9 December 2011
A villager samples clean water from the new filtration system in Lebanon.
(photo: Marilyn Raschka)
“Water is the stuff of life,” Msgr. John Kozar wrote on this blog a few days ago. Traveling through Lebanon on his first visit as CNEWA’s president, Msgr. Kozar is observing firsthand how this modest-sized agency of the Holy See is reclaiming land, restoring families and reviving parishes simply by bringing the basics like water to a forlorn community.
Since the end of Lebanon’s civil war (1975-90), CNEWA’s Beirut staff has worked tirelessly to resettle displaced families, revive abandoned villages and restore what has made Lebanon unique: A diverse mosaic, a home to all people, Christian, Druze, Sunni and Shi’ite. “Lebanon is more than a country,” Pope John Paul II said during his visit in 1997. “Lebanon is a message.”
In 2000, in the pages of our November issue of the magazine, writer Marilyn Raschka wrote about two neighboring villages in the Chouf region, just south of Beirut. Dmit is home to the Druze, a religious community that developed from Shi’ite Islam. Serjbal is a Christian farming community.
Historically, the two villages got on well, “feast days and funerals find villagers heading in each other’s directions for a respectful courtesy call,” writes Ms. Raschka. “But it’s water that will bring these two communities closer together, now that their pipe dreams have come true.”
Creating reservoirs, excavating trenches and laying irrigation pipe isn’t sexy, and it doesn’t even sound appropriate for an agency of the Holy See, but in Lebanon it reinforces what the Holy Father believes is that nation’s unique calling: to serve as a model of coexistence and love.
7 December 2011
Tags: Lebanon Beirut Water
An altar server stands near a statue of the Virgin Mary in greater Stockholm’s
Syriac Catholic church. (photo: Magnus Aronson)
According to the Latin calendar, tomorrow is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Roman Catholics celebrate 8 December as the day that Mary was conceived in the womb of her mother free from original sin. Many churches in CNEWA's world, meantime, observe the feast on the following day. You can find out more by visiting the online Catholic Encyclopedia.
5 December 2011
Tags: Iraq Iraqi Christians Syriac Catholic Church Sweden
Boys at Bhorathannoor Ambeaker Harigen Colony show off hats the village sells in larger towns. (photo: Cody Christopulos)
The work of priests in CNEWA’s world is often crucial to the communities they serve. In the November 2005 issue of ONE, writer Paul Wachter explored the sometimes challenging ministry of priests in rural India, work which can even include helping people learn new skills — such as how to weave hats like those pictured above:
Bhorathannoor Ambeaker Harigen Colony is home to 700 families, 100 of whom are Catholic and the remainder Hindu. Most of the Catholics entered the church about 10 years ago, the priests said.
The villagers live in small brick homes — they have one or two rooms each and the roofs are made of coconut leaves. There is a lone, tiny convenience store in the village, which sells a few staple goods and packets of candy that are popular with the children.
“There is a general lack of education in the area,” Father John said back at St. Mary’s. “There is a lot of unemployment and most people are small farmers who work only here and there throughout the year. That is why we try to introduce programs such as basket weaving or making other handicrafts.”
For more from this story see, Village Priests.
2 December 2011
Tags: India Kerala Village life
A parishioner raises a candlestick as a symbol of light during the Greek Catholic Divine Liturgy. (photo: Andrej Bán)
Christians around the world this weekend will begin the second week of Advent, the season of preparation for Christmas, and many will continue the custom of lighting candles on an Advent wreath. Even outside of Advent, the lighting of candles is a powerful gesture, symbolizing the light of Christ, as we see in the photo above from Slovakia. For more see, Those Who Remain Behind, from the January 2009 issue of ONE.
1 December 2011
Tags: Greek Catholic Church Slovakia
Children welcome visitors to the Our Lady of Armenia Boghossian Educational Center. (photo: Armineh Johannes)
Sister Arousiag Sajonian is a remarkable woman. An Armenian Sister of the Immaculate Conception, she has dedicated her whole life to the care, education and spiritual development of the young. In the 1960s, she helped establish the Armenian Sisters Academy in Radnor, Pennsylvania, which provides high-quality, affordable primary education to the local Armenian community.
After decades spent teaching, she returned to Armenia in 1990 and has continued her work there ever since. The superior of her community in Gyumri, she founded the Our Lady of Armenia Boghossian Educational Center, and currently directs the Our Lady of Armenia Camp (Diramayr, for short). Of the latter, ONE contributor Paul Rimple wrote in 2007:
Having just wrapped up its 13th year, the camp brings together 850 needy children, ages 7 to 14, for three weeks of rest, exercise and physical and spiritual nourishment. Divided into four three-week sessions in the months of July and August, Diramayr is a refuge for Armenian orphans living in state orphanages as well as children invited by social workers and the Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, an Armenian Catholic community that sponsors the camp.
For Sister Arousiag, who returned to the land of her ancestors in the summer of 1990, the camp strengthens the emotional well-being of children scarred by abandonment and poverty and deepens their exposure to their Armenian culture and heritage.
"I like to think that here the children are camping with Christ," Sister Arousiag said. "Many of the kids had never been to church before coming here."
To read more about the fine work of Sister Arousiag, see the above-referenced Kid’s Camps in the Caucasus by Paul Rimple, as well as Armineh Johannes’s Tackling Pastoral Challenges in Armenia and John Hughes’s A New Start for Armenia’s Catholics.
30 November 2011
Tags: Education Armenia Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception
Boys watch at the shore as a boat of fishermen heads out to sea in Kerala, India.
(photo: Luke Golobitsch)
Today is the feast day of St. Andrew, the patron of fishermen. In this image from our archive, taken in 1990, fishermen in India head out to sea at sunset.
29 November 2011
Tags: India Kerala
Nasrin Abdul-Ahad Aziz, 53, and her husband Tali Mati Nasser, left, have lost several family members as a result of ethnic and sectarian violence in Iraq. They now reside in Hamdaniya, Iraq. (photo: Safin Hamed)
Iraqi Christians are now calling the Kurdish-controlled northern region of Iraq home, as we report in the November issue of ONE:
“I saw injustice in Mosul. I want to start a new life here,” says Salam Talia, a 23-year-old Iraqi Christian. The young man sits on a sofa between his middle-aged parents in their newly built apartment in Hamdaniya, a historically Christian town about 20 miles southeast of the city of Mosul. On one of the living room walls hangs a large image of Jesus surrounded by photos of family members killed in the war and the sectarian violence that has ravaged the nation for the past eight years.
Despite the trauma they suffered in their native Mosul, Iraq’s third-largest city and capital of the Nineveh Governorate, the Talia family considers itself fortunate and even expresses a measure of happiness with their new lives in Hamdaniya. They no longer fear practicing their faith and attend church regularly. They have made friends and are settling into their new home.
For more from this story, see A New Genesis in Nineveh by Namo Abdulla.
28 November 2011
Tags: Iraq Violence against Christians Iraqi Christians
Five-year-old Alexi, a member of the mostly Filipino Sacred Heart Latin Catholic parish in Amman, Jordan, loves to dance. (photo: Tanya Habjouqa)
In the current issue of ONE we feature a story on the Filipino migrant community in Jordan and the work of those who offer its members support and comfort:
A congenial 67-year-old Jesuit priest from Boston, who wears slacks and sandals under his vestments, Father O’Connell, looks and acts the part of a wise, friendly grandfather.
He helps the choir and he holds the lease on a house where the choir rehearses and other church groups gather. Father O’Connell also oversees the Sacred Heart youth basketball team and helped a group of youngsters from the church secure a space in the Jesuit Fathers’ center where they can breakdance.
Most important, Father O’Connell spends much of his energy responding to the spiritual, emotional and material needs of his predominantly Filipino congregation and other Filipino migrants in the country.
“I understood that the first task was to give people a place where they could be at home,” says Father O’Connell. “For these people, just the ongoing, regular liturgy — with Filipino music, with people reading, with them being able to participate in whatever way they want — gives a strand of consistency and continuity. It’s their home. It’s their place. In most cases, there’s no place else they can gather.”
For more from this story, see Far From Home by Nicholas Seeley.
23 November 2011
Tags: Middle East Jordan Cultural Identity Emigration Teresian Association
An Ethiopian monk enjoys a lunch of injera and shiro in Tullo Gudo Island, Ethiopia.
(photo: Sean Sprague)
Tomorrow, many Americans will spend the day enjoying a feast with loved ones. So today, as everyone prepares for the big holiday, we’d like to share some of a feast from CNEWA’s world. It’s the national dish of Ethiopia — injera, which is a spongy, crepe-like bread made from the extremely fine grain known as tef. It is typically eaten with stews and veggies of all sorts. No utensils necessary for this delicacy!
Interested in learning how to prepare injera? Check out this recipe on Food.com!
Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!
22 November 2011
Tags: Ethiopia Africa Cuisine Monasticism
A student band performs at a school and home for the deaf and blind run by the Assisi Sisters of Mary Immaculate in Thalayolaparambu, a village in the Kottayam district of Kerala, India.
(photo: Sister Christian Molidor, R.S.M.)
Today St. Cecilia, the patroness of musicians and church music, is venerated. She is said to have died singing to the Lord.
Tags: India Sisters Kerala Disabilities