6 September 2016
Father Palathingal holds a young HIV patient named Christy, who never leaves the priest’s side.
(photo: K.L. Simon)
Several years ago, ONE took readers to a hospice in India offering care to AIDS patients.
That was when many readers first got to know a priest who worked with CNEWA for several years to support many of the unfortunate poor in India: the Rev. Varghese Palathingal.
He is known for his selfless and dedicated service to humanity, especially the marginalized.
His 25 years of service for the less fortunate, the abandoned, H.I.V.-positive patients and the homeless poor are remarkable and truly heroic.
To begin with, Father Palathingal founded the first community care and support center for the H.I.V./AIDS patients in South India, the Mar Kundukulam Memorial Research and Rehabilitation Complex.
He was able to help nearly 2,000 H.I.V.-positive patients, including children. The effort and risks taken by him had a significant impact. He gave peace and shelter to the patients who were about to die or had attempted suicide.
He not only cared for these persons but also provided rehabilitation for those who were regaining their health after treatment.
Father Palathingal educated the innocent children of the H.I.V./AIDS patients, those who were rejected from the regular school academies. He cared for these children in different ways.
First, he introduced prayer as therapy. He found this therapy is very useful for the patients to share their feelings and emotions; it brought them peace.
He also gave tremendous care to those who are mentally handicapped.Since 1987 he has been the Director and Principal of Pope Paul Mercy Home, a residential training center for those living with mental handicaps.
Every year nearly 500 mentally handicapped students get training from this special school without any discrimination. Father Palathingal introduced the practice of teaching these student in a natural, home-like setting. Through such specialized
training, the students were given a chance to improve themselves and be independent.At present, more than 6,000 persons have received training.
He also began new self employment opportunities for these disabled children. More than 500 boys and girls are employed in such fields as horticulture, masonry, gardening, cooking and printing, among others.
Father Palathingal is also a father figure for the destitute who cannot afford even one meal a day and who have no place to stay. Through a Noon Meal Program under a charitable society called Abhayam, started in 1996, he has been able to provide meals for almost 200 needy people every day in and around Thrissur. Now he chairs the organization. Through Abhayam, Father Varghese has been able to feed close to 480,000 hungry children so far.
Through the center for persons living with H.I.V./AIDS, Father Varghese Palathingal has worked to reduce the number of suicides among the patients, prolonging their lifespan. Usually these patients are rejected from the hospitals after first aid treatment.
But thanks to Father Palathingal, more patients are finding healing and hope. As he noted a few years ago:
“Most of them have attempted suicide. But after reaching the hospice, we find all of them yearn for life. They live happily though death awaits them. Our aim and motto is to give them a respectful and peaceful death.”
Read more about his work in Hoping Against Hope from the July-August 2004 edition of ONE.
6 September 2016
Students at the Al Bishara School in Ain Kawa, Iraq, near Erbil, get ready for class. The school serves children who were displaced by ISIS in 2014. (photo: John E. Kozar)
6 September 2016
In this image from June, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople celebrates Vespers of Pentecost in the Church of St. Titus in Heraklion, Greece. The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople has branded as “false allegations” reports that the patriarch was involved in Turkey’s failed coup in July. (photo: CNS/Sean Hawkey, handout)
Patriarchate rejects ‘false allegations’ that Bartholomew was involved in attempted coup (Fides) The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople deplores the “false allegations” that have circulated in recent days in the Turkish press regarding the involvement of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in the failed coup attempt in Turkey on 15 July...
Russia launches military drills near Ukraine’s borders (Vatican Radio) Moscow has launched large-scale military drills on Ukraine’s eastern border and around Ukraine’s Russia-annexed Crimean Peninsula, despite international concerns it could lead to a further escalation of tensions between the two neighbors...
India, Pakistan mark Mother Teresa’s sainthood (Vatican Radio) Bells chimed, people cheered and nuns sang hymns at the mother house of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity (MC) in eastern India’s Kolkata city, formerly Calcutta, as Pope Francis declared her a saint at a canonization Mass in the Vatican. They broke into an applause when they watched on big TV screens the live ceremony of the canonization. Hundreds of local people, including nuns, volunteers at the Missionaries of Charity houses from India and abroad had gathered at the motherhouse of the congregation where St. Teresa died and was buried 19 years ago...
Summit of church leaders to discuss fate of Middle East Christians (Fides) On Tuesday, 6 September, the XI General Assembly of the Council of Churches of the Middle East begins in Amman, with the participation of leaders and representatives from all ecclesial realities in the Middle East...
Syria tourism video spotlights sunny beaches (NPR) The aerial footage shows bright beach umbrella, palm trees, swimming families, jet skis. The sun is shining. The music is upbeat. The message? “Syria: Always Beautiful.” Over the last few weeks, the Syrian government’s Ministry of Tourism has released more than a dozen videos on Youtube, each promoting the charms of Syria as a travel destination. One video spotlights ancient ruins — with no acknowledgment that many cities in Syria are new ruins, destroyed by the brutal civil war raging there...
2 September 2016
Sister Huda Sheeto kicks a soccer ball at the Al Bishara School, which is run by the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena in Ain Kawa, near Erbil, Iraq. Sister Huda is the school’s principal. The school serves displaced children of Iraqis who fled their homes to escape
ISIS in 2014. (photo: Paul Jeffrey/CNS)
2 September 2016
Children are seen in Jarabulus, Syria, on 1 September, after part of the city
was liberated from ISIS terrorists during the ‘Operation Euphrates Shield.‘
(photo: Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Airstrikes kill 25 civilians in Syria (AP) Syria’s government secured a deal to restore its authority over another rebellious Damascus suburb on Thursday while Syrian rebels captured new ground in a lightning advance on the central city of Hama and suspected government airstrikes killed 25 civilians in the surrounding province...
The endless battle for Aleppo (Al Monitor) another battle is taking place that could significantly affect the fight for Aleppo. To the city’s north, in the border town of Jarablus, Turkey is fighting its first direct battle in Syria against the Islamic State — though the objective of this military campaign is not to defeat ISIS as much as it is to prevent Kurdish militias from creating an autonomous area in Syria that could foster Kurdish separatism within Turkey itself...
Palestinian journalist arrested in Gaza (AP) The wife of a prominent Palestinian journalist and critic of the Islamic militant group that rules the Gaza Strip says Hamas has arrested him. Mohammed Othman’s wife, Huda, says Hamas officers arrested him at this home on Thursday...
Patriarch Kirill thanks president of Uzebekistan for encouraging dialogue (Fides) While diplomatic sources cited by international agencies announced the death of the President of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill in a message sent to the same Karimov thanked him for the “care” with which he encouraged dialogue between the different religious components of the Uzbek nation, protecting the rights of those who are called “traditional communities...”
More court officials sacked in wake of Turkey coup (BBC) A further 543 judges and prosecutors have been sacked in Turkey, bringing the number of dismissals since July’s failed coup to at least 3,288. The new dismissals were reported as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan celebrated the start of the new judicial year in Ankara...
Indian leaders head to Vatican for canonization of Mother Teresa (Time) As Pope Francis prepares to declare Mother Teresa a saint of the Roman Catholic Church on 4 September, a string of top Indian politicians are heading to the Vatican to witness her canonization, underlining her popularity in her adopted home...
1 September 2016
Eileen Fay, seen here in 1985, first joined CNEWA in high school. (photo: courtesy Eileen Fay)
For 55 years, one of the most familiar faces and voices at CNEWA has belonged to a diminutive New Yorker by the name of Eileen Fay.
Eileen joined CNEWA in 1961, when she was still attending St. Anthony’s High School in Greenwich Village. She spent a few hours every week after school — filing, typing and answering the phone. Soon, she became a full time employee, and what started as something to do after school grew into a full-fledged career in our New York office — a career that has spanned, incredibly, six popes.
Today, over half a century later, she is still a fixture in the office, working part time as a Donor Relations Representative — serving others as the friendly voice on the other end of the phone, helping to answer questions, provide information and facilitate giving.
Ask her what she has found so satisfying, and her eyes brim with tears.
“It’s the people here that I met,” she says. “It’s the donors who would call and I’d become friendly with. It’s the work that we were doing to help those in distress.”
But the most rewarding part of the job, to her, has been helping people in need.
“The need is so great.” she explains. “It’s just overwhelming, the help that is going overseas. It’s amazing — especially for the children who are suffering over there.”
“This place is in my heart,” she adds. “I enjoy doing what I’m doing. I feel so strongly about Catholic Near East, about the people who work here, the jobs that they do. It gives me a good feeling at the end of the day to feel like I did a good job with our donors. It’s heartwarming, just knowing that you are in touch, talking to another person who’s donating to CNEWA.”
She’s seen a lot of changes over the years. “It was a different world,” she says. “When I first started, it was typewriters and boxes and boxes of work lined up to be done. No computers. You had to make sure everything lined up on the page when you typed.” She laughs. “And it didn’t always line up.”
But what has lined up is her life with the life of CNEWA. And, it seems, it’s been welcome and rewarding intersection. She has now been with the association for more than half of its 90 years — and has no plans to leave any time soon.
“To me, CNEWA means my home. It’s like my second home. I enjoy the work I’m doing, the people I work with, and I just enjoy coming into this building every day.”
Eileen is still working for CNEWA, after 55 years. (photo: courtesy Eileen Fay)
1 September 2016
In this image from April, displaced Iraqis celebrate Mass in Inishke, Iraq. Pope Francis yesterday told Christians in the Middle East to keep the flame of faith alive. (photo: CNS/Paul Jeffrey)
Pope Francis urges Arab Christians to ‘keep the flame of their faith’ (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis told Christians in the Arab-speaking world to “keep the flame of their faith,” despite the darkness of the trial.” The Holy Father was speaking during his General Audience to Arab-speaking pilgrims from Iraq, Jordan, and the Middle East...
Ukraine cease fire holding (BBC) Ukraine’s defence minister says a new ceasefire has been holding in eastern Ukraine since midnight, despite a recent intensification of shelling. “This morning I’m pleasantly surprised that at 09:00 (06:00 GMT), since midnight, we haven’t had a single shot fired,” Stepan Poltorak said. It is the first time there has been a true halt to fighting in 11 months, says BBC correspondent Tom Burridge...
UN: situation in blockaded Gaza ‘grim’ (Andalou Agency) Robert Piper, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, has described current living conditions in the Gaza Strip — which continues to groan under a decade-long Israeli/Egyptian blockade — as “grim.” “Gaza continues to face difficult conditions even though the Palestinian people have great potential,” Piper said during a Wednesday visit to Gaza City’s Islamic University, according to a statement issued by the university...
Lebanon’s trash crisis threatens to return (Voice of America) Rubbish is again accumulating on some Beirut streets after protesters blocked access to a dump, raising fears that last summer’s garbage crisis, which provoked unprecedented street protests, could return...
Ecumenical autumn: Pope’s calendar filled with opportunities for dialogue (CNS) Pope Francis will open his season of ecumenical engagements on 20 September when he joins other Christian leaders and representatives of other religions in Assisi to commemorate the 30th anniversary of St. John Paul II’s interreligious peace gathering. Ten days later, Pope Francis flies to Georgia, a predominantly Orthodox nation. In October, he will meet and pray with Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury and, at the end of the month, he will fly to Sweden to take part in ecumenical events launching commemorations of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation...
31 August 2016
Iraqi refugees celebrate the Divine Liturgy in St. Elias Church in Beirut. To learn more about how displaced Iraqis are surviving outside their homeland, read In Limbo in Lebanon in the
Autumn 2015 edition of ONE. (photo: Tamara Abdul Hadi)
31 August 2016
In this photo from June, Pope Francis poses for a photo with refugees during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. The pope invited more than a dozen refugees to sit near him on stage during his catechesis. Wednesday, the pope created a new dicastery to focus on needs of migrants and refugees. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Pope creates new dicastery for for migrants and refugees (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has created a new dicastery to better minister to the needs of the men and women the Church is called to serve. The new “Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development” was instituted in a Motu Proprio published on Wednesday in the Osservatore Romano...
Leading ISIS figure reported killed in Syria (Al jazeera) The main spokesman for ISIS, Abu Mohamed al-Adnani, has been killed in the Syrian province of Aleppo, according to an ISIS-linked website. Amaq, the ISIS-affiliated media, said on Tuesday Adnani was killed while monitoring military operations in Aleppo...
Meet Gaza’s only fisherwoman (Forbes) What’s the hardest part of being the only fisherwoman in Gaza? I ask Madeleine Kulab. “Starting the engine is hard and it takes a lot of strength,” she says. Then she shows me how to yank the cord and grab the tiller to steer, and we go spinning over the water, her wooden boat tilting into the small waves. A decade ago Kulab took over her father’s fishing boat as a 13-year-old, after he became disabled. She was the only girl working the waterfront, defying cultural norms to feed her family...
Marking Buhe in Ethiopia (Africannews.com) For weeks in August, Ethiopian boys dress up and perform songs from door to door in neighborhoods across the country. In return, the boys get ‘Mulmul’ — bread freshly baked for the occasion in each house. Known as Buhe, the festival — like most cultural celebrations here has its origins in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. It marks the transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor...
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.