Burkina Faso: Helping them to bear their cross

Pope Benedict XVI composed a set of Stations of the Cross. In his Fifth Station (Simon of Cyrene helps to carry the Cross of Jesus) he writes: “Whenever we show kindness to the suffering, the persecuted and defenceless, and share in their sufferings, we help to carry that same Cross of Jesus.” In Burkina Faso we are helping 16 seminarians to bear their own personal crosses, by helping them and their families to survive. Like many other Christians, these families in the diocese of Ouahigouya in the north of the country were forced to flee their villages when Islamist terrorists from Mali and Niger attacked them, murdering, burning homes and driving them out. Now they have nothing left.

The family of one of the seminarians: grateful for your help.
The family of one of the seminarians: grateful for your help.

Forced to flee into the towns, they are sheltering in schools and parish centres. Previously these families were able to support their sons in the seminaries. Now they don’t know how they themselves will survive from day to day. The diocese is overwhelmed by the problem. And it is also a huge psychological burden for the 16 seminarians concerned. We are providing emergency humanitarian aid of €8,000 for their families and thereby helping the seminarians at the same time. The diocese’s 61 seminarians are standing firm. They know that the 130,000 Catholics in the diocese are going to need them to minister to them in these difficult times. In July some of them will be ordained to the priesthood.

They long to fulfil their vocation of serving God and their fellow men – even if it should cost them their lives. Our support of €30,000 for their formation was never more needed than today, when the diocese is having to contend with a refugee problem. As Pope Benedict’s prayer for the Fifth Station says, “Help us to realise that it is a grace to be able to share the cross of others and, in this way, know that we are walking with you along the way.”

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