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With image of a priest standing amid the ruins of a building in Bashiqa destroyed during Daesh (ISIS)’s occupation of the town (Image © Aid to the Church in Need)
The Pope has now begun a much-anticipated five day trip to Iraq to meet Christian and other faith leaders. In the Vatican party accompanying him is Regina Lynch, ACN’s International Head of Projects, who will be on hand to highlight how ACN benefactors have loyally supported the Christian community since 2014, including the rebuilding of the Church of the Immaculate Conception (Al Tahira) in Qaraqosh, where Pope Francis will pray the Angelus.

He will hear from ACN Project partner, Archbishop Bashar Warda, Erbil, of the priorities for the Christians who remain as the faithful remnant, and ambitious plans to improve prospects for young people by growing the small Catholic University of Erbil.

To mark the Pope’s visit to Iraq, ACN has revealed that key projects in the country funded by a donation from the pontiff have been completed.

Christians in Bashiqa, 18 miles (30 km) from Mosul, who were forced out of their homes on the Nineveh Plains by Islamist extremist group Daesh (ISIS), were helped by a donation of €200,000 (more than £170,000) given to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) by Pope Francis.

The papal donation – which was raised by the auction of a Lamborghini sports car presented to the Pontiff in November 2017 – was used to fund the completion of two projects in Bashiqa, which suffered massive damage during both Daesh’s seizure of the town and subsequent battles to retake the Nineveh Plains.

Syriac-Catholic Bishop Yohanna Boutros Mouche of Mosul and parish priest Father Rezqallah Alsimanni said that they were overjoyed that these projects had been completed in time for Pope Francis’s visit.
 
They told the charity: “We are delighted to have finished work on Our Lady’s kindergarten, which will help and encourage our children to return to Bashiqa and resume their education.”

As of January 2020, 371 Christian families had come back to Bashiqa, representing nearly 59 percent of the total number of Christian families living in the town before it was seized by Daesh.

The donation to help Bashiqa was not the first time that the Pope has supported ACN’s work in Iraq. In 2016 Pope Francis gave €100,000 (more than £86,000) to help Saint Joseph’s Clinic, Erbil, which was providing medical help for IDP families who had found refuge in the Kurdish capital after being driven from their homes.

Thanks for all you have done – the benefactors of ACN have been wonderful. The needs are immense and ACN is committed to standing with those Christians who are surviving in our ancient Biblical homeland of faith.
 
Read more here

Read more about Pope Francis's visit to Iraq here
HELP US SUPPORT THOSE IN NEED
Iraq Appeal
ACN provides COVID oxygen machine

An oxygen machine is being dispatched to COVID- hit northern Iraq – thanks to you, the friends of ACN.
The £49,360 oxygen generator system will be installed in Maryama Catholic Hospital, in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan where the COVID infection rate in the region has risen to 75 percent.
Read more here.
Events
Lenten Sunday Lunch
Thousands of Christians in Zahle, Lebanon rely on the St John the Merciful Table to provide them with hot meals each day. We need your support to continue supporting our brothers and sisters in need, One meal costs just £1. Join us on 21st March for a lunch where we will come together, virtually, in prayer and enjoy a meal whilst hearing from Archbishop Darwish and many of the people who use the Table. Your support and prayers mean so much to them. Find out more here.
ACN Shop
The Rosary Book and Free Papal Rosary, blessed by the Holy Father
To mark the historic visit that Pope Francis is taking to Iraq this weekend, you can purchase The Rosary book, which comes with a free Papal Rosary which was blessed by Pope Francis in support of ACN's work. “The Rosary – the sweet chain that links us once again to God.” So wrote Pope John Paul II, whose Mysteries of Light are included in this booklet. Order it here.
...and don't forget our Easter Gift
The Last Supper – Ukrainian Icon
Made in Ukraine in accord with the iconographic Byzantine style, this reproduction of the original Icon of the Last Supper (by Ukrainian monk Yov Konzilevich XVII) would make an ideal Easter gift. Buy it here.
Have a look at our Lent & Easter products at our shop here.
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