Your help for Christians in Cuba
A Sister ministers to the sick
Christians bring flowers to the Shrine of Our Lady of El Cobre
Our Lady of Cobre, Patron of Cuba, is transported atop the new vehicle
A Priest celebrates mass in a church in need of repair
A Priest gives communion to a parishioner
Work is underway to restore and expand the Shrine of El Cobre
Catholic calendar of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre
Your generosity is helping to strengthen the faith of the people of Cuba. Here are some of the projects that you have enabled us to support.
As the Church in Cuba looks to a brighter future, it faces many pastoral challenges – not least reaching out to those who are either returning to the Church, or are discovering the Faith for the first time. After many years of being banned from the media, the Church still faces problems getting its message to the faithful.
You are helping the bishops print educational materials including 90,000 booklets for a nationwide programme introducing people to Christianity, and diocesan publications that are often the only was to reach a larger audience. As one bishop wrote: "Your willingness to help spurs us on to encourage more people to hear the Good News of Christ."
In 1961, Fidel Castro's communist regime carried out a mass confiscation of Catholic churches and schools. Now a number of confiscated churches have been returned. Bu many places of worship are either in disrepair or are simple huts in need of regular maintenance which the people cannot afford. You are helping them to carry out basic essential improvements such as replacing leaking roofs. And you are also helping to build parish centres used by priests and Sisters who care for the poor and sick.
Priests and Sisters often have to travel long distances to reach the faithful in remote communities. You are helping to provide vehicles, including repairs and fuel, to enable them to bring the Sacraments – and Christ – to more of their flock.
And you are helping them care for the poor and sick. The Sisters of Mercy rely on your help to enable them to care for terminally ill people in their homes and in hospitals. Sister Maria told us : "Our ministry is beautiful in itself but no less exhausting. Thank you for sustaining our mission and encouraging us to continue this work!"
The revered image of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, which is central to the lives of the people of Cuba, celebrates its 400th anniversary in 2012. This mysterious, foot-high statue was drawn from the ocean by three fishermen in the year 1612, during a storm in the Bay of Nipe, and brought to the town of El Cobre in the south of the island.
Pope Benedict XVI will make a personal pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre in late March. There he will see for himself the restored and expanded shrine which you have made possible.
Supporting devotion to Our Lady of Cobre
Ahead of the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the statue of Our Lady of Cobre, a replica statue has been travelling to over 1,000 villages and towns around Cuba, bringing Our Lady's presence to the people. The vehicle used to transport the statue was supplied by Aid to the Church in Need.
And you are helping to sponsor pilgrims from across Cuba to visit the shrine and make their own personal act of faith in honour of Our Lady and the Christ Child.
Your kindness provides ongoing help to 56 diocesan and religious seminarians based at SS Charles and Ambrose seminary, in the capital, Havana. Running the seminary – providing books, paying lecturers’ fees, buying food, and lighting – has become more expensive as costs have increased across the island, and your continued support is a vital lifeline.
And you are providing essential Mass stipends for priests such as Father Juan, who wrote: “The strength that comes from Christ’s body and blood helps sustain me in my ministry and gives hope to all those who suffer. We are all grateful to the brothers and sisters who have helped us and say to them ‘thank you’.”
The revered statue of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre is being especially honoured in 2012, the 400th anniversary of its discovery.
In 1916 the Virgin of Cobre was proclaimed as Patron and Protectress of Cuba by Pope Benedict XV, and on 24 February 1998 Pope John Paul II crowned our Lady of Cobre and declared her "Mother of Reconciliation" for Cuba. You are helping to print 700,000 calendars bearing Our Lady of Cobre’s image, nourishing the faith of so many in a country where the Church has very few resources at its disposal.