ACN.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article.