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
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...
24 August 2016
In this image from 2001, Mar Varkey Vithayathil ordains Mar Jacob Angadiath as bishop of the Eparchy of St. Thomas. To learn more about the rich history of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, check out our profile of this Eastern church in the January 2007 edition of ONE.
(photo: Christian Molidor, R.S.M.)
24 August 2016
In this image from 1 August, a woman in Donetsk, Ukraine, is seen in her apartment damaged by a shelling attack. Pope Francis on Wednesday issued an appeal for peace in Ukraine.
(photo: Mikhail Sokolov/TASS via Getty Images)
Pope appeals for peace in Ukraine (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday once again appealed for peace in Ukraine, urging all parties in the conflict, as well as international bodies, to “strengthen the initiatives to resolve the conflict, release the hostages, and respond to the humanitarian emergency...”
After failed coup, Turkey enjoys rare moment of unity (The New York Times) President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey an Islamist who has run the country for more than a decade, has unabashedly used the aftermath of the mid-July coup to focus the country on a common enemy. His approval rating has shot up to 68 percent, from 47 percent before the failed coup. He has not only toned down his divisive language but also said he would rescind the numerous criminal cases he has pursued against Turks for insulting him, a crime under Turkish law...
U.S. Calls on Americans to leave Gaza ‘as soon as possible’ (Newsweek) The United States on Tuesday called on Americans in the Gaza Strip to leave the coastal enclave “as soon as possible...”
Aleppo faces humanitarian crisis (Al Jazeera) The humanitarian situation has gravely deteriorated in Syria’s northern city of Aleppo where Syrian government forces and Russian warplanes continue to attack civilian neighborhoods, according to activists and residents. “In the last four days, food supplies have close to disappeared from the markets, and prices have skyrocketed,” Salem al-Atrash, a resident in the city, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday...
Vatican calls for wider definition of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ (Vatican Radio) The Vatican has called on the international community to expand the definition of a ‘weapon of mass destruction’ to include “devastatingly powerful conventional weapons used to perpetrate war crimes and crimes against humanity...”
India conference hears message that ‘mercy goes beyond borders’ (Fides) To be merciful means going beyond borders and barriers: this is the meaning of the interfaith meeting organized in recent days in Wadala, one of the main areas in Mumbai, in the Indian state of Maharashtra. In the parish of Our Lady of Sorrows, speakers, intellectuals, experts, theologians of different religions gathered to reflect on “the wonderful theme of mercy that embraces the heart of every man and woman without distinction of any kind, religious, ethical, cultural,” said Sr. Teresa Joseph FMA, Secretary of the Office for dialogue and ecumenism within the Bishops’ Conference of India...
23 August 2016
In this image from the late 1920’s, the Rev. Edmund A. Walsh, center, checks the mail at CNEWA's New York offices. (photo: CNEWA archives)
One of CNEWA’s earliest heroes was a man with a remarkable portfolio, the Rev. Edmund A. Walsh., S.J.:
The life of Edmund A. Walsh, S.J., makes great material for a Jesuit recruiter: founder of the Foreign Service School of Georgetown University; head of the Papal Relief Mission to Russia; first president of Catholic Near East Welfare Association; papal negotiator with the Mexican Government; liaison between the Holy See and the Iraqi Government for the foundation of the Jesuit College in Baghdad; and consultant to Chief Justice Jackson at the Nuremberg Trials.
As the first papal-appointed president of Catholic Near East Welfare Association, Edmund Walsh would secure the new organization’s existence and expand the work of Msgr. Richard Barry-Doyle, the founder of the Association’s prototype.
To help launch the new organization, Father Walsh oversaw a one-time nationwide collection in the United States:
The purpose of this collection was emergency relief. “The wish of the Holy Father,” Walsh stated, “is rather to form a permanent society somewhat like the International Red Cross or the American Near East Relief.”
“It will be a centralized Catholic distributing agency,” Walsh continued, “which can materially assist the Holy See to meet the daily increasing demands made on the Holy Father for assistance in humanitarian works … education … social welfare work … as well as distinctly religious and missionary activities.”
In January 1927, Walsh’s drive tallied more than $1 million. “I had no idea myself,” Cardinal Hayes wrote to a colleague, “that we could get such a response.”
Father Walsh also helped secure CNEWA’s financial future, appealing for donations through the Papal Annual — a publication that only appeared once but which helped explain and dramatize the plight of the poor around the world. “Under God,” he concluded his appeal, “the future lies in your hands.”
Over the years, he gained a reputation as a savvy diplomat, a champion of the Russian people, an advocate for the causes of the Near East, and dedicated Jesuit. In 1931, Father Walsh transferred his presidency to New York’s Cardinal Patrick Hayes, who wrote to him, “I wish to thank you with my whole heart for what you have done for the Catholic Near East Welfare Association and what you have done for the Church of God.”
Edmund A. Walsh died in 1956, but will long be remembered for his tenacity and vision — and for being a hero of CNEWA.
23 August 2016
Tags: CNEWA Eastern Churches Priests
A photo taken from Turkey shows smoke rising over Syria after the Turkish army shelled ISIS positions on 23 August 2016. (photo: Ensar Ozdemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Turkey launches new artillery strike across Syrian border (The New York Times) Turkey’s artillery shelled ISIS targets across the border in Syria for the second consecutive day on Tuesday, a senior Turkish official said, amid reports that Turkey-backed Syrian rebels were preparing an offensive against an ISIS-held border town in northern Syria. The latest developments have thrust the town of Jarablus into center stage in the ongoing war…
Iranian religious leader thanks Pope Francis for comments on Islam (Vatican Radio) A senior Iranian religious scholar has written to Pope Francis, thanking him for his recent remarks that Islam is not equal to terrorism. In his letter, posted on his official website on Sunday, Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi of Qom also stressed that it is necessary for religious leaders to adopt clear stances when it comes to accusing religions of violence…
ISIS using child bombers (Reuters) Saturday’s attack at the wedding in Gaziantep marked not only Turkey’s deadliest this year, but also the first time in Turkey that militants may have deployed a child bomber in a way already used to deadly effect in wars from Africa to Syria…
Lebanon church leader decries terrorism in visit to South Korea (CNS) Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter, visiting the South Korean capital of Seoul, urged the international community to end the wars raging in the Middle East “fueled by foreign countries…”
Church building law sparks disputes in Egypt (Egypt Streets) Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church released a statement objecting to the “complexities and obstacles” in the governmental amendments to a long-awaited bill on church building in the country, privately-owned Al Shorouk reported…
Data shows reconversion of Dalit Christians in Kerala (The New Indian Express) If statistics are any indication, Kerala is witnessing an upward curve in ‘Ghar Wapsi’ — the controversial reconversion drive launched by some Hindutva groups — resulting in the dwindling Dalit Christian population in the state...
22 August 2016
Tags: Syria Egypt Pope Francis Turkey
In this image from 2012, Ukrainian Catholic Bishop Richard S. Seminack of the Chicago-based Eparchy of St. Nicholas, left, is seen at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome.
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Late last week, it was announced that a prominent figure in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church had died:
His Grace Bishop Richard Stephen (Seminack) 74 fell asleep in the Lord 16 August 2016.
After a prolonged battle with cancer, he died at Alden Poplar Creek Rehabilitation Center in Hoffman Estates, IL.
The priests, deacons and the staff of the Saint Nicholas Eparchy extend condolences to his family, friends, parishioners and all whose life he touched!
Please remember Bishop Richard in your prayers.
May his memory be eternal!
From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
“He was an exceptional pastor,” said Stefan Soroka of the Ukrainian Archeparchy of Philadelphia. “He was loved by his people.”
Bishop Seminack oversaw a small flock of about 10,000 in 46 parishes and missions in a territory stretching from Michigan to the Pacific. Ukrainian Catholics follow the Byzantine rites used by Orthodox Christians but are also loyal to papal authority and Catholic dogma.
Going from a beloved parish priest to taking on the administrative duties of a bishop was challenging at times, Archbishop Soroka said.
He had to navigate questions of how much to maintain Ukrainian language and culture in the parishes and how much to use English, adapt to American culture and reach out to the wider public.
“You’re never going to win on that one,” Archbishop Soroka said. “Someone’s going to be upset.” But “if somebody criticized him, he just listened. He didn’t hold malice.”
Richard Stephen Seminack was born in Philadelphia on 3 March 1942, the son of Raymond and Anna Seminack and the grandson of immigrants from Ukraine. The oldest of seven children, he attended Catholic schools and earned degrees from the Catholic University of America and the Pontifical Oriental Institute for Eastern Christian Studies in Rome, studying canon law in both places.
He served at numerous parishes and other settings in eastern Pennsylvania and Florida before serving at Holy Trinity in Carnegie from 1984 to 2003.
“He was just a nice man, a down-to-earth gentleman,” Mr. Zorey said.
Mr. Zorey recalled that at events such as his daughter’s wedding and father-in-law’s funeral, then-Rev. Seminack listened closely to learn about those involved and worked those details into his homilies.
After being appointed as bishop, Rev. Seminack told the Post-Gazette: “My ministry has always been one of openness and accountability. I have said from the first day that I was ordained that I have lived in Macy’s window. Everybody’s problem was my problem and my problem was everybody else’s problem.”
For funeral details, check this link.
“Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him…”
22 August 2016
Tags: United States Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
This photo from 14 August shows the damage from shelling in the town of Shyrokyne, in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine. (photo: AFP/Aleksey Filippov/Getty Images)
Battles rage in East Ukraine (Vatican Radio) Ukraine’s military and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine have accused each other of violating a cease-fire agreement amid escalating fighting that has worried international monitors and the West. The latest clashes have also undermined efforts to treat those wounded in a conflict that has killed more than 9,500 people…
Despite ISIS threat, 100 children receive First Communion in Iraqi Kurdistan (AsiaNews.it) The celebration of first Communion in Alqosh was a historic moment” for a “frontier town” that has been under threat from the militants of the ISIS for a long time. Now it can “hope for peace and normalcy” around these hundred children, said Bishop Basil Yaldo of Baghdad, a close associate of the Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael…
Iran says Russia has stopped using base for Syria airstrikes (AP) Russia has stopped using an Iranian air base for launching airstrikes on Syria for the time being, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said Monday, just hours after the Iranian defense minister criticized Moscow for having “kind of show-off and ungentlemanly” attitude by publicizing their actions…
Journalist: West won’t recognize Christian Middle East exodus (Catholic Register) Middle Eastern Christians have suffered soft, state-sponsored discrimination since the Ottomans ruled and that discrimination has been reinforced over generations by poor, underfunded education systems throughout the region. More recently this evil brew has been stirred into feverish, bigoted campaigns of hate spread by Saudi-funded Wahhabi preachers…
Lost language set to return in India (The New India Express) Consumed by time, Suriyani Malayalam, an early Malayalam dialect wrote in a variant form of Syriac script, might make its electronic debut if Anshuman Pandey’s ambitious project reaches its target. Mr. Pandey, a linguistics professor at the University of California, is in the process of creating a unicode font for the dialect by 2017…
19 August 2016
Tags: India Ukraine Middle East Christians Iraqi Christians
In this image from 2006, a priest presides at the Blessing of the Grapes, an ancient festival celebrated every August at the St. James Armenian Apostolic Church in Watertown, Massachusetts. Learn more about this busy community in A Taste of Little Armenia in the July 2006 edition of ONE. (photo: Ilene Perlman)
19 August 2016
Tags: United States Armenian Apostolic Church
A civilian removes the rubble in front of a damaged shop after an airstrike in the rebel-held Al Saleheen neighborhood of Aleppo. (photo: Reuters/Abdalrhman Ismail)
Russia supports cease-fire in Aleppo (Al Jazeera) Russia has said it would support a 48-hour ceasefire in Syria’s Aleppo, a move the United Nations envoy said would allow aid to reach besieged areas soon, as long as all sides respected the truce. As viral images of a dazed child pulled from rubble in the heavily bombarded rebel-held east of the city captured the plight of its civilians and drew the attention of the world, Moscow said it was ready to start the first “humanitarian pause” next week…
Ukraine president may declare martial law (Vatican Radio) Ukraine’s president has warned of “a full-scale Russian invasion” and says Kiev may have to impose martial law. Petro Poroshenko made the remarks amid reports of ongoing fighting between government forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine…
Israel budget could bring more Jews from Ethiopia (The Times of Israel) Activists campaigning to bring Ethiopia’s Jews to Israel inched closer to their goal during a 21-hour marathon budget approval last Friday, but they are waiting to see what will happen before breaking out the champagne. In the 2017-2018 budget, the Finance Ministry allocated a budget that would enable 1,300 Ethiopians to move to Israel, to be divided among a number of entities, including the Interior Ministry, the Absorption Ministry and the Jewish Agency, among others, according to M.K. David Amsalem (Likud) spokesman Nimrod Eliran Sabbah…
Cardinal urges more subdued celebrations in India (Ucanindia) The head of the Syro-Malabar Church Cardinal George Alencherry has appealed to the faithful to put curbs on church festivities, to reduce noise and pomp, and turn feasts into occasions of simplicity and kindness. The Cardinal said it was time traditional festivals were given a makeover…
Smithsonian, other agencies protect artifacts in Iraq, Syria (The Washington Post) The Smithsonian, better known for museums ringing the Mall, is one of a half-dozen agencies cited in a Government Accountability Office report on the “Protection of Iraqi and Syrian Antiquities.” Smithsonian experts provide cultural property protection training in countries facing war or natural disasters. “To prevent destruction, the Smithsonian and others trained Syrian antiquities professionals to use sandbags and other materials to protect ancient mosaics at a Syrian museum, reportedly resulting in the successful protection of the museum collection when it was bombed,” according to the GAO…
Tags: Syria Ukraine Israel Historical site/city