Democratic Republic of Congo: A house for the Sacred Heart Fathers in the new parish of Gbunzunzu
The newly established parish of Gbunzunzu is situated in an area of goldmining, where many people try to make a living digging for gold. The mines make a handful of people very rich, but for all the rest they mean endless exploitation, poverty, ruined health and even an early death. The workers risk their lives working in appalling conditions, exposed to carcinogenic and radioactive materials and living crammed together in crowded huts, separated from their families and far from their home villages. Very often their traditional family structures are destroyed as a result.
The one place they can turn to for help is the Catholic Church. They are in great need of help and pastoral care, and wherever they Church is unable to step in and help, the sects are quick to exploit the situation with promises of quick money and miracle healings. At the same time there is a widespread breakdown of morals and frequently a sense of despair among these uprooted people. The new parish is already very big, with a population of 25,000 souls. It was formed by being split off from the still larger parish of Babonde, which covers no fewer than 42 villages.
(Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus conduct a prayer service for the prishioners of Babonde and Gbunzunzu © Aid to the Church in Need)
There is already a church In Gbunzunzu, and the Sacred Heart Fathers here provide all sorts of material help for the needy, including food, medicines and clothing. Now that the new parish has been established they want to extend their services still further, with a still stronger emphasis on education, medical care and the strengthening of moral values, since all these factors are crucial to shaping a better future for them. There is good reason to hope, for every year there are around 800 baptisms in the area. At the same time however, the need for the other sacraments is also increasing, as is the need for sound religious instruction.
The new parish is also dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The already existing parish church is already an important step in the right direction. But the Fathers themselves also need a parish house, so that they can be constantly available and accessible to others, here at the centre of the parish. The Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has promised a grant of $43,000.
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