One Night vigil for persecuted Christians in the Middle East
Last Sunday 17th April, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) gave a talk at the Holy Name Church in Manchester to raise awareness of the plight of persecuted Christians in Iraq and Syria.
John Pontifex, the Head of Press and Information at ACN, spoke about his eye-witness encounters with Christians suffering for their faith in Iraq and Syria, where the ultimatum is so often ‘convert or die.’ During a moving talk to a full congregation, Pontifex displayed images of desecrated icons, burnt out churches and priests who had been martyred or tortured.
Pontifex emphasized: “This is the raw reality that we’ve witnessed. It challenges us to keep the flame of faith alive here and throughout the world. We’re doing this by developing projects to help Christians withstand persecution and by building a chain of solidarity throughout the world.”
The event marked one year since the hugely successful ‘One Night’ vigil at the Holy Name in solidarity with Iraqi Christians in the wake of the seizure of Mosul and the closure of the Nineveh plain.
“We’d like to do an annual event to commemorate One Night. This is hopefully the first of many annual events,” said Caroline Hull, the co-ordinator of ACN North West and organiser of the event. “We’ve worked extensively with the Jesuits at the Holy Name, and they’re always so supportive of our work. It’s great to see the community and students here so concerned with the world situation.”
ACN provides material and pastoral help to persecuted Christians throughout the world. They work to raise awareness of Christian persecution both at home and abroad. They also provide relief in the form of church and chapel building, providing shelter, schools and food, as well and training for seminarians and nuns.
Following the event, an icon of the Mother of Tenderness, which had been commissioned following the One Night event, was unveiled in the Calvary chapel of the Holy Name Church. Attendees took time to pray for persecuted Christians before the icon. It will be on display permanently in the chapel. Since the event, the Holy Name has appointed an ACN representative from the student body, named Hina. She hails from Pakistan, where many Christians are persecuted for their faith. You can read her new blog here.