Mass Stipends for Priests in Armenia

Success Story

Armenians are proud of the fact that Christianity was declared the state religion in their country as early as the year 301, making their country the first Christian nation in the world. Almost 95% of the population belongs to the Armenian Apostolic Church which, like the Coptic Church in Egypt, is one of the Oriental Orthodox Churches. However, there is also the Armenian Catholic Church which, while also celebrating its liturgies according to the Armenian rite, remains in communion with Rome and loyal to the Pope. Success Story

In 1991, an eparchy (diocese) of the Armenian Catholic Church was established in the country, which today ministers to all the Armenian Catholic faithful in Armenia, Georgia and Eastern Europe. According to the Pontifical Yearbook, there are some 420,000 Armenian Catholic faithful living in these areas. In Armenia itself, there are 48 Catholic parishes, in Georgia five, in Russia four.

Archbishop Raphael Minassian tells us that he and his priests face major challenges. "Now, after the end of the Soviet era, the people need the constant presence of the priests," he writes, "in order to bring them the Word of God in their everyday situations. They need to listen still, to speak, to ask questions, get answers and understand what it means to live their faith. But now there are many sects in the region, who exploit the difficult economic and social situation to lead the people astray," he adds.

But the truth is that, because of the dire economic situation, the Catholic Church herself scarcely has the resources to provide this much-needed pastoral care for the faithful, who live scattered across a wide area.

Given this difficult situation, the archbishop asked us for Mass Stipends so that he can at least provide some support for his priests. As in many other countries, Mass Stipends are the sole source of income that the priests have available to them. Having a Holy Mass celebrated for a particular intention, such as for the soul of a departed loved one, is already a long-standing tradition in the Church.

The stipend, or financial gift, that the faithful give the priest in return is by no means a "payment" but rather a gesture of loving support and gratitude for the priest who, through the words of consecration, makes the sacrifice of Jesus Christ once more present on the altar. For many priests, however, this small gift is vital to their survival.

Thanks to our benefactors, we were able to pass on to him 1,080 of these Mass Stipends, so that he can help his 18 priests. As Archbishop Minassian wrote in his letter to us: "If we do not receive help from you now, we are risking our mission in these countries."

Aid to the Church in Need commits to invest your funds where they will have the greatest impact for the Church that we serve. Funds donated to Aid to the Church in Need’s projects will be used towards the greatest need in our programs to help keep the Faith alive.


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