UCAN needs your support
You are why we do what we do - report, describe, comment, review. It is to bring to your eyes just what life is like for believers across Asia that we publish UCAN.
But as you know, the effort needs to be sustained if it is to have continuing effect.
UCAN publishes some 150 stories a week in four languages across six websites. We are grateful to benefactors in Europe and the US who support us. But those countries and the Church there are under increasing financial strain and their generosity no longer covers our costs.
We need financial help from our readers to sustain our efforts. Our reporters, editors, video producers and photographers all have families and we need to support them. They do excellent jobs, but they can't do their jobs for nothing.
Will you help us to sustain UCAN? Please click here to help.
Thanks in anticipation.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Asians focus on tradition for Lent
Lenten appeals are aimed at helping raise awareness and fundsCatholics in the Philippines receive the sign of the cross with ashes during an Ash Wednesday Mass (file photo)
- ucanews.com staff, Bangkok
- March 9, 2011
In the Philippines, Asiaâ€™s predominantly Christian country, Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, archbishop of Manila, is urging Catholics to remember malnourished children and to give whatever they save from fasting to the Churchâ€™s feeding program that will be launched on Ash Wednesday in dioceses throughout the country.
â€śLove. Give them Hopeâ€ť is the theme for this yearâ€™s Lenten campaign in Hong Kong. The Catholic Church here is helping inculcate a sense of service and sacrifice among the young this Lent. Most of the dioceseâ€™s Lenten activities are geared toward students. A series of Lenten activities include a piggy bank for children to save up their pocket money and Catholics and students of Church-run schools are encouraged to participate in theme day activities such as vegetarian lunches, no soft drinks, no TV, no games and no plastic bags on an assigned day.
In Indonesia, Jakarta archdiocese has taken the lead to foster a campaign for the country with its â€ślet us work together in fighting against povertyâ€ť theme.
â€śActually, the main theme was chosen for last yearâ€™s Lent. However, Catholics wanted to keep it because they thought it is still relevant,â€ť said Jesuit Father Yusuf Edi Mulyono, chairman of the archdioceseâ€™s Commission for Socio-Economic Development. The main purpose of the Lenten fundraising is not just to collect money from Catholics but to encourage them to work together in helping poor people, he said.
The Church in Myanmar intends to do things a bit differently with â€śIntegral human development in charity and truthâ€ť as its main Lenten message. Social workers from Karuna, as the local Caritas is called, has trained catechists, priests and nuns to help in diocesan projects that foster â€śhuman developmentâ€ť during Lent.
For Catholics who make up about 10 percent of Koreaâ€™s population, "Let's share what we haveâ€ť has been the recurring Lenten theme put forward by the local Caritas since 1977. The Catholic social service agency distributes posters and the Pope's Lenten message to all dioceses, asking them to prepare various activities to help Catholics understand the meaning of this season of penitence. It distributes a â€śpiggy bankâ€ť to all Catholic families on Ash Wednesday, urging them to save small change by sacrificing a cup of coffee, alcohol or cigarettes, or walking a close distance while remembering their poor neighbors. The collection is used to help poor and marginalized people.
The Catholic Church, through diocesan units of Caritas Pakistan, is circulating Lenten envelopes among parishes to generate revenue for charity works. Caritas in Karachi for example has urged a donation of at least one rupee (less than one US cent) for every Catholic in the archdiocese. â€śSupport the needyâ€ť is the national theme for this yearâ€™s Lenten campaign. â€śThrough a minimum contribution, we are aiming for maximum participation. Engaging each individual will help in stimulating compassion,â€ť said Riaz Nawab, a Caritas Pakistan coordinator for the Lenten fund raising campaign. The money collected will help orphans, widows and poor.
In neighboring Nepal too, envelopes for a special Lenten offering to help the poor are being kept in churches. Special daylong parish adoration of the Eucharist and retreats are being organized along with outdoor praying of the Way of the Cross during Fridays in Lent. Some parishes like southern Kathmanduâ€™s Ishalaya Church will organize a special weekly talk on Lent and a priest and time set aside everyday to hear confessions. A printed version of the Popeâ€™s Lenten message is also being circulated throughout parishes in Nepal.
For the Bangladesh Church â€śPeace begins in the familyâ€ť is the theme for its 2011 Lenten campaign. The campaign organized by Caritas will collect a dayâ€™s salary from each of its employees as well as from Catholics across the country to distribute among poor people. Caritas has produced leaflets and magazines to promote this campaign to highlight a â€śculture of giving.â€ť
The Catholic Bishopsâ€™ Conference of Sri Lanka chose â€śChrist is our Hopeâ€ť as the theme of this year Lenten season. It focuses on helping the displaced, homeless, widows and orphans. A booklet has published with special reflection from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday.
The Asian Church response is largely in keeping with Pope Benedict XVIâ€™s message that discusses the three hallmarks of Lent: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. â€śThrough the personal encounter with our Redeemer and through fasting, almsgiving and prayer, the journey of conversion towards Easter leads us to rediscover our Baptism,â€ť he said in his 2011 Lenten message.
The annual Lenten appeals are aimed at helping raise awareness as well as funds to combat poverty and injustice across the world by providing communities with the tools to turn their lives around.
Lent is based on the 40 days Jesus is said to have spent fasting in the desert in preparation for his ministry. It starts today on Ash Wednesday and is traditionally a time of penance for Christians in preparation for Easter.