18 July 2012
Sister Piera Carpenedo, director of the Ephpheta Paul VI Institute for Audio-Phonetic Rehabilitation, tells a story using a drawing. (photo: Steve Sabella)
Today, the Latin church celebrates the feast day of St. Frederick of Utrecht, a patron saint for the deaf. For many years, CNEWA has supported the Ephpheta Institute, a center for the deaf in Palestine. Back in May, Ephpheta celebrated an expansion, which we shared on this blog:
A few days ago, the Ephpheta Institute in Bethlehem — a program CNEWA has supported since its inception 40 years ago — celebrated the inauguration of a new expansion. The new three-story annex will host the 11th and 12th grades, in addition to a library, a new indoor play/educational room and additional storage facilities. The physical expansion of the school premises was a historic day for many reasons. Most significantly, the students at Ephpheta will no longer finish their education at 10th grade, but will complete a full educational cycle through the 12th grade, after which they will receive a high school diploma. Thus, there will be no graduation at the school this year; the 10th graders will proceed to 11th grade and will eventually graduate in 2014, much better equipped to either move on to a university education or to some other career track of their choosing. They will certainly be better equipped to meet life’s challenges with a high school diploma in hand.
For more, read “Ephpheta Expands.” You can learn more about Ephpheta in Msgr. John Kozar’s blog series from his pastoral visit to the Holy Land back in December. If you would like to support the work of Ephpheta, please visit our website.
17 July 2012
Tags: Palestine Disabilities
Archbishop Swerios Malki Murad of the Syriac Orthodox Church in the Holy Land.
(photo: John E. Kozar)
In supporting Eastern churches, their leaders and their faithful, CNEWA’s network of friends and benefactors enables more good to be done. Today, we have in our thoughts and prayers The Syriac Orthodox Church, which has roots in Syria, a country still very much in turmoil.
Just today, one prominent Catholic leader in Damascus renewed his pleas for peace in the region:
“In Damascus, the last three days have been very difficult” as the fighting moved to the city, Archbishop Mario Zenari, the [Vatican] nuncio, told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview from the capital July 17.
“The situation compared to a month ago clearly is more tense,” he said.
“The situation of the Christian community is the same as the situation for all Syrians. The Christians are not targeted, but they are under the same bombing and shelling the others face,” the archbishop said.
An uprising against President Bashar Assad’s government began in March 2011. Thousands of civilians have died in the fighting since then, and hundreds of thousands have been displaced. The U.N. refugee agency said July 17 that the number of Syrians seeking refuge outside the country has risen sharply in the past three months, with some 112,000 Syrian refugees now registered in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
Archbishop Zenari said, “The international community must speak with one voice; otherwise the parties involved in the conflict won’t listen.” The nuncio said he was not lobbying for any specific international intervention, but “too much time has already passed. There are many ways to reach a consensus.”
Some Christian leaders in Syria have questioned the pro-democracy efforts to oust Assad, pointing out how religious liberty and the Christian communities have been protected under his leadership.
“The future is difficult to foresee,” the archbishop said. “Until now, there has been a good level of freedom of religion in Syria and good relations between Christians and Muslims. It could be difficult if that changed.”
We are still hard at work ensuring that Syrians who have fled the chaos are cared for. Learn more about our emergency Syria fund on our website.
16 July 2012
Tags: Syria Middle East Christians Middle East Syriac Orthodox Church Church
A young student takes notes at Bethlehem Day Care Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
(photo: Cody Christopulos)
In Ethiopia, CNEWA has long supported education at all levels. Seeing children, like the eager scholar pictured above, fully immersed in their education and keen to learn, helps us to know we are making a difference. Last fall, we shared a similar image out of Ethiopia: some very enthusiastic children outside of the Bethlehem Day Care Center, run by the Good Shepherd sisters.
13 July 2012
Tags: Ethiopia Children Sisters Education
Msgr. Kozar takes a stroll with a nun at the Atse Tekla Ghirogis School in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (photo: CNEWA)
Since becoming CNEWA’s president in September 2011, Msgr. John E. Kozar has traveled throughout the Middle East, Ethiopia and India, writing about his pastoral visits on CNEWA’s ONE-TO-ONE blog. Below, are five inspiring stories — a sample of CNEWA’s worldwide network of love.
India. In his series, “In the Footsteps of St. Thomas,” Msgr. Kozar recounts his visit to St. Anthony’s Dayssadan, a home for children with physical disabilities run by the Preshitharam Sisters:
“One boy of about 15 — whose arms, hands, legs and feet are horribly contorted — demonstrated mobility by rolling himself down the long corridor, then amazingly up a long flight of stairs, all the while with a smile from ear to ear. I was choked up by his display of determination. His climbing up the staircase defied gravity, but not his human spirit.”
Ethiopia. In “An Ethiopian Odyssey,” we learn about the Godano complex:
“Godano, which has received support from CNEWA for years, was first begun to welcome unwed mothers, many of whom had been abandoned on the streets, others had been victims of rape. Founded and directed by a layman, Mulatu Tefesse, this loving home offers a safe haven for not only these girls and their children after birth, but also for abandoned street children and unwanted babies. He also provides a kindergarten and skill training for girls, such as sewing and hair styling. The campus also includes housing for mothers and their children. He does not warehouse the mothers and their children, but always seeks to keep them together and to give them a modicum of confidence to move on to at least a minimally productive life.”
Israel. Msgr. Kozar’s, “Journey to the Holy Land,” included a visit to the House of Grace, in the Israeli city of Haifa:
“Today the house is truly a home, as those participating in the myriad of programs are all welcomed as family. There are currently 15 prisoners going through the program. There are also hundreds of families who participate in programs to improve their quality of life, programs for youth and social skills and educational programs that enhance the lives of many people.
“While there, we visited with some of the successful beneficiaries — former prisoners who not only have gone on to renew their lives in a responsible and productive way, but continue to come back to their &ldsuo;family’ and offer their help to new ‘family members.’”
Jordan. While in Jordan, Msgr. Kozar recounts his visit to the Our Lady of Peace Center:
“We were warmly greeted by the founder of this facility, Bishop Selim Sayegh, Latin patriarchal vicar in Jordan and the spiritual and moral personality associated with this facility. Our Lady of Peace offers many programs for mentally and physically handicapped youths. ...
“A big highlight for them and for us was a visit from Santa Claus. The kids went wild when he came into the room, especially when the sisters approached with some big boxes of gifts. Each child came forward and received a gift. The children loved the attention, gifts and Santa, but they really loved Bishop Selim. In fact, the love that Bishop Selim Sayegh has for these special children cannot be contained. He smiles from ear to ear in their presence and many freely run to him to receive a big hug from him. This center has been a dream of his and now, as he approaches retirement after having served more than 30 years as vicar, he can enjoy the fruits of his labors, as reflected in the smiles of these precious little ones.”
Lebanon. Finally, Msgr. Kozar’s visit to Lebanon included a trip to the motherhouse of the Franciscan Sisters of the Cross:
“Our most memorable visit was in an area for profoundly mentally challenged boys and men, some of whom have severely physical handicaps. There was a remarkable sister who had a God-given ability to discern in the moans, groans or unabashed sounds of these patients ranging in age from 6 to 45 years a need for some type of attention. She calmly reached out and gave them a little hug, a pat on the check, a little touch on the head, and their anxieties or fears went away. She did it so instinctively and so calmly it might not have been noticed — she did it with love.”
Did any of these stories touch your heart and move you? They definitely inspired me, reminding me of the inspirational work that CNEWA does everyday throughout the world. It is a blessing to be a small part of it. Join our network of love by praying for the work of these inspirational people, and by giving to CNEWA from the generosity of your hearts. Giving to CNEWA is one way to nurture your soul, and a way to reach out to our less fortunate brothers and sisters in Christ.
13 July 2012
Tags: CNEWA Msgr. John E. Kozar
A family stands outside their home, which the prison ministry helped build, in Paracode, a village near Ernakulum. (photo: Sean Sprague)
In the May 2006 issue of ONE, Sean Sprague wrote about a prison ministry in Ernakulum, Kerala. Led by a Syro-Malabar Catholic priest, the ministry helps rehabilitate ex-prisoners like Rajesh:
Once he got out of jail, Rajesh spent several months at the ministry’s center, Shanti Bhavan, which means Home for Peace, in the small town of Edappally. Here Rajesh received additional counseling and job training, turning farther away from his life of crime.
Finally, Rajesh and Father Joy visited Rajesh’s family. Father Joy spent two hours with his wife. He assured her that Rajesh had indeed changed. This was not just some act to get back into her good graces. Okay, she said, I’ll give him one more chance.
Today, Rajesh and his family live in a rented house. He does laundry for Indian Railways, a job the ministry arranged. They are poor but are saving to buy their own home. The ministry may help out. It has helped purchase about 50 modest homes for ex-convicts, who do not gain control of the title for 10 years to ensure they do not return to crime.
“We are poor, but I’m very happy,” Rajesh said. “Now, I have a life I never dreamed possible.”
For more, read Prison Ministry In Kerala.
12 July 2012
Tags: India Kerala Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Homes/housing
Bedouin men perform at a restaurant in Amman, Jordan. (photo: Greg Tarczynksi)
Yesterday, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra played a concert in the Apostolic Palace of Castelgandolfo to celebrate the feast of St. Benedict, patron of Europe. Pope Benedict XVI spoke afterward, thanking the performers and reflecting on the unifying effect of music:
“Music,”, the pontiff continued, “is the harmony of differences … from the multiplicity of tones of the various instruments a symphony can arise. However, this doesn’t happen magically or automatically. It comes only from … a patient and laborious commitment, which requires time and sacrifices in the effort to listen to one another, avoiding excessive egoism and privileging the best success of the whole.”
Continuing, the Pope emphasized that the symphonies that were performed, Beethoven’s Fifth and Sixth, express two aspects of life: “drama and peace; humanity’s struggle against adversity and its enlightening immersion in a bucolic environment. The message I would like to draw from it for today is this: to achieve peace we must dedicate ourselves to dialogue with a personal and communal conversion, patiently seeking possible areas of understanding.”
For more, read Universal Language of Music, Hope for Peace from the Vatican News Service.
11 July 2012
Tags: Middle East Pope Benedict XVI Jordan Cultural Identity Amman
Babushki light candles at the Pskovo-Pechersky Dormition Monastery, located near Russia's border with Estonia. (photo: Sean Sprague)
It is a worldwide phenomenon: village life is dying as the youth leave for the schools, opportunities and glamour of the globe’s cities. Nowhere is this more acute than in Russia, which suffered greatly during the Soviet era.
Until recently, Buranovo — which is more than 500 miles northeast of Moscow — could serve as the archetype of a Russian village. The New York Times reports:
In places like this, collective farms routinely go bankrupt, log houses tilt and sink into the soil, roads become muddy ravines and village stores make much of their money selling vodka. Breaking the cycle of decline is considered difficult, if not impossible.
But thanks to Buranovo’s babushki, or grandmothers, the village is getting paved roads, a water pipeline and even the internet. Perhaps the greatest change is the rebuilding of its church dedicated to the Holy Trinity, which the Soviet’s leveled in 1949.
It all began with a miracle, said Olga N. Tuktareva, the leader of the singing group, who is 43 and in fact is not a grandmother yet.
Ms. Tuktareva recalled strolling about the village with a friend in 2008 and lamenting a sad episode in local history: the destruction of the Church of the Trinity, taken down like countless other churches in Stalin’s Russia. ...
During that walk, Ms. Tuktareva recalled, her cellphone rang. It was a music producer in Moscow who had heard of the singing babushki — they performed locally — and had a proposition: if the troupe sang the Queen song “We Are the Champions” in their native language, Udmurt, to an audience of oil executives in Moscow, the producer would make it worth her time.
“I thought, ‘This is strange,’ ” Ms. Tuktareva said. “I just said it is impossible to rebuild the church, and then my phone rang. This is not an accident.”
Read more about this extraordinary story here. To read about the typical troubles in Russian village life, see Sean Sprague’s timeless piece, Despair in the Russian Village.
11 July 2012
Tags: Russia Art Economic hardships
Capuchin Franciscans take a break from a continuing education and formation program for catechists in Bhurat, Ethiopia. (photo: John E. Kozar)
Through this blog, Msgr. John Kozar has shared countless stories and photos that make the world seem a lot smaller and bring you closer to the people we serve. Back in April, Msgr. Kozar shared some inspiring stories from his first pastoral visit to Ethiopia:
Another very inspiring experience on this day was a brief visit to a class being given to catechists, as part of their continuing education and formation program. And to me an amazing part of their story is that each of them has been chosen for this most important role by their respective communities. They must be men and women of great faith, willing to share their faith with others as catechists.
The big campus at Bhurat also includes a health clinic. Two sisters from India run it and do a superb job in offering first-rate healthcare in an environment of loving kindness. We ended our visit with a marvelous meal, which included the ritual roasting of coffee beans and serving of rich Ethiopian coffee. With us for the entire visit to this site were the elders, almost serving as our security team and “honor guard.” In fact, the honor was all ours.
For more, read Msgr. Kozar’s detailed blog series from his time spent in Ethiopia, “An Ethiopian Odyssey.”
10 July 2012
Tags: Ethiopia Education Africa Seminarians Ethiopian Catholic Church
Coach Gevorg Shushanian gives boxing lessons at an Armenian school.
(photo: Justyna Mielnikiewicz)
In the March 2009 issue of ONE, Gayane Abrahamyan wrote about some of the obstacles facing Armenia’s impoverished communities. In A Fragile Lifeline, we learned that children of these communities are often forgotten or left behind. That is where the Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception step in and do their best to fulfill the basic needs of these forgotten children:
“I also miss my mother very much. We have not seen her for two months,” she said, shyly pulling the picture from her pocket.
“The only joy in these children’s life is the sisters’ center. They forget everything when they go there,” their grandmother said of the Our Lady of Armenia Center.
Run by the Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, the day care center, with funding from CNEWA, has been providing a host of services to the region’s needy children since 1994. Currently, the day care center serves more than 2,000 children.
“Our children receive food, clothes and stationery. They teach them. They even give them lessons in music and take them to camp in the summer,” said Mrs. Movsesian. “I think sometimes that, were it not for the center, what would we do?”
For more, read A Fragile Lifeline.
9 July 2012
Tags: Children Armenia Georgia
Parishioners gather outside the Immaculate Conception Church in Smakieh, Jordan.
(photo: John E. Kozar)
Back in December, Msgr. John Kozar made his first pastoral visit to the Holy Land as CNEWA’s president. While visiting with people and church leaders who are a part of the CNEWA family, he also gained a deeper understanding of the traditions and cultures that permeate this community of Christians. One stop included the village of Smakieh in Jordan, where he took part in an ordination:
A couple of impressive sights from the ceremony: Being welcomed outside the church as we arrived with the archbishop by all the men removing the agal, or cord, from their kaffiyeh, a traditional head covering. It was a sign of deepest respect given to us. The men were robust in their handshakes and in their welcoming.
After the ceremony, after all the elders and people of the parish had personally greeted the new deacon and given him a kiss on each cheek, a group of younger parishioners hoisted the deacon on their shoulders and began dancing to the beat of their chanting which created a most festive mood.
The village of Smakieh is entirely Christian, which is rare in this Muslim kingdom. There are only two families of Bedouin living in the village, the Latin Hijazine family and the Melkite Akasheh family. Between these two families they have offered 14 priests in service to the church. Added to this are the number of Catholic and Orthodox priests that have come from neighboring Bedouin towns, such as Raba and Ader, who basically supplied much of the entire presbyterate for Jordan and Israel and Palestine. God is good all the time and all the time God is good.
If you haven’t done so already, check out Msgr. Kozar’s blog series from his Holy Land visit,“Journey to the Holy Land.”
Tags: Middle East Jordan Cultural Identity Bedouin