Bulgaria is now a member of the European Union, but despite this, around a fifth of the 7.1 million or so inhabitants of this Southeast European nation still live in poverty. In fact one in 10 people are even defined as living in "extreme poverty". Unemployment remains at close on 25% among the population and even those who do have jobs often earn so little that they can barely make ends meet or support their families. Life is particularly hard for the elderly who often have to make do on a tiny pension.
In the small towns of Zitnitza and Rakovski there are five Catholic nuns belonging to the congregation of the "Franciscan Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart", a congregation founded in the 19th century in Italy and present today in 20 countries of Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. Their special charism consists in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ through their selfless service of the poor.
(Sister Francoise in a kindergarten giving catechetical instruction © Aid to the Church in Need)
These five religious sisters visit the poor, the elderly, the sick and lonely people in the area, doing all they can to help them to cope with their difficult lives and combat their loneliness. They also help the poorest families who barely have enough to eat, and every week they feed around 40 people who could otherwise not afford a hot lunch. They also give religious instruction in the schools and catechetical instruction in the parishes, preparing the younger children for their First Holy Communion and the older ones for the sacrament of Confirmation.
Without the support of ACN, the sisters themselves would struggle to make ends meet, however. That is why the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) are supporting them on a yearly basis, so that they can continue to be there for the people who need their help. ACN this year will support them with a grant of $2,100.
The vital work of Catholic charities like Aid to the Church In Need provide a lifeline to the Church wherever she is poor, persecuted or threatened. Please help our work by donating online or send your donation to Aid to the Church in Need, PO Box 7246 Baulkham Hills NSW 2153. Ph: (02) 9679-1929
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