The 2023 Report

April 02 2024 | by

By Mike Dean & Julia Cananzi

IN AN ERA marked by events ranging from wars to economic downturns, the spirit of charity in the name of St. Anthony stands unwavering and robust. The year 2023 saw a remarkable manifestation of this enduring philanthropy, with 125 projects across 36 countries benefiting from an impressive €3,600,000 in aid. This overwhelming display of generosity underscores a profound message: even in the direst circumstances, the inherent goodness of humanity finds a way to shine through, propelled by the selfless dedication of volunteers and the unwavering trust of benefactors.

Conventual Franciscan Friar Valerio Folli, the director of St. Anthony’s Charities, reflects on this phenomenon with a sense of admiration and gratitude. “Despite the growing difficulties in many parts of the world,” he says, “the generosity of the readers of the Messenger of Saint Anthony has never failed: a sign of great trust and a deep bond with Saint Anthony.”

Africa stands at the forefront of the charity’s global outreach, hosting 79 projects across 23 countries and receiving the lion’s share of the funds, approximately €1,300,000. In 2023, though, the focus of our June 13 project turned to India, and in particular the requirement for a new school in the diocese of Diphu in Daldali, Assam, northeast India. By the end of January this year, the foundations were complete, the pillars for the first floor ready, and the casting of the ground floor had begun. Not only that, but the grounds have been surrounded by a new 990-metre wall with three entrance gates. The cost of the project, including the new two-storey school building, will amount to €480,000 of the project in India, totalling €641,600.

Despite the focus on India, the commitment of St. Anthony’s Charities continues to extend to regions riddled with conflict or severe social issues, confirming the charity’s aim of reaching those in the most marginalized and challenging environments. It is in these, often remote, regions that the presence of St. Anthony’s Charities is frequently facilitated through its networks of friars’ monasteries or collaborations with local lay and religious organizations.

A striking example of this dedication is found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a nation beleaguered by decades of civil wars and conflicts, largely fuelled by a scramble for its vast natural resources: rare earths, diamonds, precious metals, and biodiversity. The dire consequences of these conflicts – the last of which broke out in North Kivu in May 2022 – are evident in the staggering statistics: over 5.5 million lives lost, more than 7 million displaced, and 70 percent of the population living below the poverty line.


Beacon of hope


Amidst these challenges, St. Anthony’s Charities has been a beacon of hope, funding micro-projects aimed at improving access to water, health, and education. “In 2023, the effort to help communities, parishes and local associations in marginal geographic areas to access our funds, despite not having any recognised organisational structures, was stepped up,” explains Father Valerio. “This deficit often prevents those in need from accessing support from other charities. But in this way the funds risk only reaching those who are already structured, penalising precisely the poorest. And so, at the beginning of a new solidarity relationship, we have accepted small projects and helped local operators to structure themselves so that they can learn how to build and implement a project, in accordance with reliable methods and procedures. This work requires a lot of energy from us, but it has become a training school for the poorest to take their future into their own hands. This breakthrough will be one of our main objectives for the years to come.”


Comprehensive approach


In 2023, St. Anthony’s Charities continued its impactful reach across a number of critical sectors, demonstrating a comprehensive approach to addressing the diverse challenges faced by the communities served. Initiatives in human promotion were multifaceted, encompassing vocational training programs, health awareness campaigns, and the creation of community centers and shared services. A particular focus was placed on rehabilitation projects for young individuals grappling with addiction and marginalisation, alongside supporting community agricultural projects aimed at enhancing food self-sufficiency to counteract the adverse effects of climate change.

Education remained a cornerstone, with significant resources allocated to improving school access, particularly in Africa and India. The construction and renovation of educational facilities will ensure that children and young adults have the opportunity to learn in environments conducive to their development.

A commitment to health and hygiene also featured prominently in 2023, with projects covering the establishment of dispensaries, provision of medical equipment, setting up of maternity rooms, and improvements to hospital wards. Recognizing the integral role of sanitation in health, investments in projects included constructing sanitary facilities at schools and hospitals. These efforts were complemented by projects aimed at enhancing access to clean water and housing construction, highlighting a holistic approach to promoting health and well-being.


Construction projects


Further supporting its mission, St. Anthony’s Charities facilitated vocational training and provided micro-credit options to empower individuals and communities, enabling them to secure a sustainable future and actively contribute to their local economies.

Through these endeavours, activities in 2023 touched the lives of approximately 765,000 individuals, primarily in rural areas, with a significant focus on children and young people. A sign of the times is the fact that the costs of projects are rising, partly because St. Anthony’s Charities often takes on the renovation and construction of buildings, which are among the most expensive and least supported by other charitable agencies. The financial scope of projects has seen a notable shift, with a considerable portion now requiring between €10,000 and €30,000, compared with five years ago when most were below €10,000. This reflects both the scale of ambition and the complexity of the needs addressed.


The UK


It is with great satisfaction that we friars of the Basilica can now report for the first time the donations made in 2023 by the recently established Messenger of Saint Anthony UK, our registered charity in the UK. This sister organization of St. Anthony’s Charities allows our readers in the UK, among other things, to further enhance the total of their donations at no extra cost to them by signing up to the Gift Aid scheme: visit for more information.

In 2023 our readers in the UK donated a total of £190,000, £20,000 of which went to Cardinal Hume Center to help homeless people in the UK. Then £80,000 were donated to the 2023 June 13 Project; another £20,000 were granted for the purchase of medical equipment by the Sisters of Mary Immaculate of Nyeri in Kenya; £50,000 were donated to uphold the Pilgrim Reception Program in the Basilica and a further £20,000 went to maintain the multimedial exhibition on the life of St. Anthony in the Basilica.


USA & Canada


In 2023 the Anthonian Association of the Friends of Saint Anthony of Padua (AAFSAP), our Saint’s charitable organization in the USA, again partnered with missionaries around the world who tirelessly serve the poorest of the poor. AAFSAP distributed a total $305,575 USD, of which $92,025 went to various projects in the US, mainly in education, but also to alleviate poverty. $33,500 went for educational purposes and evangelization in India, $36,800 were to alleviate poverty in Italy, and $22,000 for wells in Kenya. Tanzania and Cameroon received respectively $9,500 and 26,750 for wells and food. Venenzuela, Chile and Haiti received $18,000, $23,750 and $22,750 respectively for medicines, education and food. Finally, the Philippines received $20,500 for food and shelter.

Last year Saint Anthony of Padua Mission Aid (SAPMA), our Saint’s charitable organization in Canada likewise ensured the highest return for every dollar entrusted to it by distributing a total of $591,853 CAD, of which $149,163 were for projects inside Canada: St. Clare Inn for homeless women ($75,000) and St. Bernadette Centre ($20,000), both of which are in Toronto, then came St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Richmond, BC ($40,000),  and Franciscan Friars of the Emmanuel in Montreal, QC ($14,163).

The rest of the money went abroad to specific projects: $136,000 were given to St. Anthony’s Charities for its projects, $34,000 went to the USA to fund FrancisCorps. Then $50,616 were donated for a well in Bulengera in the D.R. of the Congo. Another $23,680 were for a clinic, still in the D.R. of the Congo. $37,222 were donated to disabled children in Paraguay, $43,512 went to education in Ecuador, $30,340 were for a children’s home in the Philippines, $34,040 were for a medical dispensary in Kenya, and finally $53,280 went for the purchase of a tractor in Kitwe, Zambia, by Novitiate Agricultural projects.

- Article by Mike Dean & Julia Cananzi

Updated on April 03 2024