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December, 2018
Volume 44, Number 4
22 August 2012
Greg Kandra

Pope sends condolences at passing of Ethiopia's Prime Minister (Vatican Radio)

Nuncio in Syria worried for future (Catholic News Service)

Over 12,000 Christians reported “starving” in Rableh, Syria (Fides)

Christian refugees in Lebanon fear Islamist rebels (Los Angeles Times)

Young Lebanese see Pope's visit as a sign of hope (Catholic News Service)

Christian and Muslim Palestinian women pursue careers in auto racing (AFP)

Kansas opens its first Orthodox Christian school (Wichita Eagle, via

Tags: Syria Lebanon Ethiopia Refugees Palestinians

21 August 2012
Erin Edwards

A resident of a home for girls hugs a sister from the Verbo Encarnado (Incarnate Word) community, which runs the child care facility near Alexandria, Egypt.
(photo: Mohammed El-Dakhakhny)

In the November 2004 edition of ONE, we featured a story about the work of the Verbo Encarnado sisters in the Dekhela neighborhood of Alexandria, Egypt. The sisters established homes for girls escaping turbulent and unstable homes for the comfort and security offered by the congregation:

The national average daily income is just over $10 a day. About 23 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Due to overpopulation, a weak economy and high unemployment, the challenges facing Egypt’s youth are daunting.

Sister María Guadalupe, the superior of the community in Egypt, says the situation in Dekhela is especially bad. The town is poor; there are few social services.

“These girls were living with their families in one room,” she says. “No bathroom, no kitchen, just one room. Sometimes there would be a bed and that’s all. So the girls were spending all their time in the street.”

For more, read Building a Brighter Future.

Tags: Egypt Middle East Sisters Africa

21 August 2012
Greg Kandra

Pope calls joint declaration with patriarch of Moscow “an event that promises hope” (L'Osservatore Romano)

Indian bishop condemns attacks in Pune, urges state to maintain peace (Vatican Radio)

Turkey struggling to absorb new refugees from Syria (Financial Times)

In Ethiopia, a “difficult phase” following deaths of patriarch and premier (Fides)

The Orthodox point man with the Kremlin (TIME)

Tags: Syria Ethiopia Pope Benedict XVI Russian Orthodox Church Indian Bishops

20 August 2012
Greg Kandra

People gather outside Our Lady of Lebanon chapel in the village of Harissa near Beirut on 18 August. Pope Benedict XVI will visit Lebanon next month. (photo: CNS /Jamal Saidi, Reuters)

The crisis in Syria hasn’t changed plans for the papal trip, according to the Holy See:

Pope Benedict’s trip to Lebanon next month will go forward as planned, the Vatican said on Monday, even as fighting rages in neighboring Syria.

Benedict’s visit to Lebanon is scheduled for 14-16 September. But escalating violence in Syria and sectarian tensions in Lebanon prompted speculation last week that the pontiff might be forced to postpone the trip.

“The preparations for the visit are going ahead without any uncertainty on the part of the Vatican,” Federico Lombardi, spokesman for the Holy See, told reporters.

Lombardi said one of the pope’s specially designed cars — a so-called popemobile equipped with bullet-proof glass — was already on its way to Beirut.

Lebanon will be the 85-year-old pope’s second foreign visit this year after a trip to Mexico and Cuba in March.

Pope Benedict is scheduled to meet President Michel Suleiman and Prime Minister Najib Mikati on September 15, and hold an open-air mass at the Beirut City Centre Waterfront on the following day.

The conflict in Syria has raised fears that violence might spill across the region. Gulf Arab states told their citizens last week to leave Lebanon, where Shi’ite gunmen kidnapped more than 20 people in retaliation for the capture of one of their kinsmen in Syria.

Tags: Lebanon Middle East Pope Benedict XVI

20 August 2012
Erin Edwards

A resident of the Divine House in Zahle, Lebanon, takes a break from playtime.
(photo: Gabriel Delmonaco)

CNEWA has been helping children in Lebanon for many years, primarily through our needy child sponsorship program. During his pastoral visit to Lebanon last winter, Msgr. John Kozar met some children who have benefited from CNEWA’s support at the Blessed Sacrament Orphanage:

We were warmly greeted by the present superior, Mother Francoise Doueihy, and a number of the other sisters. As we tried to meet everyone present, the grand entrance into the hall filled with singing, smiling and happy girls between the ages of 5 and 16. They welcomed us with some songs and dances, dressed patriotically in the colors of Lebanon: red, white and green, especially green, representing the famous cedars of Lebanon.

What a loving and lovable group of young ladies. I shared with them that the children of North America sent them their love and their prayers and they offered the same to all of our children back home. We had some real fun taking photos with all of them. Their radiant faces truly expressed the presence of Jesus on their faces and in their hearts. What a wonderful visit.

Interested in sponsoring a child? Visit our website for more information.

Tags: Lebanon Children Education Orphans/Orphanages

20 August 2012
Greg Kandra

In Syria, violence continues during Muslim holiday (Associated Press via CBS News)

UN monitors leave Syria (Reuters)

Pope appoints new nuncio to Israel (Vatican Radio)

Russian Orthodox priests forgive punk rock band (ABC News)

Vatican marks World Humanitarian Day (Vatican Radio)

“Holiday season” begins in Kerala (New York Daily News)

Tags: Syria India Kerala Russia Muslim

17 August 2012
Antin Sloboda

Carl Hétu, left, and Father Thomas Rosica, CEO of Salt+Light Television, participated in a panel discussion at the “Across the Divide” screening in Vancouver earlier this summer.
(photo: The B.C. Catholic Paper)

Antin Sloboda is a development assistant in our Canada office.

Many of you may know that CNEWA’s headquarters are in New York City. But what you may not know is that we have another office in North America, in Canada.

Below are some interesting facts about CNEWA’s Canadian family:

  1. We have an archbishop for a neighbor. Our national office is based in Ottawa, situated in the same building on 1247 Kilborn Place where the Archdiocese of Ottawa has its administrative headquarters. It’s also just a short walk to the offices of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. Being based in Canada’s capital helps us to work closely with our church leadership as well as to interact with other NGOs and country leaders that play a crucial role in areas important to CNEWA’s mission.

  2. We’re the new kids on the block. Among all CNEWA’s offices, the Canadian one is the youngest. We’ve only been in existence since 2005. We were established with the support and endorsement of the Archbishop of Ottawa, Marcel André J. Gervais.

  3. We’re busy. We support projects in all regions where CNEWA has been historically present. Since the day of CNEWA Canada’s founding, its priorities have been focused on helping people in the Middle East, in particular the Christian minorities of Iraq. A lot of our energy these days is devoted to assisting the victims of violent conflicts in Syria and Egypt. Our Eastern European program is also well-established and grows as needs arise.

  4. We have some special projects, too. Among our special projects this year is a public awareness campaign on the important role that Bethlehem University plays in the Holy Land. This project has been undertaken in cooperation with the Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation, which produced a special documentary about the university, “Across the Divide”. This summer the documentary is being screened in many cities across Canada. At recent screenings in Vancouver and Halifax, auditoriums were filled to capacity. There are also plans to show the film in Toronto, Ottawa and Windsor.

    Another special initiative undertaken this year is a joint project with the Catholic Women’s League of Canada (CWL). The project is called “Velma’s Dream” and it aims to assist children from Christian minorities in Jerusalem. It will help to create favorable learning conditions for children, so more of them will be able to succeed in school and life. Last Monday, a detailed presentation of the project was given by our National Director, Carl Hétu at the National CWL Convention in Edmonton, and it was enthusiastically received by the convention’s delegates who represented over 100,000 Canadian Catholic Women.

  5. We have our own board. CNEWA Canada is overseen by a Board of Directors consisting of six bishops. It is chaired by Most Rev. Terrence Prendergast, S.J, Archbishop of Ottawa. The other five bishops represent different regions of Canada. Our vice chair is Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto.

    In our Ottawa office, there are five of us who implement CNEWA’s mission on a daily basis: Carl Hétu, Judith Poitevien, Melodie Gabriel, Francois Moniz and myself. We’re a small team, but we work well together, sharing our tasks, challenges and hopes.

    We also share various responsibilities, from fundraising to data processing and managing donor relations — and writing occasional posts for CNEWA’s blog!

Tags: Canada CNEWA Canada

17 August 2012
Elias D. Mallon, S.A., Ph.D.

In this image from last month, Palestinian girls in Jerusalem hold torches during a celebration to mark the breaking of the fast during the holy month of Ramadan.
(photo: CNS/Ammar Awad, Reuters)

Last month, as Muslims began to mark Ramadan, we posted some interesting facts on the season from Fr. Mallon, our education and interreligious affairs officer. This weekend, as the season draws to a close, he shares some further thoughts.

Every year Muslims observe the holy month of Ramadan. During this month Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, engage in works of charity and attempt to spend more time in prayer and in reading the Qur’an. At the end of each day, Muslims observe what is called the iftar or breaking of the fast for that day. The daily iftar is generally a joyful event. At the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate ‘eid ul-fitr (Eidul [or sometimes Id] Fitr), the joyful time of the close of the month of fasting.

There are only two major holy days in Islam. The most important is ‘eid ul-’adha, the Feast of Sacrifice, at the closing of the annual pilgrimage and ‘eid ul-fitr, the Feast of the Breaking of the Fast at the end of Ramadan.

Of the two feasts, ‘eid ul-’adha is theologically the more important and is referred to sometimes as the “greater feast” and ‘eid ul-fitr is referred to as the “lesser feast.” However, the situation is much like that of Christians with Easter and Christmas. Easter is the primary feast of the Christian faith. Nonetheless, for the vast majority of Christians it is Christmas that bears most of the traditions and which has an emotional hold on their religious imagination. So too with Muslims: this feast marking Ramadan’s end creates a bigger stir. For Muslims ‘eid ul-fitr is a time for new clothes, family gatherings, exchange of gifts, decorating with lights, etc. While ‘eid ul-fitr may be the “lesser feast,” it is the one which Muslims celebrate with the greatest amount of joy. In many places, the opening of ‘eid ul-fitr is announced with the firing of a canon. Muslims go to the mosque to greet the beginning of the feast with special prayers and then return home to feasting and celebrating which can last for up to three days.

Tags: Jerusalem Interreligious Islam Palestinians Ramadan

17 August 2012
Greg Kandra

Russian, Polish Churches sign historic appeal for mutual forgiveness (Associated Press)

Syrian archbishop of Aleppo issues renewed call for dialogue, peace (Vatican Radio)

Pope sends condolences on passing of Ethiopian patriarch (Vatican Radio)

Members of Russian punk band found guilty following cathedral protest (Associated Press)

Spokesman for bishops’ conference calls moves by Egypt’s president “positive” (Catholic News Agency)

Tags: Syria Egypt Ethiopia Russia Orthodox

16 August 2012
Aaron Nelsen

Father Francisco Salvador displays his grandfather’s wooden box of Palestinian soil.
(photo: Tomas Munita)

Based in Chile, journalist Aaron Nelsen writes for the New York Times and Time magazine. While preparing his article for the July 2012 issue of ONE, he documented some thoughts on efforts to instill a sense of heritage among young Palestinian-Chileans through an Arab school.

In 1978, a group of Palestinian immigrants took a collective step back to look at Chilean society and their place in it. They had built a soccer stadium where they could cheer their soccer club, Club Deportivo Palestino, on to victory. They had established a social club (Club Palestino), Orthodox Churches and more, but they had overlooked arguably the most important piece of cultural infrastructure: an Arab school.

“Where do we preserve our traditions, where do ensure that our children don’t lose their roots?” asks Jorge Alamo, rector of the Arab School in Santiago.

The student body is small — around 250 — but around 85 percent are of Palestinian origin, and the remainder includes Syrians and Libyans and even some Chileans with no Arab heritage. The school offers classes from preschool through high school, but what sets the Arab School apart is its language and culture program.

In addition to Arabic language instruction, all students are required to take a class in Arabic culture that is equal parts history, philosophy, geography, art, and religion from Palestine to Egypt, Libya and Syria.

“Our students and our community are different within Chile because they maintain a very strong link to Palestine,” Alamo explains. “For example, most students take a trip through the Middle East after they graduate. They’ve studied the history, they know where they come from, and the trip completes their education.”

The experience is sure to make an impression on these teens, as they witness the conditions under which they themselves might have lived.

“I think we all have this moment where it clicks and we tell ourselves ‘my origins are Palestinian; I’m Chilean. What can I do to help free my people — when it comes down to it, probably my cousins?’ ”

At home, in Chile, transitions are sometimes painful. Many of the school’s first enrollees were the sons and daughters of blue-collar workers who achieved white-collar status. In Chile’s dynamic economy international business is discussed in English. When parents began pushing for English language instruction, however, there was backlash from traditionalists who argued for the founding principles of the school, namely the preservation of Palestinian traditions.

“It was not an easy process,” Alamo says. “But the fact of the matter is the Chilean community of Arab and Palestinian origin, in particular, was demanding this service. It is a process of adapting as the community and its interests change over time.”

To read more about Palestinian-Chileans, read Yo Soy Palestino.

Tags: Education Orthodox Church Palestinians Arabs

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