17 July 2019
Martina Isaac stands in front of her home in the Zabbaleen quarter of Manshiyat Naser, Cairo. For more about the life of this Coptic enclave, and the sisters who serve their community, read Reclaiming Lives, from the July 2019 edition of ONE. (photo: Hanaa Habib)
16 July 2019
Tags: Egypt Sisters Copts Catholic education Coptic
Sister Abhaya and Sister Phincitta socialize with students St. Clare Oral School for the Deaf in Kerala. Read more about how these young people are getting A Sound Education in the July 2019 edition of ONE. (photo: Sajeendran V.S.)
15 July 2019
Syrian Armenians celebrate the Divine Liturgy at St. Grigor Narekatsi Armenian Catholic Parish in Yerevan, Armenia. Read how Syrian refugees are starting over in Armenia, and how the church is supporting them, in Hope Takes Root in the July 2019 edition of ONE. (photo: Nazik Armenakyan)
10 July 2019
Tags: Syria Armenia
Children attend English class at the Fratelli School in Saida, Lebanon. To learn more about how this school helps to bring education to a “lost generation’ of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, read Fratelli, Where Education Is Alive in the July 2019 edition of ONE. (photo: Tamara Abdul Hadi)
28 June 2019
Tags: Lebanon Refugees Children Education Catholic education
Sister Nabila Saleh oversees the education of all students at the Rosary Sisters School in Gaza. (photo: Ali Hassan)
The new edition of ONE magazine features a letter from Gaza, written by Sister Nabila Saleh, principal of the Rosary Sisters School. She describes her life and mission:
Religious life carries great requirements and obligations: It demands vows of poverty, chastity and obedience; it requires the ability to break with worldly desires in order to pursue union with God. The road before us is quite thorny and fraught with hardships, but I knew then that the way to God is worthwhile if we allow him to work through us as he desires.
My life, heart and soul are enlightened by the existence of the extreme beauty of God. I tell him continually, “take what you have given me, and use me as you wish me to serve you.” I do believe in God’s providence because he has everything and he can do great things through me.
There are three sisters in the convent in Gaza: I am from Egypt; Sister Martina Bader and Sister Bertilla Murj are from Jordan. We dedicate much of our time to prayer, to the Liturgy of the Hours and worship of the Lord in the Eucharist. We have a harmonious relationship despite our respective differences — different backgrounds, cultures and accents. I cannot deny that I found it difficult at first, but our common love of Christ has brought us to work together in an almost perfect communion.
We believe that God has chosen us to work for him in Gaza to spread love by our care and to offer ourselves as a sacrifice to counter evil from wherever it arises. I am convinced our sacred mission is our daily struggle in teaching ethics, virtues and moral values and instilling the spirit of tolerance and mutual respect for all, regardless of race, gender or creed.
Read more of her letter in the July 2019 edition of ONE, now online.
27 June 2019
Tags: Gaza Strip/West Bank Sisters ONE magazine
Michael Shami, a seminarian at the Pontifical North American College, is pictured during his ordination as a deacon at the college in Rome on 2 June 2019. Shami was ordained as a deacon using the Antiochene Syriac rite of the Maronite Catholic Church. (photo: CNS/Denis Nakkeeran)
Ancient tones of Syriac chant, columns of incense, ornate oriental vestments and bearded clerics filled the chapel of the Pontifical North American College in early June, creating a rare Middle Eastern atmosphere in the heart of the U.S. church’s flagship seminary in Rome.
The ordination of Michael Shami to the diaconate was the first at the NAC in more than 20 years to use the Antiochene Syriac rite of the Maronite Catholic Church. The new deacon said the ritual underlined the church’s universality for his fellow seminarians and highlighted treasures proper to one of the smallest and most ancient Christian churches.
In the Maronite tradition, “there are no great treatises like in the West with Aquinas,” Deacon Shami explained. “Its strength is in its liturgical contributions.”
For example, he said, in the ordination rite, “when the bishop is imposing his hands upon the candidate, he’s fluttering his hands, and the specific verb used there for the action of the Holy Spirit” is the same verb “used for the Holy Spirit hovering over the primordial waters in Genesis and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.”
“Because typology is the primary mode of Syriac theology, it makes a very rich connection between biblical events and historical events and sacramental events and the general life of the believer,” Deacon Shami said.
While most of the altar servers were Latin-rite seminarians of the NAC, who wore their Latin cassocks and albs, many of them had spent three months learning to chant the Syriac prayers and preparing for the demanding liturgy.
“I didn’t see the hodgepodge” of East and West mixing “as an eyesore or lack of uniformity,” Deacon Shami said. “At the same altar, there was a Maronite deacon standing with a Byzantine priest leading him as his sponsor and Latin servers -- it kind of encapsulated the true universalism of the church and it was appropriate that it should happen in Rome.”
Preparing for Maronite ministry at a Latin seminary might be unusual, but Deacon Shami was confident it would help him to be a successful witness to his religious heritage in the United States.
“It provided me with an opportunity to try to communicate to a predominately Latin- or even Protestant-minded United States the value of the Eastern tradition in general, specifically our heavy reliance on patristics and sacramental mystagogy,” he said. “It taught me which idioms were helpful for communicating Eastern theology and which were not.”
Deacon Shami said that he had to put in extra effort to remain faithful to his Eastern spiritual heritage while at the Latin-rite NAC, but even those challenges bore fruit with his confreres.
“I would chant my own Office in my room,” Deacon Shami said, referring to the daily prayers of the Liturgy of the Hours. The other seminarians “hearing my voice, hearing me take such great love in my tradition in worshipping God, they themselves turned and looked more into the Western chant tradition.”
In other areas of life at the NAC, East and West did not mix so well. Fasting — not eating meat or dairy products — is at the heart of Eastern spiritual discipline and there are long periods of fasting throughout the liturgical year.
“It was very difficult to fast at the NAC. I tried my best, though,” he said, and there, too, it became an opportunity to share with the Latin-rite seminarians the idea of fasting as an ascetical practice.
The NAC also asked Deacon Shami not to wear his Eastern-style outer cassock, he said, because it would break up the uniformity of the seminarians’ attire. Other challenges were making time to visit Eastern-rite liturgies in Rome that would often conflict with the NAC’s schedule.
Deacon Shami is among the few young Maronite-rite seminarians in the United States. At 25, he is aware that his choice to remain faithful to the Christian heritage of his ancestors is counter-cultural. His own father, for instance, “Latinized” when he moved to the United States.
Like many U.S. immigrants from Lebanon, where the Maronite church is centered, “my father stopped attending (the Maronite liturgy) and simply started going to the local Latin parish” because it was more convenient.
As an adolescent, Deacon Shami said he took an interest in the Syriac language and developed his skills while an undergraduate at New York University.
“In my parish assignment last summer, I offered a free Syriac class and I had attendance of upward of 25-30 persons,” Deacon Shami said. “Even people of other backgrounds, with Italian last names, were coming” because Syriac is close to “the language Christ spoke.”
Deacon Shami completed his stint at the NAC in June and plans to visit Lebanon before returning to the United States for a parish assignment that will last until his priestly ordination in May 2020. As a new priest, he hopes to help revive Maronite traditions that have been lost.
A recent liturgical reform in the Maronite church “had a lot of simplification and elimination,” he said.
“One of them is when the priest elevates the host as he’s offering it, and he recounts all the great patriarchal sacrifices of old, from Abraham and Noah to David on the Threshing-Floor of Ornan,” Deacon Shami explained.
“The last sacrifice (the priest) mentions in this anamnesis is the sacrifice of the widow who puts the two pence in the treasury vault,” he said. “It really kind of encapsulates this idea that the greatest sacrifice, as St. Aphrahat says, is the sacrifice of the heart, and so the priest is asking that this sacrifice be akin to that sacrifice, the sacrifice of the widow.”
“Those kinds of prayers have been completely eliminated,” Deacon Shami said, because there was an assumption that many of them were “too complex” for people to understand.
“We need to have a reclamation of sorts,” Deacon Shami said.
26 June 2019
Tags: Maronite Catholic
Archbishop Elpidophoros of America stands with his crosier during his enthronement as the seventh archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New York City on 22 June. Also pictured are retired Metropolitan Avgoustinos of Germany and Archbishop Demetrios, who headed the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America from 1999 to 2019.
(photo: CNS/Dimitrois Panagos, courtesy GOA)
25 June 2019
Syriac Catholic bishops from around the world met for their annual synod in Lebanon last week, led by Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan. (photo: CNS/courtesy Syriac Catholic patriarchate)
Faced with the migration of Christians from Syria and Iraq, Syriac Catholic bishops meeting in Lebanon for their annual synod called upon church members “scattered everywhere in the East and West” to cling to their faith with hope so they “can be witnesses to the joy of the Gospel wherever they are.”
In a statement at the conclusion of the 17-22 June gathering led by Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan, the bishops acknowledged the suffering of the faithful in the face of “endless wars, persecutions, acts of violence, terrorism, displacement, murder and destruction, and the uprooting of a large number of nationals from the land of fathers and grandparents -- Syria and Iraq -- and their dispersion throughout the world.”
Yet the bishops stressed that they also are optimistic, “thanking God for the return of many displaced people to their villages” in Iraq and Syria.
The prelates noted that Christians “are an authentic component and founder in these two countries.” They called for solidarity among all citizens to build peace, hope and unity.
Synod participants came from dioceses and patriarchal and apostolic offices in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, the United States, Venezuela and Australia. They were joined by the patriarchal vicar in Rome.
In studying pastoral service in the countries where Syriac Catholics relocated -- primarily Europe, the Americas and Australia -- the bishops acknowledged the plight of migration “to the country of alienation and painful assimilation” and the importance of sending “priests of good quality.” They pointed to visits from the patriarch and bishops to Syriac Catholics worldwide in which the faithful were called “to preserve the deposit of faith and trust for their churches, the Syriac heritage and native lands.”
The bishops reiterated their demand to stop wars and “resolve disputes through dialogue and peaceful means, and to achieve a just, comprehensive and lasting peace.” They called for the return of all displaced persons, refugees and abductees to their homelands.
The synod also stressed “the right of the Palestinians to return to their homes and establish their state on their land,” emphasizing that Jerusalem “is a holy city for the followers” Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
They called on Lebanon’s president, prime minister “and all concerned” to find an immediate solution to the country’s economic recession and crisis in the housing sector that pushes Lebanese youth, in particular, to emigrate.
In their statement, the prelates welcomed efforts made “to obtain the official recognition of our Syriac Church in Jordan.”
They also praised the establishment of a Syriac Youth Meeting in Syria in early July and plans for a World Youth Meeting in 2021, which both follow the first World Youth Meeting in Lebanon in the summer of 2018. The bishops recommended such meetings be held in eparchies and other countries.
21 June 2019
Tags: Syriac Catholic Church Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan
CNEWA’s president, Msgr. John E. Kozar, visits the Home of Faith in Kerala, India, which cares for children with disabilities. (photo: John E. Kozar/CNEWA)
Msgr. John Kozar, president of Catholic Near East Welfare Association, and publisher of CNEWA’s ONE magazine, is the 2019 winner of the Catholic Press Association’s Bishop John England Award.
The award, the CPA’s highest honor for publishers, was announced at lunch on 20 June during the annual Catholic Media Conference in St. Petersburg.
Michael LaCivita, communications director for CNEWA, accepted the award on Msgr. Kozar’s behalf, informing the crowd the priest could not be with them because he had to have a medical procedure and he is suffering from kidney failure. LaCivita asked for prayers for Msgr. Kozar but added that he is otherwise in good health and good spirits and is in line to get a donor kidney.
The Bishop John England Award is given to a Catholic press publisher who “clearly has acted in his role as publisher; and clearly has acted in defense of the publication or used the publication, in accordance with its mission, to defend the First Amendment rights of the publisher, the institution owning the publication, and/or the church as a whole.”
The nomination entry for Msgr. Kozar described him as “a champion of journalism, promoting accountability and transparency in reporting, affirming a commitment to excellence and promoting the church’s evangelical witness throughout the world, especially in some of its most embattled corners.”
Whether spotlighting India’s “untouchables,” Iraqi and Syrian refugees or Armenia’s elderly “orphans,” it said, “John Kozar has been an advocate for commanding storytelling that informs as well as celebrates compassion and outreach service of the Gospel.”
It also said Msgr. Kozar — ordained for the Diocese of Pittsburgh in 1971 — was “a parish priest on loan to the missions” and someone who “has promoted formation of persons as the cornerstone of healing a broken world.”
The nomination called the priest more than a publisher, saying: “He is in his bones a journalist who relishes getting a good story and sharing it.” Through his photography, essays, videos, emails and reports, he has kept readers “informed and engaged, bolstering CNEWA’s credibility and winning readers’ loyalty.”
Using his “considerable skills” as a photojournalist, which he first developed in high school, Msgr. Kozar takes readers to far-flung corners of the globe to show the Gospel at work,” it said. His ethic and spirit of transparency and accountability “set the standard for every publisher.”
This year there were three nominees for the Bishop John England award. The other two were Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, New York, publisher of The Tablet newspaper of the diocese; and Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Paterson, New Jersey, publisher of The Beacon newspaper of his diocese.
The award is named after the first bishop of Charleston, South Carolina, who in 1822 founded The Catholic Miscellany, the first Catholic newspaper in the U.S. Bishop England edited the paper, wrote most of its material and even helped print it. He published a missal and a catechism and wrote the first pastoral letter published in the United States.
17 June 2019
Tags: CNEWA ONE magazine Catholic Press
Maronite Catholic bishops from around the world met in Lebanon last week for their annual synod at Bkerke, the patriarchal seat north of Beirut.
(photo: CNS/Mychel Akl for Maronite Catholic Patriarchate)
Maronite Catholic bishops from around the world, meeting in Lebanon, called for unity among politicians and the international community to facilitate the return of Syrian refugees.
Returning the refugees to their homeland, the bishops said in their synod final statement, would lift Lebanon from the “heavy burden” it faces in hosting them, which they noted is recognized by international authorities as “exceeding Lebanon’s potential.”
It also would encourage the preservation of Syria’s history, heritage and culture, the bishops said.
With an existing population of around 4 million, Lebanon has absorbed more than 1.5 million refugees from neighboring Syria. This has inflicted humanitarian and socio-economic strains on the tiny country, about two thirds the size of Connecticut. Lebanon has the world’s highest number of refugees per capita.
The Maronite prelates also pointed to Lebanon’s housing crisis, calling on government officials to revive housing loans, which were suspended due to a weakening of the central bank’s capacities. The stagnation, the bishops said, is forcing young couples to abandon marriage and plans for a family and a future. The bishops stressed that the housing sector is vital to the country’s economic growth, trade and production.
The bishops also looked at Maronite dioceses in other countries and addressed the “growing needs they face, due to an accumulation of crises.”
Maronite Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay of Australia told Catholic News Service his parishes have not been directly affected by the approximate 18,000 refugees from Syria and Iraq that have settled in Australia.
However, he said, Lebanon’s refugee crisis is of great concern to the Lebanese diaspora in Australia who have family in their ancestral homeland. The Maronite diocese of Australia has 15 parishes and six missions, or Mass centers, serving more than 200,000 Maronites.
“Whenever we’re talking to the faithful that have relatives in Lebanon, they are conveying to us the suffering of their relatives” due to the country’s economic slump exacerbated by the refugee crisis. Increasingly, their relatives in Lebanon are facing unemployment, unable to meet basic livelihood needs and slipping further into poverty, he said. Many have lost their jobs to Syrian refugees.
Bishop Tarabay relayed his flock’s distress: “They’re asking, ‘What can be done to help the Lebanese people?’“
The Maronite bishops concluded their synod statement with the confidence that Mary “will help us to guide the world’s leaders to work to stop the wars in the Middle East and the world and to bring about a just, comprehensive and lasting peace and the return of all displaced and abducted people to their lands and homelands.”
The 10-15 June synod took place at the patriarchal seat of Bkerke, north of Beirut. It was preceded by a spiritual retreat.
Tags: Lebanon Maronite Maronite Catholic