2 December 2011
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.
2 December 2011
Tags: Greek Catholic Church Slovakia
Sister Jocelyine visits the cows that help make their projects self sufficient.
Issam Bishara is vice president of the Pontifical Mission and regional director for Lebanon, Syria and Egypt.
We have just returned from a field visit to the village of Jabbouleh, about 50 miles from Beirut, northeast of the Bekaa governate and close to the Syrian border. There, the Sisters of Good Service operate a school, an orphanage and, to generate income, a cattle farm.
Reaching the institution, we met Sister Jocelyine and Sister Maria. We were impressed by their work, which offers care and love to the poor children of the Bekaa by providing them with food, clothing, shelter and education. Not only do the sisters do a great job, but they are creative in finding ways to cover their expenses — including running their farm, which was originally established to provide dairy products to their children at low cost. But later on, as the production increased and diversified, their market expanded, boosting income and assuring that the institution would be sustainable. They now manufacture and sell cheeses, jams, pickles and dairy products.
As we left the sisters, we were reminded of the challenges faced by the sisters and so many people in Lebanon. We encountered dozens of protestors who had blocked the road with burning tires to object to the rising price of fuel. We were cut off. The highway was completely closed, surrounded by burning tires and the angry shouts of men. We had no choice but to take a risk. We pulled the car off the road and drove through a ploughed field until we could safely reach the highway, and from there make our way home.
The sisters are hoping to get 10 more cows, since the 15 they have now are aging and producing less milk. Let’s hope the cows have it easier getting to Jabbouleh than we did leaving it!
2 December 2011
Tags: Lebanon Sisters Poor/Poverty
We explored coffee’s critical role in Ethiopia’s economy, in the November issue of ONE. Equally important is the cultural significance of the coffee ceremony. Sometimes taking hours, the ceremony consists of the manual brewing of coffee and is often accompanied with the burning of incense. It is a socially unifying aspect of Ethiopian culture.
Recently a Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant employee reenacted a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony for us. Watch the video below!
To learn more about the significance of coffee in Ethiopia, check out Brewed to Perfection by Peter Lemieux. For more about Queen of Sheba, watch our interview with owner, Philipos Mengistu.
1 December 2011
Tags: Ethiopia Cultural Identity Africa
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.
1 December 2011
Tags: Education Armenia Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception
Tens of thousands gather for a vigil at the Cave Church of St. Simon the Tanner, near Cairo.
A headline in today’s The New York Times reads, “Egypt’s Christians Prepare for New Political Climate.” Judging by early reports, it appears the results from the country’s elections — which international observers state are by far the most open in decades — will favor the political party of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group once banned by the former regime of Hosni Mubarak.
Coptic Christians make up 10 percent of Egypt’s population of 85 million people and are by far the largest Christian community in the Middle East. Copts are fully engaged in Egyptian society — despite decades of discrimination. Torn between the relative stability offered by Mubarak and the necessity for democratic reform, Copts nevertheless played a role in bringing down Mubarak. Copts, too, have formed political parties they hope can influence the laws and governance of this strategically important nation. And they have rallied together to pray, reflect and repent.
According to materials sent by a retired Canadian diplomat, some 70,000 Copts —Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant — gathered for a 12-hour vigil in the Cave Church of St. Simon the Tanner on 11 November. Millions more followed the event live on satellite television and through the Internet. The Cave Church, which lies in the foothills of the Mokattam Mountains that overlook Cairo, is actually a network of churches and shrines carved out of the rock near a densely populated neighborhood that is home to the garbage pickers of Cairo, or zaballin.
“The prayer meeting that started at 6 p.m.,” read one report, “continued uninterrupted till 6 a.m. the following day. ... This was a significant event on multiple levels. It was the largest Christian gathering in the modern history of Egypt. It brought together for the first time all Christian denominations, Coptic Orthodox, Catholics and all branches of the Protestant and Evangelical churches.”
Prayers were offered for the “healing of the land and for God’s intervention to save the country from a disastrous famine as the Nile [river] is drying up at an alarming rate.
“The focal point of the gathering was repentance and forgiveness. The leaders of all the churches came together in unprecedented unity to lead thousands of people in worship and prayer for Egypt.”
1 December 2011
Tags: Egypt Ecumenism Coptic Christians Democracy
Charity Navigator, America’s premiere independent charity evaluator, has recently reassessed CNEWA’s financial and development wealth and ethical practices. It has awarded us the highest rating possible: four stars!
According to Charity Navigator, an organization that receives four stars is ranked as “exceptional” and “exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in its Cause.” As their website puts it: “Givers/investors can be more confident that in supporting those charities rated highly by Charity Navigator, they will be supporting organizations that are more financially healthy, accountable and transparent.”
In short, that means you can be assured that every dollar is used in the best way possible.
We at CNEWA are very proud of this result, and grateful to all our friends and benefactors who continue to support our mission. You are a star too! Thank you for helping us to continue this great work, and for making it all possible.
Tags: CNEWA Donors