4 February 2015
An elderly Ukrainian woman reacts as her acquaintances board a bus to flee due to a military conflict in Debaltseve on 4 February. The pope spoke of the conflict in today’s General Audience. He called for prayers that “this horrible fratricidal violence” would end and added that dialogue was “the only way possible to bring peace and harmony to that martyred land.”
(photo: CNS/Sergey Polezhaka, Reuters)
3 February 2015
In this image from 2013, children in India gather to pray. To learn more about the enduring faith of the Thomas Christians, read “2,000 Years and Counting” from the
Winter 2013 edition of ONE. (photo: John E. Kozar)
2 February 2015
Parishioners sing a hymn during evening Mass in the Church of Sts. Simeon and Anne in Jerusalem. The parish is comprised of Catholics who speak Hebrew. Read more about this distinct group in “Hebrew Spoken Here” from the Spring 2013 edition of ONE. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
30 January 2015
Catholic and Orthodox priests join other ministers for an inaugural ceremony for a church made entirely from ice at Balea Lac resort in the Fagaras mountains of Romania on 29 January.
(photo: CNS/Radu Sigheti, Reuters)
29 January 2015
Zabbaleen workers bundle cardboard waste for resale in Egypt. To read more about how the Zabbaleen, or “garbage people” are making a living in Cairo, read “Salvaging Dignity” from the September 2012 edition of ONE. (photo: Dana Smillie)
28 January 2015
A nun at the hospital run by the Sisters of the Cross in Deir el Kamar, Lebanon, interacts with a child on 23 January. (photo: John E. Kozar)
Msgr. John E. Kozar, CNEWA’s president, spent some time recently in Lebanon and Jordan and spoke with CNS about what he saw:
Economically strapped Lebanon is now hosting more than 1.5 million refugees — mostly Syrians — putting a strain on the country’s infrastructure and resources for its existing population of around 4 million people.
“So much of our energy is a crisis intervention status, keeping people from starving, from freezing to death with these cold spells, keeping people from getting very sick and even dying from simple maladies and physical problems that can develop into something serious,” said Msgr. John Kozar, president of Catholic Near East Welfare Association.
“But because of the uncertainty of the (refugee) crises, we have to look at what will be the next level of assistance .... There’s housing issues, educational issues, longer-term health issues, post-traumatic issues,” he said, adding that counseling is needed for children that have been through “horrible” circumstances.
Msgr. Kozar — joined by Carl Hétu, national director of CNEWA Canada, and Bishop Lionel Gendron of Saint-Jean-Longueuil, Quebec, co-treasurer of the Canadian Catholic Conference of Bishops — spoke with Catholic News Service at CNEWA's Beirut office about their 19-23 January visit to Lebanon. Before arriving in Lebanon, they visited Jordan; in both countries, they are helping Syrian and Iraqi refugees and the communities that support them.
...The delegation’s itinerary in Lebanon included visiting a school run by the Good Shepherd Sisters for refugee children in Deir al-Ahmar in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, near the Syrian border, and meeting refugees in a nearby tent settlement camp. There they experienced firsthand the sisters” witness of God’s love to the mostly Muslim refugee population.
“They just have this radiance of love that’s infectious,” Msgr. Kozar said of the sisters.
Bishop Gendron credited the sisters for the welcoming way the refugees accepted the delegation and invited them into their tents.
“They realized that they are being loved,” he said of the refugees. “And so it opens up all doors.”
And to support our suffering brothers and sisters in the Middle East, please visit this link.
26 January 2015
An Iraqi refugee family poses for a portrait in their camp in Erbil, Iraq. (photo: Don Duncan)
Jordan and Lebanon have become a temporary refuge for millions of Syrian and Iraqi refugees seeking shelter after being forced to flee their homelands. But despite the time that has passed, things are not improving, says Carl Hétu, Canada National Director of Catholic Near East Welfare Association.
After a sobering two weeks in the Middle East, including time spent in Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine (Gaza), it is clear to Hétu that the status quo is no longer viable. “There needs to be a new approach to help the millions of innocent lives caught in the middle,” he says. “We need to show more courage and resolve, diplomatically, and more generosity in our efforts.”
The Canadian government recently announced an increase in the number of Syrian refugees it will accept — 10,000 to be exact — and its level of humanitarian assistance for persons affected by the conflict in the region.
“The government has a responsibility to respond in such a way on behalf of Canadians,” adds Hétu. “Of course, 10,000 pales in comparison to the three million or so refugees who have spread throughout the region. Neighboring countries are doing more than their share. For example, Lebanon, a country of 4.4 million has received some 1.8 million refugees and Jordan, a country of 6.4 million people, has received more than one million refugees from Syria and Iraq.”
Hétu is back in Canada to shine light on the struggle those affected are forced to contend with on a daily basis. “One thing is clear,” he says. “Everything has changed for the worse. There’s more human suffering, more despair, more refugees, more killings, more social problems, more economic depression. But despite everything, people still have a sense of hope.”
“In Syria, the ongoing war is starving millions who are fleeing to find a better place. For those who have already fled, the unbearable present and unknown future is almost too much to bear.”
For Iraqi Christians and Yazidis who were pushed out of their ancestral villages under threat of death by radical group ISIS, they escaped with only the shirt on their backs. “They’re happy for the aid they have received so far, but how long can people live in crowded church halls divided only by curtains?”
But despite the devastation, the region is filled with stories of solidarity and hope for the future. In Gaza, for example, a Catholic school and parish took in hundreds of displaced people during the Israel-Gaza conflict — which helped to forge new relationships between the Christians and Muslims of Gaza.
As refugees and displaced wait for diplomatic solutions, their needs for basic supplies remain great. CNEWA appeals to Canadians to continue its generous support so that it can provide churches, religious communities and other groups in and around the region — on the field — in their direct assistance to those afflicted by the conflicts in the region. Canadian visitors can donate to CNEWA by visiting CNEWA.ca; U.S. visitors can visit CNEWA.org.
22 January 2015
Tags: Middle East Christians
In this image from 2006, two students at the Shashemene School for the Blind in Ethiopia take a break between classes. (photo: Sean Sprague)
Several years ago, we paid a visit to a remarkable school giving remarkable opportunities to children with special needs:
Three days after she was born, Meseret was struck blind. She spent much of her early childhood locked in her room; her parents did not know what to do with her. But a few years ago, Meseret’s family found out about the Shashemene School for the Blind, run by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, and decided that Meseret would be happier there than at home.
The school lies within a large, gated compound — a sanctuary in Shashemene, a bustling Ethiopian town of 50,000. It was here that Meseret, now 12, learned Braille. And it was here that she first came to understand that her life, like those of the other 120 blind students enrolled in the school, could be meaningful.
Read more about “Special Attention for Special Needs” in the November 2006 edition of ONE.
21 January 2015
In this image from 2014, a woman prays in her church in Armenia. Until a priest arrived in 2002, parishioners found it difficult to preserve and celebrate their faith. Read more about how Georgia’s Armenian Catholics persevered in “A Firm Faith” from the Spring 2014 edition of ONE.
(photo: Molly Corso)
20 January 2015
A Russian Orthodox believer bathes in the icy water of a lake in Ilyinskoye, Russia, on Monday, 19 January 2015. Thousands of Russian Orthodox Church followers plunged into icy rivers and ponds across the country to mark Epiphany, which they observe on 19 January, cleansing themselves with water that has just been blessed. (photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)