Many members of the Pan Africa Catholic Community have family and friends in Africa who know first-hand the daily struggle against Ebola. At the end of their recent Mass, celebrated by Bishop Pat Lynch SSCC, they had a spontaneous collection to raise funds to support communities in Africa. They raised over £600, which they have asked Missio, the Pope’s official charity for overseas mission, to ensure it gets to those who need it.
Sierra Leone relies on the Church as a major provider of health services. Bishop Henry Aruna, National Director of Missio in Sierra Leone, says, ‘The Mission Hospitals are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of sick and dying people arriving every day. It is not only the sick and the dying who need our assistance, but the children who are orphaned and the elderly who have no one to care for them.’
Another major issue is that bodies have to be cremated. This is counter-cultural, and Bishop Henry explains that the Church has a major role in reassuring relatives that this process is proper in such circumstances.
‘The major factor of the escalation of the infection is ignorance and denial. We are using our Missio-funded station, Radio Maria, to inform people of the facts about Ebola and how to prevent it.
‘We are also teaching classes via Radio Maria for children whose primary and secondary schools have had to close to avoid the spread of the disease.’
Two missionaries in Bishop Henry’s diocese of Makeni, a Priest and a Brother of the Nursing Order of St John of God at the Mission hospital in Lunsar, have died, contracting Ebola in the course of their missionary service.
Bishop Henry asks that the Catholic community continues their support: ‘The diocese and the country need all the support we can get to continue our work of giving hope and addressing the Ebola crisis. Thank you for your continued support.’
Missio is continuing to send money directly to Bishop Henry and other dioceses working on the ground in communities affected by Ebola.
Donations can be made by calling 020 7821 9755 during office hours, or via www.missio.org.uk