Founder of "Aid to the Church in Need" Turns 90

LIMBURG, Germany, JAN. 17, 2003 (ZENIT.org).- Father Werenfried van Straaten, founder of Aid to the Church in Need, celebrated his 90th birthday with a solemn Mass presided over today by Bishop Franz Kamphaus of Limburg.

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The Dutch Norbertine has spent the last 56 years with the charity, which helps the Church wherever it suffers for lack of religious freedom or economic means.

Van Straaten was born 1913 in Mijdrecht, near Amsterdam. In 1934 he joined the Norbertines at Tongerlo Abbey in Belgium.

In 1947 he founded a group principally to help clergy in the East. He collected aid in the Netherlands and Belgium for the refugees from Germany and preached reconciliation. His work earned him the nickname «the bacon priest» because of the food he collected.

The 10,000 petitions for help it receives each year has turned Aid to the Church in Need into a «point of encounter of the global Church,» says the founder.

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