9 August 2012
Kerala’s rapid urbanization often leaves behind impoverished Dalit communities, such as this one in the rural south. (photo: Peter Lemieux)
Our July edition of ONE has just been posted online. In the cover story for this edition, Change Comes to ‘God’s Own Country,’ Peter Lemieux reports on how urbanization is threatening the traditional way of life in Kerala:
While the urbanization underway in Kerala may not involve all the classic socioeconomic upheavals, it certainly has meant profound changes in the state’s traditional social fabric. These days, few disagree the once tightly woven rural extended families and parish communities look frayed and threadbare.
“In Kerala, we’ve always had a strong family tradition rooted in our agrarian culture. Family was never disconnected. There was a family oneness,” explains Father Joseph Makothakat, pastor of Little Flower Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in Fort Cochin. “But these days, we’re a professional society. Families don’t find time to be together. They work six days a week. Husband works in one place, wife works in another. They come home late at night and don’t even have time for evening prayer, nor do their children, who are too busy with their private tutors. The lifestyle is much different now.”
Check out the rest of the magazine online!
6 August 2012
Tags: India Kerala Dalits Urbanization
A member of the Daughters of Mary congregation in Pilankalai, Tamil Nadu, poses for a portrait. (photo: John E. Kozar)
During his trip to India earlier this year, Msgr. John Kozar had the pleasure of meeting members of the Daughters of Mary, a congregation of sisters in Tamil Nadu, who care for children in need:
One of the highlights of the day followed when we visited Vimala Orphanage. Here, we were warmly greeted by the house superior, Sister Rose Francis, and the house director, Sister Savio, and a bevy of beautiful young girls. Sisters led us inside where about a 140 girls — all orphans or abandoned and neglected — were assembled to greet us. This contingent of smiling girls represented three different orphanages, all of which are directed by the Daughters of Mary.
The main feature of our visit was to be entertained with songs and dances by these very special children. Their intricate hand and foot motions, their obvious delight in sharing their gifts with us and their genuine happiness overwhelmed me. The simplicity and the sincerity and the faith of these children were an inspiration to all of us.
After the entertainment, I had the privilege to chat with the girls. I shared with them a very simple message: That each one of them is a part of God’s family and that God loves each and every one of them as he loves children everywhere. I further shared with them that they have family in North America, in Canada and the United States, members of the CNEWA family who lovingly support them. Some of them even referred to you as their aunties and uncles to whom they have written. Please know how much they love you and how they promise to remember you in their prayers.
For more from Msgr. Kozar’s pastoral visit to India, read his blog series, “In the Footsteps of St. Thomas.”
3 August 2012
Tags: India Sisters Orphans/Orphanages Disabilities
A family prepares muttsmala for the Malabar Food Festival in Ernakulam, Kerala.
(photo: Peter Lemieux)
There is a vast array of cuisines unique to the cultures and regions of the world CNEWA serves. Below are five delicious recipes:
Sambar. Sambar is a vegetable soup made with tamarind and pigeon peas. It is one of the most popular dishes in South India, accompanying most meals. Enjoy it over white rice, idli (steamed rice cake) or dosa (pancake made with black gram and rice). We featured the recipe for this South Indian favorite in the November 2008 issue of ONE.
Dosa. Dosa, as mentioned above, is a pancake made with black gram and rice. It can be enjoyed with any number of the flavorful stews, sauces or soups in Indian cuisine. You can find the recipe for dosa in the November 2008 issue of ONE as well.
Tisza Fisherman’s Soup. Tisza Fisherman’s Soup, originating in Hungary, is a paprika-based river fish soup, best served hot and spicy. The original fisherman’s soup is prepared with fish from the Danube and Tisza rivers. The recipe for Tisza Fisherman’s Soup can be found in the September 2005 issue of ONE.
Sfeeha (Meat Pies). Sfeeha, or meat pies, can be found in various parts of the Middle East and Armenia. Sfeeha are a pizza-like dish filled with a combination of spices, vegetables and either beef or lamb. The recipe for Sfeeha was featured in the July 2006 issue of ONE.
Injera. Injera, a spongy flatbread made from teff, is the Ethiopian staple bread. It is used to scoop up meat and vegetable stews. It also lines the trays on which the stews are served and soaks up the juices from the meal. A meal is complete only after the last injera is eaten. The recipe for injera can take a few days preparation.
Respond in the comments and let us know if you try any of these tasty recipes!
31 July 2012
Tags: India Ethiopia Middle East Eastern Europe Cuisine
CNEWA’s Bob Pape shares with Cardinal George Alencherry a copy of The Long Island Catholic, featuring the prelate’s visit to a parish in the Diocese of Rockville Centre. (photo: Erin Edwards)
Today, CNEWA welcomed to its offices the major archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Cardinal George Alencherry of Ernakulam-Angamaly, who is visiting the United States on a pastoral trip. The four-million-strong Syro-Malabar Church is one of the 22 Eastern churches in full communion with Rome and, said the engaging prelate, is “a church that goes out” to preach the Good News.
“A church that does not preach, teach and baptize in the name of the Father will be dormant and will eventually die,” he said. We must not be afraid of temporary failures, he continued. “Not even St. Paul was always successful. But if the church lives the Gospel as Christ intended, we will attract even those who hate us.”
A native of Kerala, the cardinal met with CNEWA’s president, Msgr. John Kozar, and CNEWA’s New York-based staff. He spoke eloquently about the growth of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in its heartland of southern India, but also throughout the subcontinent and beyond. Despite the presence of hundreds of castes in India, “the Malabar Church holds together” and is “making advances” among the dalits, the suppressed peoples throughout India once called the “untouchables.”
Even as Kerala changes from a rural state to an advanced economy, the cardinal commented on the commitment to the faith made by Syro-Malabar Catholics. “There are different aspects to the growth of the faith,” he said. “There’s a more serious commitment, especially with the concept of charity ... it isn’t just a family tradition anymore.
“At the same time,” he said, “the faithful are going along on their own accord ... internalizing the faith and expressing it” more as individuals and less as parish-centered communities than before. Cardinal Alencherry noted that this change has evolved particularly in the past 20 or 30 years and that it has challenged the “pastoral approaches of our priests.”
Priestly “formation has had to change,” he said, so that Syro-Malabar priests “can adapt and address particular pastoral needs.”
The cardinal spoke about the welcoming environment given to Syro-Malabar Catholics by the church of North America, which includes nearly 100,000 Syro-Malabars in the United States alone. He noted, too, the importance of governing structures to support the church outside its “proper territory.” Prayers, the Eucharist and relationships among Syro-Malabar families in practicing the faith, he said, keep the church alive and are “good for the Latin Church, too. Otherwise, we lose them.”
“Wherever there are conflicts in the church,” he said, “you will find a lack of dialogue, a lack of communication.
“I always tell my bishops and priests that we are called to serve, and to serve means to engage in dialogue with truth and love.”
30 July 2012
Tags: CNEWA Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Indian Christians Urbanization Cardinal George Alencherry of Ernakulam-Angamaly
A resident of St. Anne’s Orphanage in Trichur, Kerala, enjoys playtime. (photo: John E. Kozar)
During his pastoral visit to India in March, Msgr. John Kozar had the opportunity to visit a few of the orphanages and homes for children CNEWA supports. With each visit Msgr. Kozar was welcomed with open arms — St. Anne’s Orphanage in Trichur, Kerala, was no different:
Next on our schedule was St. Anne’s Orphanage, also in Trichur. This is a large institution with about 130 girls, which, like all the other institutions and programs we visited this day, is subsidized by CNEWA. This facility is directed by Father Laurence Thaikkattil and is serviced by the Carmelite Sisters, with Sister Rita Grace, C.M.C., as the superior.
Here, too, we had a surprise welcome of cheers, smiles and raised arms from all the girls lined up in the hidden passageway at the entrance of the orphanage. They certainly made the three of us feel at home.
We headed into a meeting hall where we were formally greeted by Father Laurence and given bouquets of flowers by some of the smallest children in the program. Then we were treated to some amazing dancing by the children. Their intricate steps, coupled with their obvious pride in entertaining, were infectious.
After the program, I was privileged to address — or should I say entertain — all 136 of these sweethearts. They were so happy, their smiles were overwhelming.
For more from Msgr. Kozar’s pastoral visit to India, read his blog series “In the Footsteps of St. Thomas.”
24 July 2012
Tags: India Kerala Orphans/Orphanages Carmelite Sisters
If you’re new to us and find yourself wondering, “Just what is CNEWA?,” this four minute journey into our world offers some inspiring answers. This video features a look at some of the people and places we serve, along with a conversation with Msgr. John E. Kozar, CNEWA’s president. Curious for more? You’ll find an extensive history of the agency and information about how you can be a part of the work we do over at the CNEWA website.
Who is CNEWA? from CNEWA on Vimeo.
19 July 2012
Tags: India CNEWA Middle East Eastern Europe Northeast Africa
In this photo, captured in early 2006, a young boy watches the sunset in Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, India. (photo: Sean Sprague)
In late 2004, a tsunami triggered by a 9.0 earthquake in the Indian Ocean devastated thousands living in the Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu, India. CNEWA was quick to respond and immediately began an emergency relief fund, which in a year’s time raised $965,555 for the victims affected by the disaster. In the March 2005 issue of ONE, Peter Lemieux wrote about the tsunami relief efforts of the local church and international community:
The Diocese of Kottar became the command center for all nongovernmental, tsunami-related social service activities in the district of Kanyakumari. Father Jeremias, Information Director of the Kottar Social Service Society, assigned NGOs to villages along the coast. Caritas Switzerland took responsibility for the heavily damaged village of Mela Manakudy and four others; the Holy Cross Sisters were sent to Puthoor; social workers from the Syro-Malankara Catholic Eparchy of Marthandom took charge of three towns; and Social Change and Development (an Indian NGO) went to Kottilpadu.
Many more were involved. The Sisters of St. Ann of Luzern joined mobile medical camps sent to the coastal villages. The Syro- Malankara Catholic Bethany Sisters started rebuilding a neighborhood in Kanyakumari. Syro-Malabar Catholic Bishop George Alencherry from neighboring Thuckalay tended to the smaller settlements around Colachel.
In all, more than 60 local NGOs and 16 international relief agencies stepped forward to work with Bishop Tharmaraj.
“The response has been enormous. We have almost 100 percent coverage of the damaged areas,” Father Jeremias said. “This powerful wave of destruction from nature has been met by an even more powerful wave of generosity from mankind.”
The story remains a powerful reminder of how CNEWA, through local churches, has been able to respond to those in need. For more, read Waves of Destruction.
13 July 2012
Tags: India Syro-Malankara Catholic Church Water
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.
3 July 2012
Tags: India Kerala Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Homes/housing
Following the footsteps of St. Thomas, Indian pilgrims climb Mount Malayattur. Visitors of all faiths believe the trip can cure them of physical and mental disease. (photo: Sean Sprague)
Today marks the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle in the Latin Church (Eastern churches celebrate his feast day on 6 October). In Kerala, St. Thomas has had a major influence, and is known to have brought Christianity to the region:
“This main port opened to the seas well before the time of Christ, from 300 B.C. onward,” says Father Davis Chenginiyadan, executive director of the Kodungallur Research Academy for Mar Thoma Heritage.
The priest stands at the site of the ancient city of Muziris, located on a jetty at the mouth of the Periyar River, about 20 miles north of Cochin. This was once the main crossroads of India’s global spice trade and the landing spot of St. Thomas the Apostle, who brought Christianity to the region in the year 52.
To learn more about St. Thomas’s influence, take a look at Msgr. John Kozar’s blog series from his pastoral visit to India earlier this year, “In the Footsteps of St. Thomas.”
25 June 2012
Tags: India Kerala Thomas Christians Saints
A Syro-Malabar Catholic woman of the Wayanad district in Kerala shades herself from the sun. (photo: Sean Sprague)
Over the years we have published many stories in the magazine about the influence of St. Thomas on the Christian community in southern India. The saint who famously doubted the resurrection has inspired countless believers in that corner of CNEWA’s world. In the March 2010 issue of the magazine, journalist Sean Sprague captured how the influence of the saint still resonates with the Christians of the region:
“St. Thomas definitely landed on this very spot,” says Philomena Pappachan, caretaker of a chapel that marks where the doubting apostle arrived in southern India in the year A.D. 52. Located a few feet from the cemented banks of the Periyar River, the chapel is dwarfed by a grove of palm trees and a 30-foot cutout of the saint, who is depicted with a staff and an open book on which “my Lord and my God” is printed in English.
No archaeological evidence exists to substantiate or refute her claim. Yet for nearly two millennia, countless numbers of Christians and Hindus have believed “the holy man” journeyed through Syria, Mesopotamia, Persia and finally India, where Thomas died a martyr’s death in the year 72.
For more, read In the Footsteps of St. Thomas. For more of Sprague’s accompanying photos, check out the image gallery, “St. Thomas’s Influence.”