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Volume 44, Number 1
  
2 August 2012
Erin Edwards




Earlier this year Msgr. Kozar met with CNEWA office staff in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — Tazanesh, a sponsorship clerk; Megnote, an accountant; Rahel, a receptionist; and Meseret, a sponsorship clerk. (photo: CNEWA)

We often describe CNEWA as a “family.” It is a very large family, which includes people in need in the regions we serve, church and community leaders throughout those regions, our benefactors and of course the hardworking individuals that staff our offices. We have introduced you to some special members of our New York staff on the blog before. Today, we would like to introduce you to a few dedicated workers from our office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Msgr. John Kozar had the opportunity to meet with them during his pastoral visit in April:

I also had a wonderful visit yesterday with our CNEWA family in Addis Ababa — that is, our staff. This group of very dedicated and dynamic workers welcomed me warmly. I took the opportunity to become better acquainted with them and to share with them how I value greatly not only their performance in the office, but their input in helping me to improve on the good works of CNEWA in Ethiopia. They very readily accepted this challenge as we journey together to discover more fully who we are, what we do and why we do it. We included in our visit a lovely lunch together at a local restaurant, a treat for them and also for me, as sharing a meal together is always the best way to heighten a visit.

To learn more about CNEWA’s work in Ethiopia, read Msgr. Kozar’s blog series, “An Ethiopian Odyssey.”



Tags: Ethiopia CNEWA Africa Msgr. John E. Kozar

1 August 2012
Erin Edwards




A Coptic priest celebrates the liturgy at a church in Deir Azra, a Christian village in Upper Egypt. (photo: Holly Pickett)

Last week, Trudy Rubin, a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, reported on the reactions within Egypt’s Coptic community to the election of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi as president:

There were simmering tensions between radical Muslims and the Coptic community under the Mubarak regime, including attacks on the Copts' places of worship. To open new churches, Copts were required to get presidential permission, which was rarely forthcoming, forcing them to worship in “unlicensed,” and thus vulnerable, structures.

“We thought the revolution would solve our grievances,” Sidhom said, ruefully. “It took a lot of people by surprise that Islamists were able to take advantage of the revolution.”

Under Hosni Mubarak, she said, despite the problems, ultraconservative Salafi Muslims had no power. Now, young Salafis return from the cities to their home villages, where Copts and Muslims have lived side by side, and warn them against Christian “infidels.” She reeled off a list of churches that have been burned down since the revolution.

For more from this story, read Copts in Egypt are watching and worrying.



Tags: Egypt Village life Coptic Christians Coptic Church

31 July 2012
Michael J.L. La Civita




CNEWA’s Bob Pape shares with Cardinal George Alencherry a copy of The Long Island Catholic, featuring the prelate’s visit to a parish in the Diocese of Rockville Centre. (photo: Erin Edwards)

Today, CNEWA welcomed to its offices the major archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Cardinal George Alencherry of Ernakulam-Angamaly, who is visiting the United States on a pastoral trip. The four-million-strong Syro-Malabar Church is one of the 22 Eastern churches in full communion with Rome and, said the engaging prelate, is “a church that goes out” to preach the Good News.

“A church that does not preach, teach and baptize in the name of the Father will be dormant and will eventually die,” he said. We must not be afraid of temporary failures, he continued. “Not even St. Paul was always successful. But if the church lives the Gospel as Christ intended, we will attract even those who hate us.”

A native of Kerala, the cardinal met with CNEWA’s president, Msgr. John Kozar, and CNEWA’s New York-based staff. He spoke eloquently about the growth of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in its heartland of southern India, but also throughout the subcontinent and beyond. Despite the presence of hundreds of castes in India, “the Malabar Church holds together” and is “making advances” among the dalits, the suppressed peoples throughout India once called the “untouchables.”

Even as Kerala changes from a rural state to an advanced economy, the cardinal commented on the commitment to the faith made by Syro-Malabar Catholics. “There are different aspects to the growth of the faith,” he said. “There’s a more serious commitment, especially with the concept of charity ... it isn’t just a family tradition anymore.

“At the same time,” he said, “the faithful are going along on their own accord ... internalizing the faith and expressing it” more as individuals and less as parish-centered communities than before. Cardinal Alencherry noted that this change has evolved particularly in the past 20 or 30 years and that it has challenged the “pastoral approaches of our priests.”

Priestly “formation has had to change,” he said, so that Syro-Malabar priests “can adapt and address particular pastoral needs.”

The cardinal spoke about the welcoming environment given to Syro-Malabar Catholics by the church of North America, which includes nearly 100,000 Syro-Malabars in the United States alone. He noted, too, the importance of governing structures to support the church outside its “proper territory.” Prayers, the Eucharist and relationships among Syro-Malabar families in practicing the faith, he said, keep the church alive and are “good for the Latin Church, too. Otherwise, we lose them.”

“Wherever there are conflicts in the church,” he said, “you will find a lack of dialogue, a lack of communication.

“I always tell my bishops and priests that we are called to serve, and to serve means to engage in dialogue with truth and love.”



Tags: CNEWA Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Indian Christians Urbanization Cardinal George Alencherry of Ernakulam-Angamaly

30 July 2012
Erin Edwards




A resident of St. Anne’s Orphanage in Trichur, Kerala, enjoys playtime. (photo: John E. Kozar)

During his pastoral visit to India in March, Msgr. John Kozar had the opportunity to visit a few of the orphanages and homes for children CNEWA supports. With each visit Msgr. Kozar was welcomed with open arms — St. Anne’s Orphanage in Trichur, Kerala, was no different:

Next on our schedule was St. Anne’s Orphanage, also in Trichur. This is a large institution with about 130 girls, which, like all the other institutions and programs we visited this day, is subsidized by CNEWA. This facility is directed by Father Laurence Thaikkattil and is serviced by the Carmelite Sisters, with Sister Rita Grace, C.M.C., as the superior.

Here, too, we had a surprise welcome of cheers, smiles and raised arms from all the girls lined up in the hidden passageway at the entrance of the orphanage. They certainly made the three of us feel at home.

We headed into a meeting hall where we were formally greeted by Father Laurence and given bouquets of flowers by some of the smallest children in the program. Then we were treated to some amazing dancing by the children. Their intricate steps, coupled with their obvious pride in entertaining, were infectious.

After the program, I was privileged to address — or should I say entertain — all 136 of these sweethearts. They were so happy, their smiles were overwhelming.

For more from Msgr. Kozar’s pastoral visit to India, read his blog series “In the Footsteps of St. Thomas.”



Tags: India Kerala Orphans/Orphanages Carmelite Sisters

26 July 2012
Erin Edwards




Syrian refugees walk outside tents at a refugee camp in the Turkish border town of Boynuegin on 24 March. (photo: CNS/Osman Orsal, Reuters)

The violence in Syria escalates by the day and more and more Syrians are seeking refuge in neighboring countries, such as Turkey. Though Turkey has continued sheltering thousands of Syrians who have fled the conflict, officials are concerned that any increase in refugees will put a significant strain on their efforts:

In the Syria crisis, Ankara has hinted it might act to head off any vast influx of refugees, but has not spelled out what it would do, beyond seeking U.N. Security Council approval or at least support from its NATO allies for any such intervention.

Turkey toughened its military rules of engagement on the frontier after Syria shot down a Turkish jet in disputed circumstances last month, but has not retaliated directly.

“A buffer zone, humanitarian corridors, a safe haven are all vague concepts which will require international resolutions,” said one Turkish official, who asked not to be named.

“Definitely an aggression from Syria might be a turning point, or a massive influx of refugees,” he said. “The other scenario is the total collapse of the regime in Syria. We will reconsider our measures along the borders and protect them.”

For the moment, Turkish leaders seem wary, but more focused on coping better with the refugees they already host.

For more from this story, read Syria Conflict: Turkey Refugee Camps Struggle To Cope With 44,000 Syrians. If you would like to contribute to our Syria emergency fund, please visit our website.



Tags: Syria Refugees Turkey Refugee Camps

25 July 2012
Erin Edwards




In this 2005 photo, a couple admires the late afternoon view of the the King Talal dam on the Zarqa River, the second largest tributary of the Jordan River. The river is heavily polluted and restoration is the Jordanian government’s top priority. (photo: Greg Tarczynski)

Tradition and scripture both hold that Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. To this day, countless Christians from around the world flock to the river and consider its waters sacred. The Jordan, though, is nothing like it once was. It is polluted and stagnant. The Israeli government hopes to change that:

“It’s five percent of what once flowed,” said Ben Ari, who is one of the rehabilitation project leaders. "You can easily walk across without getting your head wet."

Almost all the water that feeds the river is diverted by Syria, Jordan and Israel before it reaches the south, he explained.

But for the first time, Israel — which is two-thirds arid and has battled drought since its establishment 64 years ago — has a water surplus.

This follows decades of massive investment in the country’s water infrastructure. It re-uses 75 percent of its wastewater, mostly for agriculture, and by next year, 85 percent of drinking water will come from desalination plants.

The Israeli government has chosen to use this bounty to rehabilitate the country’s rivers. The Jordan tops the list.

An average of 150 million cubic meters of water will be returned each year, said Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau when he announced the plan a few weeks ago.

“That way in ten years, we will erase our debt (to nature),” he said.

For more, read the Reuters article, Israel plans to revive ailing Jordan river. To learn more about the Jordan River, read On Jordan’s Banks in the January 2011 issue of ONE.



Tags: Israel Jordan Revival/restoration Baptism

24 July 2012
Erin Edwards




Students play at St. Charles School in Achrafieh located in east Beirut. (photo: Sarah Hunter)

In the July 2008 issue of ONE, we featured a story about the resiliency and openness of Catholic schools in Lebanon following the civil war in 2006:

Catholic schools can be found throughout Lebanon, in areas where there is little religious diversity or towns where Christians and Muslims live in segregated areas. In such places, the boundaries separating public school districts frequently coincide with community boundaries — thus reinforcing sectarianism.

Catholic schools, meanwhile, enroll students from all communities, whether adjacent, distant, Christian or Muslim. In many parts of Lebanon, they represent the last forum where Christian and Muslim youth meet and grow up knowing one another.

“Catholic schools are natural places where children can come together, sit next to each other and get to know the other person slowly but surely,” said Maronite Father Marwan Tabet, who heads Lebanon’s General Secretariat of Catholic Schools.

“It’s not like you have to shove it down the throats of people — and the kids grow to know each other, to love each other, to accept each other. That’s very important.”

For more, read Pillars of Lebanon.



Tags: Lebanon Children Middle East Education Catholic Schools

23 July 2012
Erin Edwards




A woman in Aksum, Ethiopia, rests after a pilgrimage that celebrates one of Ethiopia’s holiest days, Mariam Zion, or Mary of Zion. (photo: Sean Sprague)

In the May 2006 issue of ONE, Sean Sprague’s photographs of Ethiopians celebrating one of the holiest days on the Ethiopian Orthodox calendar — the feast of Mary of Zion — were used in a beautiful photo essay. The images helped to depict the importance and holiness of the day to Ethiopian Orthodox Christians:

Pilgrims to Aksum are not unlike the Christian pilgrims of the Middle Ages, who traveled to the Holy Land, or the Muslim pilgrims of today, who journey to Mecca. A pilgrim’s trek to Aksum is an outward expression of his or her faith, a quest for the sacred, an expedition that includes prayer, reflection, penance and almsgiving. And while this quest is not obligatory, it is a practice that has remained widespread among the region’s Orthodox Christians — clergy, religious and lay — despite coups, civil strife and famine.

Several days before the feast, thousands of pilgrims leave their homes and head north on foot (many take buses, few fly), carrying their bedding and food. Pilgrims must abstain from meat and dairy products as well as sexual intercourse for three days before the feast. Some practice acts of mortification — a rite of purification — as they process to Aksum. Others give alms to the beggars who line the paths leading to the object of the pilgrims’ devotion.

For more, read Ethiopia Celebrates Mary.



Tags: Ethiopia Ethiopian Orthodox Church Saints

20 July 2012
Erin Edwards




A nun prays outside of St. Mary Monastery in Georgia. (photo: Justyna Mielnikiewicz)

In the September 2007 issue of ONE, Paul Rimple wrote about women in Georgia who have chosen a life of service to God and humanity by entering religious life and joining one of various monasteries in Georgia, such as St. Mary Monastery:

The seven sisters of St. Mary Monastery in Bediani, a remote village in the southern mountains of Georgia, begin their day with communal prayer at 4 a.m. Three hours later, they are tending the gardens and the bees, milking cows, making cheese, embroidering vestments and cleaning the chapel.

Georgia’s religious houses are expected to be self-sufficient, which requires ingenuity on behalf of the sisters. But the sisters of Bediani also care for six single mothers and their children, who live near the convent and have little means of earning a living.

For more, read Alternative Lifestyles.



Tags: Sisters Georgia Monastery Vocations (religious)

19 July 2012
Erin Edwards




In this photo, captured in early 2006, a young boy watches the sunset in Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, India. (photo: Sean Sprague)

In late 2004, a tsunami triggered by a 9.0 earthquake in the Indian Ocean devastated thousands living in the Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu, India. CNEWA was quick to respond and immediately began an emergency relief fund, which in a year’s time raised $965,555 for the victims affected by the disaster. In the March 2005 issue of ONE, Peter Lemieux wrote about the tsunami relief efforts of the local church and international community:

The Diocese of Kottar became the command center for all nongovernmental, tsunami-related social service activities in the district of Kanyakumari. Father Jeremias, Information Director of the Kottar Social Service Society, assigned NGOs to villages along the coast. Caritas Switzerland took responsibility for the heavily damaged village of Mela Manakudy and four others; the Holy Cross Sisters were sent to Puthoor; social workers from the Syro-Malankara Catholic Eparchy of Marthandom took charge of three towns; and Social Change and Development (an Indian NGO) went to Kottilpadu.

Many more were involved. The Sisters of St. Ann of Luzern joined mobile medical camps sent to the coastal villages. The Syro- Malankara Catholic Bethany Sisters started rebuilding a neighborhood in Kanyakumari. Syro-Malabar Catholic Bishop George Alencherry from neighboring Thuckalay tended to the smaller settlements around Colachel.

In all, more than 60 local NGOs and 16 international relief agencies stepped forward to work with Bishop Tharmaraj.

“The response has been enormous. We have almost 100 percent coverage of the damaged areas,” Father Jeremias said. “This powerful wave of destruction from nature has been met by an even more powerful wave of generosity from mankind.”

The story remains a powerful reminder of how CNEWA, through local churches, has been able to respond to those in need. For more, read Waves of Destruction.



Tags: India Syro-Malankara Catholic Church Water





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