Stewardship of the Australian-founded Friends of the Suffering Souls, a lay-led association and charity that facilitates Masses for those in purgatory, has been formally handed to Aid to the Church in Need.
FoSS was founded in the early 1980s in regional New South Wales by solicitor Ben Forshaw
Inspired by stories of Our Lady of Knock (Ireland, 1879) and the actions of Fr Bartholomew Cavanagh who had said 100 consecutive masses for the Holy Souls prior to the Knock apparition, Mr Forshaw organised 100 consecutive masses locally, recruiting 100 people by word of mouth to each sponsor a Mass.
Buoyed by the enthusiastic response to this first initiative, Mr Forshaw aimed to find 365 people who would contribute to have one Mass said each day of the year for the Holy Souls.
“I originally envisioned 300-400 members, but it snowballed because of the love people have for their family and friends who have died. People were really grateful to have the opportunity,” Mr Forshaw said.
Today, there are 11,000 members in 78 countries actively organising more than 45,000 Masses annually. Members report experiencing consolation, spiritual enrichment, and a feeling of belonging to the universal church. The majority of FoSS members are in Australia.
Mr Forshaw, who turns 80 in December, is delighted about the handover.
“That ACN has taken responsibility is an answer to prayer.” The transition is now finalised after some years of discussion and planning.
New FoSS coordinator Perry Mowbray aims to take the association forward, building on the original vision of “helping the souls in purgatory through having Masses said.”
ACN will promote FoSS through parishes this November.