.- When a group of UK seminarians set out on a fund-raising mission for the suffering Church in Cuba, few could have expected the success they achieved. By the time they had completed their mammoth task, the group of six, along with the seminary’s vice rector, had each cycled 270 kilometres (~168 miles) and together they had collected nearly 23,500 Euro (~$30,332 USD).
The record-breaking formula of pedal power, determination, and fund-raising genius pulled off by St Mary’s College, Oscott, near Birmingham, was inspired by the plight of 77 students at the Seminary of SS Charles and Ambrose, in the Cuban capital of Havana.
The seminary, which rests in the heart of a country where the Church is still suffering persecution, is housed in a decrepit building. The Cuban seminarians are nearly entirely dependent on outside help for everything from the food on the refectory tables to the furniture in their rooms and the stipends granted to their lecturers.
The Havana Seminary receives an annual grant from Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the Catholic charity for suffering Christians. ACN has made Cuba a priority for aid in Latin America, especially as tension mounts with President Castro’s failing health.
Last month, Xavier Legorreta, who heads up ACN’s projects department covering Cuba, visited Oscott to pick up the check and thank the English seminarians on behalf of their Cuban confreres.
“I was very astonished by the seminarians’ success, Legorreta told ACN News, “it came as big, big surprise. It just shows how really important things can be achieved by such simple and very practical initiatives.”