.- Celebrating a Mass in memory of Fr. Werenfried van Straaten, the Dutch Norbertine priest who founded international charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) in 1947, Cardinal Keith O’Brien reflected on the work done by the organization and recalled his recent trip to the Darfur region of Sudan.
During the Mass O’Brien, who serves as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, gave a personal account of his experiences in poverty-stricken countries with a history of persecution against Christians, including Sudan.
He described visiting Darfur in January and being led by a group of Christians to their small hut-like chapel. “They asked me if I would celebrate Mass for them and I readily agreed,” the cardinal said. “I asked them when they were last able to have Mass in the chapel and they said three or four years ago.”
Clad in vestments representative of his travels, including a stole from China, a pectoral cross from Latin America and a chasuble from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cardinal O’Brien came close to tears as he described the scenes of suffering he had witnessed, “I ask you to love the Church – not just the Church in Scotland but the Church throughout the world.”
The Cardinal said that in his many travels, clergy and laity alike described being ‘touched’ by the work of ACN. The Catholic organization is dedicated to helping suffering Christians through the construction of churches, subsistence help for priests and religious, training for seminarians, religious literature, and help for refugees.
At the end of the Mass, parishioners of St Bride’s in Cambuslang presented a check for more than €13,500 Euros (approx $17,500 USD) for the charity’s work in Vietnam. Cardinal O’Brien told the congregation, “You are so generous to ACN. No matter how much you give, no matter how many prayers you say, no matter how much effort you make, God will never be outdone in His generosity to each and every one of you.”