30 August 2016
Father Szulczynski visits with a patient at a clinic in Tbilisi. (photo: Molly Corso)
When she profiled the Rev. Witold Szulczynski a few years ago, writer Molly Corso described him as “probably the only Roman Catholic priest to have ever built a Georgian Orthodox Church.” At the time, Father Szulczynski was doing remarkable work in partnership with CNEWA, through his ministry with Caritas Georgia:
As general director of Caritas Georgia — an international Catholic humanitarian organization — Father Szulczynski has undertaken countless social and economic projects serving Georgia’s needy of all creeds.
Originally from Poland, he has dedicated the last 17 years of his life to Georgia’s poor, Catholic and Orthodox alike. Approximately 80 percent of the country’s 4.7 million people belong to the Georgian Orthodox Church. Only a small fraction are Roman Catholic.
“The Lord is one. On the cross, he gave his life for the Orthodox, the Catholics, the Baptists — for everyone,” explains the priest.
Father Szulczynski and Caritas Georgia have their work cut out for them. More than a third of Georgian’s live below the poverty line.
“Every person that we help, it doesn’t matter whom, is a child of God and that is most important,” says the priest.
However, Father Szulczynski also stresses that his and his agency’s mission is not simply to fill bellies; it is also to elevate souls.
“[A] person — whether a child or a 70-year-old grandmother — needs more than just a piece of bread, or a table and mattress,” he says. “They are human souls and they need something more.”
For Father Szulczynski, building an Orthodox church for Georgia’s needy is essential to helping them bear witness to God’s love.
Growing up in a devoutly Catholic family in Poland, Father Szulczynski remembers receiving the call to priesthood early in life. Surrounded by uncles who were priests, he had plenty of role models.
“I always thought that becoming a priest meant serving the people,” he says. For him, the call was synonymous with helping those in need. As a young man he even defined it as “a symbol of love from the Lord to man.”
Writing in CNEWA’s magazine in 2000, Father Szulczynski noted:
“Those carrying out Christian service should have eyes to see and ears to hear and empathy for human suffering, as well as knowledge of how that suffering can be healed. For Christians, and especially those members of Caritas Georgia, charity is always an available service.”
That spirit inspires us in our work throughout the world. If you’d like to make a difference in the lives of those who are suffering in Eastern Europe, visit this giving page to learn how you can help.
30 August 2016
An altar server assists with Communion at the Chaldean Church of the Mother of God in Detroit. To learn how Arab-Americans have formed a community of faith in Michigan, read Forging a New Detroit in the January 2010 edition of ONE. (photo: Fabrizio Costantini)
30 August 2016
In the video above, Muslim leaders speak out to condemn Islamic radicals, in a chorus of public criticism that is growing louder. (video: Rome Reports)
Human rights group: Iraq recruiting displaced children to fight ISIS (Human Rights Watch) Iraqi government-backed militias have recruited children from at least one displaced persons camp in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to fight against Islamic State forces. All security forces and armed groups should abide by international law and demobilize any fighters under age 18...
U.S. welcomes 10,000th Syrian refugee (CNN) he Obama administration will reach its target Monday of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees by 1 October, National Security Adviser Susan Rice announced in a statement. Rice said that the final Syrian refugee to hit this target would be arriving Monday afternoon, more than a month ahead of schedule...
Turkey detains more journalists (Indian Express) Turkish authorities detained an editor at the prominent Hurriyet newspaper in the latest round-up of journalists and others accused of links to last month’s failed coup, Hurriyet’s English-language publication said on Tuesday...
Russian Orthodox cathedral nears completion in Paris (The Tablet) A huge Russian Orthodox cathedral complex is to be dedicated in October in central Paris, according to a senior official, at a ceremony attended by Patriarch Kirill and President Vladimir Putin. “This center will provide a great educational environment, with training and formation programmes in Russian,” premier Dmitri Medvedev told a World Forum of Compatriots in Moscow. “Its main pearl will, of course, be the Holy Trinity cathedral, which will conform with the traditional canons of Russian Orthodoxy...”
29 August 2016
A girl lights a candle in the original wooden church in Butovo, Russia. To learn more about efforts to keep the flame of faith alive in Russia, read Orthodoxy Renewed in the March 2010
edition of ONE. (photo: Julia Vishnevets)
29 August 2016
Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad, Iraq, is seen at the Vatican in this 2014 file photo. The patriarch recently said the political future of parts of Iraq remains “uncertain.”
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Pope sends message to Catholic-Orthodox meeting (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message to Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, on the occasion of the XIV Inter-Christian Symposium taking place in Thessalonika from 28-30 August...
Patriarch: unwise to talk now of self-determination in Iraq (Fides) The future political and administrative arrangement of Mosul and the Nineveh Plain, after the eventual liberation of those areas, is an issue which is “still uncertain,” and “it is not wise to talk about self-determination,” according to Chaldean Patriarch Raphael Louis I said during a meeting he had on Thursday, 25 August...
Turkish forces deepen push into Syria (Reuters) Turkish-backed forces pushed deeper into northern Syria on Monday and drew a rebuke from NATO ally the United States, which said it was concerned the battle for territory had shifted away from targeting ISIS. At the start of Turkey’s now almost week-long cross-border offensive, Turkish tanks, artillery and warplanes provided Syrian rebel allies the firepower to capture swiftly the Syrian frontier town of Jarablus from Islamic State militants...
Israel delays delivery of textbooks to Gaza (Haaretz) The Palestinian school year began on Sunday, but Israel has yet to deliver thousands of textbooks for over half a million students to Gaza Strip schools, the Palestinian Education Ministry said on Saturday. An Israeli official in the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said the books must first be examined and approved by Israel, before being allowed into the Gaza Strip...
Pope to discuss nonviolence in World Peace Day message (CNS) When nonviolence is the basic approach of political decisions and public policy, it promotes the restoration and consolidation of peace, the Vatican said. In his message for the 1 January celebration of World Peace Day, Pope Francis will offer reflections on the importance of nonviolence as a political choice, the Vatican said in a statement on 26 August...
Seminar in India: Practice mercy in the media (Fides) Put into practice mercy even in working with the media: in this spirit the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Mumbai lived a seminar in which they deepened some techniques and the use of certain computer software and shared competences in the field of communication...
26 August 2016
At the Bird’s Nest, an Armenian orphanage in Lebanon, women make miters and vestments. To learn more about the Church of Armenia, read our profile from the September 2008
edition of ONE. (photo: Armineh Johannes)
26 August 2016
Syrian army soldiers rest in a street in the government-controlled part of the besieged town of Daraya on 26 August 2016, as thousands of rebel fighters and civilians prepared to evacuate under an accord struck a day earlier. (photo: Youssef Karwashan/AFP/Getty Images)
Residents plan to evacuate Syrian town (BBC) A deal has been reached to allow rebel fighters and civilians to leave the Syrian town of Daraya, which has been under government siege since 2012. The evacuation of the town, near the capital Damascus, is expected to begin on Friday. Syrian Red Crescent vehicles are poised to enter the town. Residents have faced near-constant bombardment and shortages of food, water and power...
Thousands of refugees trapped in Jordanian desert (The Telegraph) The Arab kingdom of fewer than seven million people has taken in around 700,000 Syrians since 2011 and earned the praise of Western countries whose own doors have been mainly shut. Britain has taken in around 5,000 Syrians and the US only slightly more. But this year Jordan’s fears of an Isil attack have risen sharply and, after a jihadist suicide bombing in June, it closed its borders entirely to new refugees. That decision has left around 75,000 Syrians stranded on a sand berm on the Jordanian border...
Shadowy group is assassinating ISIS members within its borders (Business Insider) With such an oppressive regime and a weakening infrastructure, the organization that touts itself as the caliphate is facing growing dissent within its civilian populace. And it looks like this gap is widening, especially after the efforts of a secret group called the Mosul Battalions...
Egypt accused of discriminating against Christian athletes (AINA) Non-profit organization Coptic Solidarity has filed formal complaints with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and FIFA alleging that Coptic Christian athletes in Egypt face “systematic religious discrimination...”
Orthodox cathedral named among top ten “most endangered historic properties” (OCA.org) Historic Saint Michael the Archangel Cathedral in Sitka, AK, is one of two Diocese of Alaska churches on this year’s “Ten Most Endangered Historic Properties” list compiled by the Alaska Association for Historic Preservation [AAHP]. Also on this year’s list is the Ascension of Our Lord Church, Karluk, AK, which was built in 1888. Located on the far side of Kodiak Island, the Karluk church is considered the state’s oldest extant Orthodox sanctuary...
25 August 2016
Sister Nahla Francis serves as a nurse at the Mother of Mercy Clinic in Zerqa, Jordan.
(photo: Philip Toscano-Heighton)
Some of the heroes in CNEWA’s world have worked to help heal the world.
Sister Nahla Francis, of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, served as a nurse in Mosul, treating the wounded of the Iraq war from 2002-2004. More recently, she served in Jordan, at Zerqa’s Mother of Mercy Clinic. Nicholas Seeley wrote about the clinic in ONE magazine in 2013 and interviewed Sister Nahla, who spoke about being a bridge between different faiths while also serving as a nurse:
ONE: What’s the most difficult thing about this kind of work?
SNF: When patients ask you to help them in certain things, and you cannot do it. Sometimes they have no money, but they need expensive medicine. We cannot always help them — this is the most difficult thing — or when the doctors tell an expectant mother to take a certain test, and she has no money to do it. It is so painful.
ONE: And what is the best part of a day? What gives you the most satisfaction?
SNF: The best thing? When you see a smile on a patient’s face — when she tells you, “I feel I’m at home here.” You know? So important! Or when women from far away come here, just to receive a shot, or something simple. I will ask them: “Why should you come here? Don’t you have a clinic there?” And they will say: “No, no. Here, I feel relaxed, I feel peaceful.” That is so important for us.
ONE: And you treat people of all different faiths?
SNF: We don’t ask them. Our mission here is for everyone. If you go to a hospital, sometimes they will include “religion” in your file. We don’t have that kind of stuff here — just the name and the age and what we need to know.
ONE: What do you think people in America should know about the situation here?
SNF: I was in America and I know, as a people, they are very kind and sensitive to others. But maybe they need to know we have different cultures. Different thinking, we can say. We are here, living with different faiths, like Muslim, Christian, whatever. But we are here as one family.
ONE: If you could say something to people in America about the situation of refugees, what would you say to them?
SNF: It is a difficult question. I have something in my heart, but I don’t know how to say it, even in Arabic.
[Sister Nahla pauses, then adds:] Let us live in peace, please. Let us live in peace, because we need it.
Indeed, we do. And we are grateful for the heroic efforts of people such as Sister Nahla who are trying to bring healing and peace to a world wounded by war.
25 August 2016
A framed picture lies amid rubble in Damascus, Syria, on 27 July. Christian patriarchs residing in Damascus urged the international community to “stop the siege of the Syrian people” and to lift international sanctions, which they say are deepening the suffering.
(photo: CNS/Bassam Khabieh, Reuters)
Christian patriarchs residing in Damascus urged the international community to “stop the siege of the Syrian people” and to lift international sanctions, which they say are deepening the suffering.
The three Christian leaders — Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregoire III Laham; Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II and Greek Orthodox Patriarch John X — directed their 23 August appeal to “the international conscience and the concerned countries.”
Although “the main goals of imposing these sanctions are political,” the patriarchs said, they have affected all Syrian people, “especially the poor and working class, whose ability to provide their basic daily needs such as food and medical care are greatly affected.”
“Despite the resolution of the Syrian people in the face of the crisis, the social situation is getting worse and the poverty and suffering of the Syrian people are constantly increasing,” the patriarchs said.
In their statement, the patriarchs pointed to specific consequences that are crippling the country and isolating it from the rest of the world. Those include the absence of new investments, a ban on international flights to Syria, reduced exports to the country and the placing of some Syrian companies on the blacklist for international trade, all of which the patriarchs said “are considered to be economic measures toward the isolation of Syria from the international community.”
They criticized most Western countries for closing their embassies and said a ban on international banking transactions with Syria “puts the people in a financial difficulty.”
The patriarchs said that in addition to helping to improve the dire living conditions in Syria, lifting the sanctions would facilitate efforts of church and humanitarian groups in providing aid, thus reducing exploitation of the suffering Syrian people.
“We hope that the international community responds to the humanitarian appeal of the Syrians: ‘Stop the siege on the Syrian people! Lift the international sanctions on Syria and allow this people to live in dignity, which is a basic right to all the peoples of the world.’”
A day earlier, in a meeting with Russian Ambassador to Syria Alexander Kinshchak, Patriarch Aphrem requested Russia’s help for the release of two kidnapped archbishops of Aleppo. Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Gregorios Yohanna and Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Paul, brother of Patriarch John, were kidnapped in April 2013 in northern Syria while on a humanitarian mission.
25 August 2016
Members of Free Syrian Army (FSA) patrol part of Aleppo, Syria, after taking control from ISIS terrorists during ‘Operation Euphrates Shield’ on 24 August 2016.
(photo: Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Why Turkey sending tanks into Syria is significant (CNN) More than 80 ISIS targets were attacked in the first hours of “Operation Euphrates Shield” early Wednesday, officials say, as Turkish armor and warplanes targeted a key ISIS-held town across its border with Syria. Jarablus is one of the few towns in northern Syria that ISIS still controls and is a critical location for supplies, money and fighters coming into ISIS-held areas...
Attacker killed in assault on Coptic church (AP) Egypt’s state news agency says a knife-wielding attacker has been shot and killed after he stabbed a guard at a Coptic church...
Russia orders military drills amid tensions with Ukraine (The Wall Street Journal) Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered snap military drills Thursday to test the combat-readiness of troops on the country’s western flank. The exercises, announced by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, come amid heightened tensions with Ukraine. Russia, which is covertly supporting separatists in its neighbor’s east, blamed Ukraine for the deaths of two service members earlier this month in Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014...
India seeks to ban ‘commercial surrogacy’ (Vatican Radio) It will no longer be possible to exploit the female body for commercial purposes. This was decided yesterday the Government of India, presenting the new bill that regulates the practice of surrogacy to the public...
In Gaza, animal rescue complete as ‘world’s worst zoo’ closes (The Times of Israel) Rescued by an international animal welfare nonprofit from horrific conditions in a Gaza Strip zoo, 15 surviving animals were brought across the Israeli border on Wednesday morning. They represent the last survivors of a zoo described as “the world’s worst,” many of whose “inhabitants” were crudely taxidermied carcasses on display alongside their living neighbors...