Chapel-Ship on the Volga Named for Father van Straaten

In Memory of Founder of «Aid to the Church in Need»

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KOENIGSTEIN, Germany, OCT. 31, 2004 ( Orthodox Metropolitan German Timofeev blessed a new chapel-ship on the Volga River in Russia, a vessel named after Father Werenfried van Straaten, the «Bacon Priest.»

This «floating church» was consecrated today to the Russian ruler St. Vladimir, who converted his country to Christianity.

The ship is named «Werenfried,» in honor of Father van Straaten (1913-2003), who in 1947 founded the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

After the fall of Communism, ACN established ties with the Russian Orthodox Church to provide financial support for several joint projects, among them the chapel-ships of the Volgograd Eparchy.

The first two to be consecrated were «St. Innokentij» in 1998, and «St. Nikolaj,» launched in 2000. The new floating church will visit settlements on the banks of the Volga where there are no churches or plans to construct any in the near future, explained an ACN statement.

The immediate objective of ACN was to distribute funds and food among displaced Germans in the Netherlands and Belgium, and to foster postwar reconciliation between erstwhile enemies.

Father van Straaten’s success in collecting hundreds of tons of bacon among Flemish farmers won him the nickname «Bacon Priest.»

Beginning in the early 1950s, ACN worked to support the persecuted Church in Communist Europe. In 1962, at the request of John XXIII, the charity extended its aid to Latin America, and later to Africa and Asia.

After the fall of the Iron Curtain, and in response to John Paul II’s appeal, ACN initiated contacts with the Russian Orthodox Church to assist the latter, seriously affected by Communism.

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