22 January 2015
In this image from 2006, two students at the Shashemene School for the Blind in Ethiopia take a break between classes. (photo: Sean Sprague)
Several years ago, we paid a visit to a remarkable school giving remarkable opportunities to children with special needs:
Three days after she was born, Meseret was struck blind. She spent much of her early childhood locked in her room; her parents did not know what to do with her. But a few years ago, Meseret’s family found out about the Shashemene School for the Blind, run by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, and decided that Meseret would be happier there than at home.
The school lies within a large, gated compound — a sanctuary in Shashemene, a bustling Ethiopian town of 50,000. It was here that Meseret, now 12, learned Braille. And it was here that she first came to understand that her life, like those of the other 120 blind students enrolled in the school, could be meaningful.
Read more about “Special Attention for Special Needs” in the November 2006 edition of ONE.
22 January 2015
In this image from December, an Iraqi Christian prays inside a shrine on the grounds of Mazar Mar Eillia (Mar Elia) Catholic Church which has become home to hundreds of Iraqi Christians who were forced to flee their homes as the Islamic State advanced. The apostolic nuncio hopes Christians who fled northern Iraq can return later this year. (photo: Getty Images)
King Abdullah of Jordan praises pope (Fides) The views expressed by Pope Francis during his recent visit to Asia on the need to reconcile freedom of expression and respect for religions and religious symbols were praised and supported by King Abdullah II of Jordan, during a meeting with the leaders of the Bedouin tribe of Beni Sakhr...
Civilians killed during shelling in Ukraine (CNN) Seven civilians were killed when shells hit a trolley bus station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, the City Council there said Thursday, as the months-long conflict in the country’s east showed little sign of easing. In total, 10 civilians have been killed and 20 injured in shelling of four city districts in the past 24 hours, the Donetsk City Council said on its website. “As of now, the situation remains difficult,” the statement reads...
Nuncio: Christians could return to northern Iraq this year (Catholic Herald) Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, the Apostolic Nuncio to Iraq, has said that Christians may be able to return to their homes in northern Iraq later this year — but only if Islamic State is pushed out first. The archbishop, speaking to Aid to the Church in Need, a charity for persecuted Christians, said that once Mosul and the Nineveh Plains had been retaken the country must undergo a period of “national reconciliation”...
Gaza rebuilding to halt at end of January (Newsweek) A United Nations programme to rebuild Gaza and give aid and shelter to more than 100,000 Gazans made homeless by the 50-day summer war will be suspended at the end of January because world donors have reneged on promises to pay...
21 January 2015
In this image from 2014, a woman prays in her church in Armenia. Until a priest arrived in 2002, parishioners found it difficult to preserve and celebrate their faith. Read more about how Georgia’s Armenian Catholics persevered in “A Firm Faith” from the Spring 2014 edition of ONE.
(photo: Molly Corso)
21 January 2015
In this image from last October, Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town, South Africa, left, leaves the concluding session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican. Archbishop Brislin has just returned from a visit to the Holy Land and spoke of the challenges Christians there are facing. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Russia condemns European Union (Vatican Radio) Moscow has condemned the European Union’s decision to keep sanctions against Russia in place over its role in Ukraine, where at least six civilians died in increased fighting between government forces and pro-Russian forces...
Archbishop speaks of need for Christian unity in Holy Land (Vatican Radio) In this the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town, South Africa has spoken of the “tremendous challenges” facing the Christian community in the Holy Land saying, that it is very important for them to stand together...
Bishop returns from Iraq, describes plight of refugees (National Catholic Register) Qaraqosh, a bed of Christianity since the first century, was totally Syriac Catholic. Syriac-Catholic Bishop Barnaba Yousif Habash of the Syrian Catholic Eparchy of Our Lady of Deliverance, based in Bayonne, N.J., is a native of Qaroqosh. He describes his birthplace as “the biggest island of Christianity in the Islamic ocean.” Bishop Habash traveled to Irbil to spend the holidays with the more than 100,000 displaced Christians who were uprooted from Mosul and Iraq’s Nineveh Plain, as well as from Qaraqosh, by the advance of the Islamic State. The exiled Christians are still camping out in tents and uncompleted buildings in harsh winter conditions. Among them are priests, nuns and two bishops...
Ethiopians mark Epiphany (Turkish Press) Millions of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians continued for the second day to celebrate Epiphany, a three-day occasion marking the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan River and locally known as Timket. Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Abune Mathias, offered a benediction for thousands of people who congregated to mark the holy occasion in Jan Meda, a wide open field in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa...
Russian Orthodox activists urge ban on award-winning film (RT.com) Russian Orthodox activists are pressing the Culture Ministry in Moscow to create an “Orthodox Hollywood” and ban the distribution of the Golden Globe-winning “Leviathan.” The believers say that the drama tarnishes the reputation of the Russian Orthodox Church, openly criticizes the Russian government and shouldn’t appear on the big screen...
20 January 2015
A Russian Orthodox believer bathes in the icy water of a lake in Ilyinskoye, Russia, on Monday, 19 January 2015. Thousands of Russian Orthodox Church followers plunged into icy rivers and ponds across the country to mark Epiphany, which they observe on 19 January, cleansing themselves with water that has just been blessed. (photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)
16 January 2015
Students at the Asela orphanage prepare for careers in the skilled trades. To learn more about their lives, read “Revealing Hidden Talent” in the January 2008 edition of ONE.
(photo: Petterik Wiggers)
15 January 2015
The altar, or Holy of Holies, is seldom revealed during the liturgy at Debra Zion.
(photo: Sean Sprague)
In 2005, we took readers inside one of the oldest active religious communities in Ethiopia, Debra Zion:
We climbed out of the boat and walked toward Debra Zion Church, atop a hill less than a mile away. We were soon joined by a group of islanders, each bowing to the archbishop and kissing the cross he carried in his right hand.
At the church, we met Abba (Father) Mariam Samuel, one of the island’s three monks. Wearing a flat cotton hat, black cassock and a bright yellow shawl, he looked younger than his 43 years.
“I have been a monk for 23 years, but I was assigned here just two years ago,” he said. The three monks live in community, subsisting on a $5-per-month stipend as well as small gifts from the community. There are also five priests on the island.
Joining Abba Mariam Samuel was Abba Gebre Mariam, 66, a priest native to Tullu Gudo. He is a balding man with a weak back and huge smile. Like the archbishop, Abba Gebre Mariam carries a wooden cross, always ready to bless a passerby.
The islanders are known as “Lak’i,” he said, descendants of the Aksumites and speak a language that dates to the old empire. Some 25,000 Lak’i live in the general area, many of whom abandoned the island at one point or another because of the harsh living conditions.
“There is dire poverty on the island,” said Abba Gebre Mariam, who is married and has eight children.
Poverty exists throughout Ethiopia, but it is indeed “dire” on this island. The Lak’i of Tullu Gudo live in round stone huts covered with thatch. There is no electricity or running water — drinking water is carried from wells. There are no roads or automobiles, though dirt paths abound.
Until recently, fishing was the main source of income. Lake Ziway was flush with tilapia, which the islanders would sell at mainland markets. Due to overfishing, the lake has been closed to commercial fishermen.
Farming is seasonal; there is no irrigation. My visit, in late autumn, marked the end of the rainy season. Fields of barley, wheat and maize, which grow on the island’s lowlands, were almost ready for harvest. The terraces I saw from the boat stand neglected, carved out of the hills when Tullu Gudo was more densely populated and more provisions were needed.
Some islanders also raise cows, goats and donkeys for transportation. Many households also have a few chickens. A traditional society, the men are responsible for fishing and farming while the women tend the home.
Tullu Gudo has had a primary school for 26 years, but there is not a single shop. Anything not produced on the island must be brought from the mainland.
“One change for the good has been the construction of our new church,” Abba Gebre Mariam said. “Here we live by our faith.”
Read more about Ethiopia’s Island Sanctuary in the January 2005 edition of ONE.
14 January 2015
Pope Francis shakes hands with Hindu Kurukkal SivaSri T. Mahadeva after receiving a robe from him during a meeting with religious leaders at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 13 January. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
13 January 2015
Tags: Pope Francis Interreligious Interfaith Hindu Hinduism
Sylvana Akiki and her husband work in the Lebanon bakery they started with a microcredit loan from CNEWA. The bakery has given them a new lease on life. The Akikis are able to sell what they bake to various schools and shops in their neighborhood, and can now support their family as a result. To learn more, check out this blog post. (photo: CNEWA)
12 January 2015
Iraqi refugee children pose outside the Syriac Catholic Church of Our Lady’s Assumption in Amman, Jordan, in late October. (photo: CNS/Barb Fraze)
Catholic News Service has an update on the situation among Iraqi refugees in Jordan:
A Catholic official warned that funding will soon run out to feed and house thousands of Iraqi Christians sheltering in Jordan after being made homeless by Islamic State militants.
Syriac Catholic Fr. Noor Alqasmosa, who is charged with helping the refugees, told Catholic News Service that the funding situation is desperate, as the chances for many to restart a new life now further dim.
The priest said many Iraqi Christians probably will not be able to seek resettlement in Western countries in 2015 because these countries appear to give priority to Syrians fleeing their nearly four-year conflict.
“I was shocked when I was told that neither the U.S. nor the EU would take in Iraqi Christians from Mosul and Ninevah for resettlement,” said Noor, as he prefers to be called.
“We had everything in Mosul and left with nothing,” the Iraqi priest said following recent talks with UN and foreign government officials in the Jordanian capital.
“We have Caritas funding lasting just until the end of February to help the 7,000 Iraqi Christians in Jordan,” the priest said, his voice lowering with concern and strain visible on his face. “There is no hope among the people. They believe the world has abandoned them and are leaving them to die.”
Read more. Keep the suffering people of Iraq in your prayers. And please visit this giving page to lend your support.