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Aid to the Church in Need supporters ready to rally

Amanda Connelly

LEADING Christian charity Aid to the Church in Need is preparing to host its annual Scottish Youth Rally at Carfin Grotto.

Bishop John Keenan of Paisley will join Fr Martin Delaney, youth co-ordinator for Motherwell Diocese, on Thursday, June 1, as well as the hundreds due to gather for the rally.

Taking as its theme ‘#WeAreOne,’ the day will feature prayer, music, a dramatic reading and social media activity.

Scotland’s young Catholics are being encouraged to take part to stand in solidarity with fellow Christians who are being persecuted for their Faith.

A number of schools will be attending, and will each have a special role, having all been asked to write to prayers or messages for Syria and Iraq.

On the day, the prayers and messages will be given to the bishops serving in the two countries, and will be viewed by the communities living there.

Guest speakers at the popular annual event will include Fr Frankie Mulgrew, an inspirational speaker and former comedian, and Christian electropop band Oober-fuse, who will deliver their personal stories and perform live at the rally.

“The violence and oppression experienced by Christians in our world continues,” Bishop John Keenan, who is on the ACN advisory board, said.

“The situation in Syria has been one of devastation and, with Aleppo city centre now under the control of the Assad government, it is possible to start counting the cost of war,”

He extended an invitation to all Scotland’s Catholic high schools. “The city’s Christian community has fallen from 250,000 before the war to 30,000 today. It is our duty to support persecuted Christians and, by attending the rally, we can make a real show of solidarity.”

Lorraine McMahon, ACN head of operations in Scotland, also encouraged young people to take part, and spoke of the activities that will feature. “The message of the day is that #WeAreOne family in God no matter where we live and as such we have a responsibility to get to know each other and support our brothers and sisters in Christ,” she said.

“We are very excited about this year’s rally and have attracted some wonderful guests for what will be an amazing day for Scotland’s youth to stand up for Faith and freedom. I would encourage every secondary school in Scotland to take up Bishop John Keenan’s invitation and come and join us for a truly special occasion.”

Fr Delaney, who is also on ACN’s advisory board in Scotland and has attended the last two youth rallies, spoke of the importance of the event and the need to support persecuted Christians across the globe.

“The issue of persecuted Christians throughout the world is huge,” he said. “They are now the most persecuted group. We need to be standing up for our persecuted brothers and sisters—they need that solidarity, they need our prayers and support—but also we need to be aware of the injustice that is going on throughout the world.

“The ACN Youth Rally is a great day because it is all about solidarity, with our youth coming together from all over Scotland. It is a fantastic opportunity for our youngsters to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians around the world.

“It’s great to have these experiences of coming together with lots of other youngsters from around Scotland.

“One thing nowadays, even for Christians here in the UK, is that they can feel very alone. So even though we are not suffering the persecution which is happening in other parts of the world, there is a sense that it is not popular to be a Christian.

“The Youth Rally will be a great chance for our youth to come and experience a sense of solidarity for themselves.

“There is a very special moment when the students pray before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. There is a wonderful quietness and prayerfulness of everyone being together for the same reason. There can be more than 1,000 people there but at that moment it goes so quiet you could hear a pin drop.

“People enter into the spirit of the day. There are also a lot of talks which help make you aware of what is going on in our world, which is very inspiring.

“ACN need money for the type of projects they are doing, they can’t give the practical support to the persecuted Church without that. It’s great to be standing in solidarity with persecuted Christians and praying for them as well but we need to be practically supporting them.”


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