13 May 2014
A Southist woman in Kerala, India, prays the rosary during Holy Week observances.
(photo: Sean Sprague)
In 2002, we profiled a distinct group of Christians in southern India known as “Southists”:
It is Good Friday in Kottayam, a city in the southern Indian state of Kerala. A family of Christians gathers to bless a plate of fresh, unleavened rice bread. The head of the household reads from a prayer book written in Malayalam, the vernacular of Kerala. On the cover the Hebrew word for Passover is embossed in gold. By tradition, the youngest member of the family asks the eldest the significance of unleavened bread. He is told how their ancestors, the Jews, fled Egypt in haste and how they had only enough time to prepare unleavened bread.
Before sharing their Passover bread, these Christians greet each other, exclaiming, “Happy Pessaha!”
This Indian Christian family traces its origins to those Jewish Christians who immigrated to India from Mesopotamia in the fourth century. Rooted in the past by cherished traditions, they belong to a dynamic community — the Southists, or Knanaya — a group vital to the mosaic of modern India.
Among the Christians of southern India, explains Father Jacob Kollaparambil, a Southist scholar and Vicar General of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy of Kottayam, there are two ethnically distinct communities, the Northists and the Southists:
“The Northists are the descendants of those families who were first evangelized by the Apostle Thomas as well as those who have since embraced Christianity. The Southists trace their origins to 72 Mesopotamian Christian families who settled in Cranganore in 345 A.D.”
Southists now number about 200,000 people, a minority within the whole Thomas Christian community of some 4.5 million people (Thomas Christians describe the descendants of those Christians — now members of several Eastern churches — evangelized by Thomas the Apostle). A Semitic people who have maintained their identity by avoiding intermarriage, the Southists are nevertheless divided into two distinct ecclesial jurisdictions. About two-thirds belong to the Eparchy of Kottayam, a diocese of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. The remaining third are in communion with the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, who established a Southist eparchy in Chingavanam in 1910.
Read more in Ancient Christians, Modern Mission from the July-August 2002 issue of the magazine.
9 May 2014
A painting of Pope Francis at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity shows him holding an icon of Sts. Peter and Andrew. The icon was given by Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople to Pope Paul VI in 1964 and how hangs in the council’s
Vatican office. (photo: CNS /Paul Haring)
Later this month, Pope Francis is not just making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land; he is traveling, in effect, to visit a member of the family.
With the bishop of Rome going to meet the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, a family reunion will take place. The successor to Peter will meet the successor to the apostle Andrew, Peter’s brother, who founded the church in Byzantium.
The patriarch recently spoke about the meeting in an interview with the Associated Press:
Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of 250 million Orthodox Christians, says a meeting with Pope Francis in Jerusalem this month will help move the two churches closer to ending their nearly one-thousand-year divide.
In an interview with The Associated Press in his Istanbul office, Bartholomew also praised Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for improving rights for Christians but said pointedly, “it is not enough.”
The meetings between the ecumenical patriarch and the leader of the world’s Roman Catholics on May 25-26 will commemorate the historic visit of their predecessors 50 years ago that launched a dialogue aimed at ending the two churches’ schism in 1054.
“We shall say through our meeting and our prayer that it is the intention of both of us to work further for Christian unity and reconciliation,” Bartholomew said, sitting at his desk piled high with papers in his Patriarchate office. Around him, golden icons from Byzantium on the walls loomed over standing photos of the patriarch greeting world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama and Erdogan.
Although the Orthodox and Catholic churches remain estranged on key issues, including married clergy and the centralized power of the Vatican, there have been moves toward closer understanding, beginning with the 1964 meeting between Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras in Jerusalem. It was the first encounter between a pope and Orthodox patriarch in more than 500 years.
Read more at the AP link.
8 May 2014
A young girl tries on the pectoral cross of Cardinal Timothy Dolan during his pastoral visit to Jordan. Follow his trip this week in the series Journey to Jordan. (photo: John E. Kozar)
7 May 2014
Bishop Boris Gudziak speaks to a crowd braving the December chill on the Maidan.
(photo: Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Department of External Relations)
During a recent visit to Toronto, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of the Ukraininian Greek Catholic Church spoke of the Ukraine’s struggle for dignity and said, “We want everyone to know that God is with us.”
That sentiment is echoed in the spring edition of ONE, which features a dramatic personal account of the uprisings last winter. It was written by Bishop Boris Gudziak, of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Eparchy in Paris, who describes some of what he experienced in Kiev:
On 20 February, the terrible Thursday of sniper fire, clergy remained on the Maidan despite the mortal danger. They comforted the injured, absolved them of their sins and said prayers over the dying and the dead.
During these months, churches in Ukraine performed the service they had provided in previous ages — protecting people physically and offering refuge from armed attack.
The historic Orthodox Monastery of St. Michael the Archangel welcomed injured students fleeing riot police. Church bells warned of attacks. A small Greek Catholic monastery church and the Greek Catholic Cathedral of the Resurrection, commonly called the sobor, first sheltered as many as 1, 100 protesters at night. Later, the sobor became a hospital for the injured. Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant churches also served as shelters and hospitals.
There have been many conversions on the Maidan and throughout Ukraine. Days on the Maidan continue to begin with an ecumenical prayer service. During the danger of the night, prayers and the singing of the national anthem are held on the hour, every hour. Faith has helped many people endure. Religious sisters distributed thousands of rosaries. Many people learned to pray. Some of those killed were buried with their newly acquired Maidan rosaries in hand.
Read more of his account of Prayer and Protest in the spring edition of ONE.
6 May 2014
As he began his visit to Jordan yesterday, Cardinal Timothy Dolan paused at a shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The month of May is traditionally dedicated to the Blessed Mother. The cardinal, along with Bishop William Murphy and Msgr. John Kozar, is making a pastoral visit to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Follow their Journey to Jordan this week on our blog. (photo: John E. Kozar)
5 May 2014
Tags: Jordan Msgr. John E. Kozar Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan
Fiorentina’s coach Vincenzo Montella, third from left, presents a gift to Pope Francis during a special audience with soccer teams Fiorentina and Napoli at the Vatican on 2 May.
(photo: CNS /L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
2 May 2014
Alaa, a 7-year-old from Homs, Syria, holds up a drawing depicting events in his hometown. To read about efforts to help these children, check out Syria, Shepherds and Sheep in the Spring edition of ONE. Click on the image to read the story in the full magazine layout. (photo: Tamara Hadi)
1 May 2014
Tags: Syria Lebanon Refugees Children Sisters
Nirmala Dasi Sisters visit with women and children in a poor neighborhood of Kokkalai, a district of Trichur. You can read about the remarkable work they’re undertaking in the spring edition of ONE, as they live out the legacy of India’s “Father of the Poor.” (photo: Jose Jacob)
30 April 2014
Young Syrian refugees are spotted at a camp in Lebanon. (photo: John E. Kozar)
In the spring edition of ONE, Msgr. John E. Kozar writes about his experience visiting a settlement for refugees in Beirut:
Imagine a child, alone in a foreign land, where everyone is a complete stranger. Imagine that that child has had to flee several times from several areas of conflict or even several countries.
Such is the plight of Armenian children who fled Iraq for refuge in Syria, and now have found a safe haven in Lebanon. How long will this refuge hold out? Where to next? Armenia? When will the horror end? No one knows the answer. And if one looks at history as a guide, the Armenians have had a very sad history, having been routed and chased from their ancient homeland and now in their places of refuge.
We have an expression, “Home is where the heart is.” CNEWA, in partnership with local the churches, reaches out to these innocent children and tries to create some semblance of a safe and secure environment, meeting the basic needs of food, shelter and clothing, and going far beyond.
During a recent visit to a large settlement of Armenian Syrian refugees in Beirut, I was very touched to join groups of children tutored by very committed teachers, refugees themselves, as part of a program to keep their minds active in learning and their hearts engaged in an environment of love. And CNEWA, thanks to our benefactors, is there, bringing alive this loving program, which instills both hope and cultural pride.
Read more in the new edition of the magazine, now online.
And to learn how you can help these smallest refugees, instilling “both hope and cultural pride,” visit our Syria giving page.
29 April 2014
Tags: Syria Refugees Children
In this 2010 image, Myven Aihab prepares for winter exams at the Santa Lucia Home in Alexandria. (photo: Holly Pickett)
In the spring edition of ONE, writer Sarah Topol visits an institution in Egypt bringing hope to visually impaired children:
At Santa Lucia, the nurturing environment and commitment to higher learning provides some balance. Named for the fourth-century saint and patron of the blind, St. Lucy — who, according to tradition, was blinded before her martyrdom — the home encourages children to rise above their limitations. They are taught that nothing is beyond their reach, and the children are expected to shine.
“We teach them independence,” says Sister Souad Nohra, the director of the home.
At the home, children who once might have spent their lives in the shadows — helpless or hopeless — are receiving an incalculable gift. Darkness is giving way to light.
Read more about efforts to bring children Out of Darkness in the spring 2014 edition of ONE. To read the story in its full graphical layout, click on the image!
Tags: Egypt Sisters Education Disabilities